Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Folklore Peruano Vol 2: Various Artists
This collection of huaynos features twelve songs by five groups, probably recorded some time in the 1970's. The huayno is a type of Peruvian music strongly associated with the indigenous people of the Andes and especially with the countryside. Today, a more electronic genre based on huayno structures called the technocumbia has emerged, but conventional huaynos use acoustic instruments, most notably the charango, a plucked string instrument similar to a mandolin and typically include a spoken introduction. This album's focus is love songs, many of which contain strong expressions of Peruvian identity in their lyrics. Some of the artists on this album, like El Jilguero del Huascaran, received wide critical acclaim while Los Hualaychos del Altiplano de Puno yielded no results in a google search.
My first exposure to huayno was through a song on a UNESCO CD called Peru: Music of the Indigenous Communities of Cuzco, which I've posted below. While all the songs on the Folklore record are sung in Spanish, Languilayo Qochachapi is sung in Quechua, the most widely spoken native language of Peru and one of the original languages of the huayno. The singer is eight years old and the instrumentals are a little bit less polished, but the song is incredible. As professional recording artists, the bands on Folklore followed the example of Latin American musicians from all over by turning their regional folk music into something more widely palatable and salable but (many would argue) no less true to its roots. On the back cover, the Odeon label brags that "with this disc, we bring you these artists' best recordings, giving you the exact flavors of the different regions of the Peruvian mountains."
It seems like because the bands on this album don't sound like amateur village bands, the record could sell better, but for the same reason the label had to emphasize the record's authentic qualities. This is a trend that I have noticed in the marketing of so-called folkloric music. People tend to believe that in order to find the ultimate expression of a region's music, the music must be realized in a more formal setting by musicians whose high levels of technique allow them to treat the music with a certain kind of respect. The struggle over the right to claim authenticity is an aspect of many kinds of music, especially those treated as expressions of ethnic or national identity .
I had a hard time figuring out more about this album though. Do the artists and the label identify the music more as a national music than a local music? The song Serrana y Bien Peruana posits a correlation between Andean and Peruvian identity, but is this a different kind of Peruvian identity than say that of a Limeño urbanite? Could the label be at odds with some of the artists on this point? By compiling songs in Spanish rather than Quechua and pointing out that the disc contains exemplary performances of all the regional styles, (which is of course impossible in such a small collection,) Odeon claims the music as the property of broader Peru by treating the regional styles as puzzle pieces that fit into a national genre, varied but strongly related. Are these songs huaynos reinvented for an urban setting, even if that setting is Cuzco rather than Lima?
Papayita Verde by Easy Jams
Languilayo Qochachapi by Easy Jams