Jaza's World Trip

Music of Peru

As I already wrote regarding Mexico, you can tell a lot about a country from its music. I was mainly in the highlands of Peru for my time there thus far — almost 90% of my time was spent in Cusco — so what I have to say is probably somewhat particular to that region; although I don't imagine that the music is that different in other regions. Essentially, the music of Peru is a mix of the old, ancient folk traditions; the influence of traditional and modern Latin music in general; and of course, modern Western music. As with its people, Peru's music is exposed to the big, wide world, but still holding proudly and stubbornly to its cultural roots.

Huayno is the most popular type of music in the highlands. Many of the songs are age-old, but they're still churning out new ones all the time; to the untrained gringo ear, it's all just one big, high-pitched girly wail, with a strange beat (sounds kind of Indian, actually), and there's no way to tell one song from another. Huayno can be heard everywhere — on combis, in restaurants, and in the street — and the locals seem to love it. They don't play it in bars and discos: but maybe I just didn't frequent enough local establishments to hear it at them.

Peru has a pretty humble standing in the broader music scene of the Latin world; but they still like to listen to the "top of the pops" for their region, most of which comes from the heavyweight music nations of Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia. Hits such as "Gasolina" (and others — don't know their names) can be heard and danced to everywhere. Surprisingly, Peruanos aren't such big dancers (by Latin standards, anyway!): many of them prefer to share a bottle of Pisco, Rum, or Vodka, instead of joining the disco scene.

I'm pretty sure that all the Latin pop / regatone songs that I've heard down here are the same as the ones from Mexico; but I've already forgotten the ones from Mexico, so I can't be sure. One thing I am sure of, though, is that both countries are mad about the latest Shakira hit, "Hips don't lie". I guess all the Latin people are proud of a song with (some) Spanish lyrics being so big in the Western world.

As for the American and other English music in Peru: well, it's a bit old and outdated most of the time, but they do like to listen to it now and then. Really, they prefer their own stuff; but they also like to feel like they're a part of the big picture, and I guess "English songs" make them feel just that, real hip 'n' all.

Filed in: PeruMusic