Gallery of Andean Instruments

Audition                                                Instruments from the Andes

1.  Antara


Antara means zampoña or siku in Quechua. It consists of only one row of reeds and is similar to the Romanian pan-pipe Naiy. Antaras exist in different keys. In the whole area of the cordillera they are tuned in pentatonic scale. Mainly in the forest areas of Peru, Bolivia and Amazonas different forms of tuning are usual – also diatonic and chromatic scale – which facilitates playing the very special melodies (as for zampoña and siku).

In Chile the famous Barroco Andino play classic themes with antaras apart from other wind instruments. In Germany – in jazz and bossa nova – Alaya, Los Andinos and the well-known guitar player and composer José Rogerio play the antara.


2.  Kenacho


The kenacho, a wind instrument, belongs to the quenas: It originates from the Quechua and Aymara. Due to its size, the register is deep.

Normally the kenacho is tuned in Re-mayor (D-major), but it can also be played in a lower key – producing a lasting expression of melancholy and sensivity of a living cultural community.

Not only during ritual and religious celebrations, but also in modern folklore the kenacho is played.

3.  Moxeño



Holding this instrument like a transverse flute, the musician plays the moxeño like a normal flute in a low key. 

Moxeños with a high sound are the so-called tropas and mohoceños, originally pentatonic. The melodies are played in fifth and octave - authentic and powerful.

In the Isla del Sol (Isle of Sun, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia) the farmers play their songs, which they dedicate to the rain and the harvest, with moxeños made by great masters in Walata, as the Mamani family.

Nowadays a moxeño is also built in diatonic scale, played by musicians in the towns, starting in this way a new era for this instrument.

4.  Rondador


The rondador is a kind of zampoña of Ecuadorean origin. It is mutually tuned in two scales, in pentatonic form. The tones are high and crystal-clear.

The rondador is a true companion of the Ecuadorean farmer, mainly played during ritual celebrations. It is made of reed and condor feathers

It is touching to listen to a “San Juanito“. The melancholic playing of rondador and violin reveal the soul of the Quechua people.

The rondador is tuned individually – normally in La-menor (A-minor), Re-menor (D-minor) or Mi-menor (E-minor).


5.  Toyos


The toyo belongs to the zampoñas (pan-pipes), but it is deeper in the tone.

Their lengths are mutually arranged in two rows like zankas or maltas.

A toyo is up to 1.70 m long and approximately 40 cm wide.

Apart from coordination and skill, playing this instrument demands strong lungs and power.

Groups like Ukamau, Bolivia Manta, Illapu, Rumillajta, Los Andinos and Alaya brought the toyo to Europe. It is the only instrument among zampoñas and sikus , which - due to the size of its reeds – is difficult to put in tune.



6.  Quena


The quena is the most important instrument in the Andes. Its sound is produced by air vibration. Today, it is played in the whole of Latinamerica and parts of Europe. It originates from Pre-Colombian cultures, often documented in the Nazca and Chimu hieroglyphics.

“Quena“ is the Spanish word for Quechua “KkénaKkéna“ or “Kjena“ and “Khoana“, which means “hollow space“.

Undoubtedly the Aymara and Inca spread the quena in the Andean countries.

In former times the instrument was made of human and condor bones. It was tuned in pentatonic scale. Later on people made quenas of reeds, bovine bones or wood and tuned them individually  - for example in Sol-mayor (G-major), the most frequent form for the Andean musicians.



7.  Zanka


Usually a zanka is made of 13 reeds, 6 or 7 arranged in two rows. The number of reeds depends on the theme the musician decides to play.

Most of the Andean melodies are tuned in Mi and La (E and A). A malta for example is tuned in Mi (E), a chuli one octave higher. A toyo is played two octaves deeper than a malta. Based on this, the word tropas developed, due to the high and deep tones and the length of the reeds.


8.  Zampoña (Sicunaka)


The original word is siku, particularly in the tradition-conscious villages in the Indian highlands.

Archaeologists discovered that in Pre-Spanish times this instrument was made of stone and clay (clay until the 16th century).

During the first 150 years of Spanish rule the zampoñas were made of wood, stone and metal.

The authentic siku keep the pentatonic scale. You find them in the "Garita de Lima“, La Paz, Bolivia, where they are built by masters of Walata in accordance with original or western models. The masters use measuring-rods called medidas, which facilitate tuning in different forms.

Modern musicians play the chromatic zampoña – as soloists or together with stringed

instruments such as piano, saxophone and others.

They herewith contribute a great deal to the development of Andean culture.