Siku: The Exotic Panpipe of Peru

If you are in Peru, or you are planning to visit the country, it is a great idea to learn a little bit about its music and musical instruments. Peru has a diverse range of European and indigenous music traditions. Contemporary pop and rock are prevalent too but today, I am going to discuss ‘siku’, a type of panpipe, which is also known as ‘Zampoña’.

This Andean panpipe is used in ‘Sikuri’ a musical genre in Andes. Though it is found across the Andes, each community and culture has its own siku that is specially designed and tuned. Siku has now been standardized and developed in such a way that it can be used in modern or western music. It is also being seen increasingly out of its traditional bounds and has become a hip way to say ‘I know about Peru and its music’.

Sikus are made from bamboo shoots and sometimes, candor feathers, bones and other materials may be used. It is interesting to know that the sound of the siku depends on the material used to build it. So much so that, even different bamboo shoots produce different sounds. Siku is often tuned in E minor or G major and makes use of a diatonic scale.

With 3 rows of chromatic scales, it resembles a chromatic button accordion, when it comes to pitch distribution. It is easy to find sikus being sold in smaller towns and villages of Peru. If you would like to experience siku being played by professionals, you must ensure that you attend a sikuri concert. Lake Titicaca is a great place to experience not only siku, but extensive sikuri concerts.

Jude C

I am a travel enthusiast who has closely worked with different communities in India. My interests range from alternative rock to English literature. I also happen to love cats a lot.

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