Codas, Despedidas, and Kacharpayas

  • Michelle Bigenho


In 1995, the ensemble Kjarkas underwent a significant makeover: Kjarkas became Pacha. While the name “Kjarkas” invoked pre-Conquest fortresses built by the Incas to protect against invasions (Wara Céspedes 1993), the name “Pacha” invoked all the expansiveness of both space and time of the Andean world. The makeover consisted of more than a change of names. In their transformation, the ensemble went to Los Angeles and recorded a CD of their classic themes, but with the backup of a full symphony orchestra. They went to Mexico, where, with another full symphony orchestra and Mexican dancers, they filmed videos of themes from their repertoire. They kept their standard repertoire and their own Andean instruments, but they took off their ponchos. While the addition of the symphony orchestra transformed the sonorous presentations of Kjarkas-Pacha, many of the other transformations seemed driven by the attention to visual cues that accompanies the music video genre, perhaps “the art form par excellence of late capitalism” (Jameson 1991: 76). The Kjarkas-Pacha transformation was part of a marketing pitch “to the world” according to local Bolivian news reports, but the resulting sound image looked more like a specific pitch to Latino/Latin American audiences who might thrive on the ballads of Luis Miguel or the romantic songs of the late Selena.


Music Performance Symbolic Capital Symphony Orchestra Cultural Authenticity Andean Culture 
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    Although Silvia Rivera and Nathan Wachtel have two different projects in their respective books, the title of Rivera’s book, Oppressed but not Vanquished (1986)Google Scholar
  2. rings out against Nathan Wachtel’s Vision of the Vanquished (1977).Google Scholar

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© Michelle Bigenho 2002

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  • Michelle Bigenho

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