Peruvian Music and Dance

Peruvian Music and Dance are an essential feature of life in Peru; local and national festivals are celebrating with  the lilting, infectious beat of the huayno or the teasing and coquettish national dance, the marinera.

The style of music and dance, as well as the instruments used, varies regionally and reflects the landscape and way of life.

Generally speaking, an aural distinction is made between the melancholy, wind-based music of the sierras and the lively, drum-based rhythms of the coast. But, within these geographical areas there are many more localized variations.


The Marinera:

Energy, vitality, sensuality and art. La marinera is one of the most recognized dances in Peru, which is the sound of music and applause, delighting the public at any time. This is the reason why many domestic and foreign tourists traveled far from their city to learn the roots of this traditional dance and find out where their best dance is.

Mimics the mating ritual of birds. A female dancer marks the beat with a white band kerchief beld above her head. She shakes the folds of her skirt, while a suitor struts around her.

The marinera, in all its regional variations, this Cultural Heritage of the Nation by the National Institute of Culture of Peru (since 1986) is one of the most beauty dance in the coast of Peru. Its name comes from the fact that Abelardo Gamarra Rondó, famous national writer, named it that way in 1879 amid the patriotic spirit of the country at that time.


Though the huayno developed in the rural Altiplano, it has now spread nationwide. The lively rhythms encourage couples to dance through the streets and can be very raucous when accompanied by alcohol.

Considered as the characteristic Andean dance for excellence. Its origins date back to the Inca period, were nuanced from the beginning by the assimilation of Western influences, so there are multiple regional and local variants.

Cheerful dance of movement to the rhythm of the music with strong “zapateos”, where the inhabitants of the zone show colorful suits of varied colors, generally own of each zone and elaborated by outstanding craftsmen who constitute themselves in a great contribution to the Peruvian Culture.

Son de los Diablos:

Also call Devil’s Dance, is a popular afro- peruano dance that is perform with energy during the traditional carnival in Lima and sometimes in the surrounding areas. It symbolizes cultural resistance. The accompanying orchesta plays the guitar, cajon and the quijada or donkey’s jaw.

Afro Peruvian Music:

It originated approximately in the sixteenth century, a mixture between African and Peruvian culture. After the arrival of the Spaniards, they brought African slaves with them because of the lack of indigenous labor in the mines. They were violently removed from their lands and brought in ships called “Coffins” to be sold as slaves to the Spaniards. It is there that a clash of cultures is generated between the Africans brought and the indigenous Peruvians by their different customs and by the time they used to develop their daily tasks. The black slaves, having no instruments, armed their own as the drum, the Czech (which would later be the drawer), rattles and others.

What about Musical Instruments?

Many Peruvian instruments have pre- Columbian roots-evidence of pipes, thought to date back thousands of years, has been found in coastal areas. Before the conquest there were only windand percussion instruments; with the Spanish, came stringed instruments such as the guitar.

  • Zampoña: called sicu in Quechua, is the Andean panpipe. Comprising any number of reed tubes each with a different octave, it is boundtogether by a knotted string or a strap. The two rows of pipes are open at one end and close at the other.
  • Ocarina: is an oval whistle flute made of clay, stone, wood and large seeds. It produces a haunting sound and can imitate bird calls.
  • Charango: a small mandolin with a body made from wood, armadillo, or tortoise shells is very popular in the southern Andes. The indigenous population appropriated the guitar to create the charango
  • Cajon: crafted from a wooden box with a sound hole at the back, provides another percussion element to the music of the coast. The musician sits on top and beats on the front surface with the palms.
  • Andean harp: is a 36 stringed instrument with a large boat shaped and halfconical sound box. It creates a uniquely rich and powerful bass. It is an essential part of most bands in the highlands.
  • Quena: a delicate, reed like notched flute, is a versatile instrument. Once made from llama or condor bone, today it is often made from wood or bamboo. It produces a distinctive melancholic tone.

Now plan your travel to Peru, a real adventure gastronomicaly, cultural and historical. Are you ready?