Andean Instruments

Andean Instruments

Times back to the habitants of the Andes demonstrating talent for creating their own musical instruments, developed materials accessible to their requirements. For the construction of wind instruments, string and percussion, they used bones, feathers, bamboo, wood, and leather among others. Specialists have managed to recognize up to 300 different instruments created by our old settlers. Here are some of them.

Instruments of Wind


The quena is one of the most important creations of the Andean region. It consists of a vertical tube open on both sides, it presents a carved U-shaped at the top where the mouth piece is and produces the sound, also 6 holes in the front and one at the rear in total 7 holes which are musical notes. It can be produced from bamboo, wood, reed, bone, clay and other material that suits; at present 95% of the Andean musicians use quenas made of bamboo.







The origin of this instrument dating from the pre-Colombian cultures NAZCA and CHIMU located in Peru, the quena obviously had directed across the Inca empire and is an instrument that is played in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Chile. There are now a wide variety of sizes and names derived from the quena as quenilla, quenacho, mamaquena, and others. The name came from origins of quechua words such as KKENAKENA, KJENA, KHOANA which means hole. This instrument that already belongs to the world owns a unique sound that people enjoy when they hears the song of the QUENA.


The ZAMPOÑA comes from the Aymara culture and represents the magical sound and the strength of the Andean people, it consists of two rows of tubes tied, 7 at the top, called ARCA and 6 in the bottom called IRA, these tubes of different sizes, forming the musical notes.





Made mostly of bamboo, which when played intertwined produces a melodious sound and sentimental. In the Andean communities it is played in large groups called SICURIS TROOPS renowned festivals of the Altiplano. Among the family of zampoñas or sicus there are different sizes which adopt different names like CHILI or chuli the smallest, or BASTO ZANKA bigger and TOLLO which is the size of a person and is issued by the sound more serious and deep. The instrument is one of the most important of Andean culture as transmitted in its sound and sense the strength of the Andean peoples


This pentatonic instrument of one row that belongs to the culture NAZCA is very similar to the ZAMPOÑA.
The Antara may have 5 to 32 tubes gradually developed. In the past they were built of clay and burned to a hard consistency, now we find them made of bamboo, wood, and reed. Among other Andean instruments also find the less publicized TABLASIKU, OCARINA, PUTUTO, ERKE, TARKA, RONDADOR the PINKULLO, MOSEÑO, WAKRAPUKU, and more.




It is of European origin adopted by the Andean culture.

It is similar to the antara but curve and arched shape at the top of the tubes played in Rumania it self as a instrument of the area and having many exponents at present. It is one of the oldest wind instruments and can fit in any genre of music, for it‘s technique and versatility. Certainly the PAN FLUTE can caress us with it’s melodies and trap us with its sweetness.



El rondador es un tipo de zampoña típica del Ecuador. Se fabrica con cañas de carrizo y también, más restringidamente, con cañones de plumas de cóndor. Posee un sonido cristalino muy característico.

Alterna dos escalas pentatónicas, de tal manera que el intérprete puede tocar más de una nota por vez. Suele utilizarse para ejecutar san juanitos y otros ritmos andinos.







La ocarina, es un pequeño instrumento de viento sin llaves, descendiente de primitivos silbatos hechos de barro o de hueso. En función de su zona de origen, existen instrumentos similares elaborados con cortezas vegetales.

En la actualidad se fabrican en distintos materiales como cerámica (predominante), madera, metal y plástico. Morfológicamente es un objeto oval y alargado, pero también existen ocarinas redondas, tubulares y otras diferentes formas. Es un instrumento habitual en Bolivia, Perú, Colombia, Venezuela, norte de Chile, norte de Argentina , Mesoamérica y México. Otras teorías le otorgan origen europeo, y una tercera vía la considera procedente del lejano oriente asiático.

String Instruments


The charango is a string instrument created by the ancient Aymara and Quechuapeople, these men did not know of stringed musical instruments,
but with the arrival of the Spaniards, who brought the guitar to land of the Incas. Villagers took the liberty of creating an instrument that has more resonance and invented the kirkincho, now known as the charango. Kirkincho is an Aymara word that means armadillo, where the instrument was made of its shell as a sounding board. The charango has 10 strings with 5 doubles rows that form 5 notes and produces a high pitch sound and can be played as a solo instruments at the same time, it is known throughout the world for it’s style and sound.


Of European origin, this instrument is part of the Andean tradicional music, it’s played a lot in the central part of PERU in places like huancavelica, ayacucho, huancayo,and part of Lima, it’s also played in countries such as Paraguay, Venezuela and Colombia, with styles and rhythms from there. The harp can be up to 105 cm. h and can have 34 to 36 metal strings.


It is a instrument that was released in the Andean region with the arrival of the Spaniards and then adapted to the rhythms and songs of the region, the guitar is an instrument known throughout the world, there are classical guitars with nylon strings, guitars with metal strings and electric guitars.

In the Andean music it is widely used to accompany with its different rhythms and can take the lead in some styles like guitar from ayacucho in Peru. The guitar is a much needed instrument in the Andean rhythms, as well as in other musical styles of the world. Among other string instruments that are used in the Andean music, we must mention the MANDOLINA, VIHUELA, BANDURRIA, RRONRROCO, VIOLIN,HUALAYCHO and plenty more. HUALAYCHO and plenty more.


Percussion Instruments


Possibly this is the most important percussion instrument used in the andes. It’s shape is Cylindrical, developed with a laminate of Wood and two rings on the ends,

which has leader made of goat on both ends tied with rope or leather. The drum is the heart and the body of the Andean rhythms, the musicians play the bombo with two sticks of wood, using the ring and the leader to play rhythms required.




It is a Cylindrical instrument made of Wood, shorter than the bombo but wider in diameter which produces an stronger and deeper sound.

This does not have rings and is tied with ropes or long pieces of leather and is played with two sticks of wood. Others percussion instruments used in the Andean music, are the tinkya, the Peruvian cajon, tarola, chaqchas, rainsticks, and many more. It should be emphasized that at present many more contemporaneous Andean groups have implemented the drums, the bongos, the congas and others merging the Andean rhythms fused with the new musical tendencies.