Peruvian bamboo flute

The Peruvian bamboo flute, also known as the quena, is a traditional wind instrument originating from the Andean region of Peru. The quena is a unique instrument with a distinctive sound that has been enjoyed for centuries. In this article, we will explore the history, construction, and playing style of the Peruvian bamboo flute.

See also: Bamboo flute embouchure placement

Peruvian bamboo flute


The quena has a rich history that dates back to pre-Columbian times. It was used by the Inca people during their religious ceremonies and was considered a sacred instrument. The quena was also used during the Spanish colonial period when the indigenous people were forced to convert to Christianity. The quena was incorporated into Christian religious music and is still used in religious ceremonies today.


The quena is made from a single piece of bamboo that is split down the middle and hollowed out. The length and diameter of the bamboo determine the pitch of the quena. The quena typically has six finger holes and one thumb hole. The finger holes are placed to create the diatonic scale and can be covered and uncovered to produce different notes. The thumb hole is used to create the higher notes. The quena is often decorated with colorful beads or carvings and can have intricate designs.

Playing Style

The quena is played by blowing into the top of the instrument and using the fingers to cover and uncover the finger holes. The player can create different techniques such as vibrato and glissando by varying the pressure of their breath and finger movements. The quena is often played in ensembles with other instruments such as the charango, guitar, and bombo. The quena is also used in traditional Peruvian music such as huayno, marinera, and vals.

Cultural Significance

The quena has played an important role in Peruvian culture and has become a symbol of Andean music. It is often used in festivals and celebrations and is a popular instrument among musicians. The quena has also been incorporated into modern music styles such as jazz and rock. The quena has become an important part of the Peruvian identity and is a source of pride for the Peruvian people.


The Peruvian bamboo flute, or quena, is a unique and beautiful instrument with a rich history and cultural significance. Its distinctive sound and intricate construction make it a valuable addition to any music collection. The quena has been enjoyed for centuries and continues to be an important part of Peruvian music and culture.