More Info: Afro-Peruvian Percussion Instruments, and Thanks


In the documentary, Huevito states that Afro-Peruvian percussion instruments are the cajón, cajita, quijada, zapateo, palmas, and guapeo. I’ll explain these here.

First, the cajón: it's that box that our stars are sitting on and playing in some of the performances, and that Lalo Izquierdo uses to demonstrate the meaning of some of the rhythms. The cajón is now also found in Latin jazz and even Spanish flamenco, where (according to flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía) it was introduced via Afro-Peruvian performers – specifically, Caitro Soto and two of his friends (one of whom was Lalo Izquierdo).

The cajita is a small box. It developed out of the box that was used in church for people put their donations in!

The quijada, or quijada de burro, is a donkey’s jawbone which has been dried and cleaned to be used as a percussion instrument. Lalo Izquierdo plays one in the final performance number of the documentary. Most Afro-Peruvians are poor but resourceful, and have learned to make good use of whatever comes their way.

Zapateo is the fancy footwork that we see demonstrated at the beginning of the trailer. In Afro-Peruvian towns in the countryside, especially in the coastal area south of Lima, zapateo forms an important part of the celebration of Christmas, where it is performed in honor of Baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Now, it has also become something done in friendly competitions unrelated to any religious meaning.

Palmas: The word “palmas” in this context means hand-clapping, and palmas is the rhythmic hand clapping used in Afro-Peruvian music (and also, incidentally, in flamenco).

Finally, we come to guapeo. Guapeo refers to the verbal encouragement that the audience, or another musician, will give to someone performing. (In flamenco, if I may be permitted to digress again, it is called jaleo.) In many forms of classical music, including “Western,” Persian, and southern Indian, you are expected to keep quiet in a performance out of respect for the performers. But in other musical forms, including Afro-Peruvian, silence indicates a LACK of respect, or at least a lack of appreciation. Guapeo is important to the performers – something to remember next time you go to a show!


And Our Thanks:

Media Art Works (MAW)

Margarita Córdova
and the “hatajos” that practice in her home in El Carmen, Peru

and also:
Luisa (Nachi) Bustamante Gonzales
Casa Shenan
María Isabel Gavilano Yunis
José Orlando "Lalo" Izquierdo
Municipalidad de Miraflores, Peru
Socorro de Rosario Samone Henere
Juan de Dios Soto