The Sound Of Silence by Wuauquikuna is perfect for when you need to unwind. Comprised of brothers Luis and Fabian (known as Rumy) Salazar, Wuauquikuna means “brothers” in their native Quechua language. Originally from Ecuador, the brothers have spent much of this century playing at European festivals and concerts.
Wuauquikuna’s lyrical, instrumental version of The Sound of Silence places the well-known melody in an indigenous American setting. After a brief introduction, featuring piano and chimes, the brothers start playing their flutes. Such is their skill, that their flute playing closely follows the vocal phrasing of the Simon and Garfunkel original.
The song is both beautiful and soothing. The organic resonance of the various flutes evokes a sense of open spaces and tranquillity. For the Salazar brothers, their music’s combination of elements and instruments of indigenous music from South and North America has a spiritual dimension. As they put it: “We are representing the prophecies from our elders and it is related to join together two cultures just like the Eagle from the North and the Condor from the South are sharing the same sky”.
Wuauquikuna’s lushly produced version of The Sound of Silence is very popular – over 25m views since they posted it in April 2021. The brothers also have an earlier live video of the same song. While less atmospheric, the earlier recording has great close-ups of the brothers playing the traditional wind and percussive instruments that give them their distinctive sound. As with the later polished version, the panflute, with its organ-like array of tubes, is easily recognised by its soulful sound.
Besides the panflute, the Brothers play a range of instruments with exotic names including Quena, quenacho, zampoñas, rondador, panflute, toyos. These instruments ensure that even with modern backing tapes, and even while playing Western pop songs, the music of Wuauquikuna is deeply rooted in the indigenous music and dance of the Americas.
Addressing the importance of being spiritually rooted, Rumy has noted: “When I am dancing and playing flute I feel the spirits of past generations. To dance is to feel free. I feel individuality in my style of dance. I give respect to my elders. I bring respect to myself, my family and all the people. Let our children not forget our past and our roots”.
The Salazar brothers are prolific. Their webpage lists eighteen albums, although Meditation 1 and 2 are compilations. Most of their albums are devoted to traditional music, especially music from the Andes. Alongside the traditional tracks, there is an eclectic range of covers of Western music, including Scarborough Fair, Ave Maria, Celine Dion’s Power Of Love, the Titanic Theme, and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
The music of Wuauquikuna is unashamedly marketed as being conducive to relaxation and suitable for meditation. With their cover of The Sound of Silence, the listener has the pleasure of listening to a well-known song performed in a style that is designed to make one feel less stressed and more tranquil. No wonder it is so popular.