Tucked away in the southeast corner of the Pacific Ocean, on the west coast of South America lies the country of Peru. Being on the coast, Peru lays right on the fault lines known as the ring of fire; leaving it very susceptible to natural disasters and has had it’s fair share of them. Peru is a very culturally rich country that is very proud of their heritage and customs that have been around for hundreds of years. Peru has been around since people first migrated to the South America from north and Central America. Spanish conquistadors stumbled upon Peru in the mid 1500s and immediately claimed the land that was home to the largest civilization in the Americas, the Inca Empire. With the mixture of Spanish influence and African descendants brought over during the slave trade, this influenced the music to evolve into the different styles throughout Peru.
(Lake Titicaca is the little lake at the bottom right of the map)
The country itself is geographically divided by the Andes Mountains, giving it three very distinctive regions. The most populated region is the coastal area; this is home to the capital city of Lima and most of all the major industries found in the country. With the exception of a few cities in the more mountainous region of the country, the coastal urban areas are home to about 77% of the total population in Peru, just over 30 million people in an area that is over 1.2 million square kilometers. The other two regions are the Andean and Amazonian regions; as you could probably tell by the names are mountainous down to the amazon basin. The area, of which I’ve chosen to study, is the Andean region. Growing up snowboarding mountains always have fascinated me, and the Andes especially; ever since I was a kid the Andes have always been a place of interest for me. And what better way to go there than record the people of the land and the sounds of their music.
The main focus of my study will be on the music of the Sikuri ensemble of southern Peru. The Sikuri is a style of music played in the mountainous regions throughout the Andes, from Peru down to the bottom of Bolivia. The ensemble consists of up to as many as 50 people in the band and could have as many as 20 plus pan flute players on stage. Mainly this type of music can be found through southern Peru, the area surrounding lake Titicaca has the highest density of flute bands than most the rest of the country. The Sikuri ensemble is a very diverse where is comes to the instruments. There are the three basics: wind, string and percussion. Siku are panpipes that are blown into from the top and depending on the length of the pipe the higher or lower the pitch is. Along with the panpipes are the bombos, a bass drum generally made out of wood there is llama or alpaca skin stretched to create a cover. Sometimes they include rattles that accompany the flutes and drums, usually help by the dancers that are performing.
(a video of a Sikuri ensemble performing in Argentina)
The Peruvian aspect is what I strive to find, Sikuri is mainly found in Bolivia but is just as a part of Andean music in Peru as it is in Bolivia. Find the music that people thought they knew about and bring to light the real sights and sounds of the Andean people. To bring this to life would be amazing and an epic adventure along the way. To put together a project like this is going to take a lot of effort and some cash in which I don’t have. Therefore, there needs to be a investor, and this is where Bill Gates comes into play from my last post. Generosity is his name, having given away over 40 billion dollars to charities and research projects around the world; this is why I approached him with the idea and he luckily enough thought it would make for a good documentary. If this is going to be a documentary then there will need to be a crew with me. For a documentary there are two crucial things that are needed, a camera and a recording setup; this means there will need to be a person to capture the whole thing on video. For the video I was thinking there will need to be somewhat of a good quality to the picture, so this is why the Sony XA20 HD (priced at $2,000) would be a good pick since it is lightweight and has a great picture even though it is a bit expensive it is worth it for a project like this. Now that the video is taken care of lets talk sound. For the sound I can be the boom holder and recorder but just for some backup there will be one audio technician just incase we are to run into some problem there are two of us that can brainstorm to fix it. For recording the sound we will use a simple Marantz 661 field recorder ($600) and a Shure SM58 ($100) on the end of a fish pole; and will be connected by just some XLR cables which we will bring three of. Over all the price of the gear will total $2,825 dollars; already having storage units and headphones those will not need to be purchased for this trip. Since I only know a bit of Spanish there will need to be a translator that speaks both Spanish and the native language of the Andean people, Quechua. Giving us another person making that four total people including myself.
As for travel there will be a 29-hour flight from Seattle with two stops flying into Lima, Peru; this would result in having to purchase four round trip tickets to and from Peru costing $1437dollars each, totaling at $5,748 dollars for all four of us. The trip will be two and a half weeks, starting in Lima where we will stay one night at a hotel costing $352 dollars. From Lima it takes a fourteen-hour bus ride to Cusco this costing roughly around $500 dollars for four people. From Cusco there is a train that runs south to Lake Titicaca is takes about 9 hours due to the mountainous conditions but it’ll get us there. Once in the city of Puno then we stay again in a local hotel only about $100 dollars. Once settled then we will go around to the native people camping and recording the local people surrounding Lake Titicaca. For the musicians we will perform rituals with them and compensate them by giving them money for their performances and for letting us record/film the songs. In the fiscal aspect of the trip, the total amount spent on travel, gear, lodging and compensation would be just around $12,000. Well under the budget, but that leaves more money for editing and production to be sold worldwide.
In the end this documentary will be something for educational purposes; for people to understand the ways people live in the Andes Mountains the music that brings joy to their lives every day. With the study I also hope to see if there are any modern influences in the music of the remotes areas such as Lake Titicaca, to reveal a beautiful part of the world to people that may never have the opportunity to make it there. For someone who just loves music and adventure, it would be more than just hard work and labor, it’d be and experience like non-other.
“Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.” Music in the Ancient Andes. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
“Peru.” : Photo #05, Image Size. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. (http://ds-lands.com/photo/countries/peru/05/)