Sharing the ¾ time signature of the Viennese waltz, the Peruvian version also plays on themes of love and loss, but as this video shows, both the music and the steps have a more vigorous, staccato style than the traditional European dance.
The melody is played on traditional Spanish guitar accompanied by the cajón, a wooden box percussion instrument played with the hands. Afro-Peruvian singers have dominated this genre of music. The most famous exponent of the Vals Peruano is Lucha Reyes, who took the style to the rest of Latin America in the 1950s, and made it a source of national pride. Her manic and tragic life mirrored the themes of heartbreak in her songs.
The band Peru Negro has modernized Vals Criollo and their stage shows are extremely popular.