Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Steel

Second Advisor

Dr. Stanley Pelkey

Third Advisor

Dr. Martha Councell-Vargas

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ann Miles


Flute, Folk music, Otavalo, commercialization, authenticity, tradition

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This thesis consists of an intimate study of the value and meaning of flute music of indigenous musicians in the contemporary world. This is accomplished by interviewing and observing indigenous panpipe and flute musicians in and near the Plaza de Ponchos Market in Otavalo, Ecuador. Collected personal stories, historical accounts, and recordings and analysis of the music all provide insight into the purpose and traditions the music holds. While the musicians attempt to maintain a sense of cultural authenticity, modernization has altered the importance of customs and music as Otavalo moves toward a more commoditized and urbanized community, reflecting ethnic values through invented traditions and fragmented identity. As the world tends toward homogenization of culture, this research increases awareness of how music can and does contribute to the world's multicultural experience in today's society. Through the analysis of the effect of change on tradition by means of commercialization, this research depicts the values of Otavalan society as implied in their music expressions. This thesis concludes that musicians and instrument vendors in Otavalo construct their own identity around music, as it is continuously and increasingly intertwined with trade, and ultimately success. Music is not only commercial or ritual, but a great many things to the Otavalans.


A print copy of the thesis is also available in the Music Library, in the Dalton Center at call number ML 9999 .H357

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