…Spanish for ‘Andean,’ is the distinctive sound of the Andes Mountains: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile. Sometimes sung in Native languages, sometimes in Spanish, it is the most uplifting-sounding music I know.

You probably have heard one song of Andina origin, though you may not have grasped this at the time: El Condor Pasa, sung by many but made most popular by Simon & Garfunkel. The Andean condor is, naturally, one of the emblematic birds of the Andes. If you heard it accompanied by a flute, that approximated the pan-flute or pan-pipes that punctuate so much Andina. The genre contains a lot of fingered strings (I’m no expert on the different types of guitarlike instruments), sometimes violin, moderate emphasis on drumming, and rapid changes of pacing. Rarely is it a cappella, less rarely is it purely instrumental; mostly it is both sung and played.

Andina groups I like include Ecuador Inkas, Nativo, Quichua Mashis, Savia Andina, Illapu, K’ala Marka and Los Kjarkas. It can be difficult to find for sale, so when I trip over an opportunity, I buy some.

If you’d like to give it a try, visit this video of K’ala Marka up on some ungodly height just tearing it up. In spite of the modern touches and enhancements, if you are anything like me, you will feel and hear something ancient. If I had to pick a song and setting that emblemized what I love about Andina, that one has it.


10 thoughts on “Andina”

  1. For the first time in my online history, I beg to differ with JKK. As a gringo long (20 year) married to a Latina, whose family lives scarcely 50 miles from the Andes, this rendition, to me, sounds like a total, unidentifiable mutant of “El Condor Pasa,” an iconic Andean song. It sounds like a modern group trying desperately to trade on the iconioc original, and fails totally. Dick Cote’


    1. I erred. After researching this for several days, I stumbled across my ignorance of the breadth and contemporary presentation of Andean music. I believe I jumped to this confusion due to the use of modern electronic guitars, whereas all the Andean music I have heard performed in the US, France, and South America by Andean musicians was only on acoustic instruments. I apologize for jumping to an unfounded conclusion! — Dick Cote’, May 19, 2013


    1. Dick, I am curious how you know I can levitate. Given my guild, I’m fairly sure that I would be in the lowest percentile of potential levitators!


    2. No problem, Dick, on the Andean presentation. I think that like any arc of creativity, it’ll see a wide variety of forms and expressions, with varying instruments. While bagpipes aren’t Andean in origin, I think someone could add them in effectively, for example. Might sound a little less Andina, but that’s kind of how such things roll.


  2. Interesting history, JKK.
    My problem is that I just don’t like the music. I’ve tried. Heard a whole lot of variations. Nothing has struck me yet. To each his own.


    1. Well, Gary, living in Chile I’m sure you’ve heard a wider variety of it than I have. If you don’t care for it, you at least have a strong basis for that.


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