Peruvian Pan Flutes

Archeologists believe that the pan flute is one of the first musical instruments developed by man. Evidence suggests that it developed independently in many cultures in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia and archeological examples of pan flutes da

Evidence of Peruvian pan flutes dating back to 4200 B.C.E. have been fount at Cahuachi and flutes dating to 3200 B.C.E. were found at Chilca. Early flutes were made of many diverse materials including reeds, bamboo, river cane, copper, ceramic and bone. It is likely that the earliest Peruvian flutes were made from hollow stemmed river plants. Historians theorize that early man may have heard the sound of the wind over the broken hollow stems of plants and been inspired to recreate the same sound with his breath. This might account for the discovery of the flute by so many diverse cultures in different areas of the world. It is known the the Nazca, a pre Columbian civilization, were familiar with the Peruvian pan flute.

Traditional Inca Music with the Peruvian Flute

The Inca musical scale only contains 5 tones and their instruments were limited to drums and two types of flutes. One type of flute is called the Quena which is similar to more modern flutes in that it is a single tube with five hole cut into it. Different tones are achieved by covering the holes with the fingers. The other type of flute is called the Antara, and it is a version of the traditional pan flute. The flutes were made of a variety of materials from metal and clay to human bones. The Inca had four distinct music styles, the war songs, religious songs, mourning songs and farming songs. Farming songs were the everyday music of the Inca and the flutes were played by both men and women. The five tones give Inca flute 0music a haunting quality.

Types of Peruvian Flutes

In addition to the quena and the antara, the ocarina flute is often used in Andean music. While the ocarina is a traditional Mesoamerican instrument, it associated with the Mayan and Aztec cultures rather than the Inca. While Peruvian pan flutes remain one of the most popular instruments in traditional Peruvian music, the government has named quena the national instrument. This may be because the quena is unique to Peru while the pan flute is found in many other cultures. Tourists to Peru can find examples of all three types of Peruvian flutes for sale in marketplaces.

The Peruvian pan flute is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world and it produces sweet and haunting music. While pan flutes have been used in the music of many cultures, none has the the quite the same quality found in native Peruvian music.

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