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Review, Analysis and Recordings Containing
Wak'ai Monophonic Duophonic
Cry  (Moisés Vivanco - 2:28)
Recorded in 1953

Review and Analysis of Wak'ai by Nicholas E. Limansky
From Yma Sumac - The Art Behind the Legend
used with permission - all rights reserved, © Nicholas E. Limansky
Read more on the Legacy of the Diva Web site!
"A great cry of protest sprang from the Incans under the impact of invading Europeans, for they suffered the destruction of much of their civilization an the deaths of millions of their people.  Wak'ai is their fervent prayer to the Sun God, a mournful chant that tells him of their misery and asks him to forgive human cruelty and allow the bright sun of brotherhood to shine again.  The spirit of comradeship binds the Incans, and the message of this song is known and loved in all the villages of the Andes." (Liner notes, 1953 pressing)

This song was occasionally used in concert although obviously performed as a duet with Cholita [Rivero] since there is extensive over-dubbing of Yma on this recorded version.  This is interesting program music that offers a few new vocal effects that Yma frequently used in live performances.

As a whole, "Wakai" is one of the most interesting songs on the album and merits repeated hearings.  It is also one of the few pieces in which Yma chants in authentic Quechua.  Sung almost entirely in her contralto register, Ymas tonal quality is by turns breathy, tremblingly weak and solidly focused.  At times an influence of Blues and Spirituals is evident.  The range of the A minor song is a conservative - two octaves from a strong, deep contralto A to a light pianissimo, floated, soprano high A.

The song begins with Yma singing the melody in her lower register, accompanied by guitar and drums.  Soon, however, she is singing a trio with herself as the tempo accellerates.  Tempo constantly fluctuates in this song and sets up distinct sections of fragmented singing.  Most notable is a fascinating section of weeping phrases interspersed with authentic, spoken Quechua that is effective for Yma's various shadings of tone and text.  There is a distinct sense of Yma's involvement in this song that goes beyond being merely an effect.

Wak'ai  is included on the following releases
Download-only version of Yma Sumac's first (Voice of the Xtabay) and third Inca Taqui albums, probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These are the same tracks that can be found on legitimate releases of Voice of the Xtabay. The exact country of origin is u . . . 2011 Australia
catalog no: FAP 2-423
Volume 2, single EP, red label, not to be confused with the Double EP which contains two records comprising the entire album. 1953 United States
catalog no: EAP2-684
Part 2 of set from Norway has tracks from both Voice of the Xtabay (1950) and Inca Taqui (1953) so is actually a compilation rather than an original reissue. 1956 Norway
catalog no: FBF-423
Third album, gatefold double EP 1953 United States
catalog no: LAL 9023
10" LP pressing of Yma Sumac's third album, recorded in 1953.  There were few reissues because it was later paired with Voice of the Xtabay as the second side of the 12" LP format and on nearly all releases under that title.  Today it is generally considered a part of the Xtabay album. 1953 United States
catalog no: H-423
One of the few known releases from Columbia, it was apparently released in the U.S. printed sleeve. 1953 Columbia
catalog no: H-423
This is the first pressing of Yma Sumac's fourth album. 1953 United States
catalog no: L-423
Unusual South American pressing with wood grained borders printed with the cover art, rather than the 7" cover art being pasted over a standard bordered 10" sleeve. 1953 Argentina
catalog no: LZE 5005
Unusual Japanese release in gatefold sleeve. English labels and back liner notes; inner sleeve contains notes in Japanese. The Capitol logo is slightly different but otherwise the cover looks much like the more common U.S. release. 1953 Japan
catalog no: L-423
Unusual European pressing with woodgrained borders printed with the cover art, rather than the 7" cover art being pasted over a standard bordered 10" sleeve. 1953 France
catalog no: L-423
This is an early pressing of Yma Sumac's fourth album, and one of only a few reissues. 1954 United States
catalog no: LC-6624
U.K reissue of Yma Sumac's third album, recorded in 1953.  Features unusual painted cover art in the same style as the original photograph.  Because of the detail, very likely it was a painted over copy of the original photo and then reprinted onto the cover.  Painted cover art seems typical of t . . . 1955 United Kingdom
catalog no: OLP-1
Reissue of third album with different cover art, featuring a still from the 1954 film, Secret of the Incas.  Mfg. by Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co, Ltd.  Back cover has only track listing for this and two other albums in the series - no liner notes. 1956 Japan
catalog no: UV093
Recent 10" LP release of Yma's third album with the original eight tracks. 2003 Italy
catalog no: W-684
This is the first 12" LP reissue of Yma Sumac's phenominal 1950 premier album and includes all the tracks from her third album, Inca Taqui to fill the larger capacity of the 12" LP format. 1955 United States
catalog no: 5C 038-85488 (T-684)
LP containing sixteen tracks from Voice of the Xtabay (1950) and Inca Taqui (1953) from Holland. Similar in most repects to the U.S. releases except in catalog number and logo details. It was released on the EMI Records Holland sub-label. Inner sleeve features an artist rendering of the Capitol Reco . . . 1956 Netherlands
catalog no: W-684
Reissue of first album, B/W back cover photo, this is a later pressing without the inset of the Inca Taqui cover art that graced the original release in this format.  Although not the very first, this is one of the earlier 12" LP releases and shares the catalog number with original 12" pr . . . 1963 United States
catalog no: DW 684
Reissue of first album, Duophonic simulated stereo, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1963 United States
catalog no: CO 553
Unusual World Record Club release with plain cover art 1963 New Zealand
catalog no: DW-684
Duophonic (simulated stereo) LP from Canada is virtually identical to U.S. pressings other than the tiny Made in Canada notations on the sleeve and disk label. 1963 Canada
catalog no: SLEM-323
One of the few known pressings from Mexico, this 12" LP is in the simulated stereo Duophonic format. 1972 México
catalog no: SUA 14 729
Supraphon version with plain back (track listing only) and no cover title.  This album is basically a reissue of Voice of the Xtabay but with one song less on each side. 1965 Czech Republic
catalog no: DV 6150
Gramophon record club version with cover title and liner notes. This album is basically a reissue of Voice of the Xtabay but with one song less on each side. 1965 Czech Republic
Vinyl releases seem to be the trend now as this recent double LP indicates. This time it is a reissue from a compilation CD rather than being a reissue of an original vinyl disk. 2005 United Kingdom
catalog no: CDP-7-91 217-2
Reissue of first album, first CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1987 United States
Promotional copy of 1996 Right Stuff CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1996 United States
catalog no: 0777-7-91 217-2-4
Reissue of first album, second CD reissue, includes Inca Taqui tracks 1996 United States
catalog no: 8374292
EMI Rarities reissue of first album with Inca Taqui tracks and bonus track with original unedited cover art 1999 France
catalog no: CREVO 34 CD
Compilation with previously-unreleased material.  This is the original 1995 issue but a more recent version exists with different tracks. 1995 United Kingdom
catalog no: CREVO 34 CD
Reissue of compilation with previously-unreleased material. This reissue contains a slightly different track selection than the original 2001 United Kingdom
catalog no: 23351
76 Hits and Rarities from the goddess of Exotica. More details and track for this September 2012 collection coming soon. 2012 United Kingdom
catalog no: GSS 5482
This 3-CD set advertised as being from Holland but package and disk printing indicate it was made in Portugal. Released in March 2008 and contains 47 tracks, this boxed set contains three standard jewel cases all with the same cover art and no booklet or notes. The box cover is shown. 2008 Portugal
catalog no: 118734
Anthologie 1950-1959 Compact Disc set of Yma Sumac's containing all of Yma Sumac's 1950's Capitol Records original release catalog. Probably a bootleg as no EMI/Capital Records licensing information could be found. These tracks are included on legitimate releases of all the original albums. 2013 France
catalog no: BLUE102CD
Double CD collection features remastered tracks from the 1943 Argentina Session along with those from the Capitol Records years. 2005 United Kingdom
Yet another compilation CD with the title of Queen of Exotica making three with that title. This one, which is a 2-CD set, combines four of Yma Sumac's '50s albums. 2005 United Kingdom
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