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Andean Music

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Andean music is Folk Music originating in the indigenous communities of the Andes Mountains in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The genre developed hundreds of years ago, combining Spanish musical styles with those of Quechua and Aymara peoples.

This music is most commonly played in rural regions of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador and by people of Quechua or Aymara descent. Sadly, most Andean music will never be recorded due to the remoteness of these regions. Some groups, however, have recorded their music and performed to a worldwide audience.

Andean music gained sizable popularity throughout Latin America, especially in its countries of origin and the neighboring countries of Argentina and Chile. Many artists in each nation integrated Andean styles into their music. The genre experienced a revival in the 1970s with the Nueva Canción movement, a genre of folk music heavily influenced by Andean music. Its lyrics were left-wing and pro-democracy, resisting the right-wing dictatorships common in Latin America at the time. The genre became extremely popular throughout Latin America and played a role in the democratization of the region. It spread Andean music to a much wider audience.

Outside of Latin America, the most well known Andean song is Simon and Garfunkel's cover of "El Cóndor Pasa". It helped Andean music reach an international audience.

Songs are often, but not always, instrumentals. Lyrics may be in Spanish, Quechua, or Aymara. The main instrument is the siku, an ancient panflute used by indigenous musicians long before Spanish colonization. Other key instruments include the charango, a stringed instrument similar to a lute; the quena, a wooden flute; and the bombo, a type of drum.

In works set in Peru, Bolivia, or Ecuador, Andean music will often play in the background or serve as a Regional Riff.

Andean music demonstrates these tropes:

  • Follow the Leader: After the genre's resurgence of popularity in the 1970s, musicians across the Americas began performing Andean music or taking influence from the genre.
  • Genre Mashup: Andean music combines aspects of Spanish and indigenous Andean music traditions.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Andean music gained large popularity in other Latin countries, especially Chile and Argentina. Interestingly, it is also relatively popular in Japan of all places.
  • Instrumentals: Many Andean songs are instrumentals.
  • Regional Riff: Andean instruments are used to represent Peru, Ecuador, or Bolivia.
  • World Music: The genre is often characterized as this, although the term has launched some backlash.

Notable Andean music artists include:

Other examples of Andean music:

Anime & Manga

Live-Action TV

  • The 1982 BBC nature documentary series The Flight of the Condor and its associated soundtrack album helped popularise the genre in the UK.
  • The Fast Show had a recurring sketch featuring an Andean music group playing badly in bizarre locations.


  • Simon & Garfunkel released a cover of the song "El Cóndor Pasa" that became a huge hit and spread Andean music worldwide. They discovered the song after hearing it performed by Bolivian band Los Incas and asked for permission to use it. One of the members mistakenly told them that the song was a copyright free folk song, when it actually came from a 1913 play and had not yet entered public domain. This led to a lawsuit by Daniel Alomía Robles's son, which luckily was solved easily and with no hard feelings due to the misunderstanding, and Alomía Robles was added as a songwriter. Their cover has original English lyrics and uses the instrumental version by Los Incas as a backing track.


  • El Cóndor Pasa is a 1913 Peruvian zarzuela, a type of musical play. Its music was written by Daniel Alomía Robles and contained a soundtrack of Andean music, including the instrumental song of the same name which would famously be covered by Simon and Garfunkel.

Video Games

  • Animal Crossing: One of K.K. Slider's songs is "K.K. Condor", which is in the style of Andean music. It is heavily inspired by the folk song "El Humahuaqueño". The album cover shows him in traditional Andean clothing in front of the Nazca Lines.
  • New Super Mario Bros.: The World 6 Map theme is inspired by Andean music.

Western Animation


  • Two of the songs on the Voyager Golden Record are "Roncadoras and Drums" and the Wedding Song from Huancavelica, both made my indigenous peoples of Peru.