* "Chronology" and part of "Coastal Foklore" have been
translated by: Martha Ojeda, Kristin Cardona, Lauren Garvey, Lacey
Lillard, Brandy Baldwin, Lorrie Keeling.
|cancionero peruano (peruvian song
It is important to remember that when Pizarro arrived at Tumbes
(1532) in the area we are specifically dealing with, the COAST, it
had only been a century, barely 70 years, since the Inca armies of
the glorious reign of Pachacútec, with his generals Cápac Yupanqui
and Inca Yupanqui, uncle and nephew respectively, had dominated
the vast coastal area of nanascas, chinchas, Señorío de Cuismancu
and Chuquismancu and the extensive Gran Chimú zone. In these 500
leagues of the coastline, the pre-Inca cultures worshiped the sea
(Mamacocha) although then the cult of the Sun (Apu Inti) was
established. Furthermore, Spain, which conquered us, had just
emerged from eight centuries of Muslim domination.
The presence of African slaves in Peru began in the
sixteenth century. In a short time, the Spanish colony saw
the principal centers of production (mining and sugar cane
centers) filled up with said manpower. Just as in other
Latin American countries, the number of slaves that arrived
since then is difficult to determine. One of the reasons is
the illegal slave traffic practiced in all of Latin America.
The greatest concentration of slaves, as is well known, was on
the coast, which is also where the principal urban centers have
been formed. The mountain area, or "sierra," was practically
reserved for the native inhabitants. The slaves made their
presence there in the mining centers and in some haciendas.
(Pablo A. Maríñez: "Los esclavos africanos en las haciendas
azucareras de Perú (Siglos XVIII)." Paper delivered by the author
at the "Negritude et Amerique Latine" colloquium in Dakar-Senegal,
An introduction to the Musical Folklore and Dances of the
Peruvian Coast necessarily has to be an introduction to the Black
presence and their decisive contribution to the complex structure
of our Peruvianess, because the Black presence occurs from the
same historical moment (1532) in which the two colossal cultures,
European and Incan, collided. But its influence will manifest
itself later on, when the invader and the subjected began to mix
biologically and culturally in a mixture whose dialectical
synthesis is called Peruvianess. And to that river of Peruvianess
converges the Black tributary, becoming a flood which climbs over
the Andes, overflowing the valleys, until exhausting itself and
disappearing, or perhaps remaining in isolated coastal places
(Piura, Lambayeque, Lima, Ica), from whose waters we flow and in
whose transparencies we have observed everything that is reflected
in the present work.
Whoever conducts research in order to reconstruct the
chronology of said Africaness in his steps to Peruvianess, ought
to retrace in time a path of more than four hundred years (in a
long process of assimilation and rejection) and examine the early
brotherhoods that were formed by the slaves in the seventeenth
century in urban zones.
Brotherhoods of "negros de nación", that is, blacks born in
Africa, also called "bozal" for speaking only in their native
tongues, as opposed to the Africans that had already been
Hispanized and Christianized, which were Black "ladinos."
Brotherhoods of Congos, Lucumis, Minas, Angolas, Carabalis, Congos
Mondongos, Mandingas, etc., disseminated through the suburbs of
the newly formed cities, but remained under the jurisdiction of
each Parish and under the regency of the Viceroy's government,
having certain autonomy to meet in national councils and to
function as societies of mutual help, where the Black workers (water
carriers, candy makers, porters, carriers, artisans, and healers)
labored to rescue their kings from slavery, while at the same time
rebuilding their ancient ancestral traditions.
The brothers themselves built adobe walls for the local
brotherhood, in an assigned lot, for a small sum, decorating
interior walls with images of their main gods. The more numerous "nations"
(such as the Congos Mondongos) could have three or more
brotherhoods, and in all of them, the ultimate authority rested in
the "Caporal" (leader) or "capataz mayor" (foreman), later having
the position of the "twenty-fourth brother" (perhaps the origin of
the term "veinticuatrino" as synonym for "boozer"), as well as
other inferior tasks: spirit captain, etc. As a surviving
tradition from the matriarchal African culture, a Queen was
elected among the Congos. The queen had a main helper with the
honorable and disputable charge of standard bearer; this female
captain was followed by other helpers. The greatest activity of
this feminine procession took place in all of the brotherhood's
public parades, this being the Sunday of the "infraoctava de
Corpus," and there, the Congo queens paraded under umbrellas,
holding a scepter in their right hand and a walking stick in their
left hand, meanwhile the captain would fly the brotherhood's flag
leading the procession.
Out of these brotherhoods originated the cult of the venerated
image of the Lord of the Miracles, painted in 1650 by a black
slave of the Angolan caste, supposedly named Pedro Falcón, member
of the brotherhood of Pachacamilla.
Much later, in Republican times close to the abolition of
slavery (1855) and when all the brotherhoods were already under
the advocation of Catholic saints (Saint Salvador of the Lucumi,
Our Lady of the Kings for the Mandingas; Our Lady of the Rosary
for the Congos Mondongos), and when there were very few of the
original African-born, and the founders of Christian brotherhoods
were predominantly the American-born Africans, don Manuel Atanasio
Fuentes gives us detailed information of the last brotherhoods in
his book Estadísticas de Lima (1858), the same information which
he partially transcribes in his helpful work, Lima, apuntes
históricos, (París, 1867). In it, Fuentes mentions that the "Black
Creoles" (Blacks born in the Americas) elected a foreman with the
intervention of the governmental authorities.
In rural areas, the antecedents of our coastal folklore must be
sought in the so-called "casa de jarana" (party house) a type of
wayside inn located in the center of a small town surrounded by
sugar mills and cotton mills.
This place was the club where each weekend, "Zambos Cholos" and
Blacks met to party.
The term "jarana," has different meanings in Latin America, but
among Peruvians it refers to the happy and bustling party in which
music and dance predominated. But such dancing music was based on
the ancient "bare ground" dances or dances of "cajon," those same
"zamacuecas" or "marineras" were called - by metonymy - "jarana,"
and today it is a synonym for "marinera" and also for party.
And so, the "casa de jarana" was the scene of the most famous
duels of "zapateo" (a type of tap dancing); this was also the
place where the most devoted local "decimistas" participated in
literary duels against foreigners; there, the singers of
"marineras" won fame. The "casa de jarana" was important to the
point that "jaranistas" from Lima traveled specifically to those
towns to compete against them, and to confirm the reputation of
those singers, whose fame transcended the borders of all the
"casas de jarana" surrounded by haciendas and the plots "de
In the "casa de jarana" there was always respect and good
comradeship, its safety being such that the women and the
daughters of the natives would join in to take part in the song
The "casa de jarana" served "aguardiente de caña" (liquor) and
food as well as organizing at times card and dice games.
One "casa de jarana" in the town of Aucallama, in the valley of
Chancay, was a witness to the great deeds of singers and dancers
such as the Vásquez, Boza, Muñoz, Aparicio, Casas... This house
was the center stage for "matonadas" which starred braved "curaos"
(the works of famous witches who filled their bodies with
extraordinary abilities, making them immune to swords, guns, and
blows, and giving them powers to transmute instantly in their body
and soul through time and distance, or voluntary mutations
("pase") which converted them into domestic animals). Of this
caliber were the legendary Martín Champa and "Buen pie," whose
deeds, at the beginning of the twentieth century, would have
provided us with abundant material for best selling novels or
award-winning feature films.
Finally, and in the present century, we find an urban folkloric
atmosphere in the "chinganas" (corner grocery stores) and
"pulperías," (taverns) managed by the Chinese and Italians
"La chingana" was a modest grocery store placed in the middle
of the block at whose door one found grills in which fish was
fried. In the interior one could find a counter, small tables for
eating, drinking, and music playing.
The same people "de armas tomar" who lived in the neighborhood
in lots and alleys were the regulars at those "chinganas."
Some of these stores had back rooms, and there, fights would
break out because of minor insults. "Las pulperías" were a meeting
place for the Bohemians that serenaded in the streets between
drinks waiting for midnight to go toward the friendly small
streets and to begin the classical serenade, joining the small
waltzes at the beginning and to end the dance with the "marinera"
which lasted until the lights no longer shone. The "jarana" was of
"santo, corcova y recorcova," at least...
Nicomedes Santa Cruz Gamarra Lima, June 4, 1975
This name is used as the designation of ten-line stanza
recitals and to distinguish the guitar playing which accompanies
this song. This means the socabón is the melody of our sung ten-line
stanza and also the steady rhythmic accompaniment on the guitar.
|danzas negras en el perú (black dances in
So therefore, both the Arabs, who for two thousand years (from
before the Christian era to the end of the 14th century) were the
pioneers and unwavering agents of black slavery and Portuguese
sailors in the fifteenth century, introduced an element of black
culture into the Iberian Peninsula long before Columbus came near
These events are very significant because "western" culture
brought by the Spanish and the Portuguese was already influenced
by this element of black culture and especially so in anything
related to singing, dance and musical instruments.
|LANDÓ O SAMBA LANDÓ
02.Video. 29,6 MB mpeg. Tiempo: 1:33 minutos
Just like our northern Tondero , the Marinera, a typical dance
of Peruvian mixed races, with its birthplace in Lima and which
today has regional versions of considerable value such as the
marineras from Arequipa, Puno, Cuzco, Cajamarca, Huanuco, etc. has
a tri-partite structure.
But if the Tondero is divided into glosa, canto and fuga; in
the Lima marinera we should distinguish between the primera (first)
de jarana, segunda (second) de jarana and tercera (third) de
03.Video. 38,1 MB mpeg.Tiempo: 2:00 minutos
|son de los diablos
Up until the twentieth century in the centre of Lima and the La
Victoria district it was possible to see the picturesque
Cuadrillas del Son de los Diablos, brightening up the streets
during carnival. A Cuadrilla was made up of eight or ten devils,
led by a Diablo Mayor. They wore smocks and red trousers, masks,
tails and cord shoes; this costume was completed with a small
cloak and masses of bells. The orchestra was made up of a guitar (or
harp), box drum and donkey's jaw bone (carachacha or rattle). Some
water colours by the mixed race artist Pancho Fierro (1803-1879)
depict times before the Son, perhaps when its appearance coincided
with Epiphany, Quasimodo or preceding the Procession in the
Infraoctava of the Sunday of Habeas.
|ingá (danza del muñeco)
Erotic festival dance from urban folklore. Its rhythm comes
from the Festejo, its choreography is in a circle with a dancer in
the centre who dances lulling a bundle of rags, a pillow or
anything else which looks like a breast-feeding baby, holding it
tightly and rocking it - this is where the onomatopoeic name
"ingá" comes from, like the cry of a new-born baby or the dancer
wiggles mischievously with the "little child". Then the dancer
throws the rag doll to someone in the circle, swapping places, so
who ever receives the "inga" goes into the centre of the circle.
In this way the dancers take turns until everyone has danced with
|zaña (lundero afroperuano)
This song with irreverent words, set to music which has been
preserved to our day, is the oldest expression of folklore which
was passed into the afro-yunga mixed culture of the Peruvian coast.
The ZAÑA was the protest of the black man, not against God but
against the men who made a mockery of God's Law.
The Cumananas are quatrains of eight syllable verses. It is a
popular musical expression which belongs to the lyrical-musical
genre: sung poetry to be performed in counterpoint on a subject
agreed on beforehand or a challenge of questions and answers with
a range of subjects. Two singers take it in turns to improvise
songs of four lines until one of them is proclaimed the winner.
The Festejo is the typical dance-song of the mixed black races
in Peruvian folklore. As a song, its words are always about
festivals (perhaps this is why it is called Festejo (Festivity).
In the first half of 1949, some family groups which had
inherited what survived of black-peruvian folklore (limeños,
chancayanos and later cañetanos and chinchanos) were taken on, for
the first time, as "afro-Peruvian" -also called "Negroid"- dance
and music teachers - in the brand new "Folklore Academy". These
people, improvised teachers forced by circumstances, had to make
up a choreography to the "Festejo", which was still sung to the
accompaniment of a guitar, box drum and donkey's jawbone or
carraca (rattle) or carachacha, although the steps to the dance
had been lost long before. They acted on the presumption that its
roots were in the Congo and that it was for the whole group to
enjoy within the general characteristics of African music and that
it had a free-style choreography for male or female soloists with
the other dancers joining in.
01.Video. 20,4 MB mpeg. Tiempo: 1:04 minutos.
|la danza o habanera
During the last century and the beginning of this one the cargo
boats which docked in Callao and other ports along the Peruvian
coast brought not only valuable and vital cargos in their holds
but also airs and musical poems from other American latitudes. We
learnt these straight from the rough voices of the hardened crews
of these ships. The DANZA, also known as the HABANERA was brought
from the Greater Antilles by boats which arrived at our coast
through the Strait of Magellan as the Panama Canal had still not
been constructed. Originally a Cuban song which was accompanied by
a guitar and flute its subject, usually lyric romanticism, sang
about the troubles of love.
In spite of the capricious confections that were popular in
this time of the rebirth and height of His Majesty, the "Cajón" (wooden
box instrument), whose enthusiasts have incorporated it into the
Creole waltz and the "polka", we believe that the most appropriate
dimensions for a good "cajón" should be approximately the
following: un parallelepiped of 30 x 50 centimeters in front, by
25 centimeters in depth. Planed wood of ½ inch for the four sides
of the frame, one plank of "triplay" of 5 millimeters in the front
or face - where the hands were used for percussion - and a
posterior wooden plank of 3/8 inch thick, planed towards the
posterior surface or the back of the wooden box. This last side
had an opening in the middle of it through which the sound would
come out. If said opening were circular or semi-circular, it will
have a diameter of 11 centimeters; if it is triangular, it will
have 15 centimeters on each side. This assemblage of the wooden
box's six sides will be nailed together. The finish consisted of
one coat of varnish or natural "charol" or mahogany. The rebirth
or better said the popularization of the "cajón" that currently is
used in Lima has brought about sophistications as much in the way
in which the sound is produced as in the application in rhythms
and orchestrations that were previously unknown. Playing the
"cajón" appears to be easy and there are even those that make a
big show out of it, moving it around and causing the public to
applaud. But a good "cajoneador" (a wooden box player) must carry
on a sure beat, and will obtain from the instrument a variety of
sounds that will range from the sharpest to the flattest notes.
"La quijada" is nothing but the lower jaw taken form the
skeleton of a donkey, horse, or mule and converted into a musical
instrument by the ingeniuosness and virtuosity of our people. It
is simply called "quijada" (jawbone) and it was also known by the
onomatopoeic names of "carraca" and "carachacha ." Commonly it is
called donkey's jawbone, even if it is not always obtained from
the bones of this one-hoofed beast. In order to play "la quijada,"
one grabs, with the left hand, the space that is free between the
canines and the molars, that is the chin of the mandible. With the
right hand, one holds a piece of the rib of a cow which will be
rubbed across the loose teeth, alternating this action with
rhythmic strikes of the fist on the region of the base of the
thumb over the wider area of the jaw, being careful as a strike
that is too hard could break it, rendering it unusable.
"El guiro" and "la carrasca" belong to the large and very ancient
family of rubbing instruments, whose mechanics consist in rubbing a
smooth piece of wood against one that is ridged on the surface. These
rubbing and ridged instruments' origin could be as much African as pre-Colombian
(American). Made out of the most diverse materials (human bones, bamboo
stalks, hard wood, etc.), "la carrasca" acquires different names in
several continents through the ages; it is "congoerá" to the Guarni
Indians; "omichicahuaztli" to the Aztecs; "teponazlti" in Central
America; "guacharaca" en Columbia; "charrasca" in Venezuela; and "reco-reco"
in Brazil. While among the Kikongo Africans there is a ridged walking
stick that they call "kuakuá" (F. Ortiz), and the capuchino Friar
Merolla de Sorento in 1683, an instrument called "cassuto," a yard-long
stick which is "hollow and with a very low tone, covered with a small
flat piece of wood cut in ridges or serrations engraved at short
distances" that the blacks in the Congo and Angola played, and it is a
companion instrument to the serrated pumpkin called "kilando," which is
This is a serrated or grooved musical instrument which has its origin
in Pre-Columbian America as well as in Africa. It is made of a very wide
range of materials (human bones, bamboo cane, hard woods, etc.), the
carrasca is the precursor of two other instruments; the güiro and the
La guitarra peruana es el mismo instrumento
español, que nos llega con todos los elementos culturales que
desde los primeros instantes se fusiona con la cultura nativa.
There are discrepancies among the organ
experts about whether or not to accept as musical instruments the
so called anatomical instruments, and the human body as the
natural instrument (Bermudo, 1555), because "the first instrument
that man has had available [to him] has been man himself, his own
body, and not only in respect to the singing of music, but also as
instrumental music" (Ortiz, 1925); we open this sample briefly
considering elements of our "corporeal instrumentality" utilized
as objects and means of making music: palms, tapping, howls and
onomatopoeic "guapeos" appear in almost all of our tunes.
|zapateo en mayor.
The music for the zapateo (foot stamping) is performed on only
one guitar and its musical formula, using phrases of four bars
(6/8), completes periods of two or four bars which are repeated
with some alternatives.
The zapateo en modo mayor is a favourite with guitarists and is
the one most requested by dancers because of its brightness and
the variety of melodies.
The zapateo (in "mayor" or "menor") has a rhythm derived from
or related to the Festejo. It is important to remember that this
kind of playing has to be very rhythmic to achieve its aim because
it is actually the stamping that calls the shots; entering into a
"dialogue" with the guitar, syncopating its rhythm and making full
use of periods of silence from the guitar.
|zapateo en menor
The music for the zapateo in the "menor" mode, fits the same
musical formula as the zapateo en mayor, but as there is less
melodic variety in it phrases it is somewhat monotonous so dancers
are not so keen on it, except for exceptional performances. We
know, in fact, that at present professor Vicente Vásquez Díaz is
the only Peruvian guitarist who knows some music for the zapateo
en menor, wonderful playing with bass notes predominating.
The agüenieve or agua´e nieve has been confused with Creole
foot-stamping or the pasada, but there are important differences
between each of these dances. To start with the music for the
agüenieve is only in major mode and its musical formula binds
periods of two phrases in amalgam bars which bring to mind the
Andalusian music for the soleares (Anadalusian folk dances).
|pasada de agüenieve.
Like foot stamping, this is also a male dance, for a soloist in
an improvised dialogue with one or more rivals. The only, but
considerable, difference in its choreography lies in the technique
used; while the foot stamping is with the toe, sole and heel of
the foot, in the agüenieve all the "brushes" are carried out
exclusively with the toes, sole and the sides of the sole of the
foot; with anyone who puts down the heel, even accidentally,
loosing the "brush".
Therefore, the figures of the aguenieve are based on brushes
combined with tapping with the sole or the toes of the foot. There
is a possibility that this was an earlier type of dance than foot-stamping
as it seems that the brushing is not simply a whim but is due to
the fact that it is impossible to tap or stamp with a bare foot
whereas the sound of a bare foot brushing over the hard earth is
The alcatraz (like the ingá) is a erotic-festive dance which
developed from the festejo. The differences between the alcatraz and the
two other dances mentioned lie in its words (which talks about the
choreography) and in its choreography. This consists of a man
brandishing a lighted candle who does an amusing dance trying to burn a
paper cone which his female partner is wearing on her back, while she
uses skilful, rhythmic movements of her hips to avoid getting burnt. The
band for the Alcatraz is made up of a guitar, box drum, güiro and
clapping which provides a setting for the folk songs (antiphonal singing)
which the soloist sings in a dialogue with the choir.
|melopea de agüenieve.
|entrada de marinera.
|llamada de resbalosa
During the interminable nights the black
slaves on the Peruvian coast spent crowded together in the slave
quarters or during the harsh work in the sugar cane, rice and
cotton plantations they wept over their miseries in a heart-felt
and highly original lament which had the meaningful and poetic
name of PANALIVIO.