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The panpipes of the Andes

In South America, one uses a large variety of panpipes. Spanish called them by a generic term: zampoñas.
But each flute has its name in Indian language. These names can vary
from one place to another of the Andes Cordillera. For me to recognize there
among tens of flutes of which I play, I deliberately chose to use for each flute
the name most usually used in France. I learned these names at Sud-américains
that I côtoie. There exists in the Andes cordillera much of other flutes.
This page presents only the flutes of cane and bamboo which I use

I did not record my flutes yet: that could not delay!

Sikus family

 The flutes that I present to you below train the family of the sikus
(to pronounce [siku]) and are usable unit to form an orchestra,
which can consist of hundreds of flutists in the Andes. All these flutes
are made of bamboo to the very fine walls which give to a sound very particular
rich in harmonics. I manufacture all the panpipes which I use.

<listen to a sikus band : a "sikuriada" >


It is the basic panpipes of Latin America. It consists of two complementary parts which form two lines: the "ira", that which carries out the melody, has 6 tubes. The "arka", that which follows, has 7 tubes. This flute is designed to be played by two musicians. Each musician uses part of the range. In this manner, it is possible to play very quickly and very loud, without silence between the notes to take again its breathing. In solo, the two lines make it possible to reduce the width of the flute, but that requires a gymnastics to pass from the one to the other. I manufacture my sikus starting from flutes for imported tourists of Latin America, badly made and out of tune, but whose bamboo is of good quality. I dismount all, I tune, I polished, and I remake new flutes perfectly finished and usable in concert.

<listen to the sikus>

sikus_p.jpg (10333 octets)


They are babies sikus ! At the time of large gatherings of sikus, their very acute sound leaves the flood and makes it possible to give the melody to all the musicians.

chulis_p.jpg (8399 octets)


They are sikus, but larger ! Truths sankas, like the sikus, have 6 + 7 tubes. Mine are double, i.e. that they are sankas and sikus coupled one with the other. It have two lines of 10 and 11 tubes.

<listen to the sankas>

sankas_p.jpg (6472 octets)


They are giant sikus ! Like my sankas, mine are wide: sankas + toyos. The largest tube makes 1,20 m length. But some toyos can go up to 2 meters: it is necessary to play about it on a stool, or knees leaned behind, the toyos almost flat by ground. It is the instrument which requires the most control of the breath.

<listen to the toyos>

toyos.jpg (11487 octets)

<listen to the ensemble :
sikus + sankas + toyos>

sankas with PVC resonator

These are sankas that I manufacture with simple PVC for drains. In addition to the principal line, those have a line of not stopped tubes: resonators. They sound by sympathy and give to the flute its rich harmonics.

sankas_pvc.jpg (7931 octets)

Sikus and bombo

All the flutes of the family of the sikus can be played with the bombo, large drum of the Andes.

sankas_bombo.jpg (12677 octets)

Other flutes of the Andes


This flute comes from Ecuador. The position of its tubes makes it possible to the musician to be accompanied with the third into blowing in two tubes. This instrument allows also pretty successions of notes which make think of the song of a bird. With the origin, the rondador consisted of a reed to the thick walls as our Cane of Provence. Currently, they are made of bamboo to the fine walls, like the sikus.

rondador_p.jpg (8454 octets)


This flute is used everywhere in the Andes. It approaches our European panpipes. It consists of tubes of bamboo to the very fine walls, which gives a very soft sound.

antara.jpg (6347 octets)

Straight flutes of the Andes

Kenas family

The kena is made of a piece of thick bamboo. It is a flute with notch, without nozzle to channel the air. From where its unpleasing play: one does not leave a sound there the first blow ! But controlled once, it is a powerful and sharp flute, covering two octaves and half in practice.


It exists in an infinity of tonalities. Most current in France is the kena in G (A 440). In the Andes, each band uses its tonality granted to the voices of the singers.

kena_p.jpg (7944 octets)


It is an enormous kena with the sound very deep and enchanting. My kenacho was manufactured by Jeff Barbe, instrument maker in Ardeche, with bamboo pushing close to this river.

kenacho_p.jpg (7454 octets)


These are two small perfectly granted recorders which are played together. Their sound is magic and often causes a silence of astonishment and emotion among listeners. My dulciñas was also manufactured by Jeff Barbe.

dulcinas_p.jpg (8794 octets)

Other flutes

fresteù of Provence

It is the panpipes of Provence. That that I use is manufactured in Cane of Provence, in Brittany (!), by the Camac company.

fresteu.jpg (6553 octets)


I manufactured this flute at the time of a training course with a Japanese sakuachi maker come to France. I will speak to you about it soon more in details.

shakuashi.jpg (62108 octets)

Last modification : 2006-02-26   © Studio Canne et Bambou