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Gentleman Troubadours and Andean Pop Stars

Huayno Music, Media Work, and Ethnic Imaginaries in Urban Peru

Exploring Peru’s lively music industry and the studio producers, radio DJs, and program directors that drive it, Gentleman Troubadours and Andean Pop Stars is a fascinating account of the deliberate development of artistic taste. Focusing on popular huayno music and the ways it has been promoted to Peru’s emerging middle class, Joshua Tucker tells a complex story of identity making and the marketing forces entangled with it, providing crucial insights into the dynamics among art, class, and ethnicity that reach far beyond the Andes.
Tucker focuses on the music of Ayacucho, Peru, examining how media workers and intellectuals there transformed the city’s huayno music into the country’s most popular style. By marketing contemporary huayno against its traditional counterpart, these agents, Tucker argues, have paradoxically reinforced ethnic hierarchies at the same time that they have challenged them. Navigating between a burgeoning Andean bourgeoisie and a music industry eager to sell them symbols of newfound sophistication, Gentleman Troubadours and Andean Pop Stars is a deep account of the real people behind cultural change.

240 pages | 1 map, 18 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

Latin American Studies

Media Studies

Music: Ethnomusicology


“In this fine study, Joshua Tucker masterfully charts the tortuous journey of Ayacucho’s huayno music from the early decades of the twentieth century into the twenty-first, a story powerfully interwoven with Peru’s troubled history and uneven social landscapes. As a genre steeped in Hispanic elitism and intellectualism—and complicit in the reproduction of Peruvian musical and social hierarchies—Ayacuchano huayno’s refined sentiments did not always inspire widespread popularity. Yet, fused with contemporary sounds and presented with an upbeat style by radio DJs, this music temporarily eclipsed other forms of Peruvian popular music. Tucker’s attention to the key role of media workers in these developments is an especially important contribution, with much applicability for studies elsewhere.”

Henry Stobart, Royal Holloway, University of London

“The predominant theme of Gentleman Troubadours and Andean Pop Stars is musical indigenismo, comprising the process by which the urban mestizo bourgeoisie has, over the past century, ambivalently and selectively appropriated and even fancifully fabricated Andean Indian identity markers, from lyrics about Andean rural life, to college students wearing ponchos and playing panpipes, to the cultivation of a salon huayno that is at once somehow Andean and vaguely Indian while also being urbane and polished. Tucker does a marvelous job of exposing and interpreting indigenismo as a largely urban mestizo phenomenon that celebrates Indianness while erasing actual Indians and their voices.”

Peter Manuel, City University of New York

“By combining fieldwork in Ayacucho and Lima with historical research, this wonderful book reveals the complex way in which musicians, record companies, radio DJs, and changing audiences create popular music genres in contemporary Peru. From the opening bus ride through the sonic neighborhoods of Lima to the concluding chapter on how a genre gains and loses its audiences, this is a great example of the kind of fine-grained ethnography and careful media research that are necessary for understanding popular music in specific communities.”

Anthony Seeger, University of California, Los Angeles

“Hesselink offers a groundbreaking historiography of SamulNori, as well as an analysis of the music that shows how SamulNori makes its own innovative sonic features.”


Table of Contents


Introduction / Cities, Sounds, and Circulation in Twenty-first Century Peru

One / The Distributed Society
Two / The Andean Music Scene
Three / Bohemians, Poets, and Troubadours
Four / The Commercial Huayno Business
Five / Finding the Huayno People

Epilogue / Folkloric Frames and Mass Culture


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