By Vasco Valencia -
"I am proud and happy to be Peruvian and to be born in this beautiful sunny land..." says
the beginning of a well-known Peruvian popular song that alludes to the enormous cultural,
historical and geographical wealth of my country. From our ancestral Inca culture and the artistic expressions that it left us (the citadel of Machu Picchu, considered one of the wonders of the world, unrepeatable colored looms, handicrafts, ceramics, etc.) to the appearance of the Spanish and the miscegenation generated by the mixture of different cultures that came to our land, the cultural manifestations have been and are innumerable and varied. Architecture, gastronomy (one of the best in the world) and art in its various manifestations (paintings, sculptures, music, among others) are just a few topics that I could expand on, but I will focus on a story that shows how a part of my culture has impacted me. I will refer to music, specifically the “Cajón Peruano'', a percussion musical instrument that is very special to me.
Still in my mother's womb, I felt the characteristic touch of the "Cajón" with its inimitable sound, the perfect accompaniment to different typical Peruvian musical genres, such
as "marinera", "festejo", "landó", among others. I knew the sound of this instrument before I was born because my father is an expert percussionist, and although he is not professionally dedicated to music, he plays the “Cajón” like no one else. From a very young age, this instrument marked my musical sense and I learned to play and love it not only because it was part of my ancestral culture, but also because playing it makes me carry my father in my heart.
Once, while in kindergarten, my dad and I did a presentation for my classmates and I was
extremely proud to notice how everyone was amazed to see my father's skill playing the “Cajón” and how I, being so young, could already accompany him. The emotion I felt was indescribable and unforgettable!
Nowadays, I play the “Cajón” quite well, in addition to many other percussion
instruments such as the bongo, the tombs, or the bell. However, the “Cajón” is and will always
be my favorite. Its unique sound has been so appreciated internationally to the point that the
great guitarist Paco de Lucía took it to Spain, in such a way that today it is a fundamental
instrument in flamenco rumba and related rhythms.
The story that I have written is a story of pride and roots towards an element of my
culture that has marked me intensely, that is unique in the world and that defines through music the miscegenation that exists in my country. This miscegenation is also reflected in all the diverse songs and dances of the different cultures in my country, as well as in the beautiful gait of the “Peruvian Paso Horse”, also unique in the world, always accompanied in his walk to the rhythm of a waltz played with guitar and “Cajón”.