In the first comprehensive synthesis of Andean musical instruments, Dale Olsen breathes life and humanity into the music making of pre-Hispanic cultures in the northern and central Andes. He assesses three decades' worth of anthropological findings from diverse collections, museums, tombs, and temples. Although the instruments, ranging from the ceramic flutes of the Sinu and Tairona and the panpipes of the Paracas and Nasca to the Moche's rattles, drums, and conch shell trumpets, are analyzed in great detail, Olsen's is original among studies of pre-Columbian music in that it takes an interpretive rather than a purely descriptive approach. What did music mean in the lives of these pre-Columbians? Part musical quest, part adventure of the mind, he considers not only why and when the instruments were played, but exactly how. Enhancing the text are fascinating illustrations of more than 80 archaeological musical instruments and ancient artifacts, many never before reproduced in books available in the United States.
Dale A. Olsen is Distinguished Research Professor of ethnomusicology and director of the Center for Music of the Americas at Florida State University. He is the author of Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest (UPF, 1996), winner of the 1997 Alan Merriam Prize for most outstanding book in ethnomusicology, and coeditor of The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 2, and The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music.