Contemporary Quichua music started flourishing in the 1960s, after the emancipation of the indigenous population from their status as hacienda laborers to independent farmers and the increasing access to radio and recording devices. The 1990s saw a large number of active village music groups performing traditional songs and composing new pieces. Often, these new songs carry a highly emphasized socio-political message, calling the runa to unite in a fight for their rights and for their traditions. Criticism of social injustice in the current day or in the recent past is combined with the plot-lines and protagonists of traditional local legends. Messages emphasizing the importance of cultural heirloom can also be found in the following two Imbabura Quichua songs:

Muskuy, “The Dream”, is a contemplative and quiet song which addresses the search for lost dreams and lost traditions, the return to those traditions and the difficulty of finding a balance between the modern world and the traditional way of living and storytelling.

Muskuy (The Dream)

Kúnanga wáyra shína shamúngi / maymánda múyumungí

present-day, you come like wind / from where you are winding


máy zhaktakúnata riksimúngi / imáta shúngupi shamún?

What kind of places have you come to know? What comes into your heart?

Maypíta muskuykúna chingárka? / kutínzha tarishunzhá

Where did the dreams get lost? / We will find them again.

Máyxan niandáta kútin xapíshun / muskúyta taringapáx?

Which road will we take again / in order to find the dream?

Wasíman múyumúni / taytázha mamazhá

I am returning home / father and mother!

Zhakízha púrishpápash / múshun kausáy riksimuní.

Walking sadly – / I’ve come to know the new life.

nyúka zhaktápimári / muskúykuná rikcharimún

In my home town, verily / the dreams are waking us up!

mána pandáxusháchu / káy rimaykúnawán

We are not mistaken / with this story.

In “Nyuka mamitagu”, the speaker calls for his parents to stand by him and his siblings, bemoans their absence and calls for solidarity in dark times, particularly mentioning the destruction of the environment and the insecurity of resources for his children.

Nyúka mamitagu / nyuka taytikuwan

My mother / with my father,

shámuy kumbawangí / máypi káshpapásh

come stay with me. / Where are you?

Kíkin wawakúna shayanchimí

We stand here as your children.

Índi ansayanpí / uranyandá chaparí

At the setting of the sun / I look down the road.

Máyta shamungichá? / máypicha shuyashá?

Where are you coming? / Where shall I wait?

Sómbraguzhapásh rikurimungí.

I hope even as a shadow you come to see me.

Ukzhaway nyúka shúnguká / ukzhaway nyúka káusaytá

Hug me, my heart! / Hug me, my life!

Tutakunáwan kakpipásh / punzhakunázha rikpipásh

Never mind that it is night, / never mind that the day has gone.

Kay zhakta wawakúnatá / zhakizhamári purinchí

As children of this place / we walk sadly, verily.

Tigramuy ánta mamitá / tigramuy índi taytikú

Return, mother / return, dear father sun!

Fuyukúna chingakpí / sácha tukurikpí

The clouds are gone / the hills are spent

Ima yakuwanzhá / nyúka wawakuná

With what water, my children,

súmax punzhakúna kausangazhá?

will you live good lives?