The Toyo: Ira and Arca
by Douglas Bishop


   Due to the size and length of the Toyo (sometimes as much as 1.5 meters), and the prodigious amount of breath required to produce tones with such a large pan flute form, an interesting tradition has evolved among Toyo players. Like many other Andean pan flute forms, the Toyo consists of two separate rows of tubes. However, the Toyo is typically separated into two halves, which are each played by separate individuals. The two separate rows of the Toyo have their own names, the ira (Aymara = the leader), the shorter row which typically consists of 6-8 tubes, and the arca (Aymara = the follower), which has the remaining 7-9 tubes of the Toyo. Two individuals take turns playing notes in a melody, in a style known as "jjaktasina irampi arcampi" (Aymara = to be in agreement between the ira and the arca). The same interlocking style of playing is now referred to as trenzado (Spanish adjective = braided).