For Karikuy’s blog, Andrew Crawford writes about his introduction to the traditional Peruvian instrument used extensively in Andean music – the Charango.
“Julio, can you show me where the music shops are?”
“Oh there’s a strip of about 20 in a row right in downtown Lima.”
It was all over from there. With some child-like begging and a few temper tantrums, my plan succeeded as we headed to music central. I don’t know why that is considered immature because it is clearly a flawless technique. With a bounce in my step, I was able to regress to childhood and become a kid in a candy store again, except much less mature this time. At my first outing (obviously there were more than one – I was an experienced colic baby), I picked up a couple inexpensive instruments to hold me over, such as those zampoñas and a pair of maracas to smuggle through customs. I avoided a charango because of cost, but that inner child of mine has an ample resume for draining my bank account.
Consequently, after doing credible YouTube research, I caved and purchased one of these 10-stringed mandolin instruments that were born in what is now considered the country of Peru. It plays like a guitar, except the strings are arranged in pairs. So when you press one finger on any given note, you are really hitting two strings and playing two notes at once.
So I thought to myself, how could I be a guitar player, come to Peru (to study music nonetheless), and NOT pick up the most famous national instrument? Money has certainly been an issue, but this was surely a must-have. I was not planning on spending quite as much as I did, but I came across one that I didn’t knew existed, an acoustic-electric charango! Not only did it act as a normal acoustic charango, but I can also plug it directly into an amplifier for increased volume, effects, and perhaps even performances…