Peru Final (phase 3)

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. (

Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. (
“Andean Music.” Andean Music. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. (
Miller, Terry E., and Andrew Shahriari. World Music: A Global Journey. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.



Final Project (Phase 2): Peru


Peru is a very culturally rich nation in South America. Its music is very similar to that of Spanish and African music. With the founding of the “new world”, many people from Europe saw the new landmass as another area of the world unconquered. In the late 1400’s Spain and Portugal split the world right in half known as the “Line of Demarcation” giving almost all of North and South America to Spain. This gave Spanish influence on almost all of South America except for Brazil, where the line passes over a portion of the most eastern coast of Brazil to Portugal. With the transatlantic slave trade brought many Africans to the Americas in numbers that are mind blowing; Over 60% of slaves from 1700 to 1800 went to Brazil and South America. Over time this influenced South American cultures to become what they are today.

In Peru they mixture of Spanish and African styles are very present in the instruments you hear throughout the country. Since the country is divided up geographically, there are three main regions of the country: the Coastal lowlands, the high lands of the Andes Mountains and the tropical forest everyone knows, the Amazon. Having the country is so divided up; I am just going to stick to the region of the Andes Mountains.

There has been some research prior to me arriving in Peru. There have been studies on the music of the Andes by universities such as oxford, and in the book “World Music: A Global Journey” by Terry E Miller and Andrew Shahariari (there are more but that is going to be saved for my next post). The Smithsonian articles and recorded music was produced in the late 1990’s; this to me seems recent but not recent enough. Like any culture there will be the aspects that will never change, but over time people start to adapt to the modern age. Even though the 1990’s weren’t the stone ages by any means, in South America times were rough it was a time of violence, but also the introduction to more modern technologies. Peru has seemed to be a place of tradition meets modern culture. In a country of over 29 million people, Peru is one of the world fastest growing economies; reading this led me to believe that the outside influence has to have influence the traditional music of the country such as siku. Having the mystery of whether or not the modern age has influence traditional Andean music of Peru is what makes me feel like this study is different that most other people that have gone there. While most researchers go after what has been there for hundreds of years, I would like to see that traditional aspect but see what kind of progression the music has with this 21st century world.

Lets talk some details about this trip. First off I will need a crew of people to join me on this adventure, it won’t need to be a big crew just one camera person (since this will be a film), one sound person (to help with technical and recording techniques) and the last member will be myself. As for the language barrier there are two languages spoken in Peru, Spanish and Quechua; already knowing enough Spanish to get around, I will be bringing a translator that speaks Quechua the native language of the Andean people (since that’s not a very common language I would prefer they speak Spanish as well). Now that the crew is assembled, we all will need equipment! For this trip there will be no special equipment just what’s shown here: a Fish pole with microphone holder to fasten the Shure SM58 ($100) that will be used to record the sounds, Basic XLR cables ($25 x 3 cables) to connect the transducer to the field recorder, next up is the field recorder which is just your basic Marantz 661 (at a cost of $600). This audio equipment is not top of the industry but records just as well in the field. With the final presentation going to be a video there will need to be a camera as well, the Sony XA20 HD ($2,000) is one of the best cameras out there right now and would capture the essence of the music perfectly. Of course for all the equipment there will need to be batteries, memory cards and headphones in the mix of luggage.

The travel plans include a round trip flight from Seattle, Washington to Lima, Peru; there are stops on the way making it a 30-hour trip on the way there and 20 hours on the way back. Each ticket round trip costs 1,437 dollars, with the crew that will end up being 5,748 dollars. When in Lima there will be one night spent in the Sheraton for 176 dollars and with two rooms that’d be 352 dollars; from there we will travel by bus 12 hours to the city of Cusco high up in the Andes Mountains where there will be nights spent in local hostels and hotels ranging from 15-100 dollars a night. That will be when we are in town though. For the rest of the journey in the Andes, most of the time will be spent camping and staying will locals that we meet along the way. Seeing how there needs to be a way for these people to perform I was thinking of paying the musicians a certain amount of money for their services in the video. This way they benefit and the team does as well. All in all, this project will be for the education for people to look into the more traditional songs from a land that seems to be growing so fast.




Final Project: Peru (phase one)

To pick just one place in the world to focus on is a hard decision to make. There are so many countries that have beautiful sounds behind the people, areas of the world  so amazingly remote there is little known knowledge of cultural customs such as areas of Brazil, the Philippines and other oceanic islands around south east Asia. But I was feeling to focus on a different area of the world, a region of  globe that may seem closer to home on a map but just as far when it comes to travel, South America. We did not cover South America over the course of this last term, it’s a mysterious and beautiful section of the world and just seems like a cool place to focus on.


Watching South Park, it inspired me to focus on the country of Peru. The Peruvian flute bands cracked me up and made me want to look more into the actual pan flute music of Peru. With the Andes Mountains running through the center-coastal region of the country, many people have adapted over the years to the high altitude. The famous Machu Picchu laying 7000 feet above the sea, once part of the dominant South American Inca Empire, was fought over and eventually was abandoned then turned into a tourist attraction (because apparently that’s how we honor history). The Andes have always blown me away, the sheer size in particular, parts of the Amazon river tributaries start from the Andes in the west of Peru and flow through the eastern lowlands then on into Brazil (just some fun facts for all of us). The music that would relate closest the the “Peruvian pan flute bands”, that are in the South Park episodes “Pandemic” and “Pandemic 2: The Starling”(Fans of South Park I know you get that one), would be Sikuri panpipe ensemble. Mainly found in the higher regions of the Andes the pan flute is a beautiful instrument to my ears, having one as a kid makes me even more intrigued in the musical culture of Peru.


(physical map of Peru to give perspective of the Andes vs. the Amazon basin)

East Asia


Lying in the upper left corner of the ring of fire in the Pacific Ocean is the geographically small but culturally large Island nation of Japan. Consisting of a four island chain, Japan is susceptible to many different forms for disasters; everything from devastating earthquakes to raging tsunamis that can travel inland up to 70 miles. Japan being an island has been imprisoned within their own kingdom; the overall land in japan is 80% mountains and unstable terrain, giving only 20% of the country to be left for cities, agriculture, recreation and what’s needed for a thriving civilization.  Japan is a proud nation, with an area no larger than California at about 145,000 square miles, it is home to triple the population of California. With one of the biggest cities they gave the world the joy of Sony Play Station and Nintendo. Not only did Japan just give nerds like me amazing gaming devices; Japan has been one step ahead of the game in technology, but their musical heritage dates back for centuries and has not changed, unlike other cultures where the music adapts to the styling’s of newer generations. Japan is as traditional as the people who have lived in the beautiful nation.

The traditional musical forms in Japan consist of Gagaku and Sankyoku, both are ensemble courts but have their own twist. The Gagaku or referred to as “elegant music” (World Music), and on the other hand is Sankyoku or as the book calla it “three instruments” consists of a vocalist, a Koto also known as a zither averaging about 70” long, shakuhachi or a flute with about 7-9 thumbholes, and last is a shamisen otherwise known as a lute to us who don’t speak Japanese; it is a long necked instrument that is plucked with traditionally an ivory pick. The tempo of the Sankyoku is pretty slow and is pretty relaxing to say the least. The way the koto and shamisen play in perfect harmony really is a beautiful thing when the soft whistling of the shakuhachi. Know as “chamber music” (World Music) the sounds floating through the air really give off the vibe of a 17th or 18th century opium den or formal gathering. Usually performed in smaller venues, Sankyoku stands as a very formal gathering much like a black tie gathering that would take place in Europe or North America.

Lets take a listen at a quick Sankyoku piece.

In addition to Sankyoku, the less formal middle class art form of Kabuki Theater is also a very prominent form of musical arts. The theater based musical form was created in the 17th and 18th century when the middle class was rising fast and began forming they’re on culture within a culture. Kabuki is performed in front of big crowds on stages big enough for an orchestra to play comfortably on. Since women are not allowed to perform in Kabuki Theater, men generally gain enormous popularity for their roles as women. In some modern variations of Kabuki women are allowed a small role in the performance, but not in the traditional aspect of Kabuki. The main instruments are three drums called the o-tuzumi, ko-tuzumi, and the taiko; these give of sort of a wood block sound to the atmosphere.  In the background of the songs are gongs that give the have hit of the drum that give off the energy for the dance being performed; the most prominent instrument in the kabuki is the “nokan” (World Music), also known as the flute; its loud whistle really grabs you attention and almost puts you into a trance to prepare for the drums and the dance.  Below is a video about Kabuki and a bit of a performance.

Japan is a world that seems very similar to the modern world we live in here in the United States, yet is so detached from the modern world at the same time. With such a rich history japan has fought to keep its identity, the country that has been around for centuries continues to maintain its traditional values while leading the world in the electronics market.




Shahriari, Andrew. “Chapter 7 East Asia.” World Music: A Global Journey. By Terry E. Miller. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2012. 223-32. Print.

South Asia

South Asia

South Asia – India

The southern portion of Asia is home to some of the most diverse lands in the whole world. Spreading from the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the low lands of Bangladesh, with regions dating back to the beginning of human cultivation, South Asia is deeply rich in culture. In fact a quarter of the globes population resides in south Asia, with just over 1.5 billion people.  The main focus on my study will be the northern portion of India. First lets look into a bit of history about India.


Many people over centuries migrated from Africa to India and South Asia in search of the food most hunters and gatherers did in the archaic ages. With this deep history of civilization many different languages and culture have risen up in countries such as India. Over time India was divided into different caste systems, this being a form of social hierarchy where you were born into you class and there for life. Until the British gain control over the territory the caste system was there for hundreds and thousands of years. Under the control of the British, India was introduced to the western for of modernization. Mainly just in the north was this most prominent, where as ease of access to the silk roads and sea routes made trade possible and easy. Britain eventually gave control over the India in 1947, and what were India’s territories, Bangladesh and Pakistan became their own countries. In the country of India there are 16 official languages for over 20 different micro countries within the whole country; while there are 16 official languages the are over one thousand languages spoken throughout the country (World Music). The country is split into the northern and southern sections, where the northern is more modern; the southern portion is more traditional and less westernized. India is the leader in the computer industry and in the movie industry pumping out more movies a year than any other country in the world. With the world’s largest democracy, and a population of 1.1 billion people, India is stable yet poverty is very present.

Stated before the country of India is divided into the northern and southern portions. Religion is very big and is dominated by Hindu with 88% of the population; the next biggest religion in the region is Islam at 12% of the population. The northern section is mainly Hindustani, a more Hindi related religion; and the southern is Carnatic, a more Dravidian and more secluded. As for the music, both sides include vocal and instrumental influence. Focusing on the northern region of India the music is more instrumental and rhythmic than the more vocal southern region. With the Hindustani influence in the music styles, the “Raga” is the most common in northern India.

The Raga stands for “ A mode or system of rules and procedures for composition and improvisation in Indian classical music” (World Music). Raga is made up of many different elements and is completely done by improve, and could last anywhere from five minutes to over four hours. Lets listen to a piece from a raga session.

Raga is made up of elements just like any form of music, yet raga is more tonal and and the scale is much different than ours. for instance their for of “do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do” is “sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni-sa” which i found very interesting and cool. there are several elements to a raga some are Alap, Jor, Jhala, Tala and Bols.

The Alap– is defined as “the opening section of a raga performance which the performer ‘explores’ the raga”. This sets the tone for the rest of the raga.

Jor is “regularizing the beat in the opening section of the raga..” Also sets the tone but keeps the performers on beat and tempo.

The Jhala is a set of drone drums and also “a reference to the climactic end of the ‘alap'”. Much like keeping the beat going the droning sound that you get in the Jhala is for effect and mood.

Tala is “the cyclic rhythm frame work that organizes the raga”

Finally Bols are “mnemonic syllables corresponding to drum strokes in Indian drumming traditions”.

These five elements make up almost all of raga and has a very distinct sound to the sessions. The high pitch of strings and low groans of drums and gourds. Several of the instruments used are Tambura which is a round bodied gourd and a Sarod is a fret less lute to make a sound is plucked almost like a sitar. Many Indians north and south like to attend single artists much like here in the United States, where we will pay to see and artist we are familiar with. For the raga culture is very unique seeming how everything is done on the spot and the feeling they get. Much of raga is emotion and the style of music played depends on the mood, time of the day and spirituality. Music runs deep in anybody and india certainly is a hotspot for technology, movies and their own rich heritage of music.






Oceania- Australia

In a land down under there are not just koala bears getting messed up on eucalyptus leaves and kangaroos boxing grown men. In Australia music runs deep and has a long history of spiritual and cultural song and dance. Before the European explorers came to the east to mark their territory, Australia had a defined aboriginal culture that has lasted for 40,000 years.

Australia has been known to be home to some of the most fantastic wildlife on the planet and home to some of the deadliest reptiles, insects and arachnids this world knows. Growing up you are taught it was a giant version of Alcatraz for the British sending their convicts to the island continent to die. While all this was going on the true native Australians had to defend their cultural group know as the aborigines. The aboriginal people are some of the most spiritual I’ve ever read about. And the music they play all ties in with the spirits of the ancestors. They call this spirituality “dreaming or Dreamtime” which ties in with the cosmology of the people. Aboriginals believe in being one with nature known as “animism” claiming that all things natural and phenomena are living and have spirits.

Aboriginal people play only two instruments during their rituals, the didjeridu and the clap sticks.  The didjeridu is a long wooden wind instrument raging anywhere from three and a half to seven feet long. It is played sitting down on the ground while the end in on the ground and the mouthpiece fastened snug against the players lips. The traditional version is made out of a eucalyptus branch and the mouthpiece is sealed with beeswax to protect the player from the rough surface of the tree branch. To play the didjeridu one must use the circular breathing technique, this causes a continuous flow of air thought the instrument allowing for a continuous sound. lets take a listen to what it sounds like.

As you can hear the sound that this produces is a low frequency groaning or humming sound. The little bumps you hear in the tone of the instrument is the puffing of the cheeks to gain more air for blowing into the didjeridu. To me the sound give chills up the spine just thinking about what it looks like while one man is playing. a fun fact about the aboriginal people is the fact that woman can not play the didjeridu. they believe that a woman playing the didjeridu would waken the spirits causing her to be more fertile and causing a growth in population the tribe can not support.

The Aboriginal people are a very secluded bunch when it comes to the ones living on the reservation known as “Arnhem Land” in the northern territory of Australia. Outsiders are not allowed into sacred rituals most the songs are played at. but there there are plenty of videos and articles on them. Its a very cool culture and one that should not be overlooked.

Cultural Insider vs Outsider

Cultural Insider vs. Cultural Outsider

What does it mean to be considered an insider or an outsider in different cultures around the world? In todays blog I will explain what the difference is between the two by taking two pieces of music, one that I culturally consider normal; and taking a piece of music from a completely different cultural group that I do not relate with at all. Doing this gives the effect of feelings from a song that is familiar and very unfamiliar.

First, what is culture? What does it mean to be a part of a cultural group? To be a part of a culture is to be a part of the community one grew up in, “who you are depends on where you are and with whom you are living” (World Music). People can’t just change who they are, they can assimilate with other cultures but it won’t change who you are and where you came from. A person living in rural Nebraska is going to have a very different view on music than of someone who grew up in the mountains of Nepal. This gives us a brief explanation on what it is to be an outsider or an insider. For me what it is like to be an insider when it comes to music my cultural is EDM but mainly trance music.

EDM has been a part of my life since I was in middle school when I heard my first trance record. I was instantly hooked on it! Everything from the melodies and harmonies of it makes you feel very uplifted; and when it comes to the drop of trance songs it feels like heaven with all the melodic harmonies in the hook with hard hitting bass that could blow an eagle out of its nest. The first piece of music I am going to introduce is an beautiful trance record by a Polish producer who is up and coming in the world. Lets take a listen. (if the link does not work search in youtube “Arisen Flame Challenger”)

I absolutely love this song it is very uplifting and hard hitting at the same time. The strings during the buildup are incredible and could bring a tear to the eye. Arisen Flame has a unique style and mixes classical with modern dance music and made it work perfectly. A lot of my friends are into the same kind of music, which helps to be into it as a group. This music I love and will always love until the day I can hear anymore.  Now lets look at a song that I personally don’t like because I literally just don’t get it. I would like to present my outsider song by Taylor Swift. (again, if url doesn’t work just copy and paste into your browser. And if that doesn’t work search “Taylor Swift – we are never ever getting back together”)

Taylor Swift is a major icon and is extremely famous by her music and the number one songs she has released. I swear that she gets such big recognition just due to the fact she sings about the most extreme girl problems anyone could have. She claims country but sings pop songs, I just don’t get you Taylor, I mean you’re gorgeous but seem to have a lot of baggage and that’s not cool. Sorry got on a rant for a second. Being a guy in my early twenties she just does not cater to the culture I live in and the music I listen to; I’m not a girl never want to be so Taylor Swift I will never get the problems you sing about. The main reason I just don’t like her music is because first off I don’t like the “country” music she puts out and every song is about a different guy. So hey Taylor its probably not them, its probably you, sorry you got interrupted by Kanye West at the Grammys but I will never like your music (and your headbanging doesn’t help either). So to be an outsider is to not be able to relate with what you are hearing, finding yourself in a strange state of mind when listening to music you’re not accustomed to.


Michael Duggan

The Sachs-Hornbostel system

The Sachs-Hornbostel system is the standard classification of musical instruments. Created in the early twentieth century by two German born men by the name of Curt Sachs and Erik M. von Hornbostel. The system categorizes instruments into groups depending on what portion of it vibrates to make the sound. The four main categories are aerophones, chordophones, idiophones and membranophones recently electrophones have been added as a fifth category. For right now lets just look at idiophones.

Idiophones are instruments that can be plucked, struck or rattled. Idio means “itself” therefore idiophone is an instrument that makes sounds from vibrations within it self. There are a few instruments I’d like to go in depth about; the African gourd rattle, the triangle and the singing bowl.


Gourd rattle (Africa): this is a wooden based instrument with a handle and a top that looks similar to a ball. The outside of the rattle is covered in string webbed together with beads that make the initial shaking sound. I am mainly focusing on the African rattle; rattles from the Americas generally have the beads on the inside of the rattle.

Triangle: the triangle is a very simple instrument that everyone has played at one point in his or her life. It’s made completely out of metal, which is where we would get a different sound from the rattle, and is struck with a metal bar. The ending result is a high pitch ringing sound. That vibrates until it’s in contact with another object.

Singing bowl: the singing bowl is essentially a bell, but instead of hanging it sits on the ground and you play the rim with a wooden club. The sound that comes off the drum is a deep long ringing sound several octaves lower than the triangle.

All three have a very different purpose but are all still in the same family.