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Music of Peru

Native Peruvian music is dominated by the national instrument, the charango. The charango is a type of mandolin and was invented in Bolivia by musicians imitating Spanish lutes and guitars. In Canas and the Titicaca regions, the charango is used in courtship rituals, symbolically invoking mermaids with the instrument to lure the woman to the male performers. Until the 1960s, the charango was denigrated as an instrument of the rural poor. After the revolution in 1959, which built upon the Indigenismo movement (1910-1940), the charango was popularized among other performers.

Raul Romero's recordings of saxophone and clarinet enesembles from the Mantaro Valley have proven extremely influential.

Cuzco was the capital of the old Incan Empire and it remains a center of cultural innovation. The is the origin of the huayno dance music, which has become popular in Bolivia and elsewhere in Latin America. Choro and conjunto bands are also popular, and have gained popularity in tourist strongholds like Lima and Ollantaytambo, where a fusion with Western music has resulted in new forms like Andean New Age.

Chicha is a popular fusion of huayno, rock and roll and cumbia. It arose in places like Lima and Arequipa, soon spreading throughout Peru. The first chicha hit song was "La Chichera" by Los Demonios de Mantaro. Other famous performers include Belem, Pastorita Huaracina and Los Shapis.

Perhaps the purest expression of pre-contact Incan music is huayno, which is popular throughout Peru, its modern center of innovation, as well as the other Andean countries of Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador. Modern singers like Picaflor de los Andes and El Jilguero de Huascaran have become superstars in Latin America. The music spread from the interior to the coastal towards in the 1950s, supplanting the musica criolla, a mishmash of tango and other Western music and dance forms.