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What Bolivian altiplano panpipe music is all about

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What Bolivian altiplano panpipe music is all about

In traditional Bolivian society, in the high plains of the Andes (the altiplano), the panpipes are more than just an instrument.  Breath is seen as the essence of life, so blowing the panpipes has deep importance. It is significant that the shortest pipe is on the left, longest on the right: the left to right is seen as the direction in which life and growth travel. 

In Quechua, a traditional language of Bolivia, there is no equivalent for our word ‘music’. All instruments, tunes, songs and dances are in context of the agricultural year (such as the harvest feast), religious festivals or human relationships. There are about 40 days of feasts a year and these define, focus and give rhythm to people’s lives.

Many of the tunes The Zampoñistas play have come from rituals. Usually a tune is played many, many times, players are fed and given chi cha (fermented corn drink) while the tune is still being played. The Zamps content themselves with a nice sav blanc after the gig!

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Music

Samples of tracks from the Zampoñistas forthcoming CD will be available soon.

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Videos

You can view our videos at the Zamponistas You Tube channel by clicking on the images:

National Folk Festival concert, 2009
Highlights from a stage performance at 'the National'. The Zamps mostly do street performances, but this concert footage gives a sense of what we do.

Dance Me to the End of Love
The Zampoñistas performed the Leonard Cohen classic as part of the 2012 National Folk Festival's Infinite Song Competition in Canberra. The whole concept was a joke, but it was strangely powerful and moving. The crowd loved it and the band made the final. The camera is a little shakey at the start (all that excitement!), but soon came good. Thanks Fiona!

Sample video
The tune Kiki with a selection of pictures of The Zampsperforming and having fun at various events.

Watch out for more Zampoñistas videos as they come on line!

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