A guided tour through the sounds of Latin American traditional music, its instruments and performers. By Edgardo Civallero

May 25, 2017

Turtle shells in traditional Latin American music

Turtle shells in traditional Latin American music

Part 03. Peruvian and Colombian lowlands


 

In the lowlands of eastern Peru, the Culina or Madija people living in the upper parts of the rivers Purús and Santa Rosa (department of Ucayali) play the teteco, a shell of motelo (Chelonoidis denticulata) that has one of its ends smeared with resin of the tree cacaraba (Inga feuilleei). The rosined end is rubbed with the fingers. The sound made by the teteco accompanies the melody of a panpipe made of 2 reed tubes, called api (SIL, 1999; Chavez et al., 2008).

In Colombia, according to Miñana Blasco (2009), the Cubeo people from the Vaupés basin (departments of Vaupés and Guaviare and neighboring areas of the Brazilian state of Amazonas) use the shell of the turtles makáku+nbó (macacûùbo or morrocoy, Geochelone carbonaria) and jiákumi (jiacûùbo, Podocnemis expansa) to build idiophones. They are used to perform instrumental music and to accompany popular songs (yiriaino) together with panpipes and whistles made of deer skulls (Mendoza Duque, 1992).

Miñana Blasco also mentions the kjúumuhe of the Bora people (department of Amazonas), a friction idiophone that is no longer in use since the large collective fishing activities where it was played together with a small panpipe are no longer carried out (Novati and Ruiz, 1984).

The Camsá or Camentsá people (departments of Putumayo and Nariño) have an instrument similar to the former one, called torturés (Igualada and Castelví, 1938); the Ika or Arhuaco people (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta) own the turtle shell kúngüi (Bermudez, 2006); and the Tikuna people from the Colombian "Amazonian Trapezium" (and nearby areas of Brazilian state of Amazonas) possess the turtle shell torí. A gift from the Tikuna mythical hero Yoi or Yoí, the latter is struck with a twig of ubu tree to accompany household songs, or played during community festivals like the yüü, the female initiation. In addition to the last two instruments, Bermudez (1985) also mentions a turtle shell idiophone played by the Inga people (department of Putumayo).

Regarding the Tukano or Yepa-masa people (departments of Vaupés and Guaviare, and the Brazilian state of Amazonas), there are museum references to turtle shells (ICANH, 2012) apparently played by friction ― like the ones collected during the expedition of Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff to the Vaupés area in 1967.

In the department of Vaupés, the Carapana or Karapana people play the ujerica, and the neighboring Barasana, Paneroa or Southern Barasano people, the gu coro. Settled in that same region, the Bara, Waimaja or Northern Barasano, the Piratapuyo or Wa'ikâná and the Tatuyo peoples also use turtle shells as musical instruments; the first ones play them together with a panpipe, and the Piratapuyo call them kuú (ILV, 1973). According to the same source, the Cacua or Kakwâ people (department of Guaviare) play shells to accompany small panpipes with 2-3 tubes, as also do the Macuna or Southern Buhágana people, who call the instrument gusiraga coro. All of them have a piece of beeswax attached to one end and are played by finger or palm friction.

 

Bibliography

Beaudet, Jean-Michel (1998). Wayãpi of Guyane: An Amazon soundscape. [CD]. Paris: Le Chant du Monde; Collection du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / Musée de l'Homme.

Bentzon, Fridolin Weis (1963). Music of the Waiwai Indians. In Fock, Niels. Waiwai: Religion and society of an Amazonian tribe. [Thesis]. Copenhague: Nationalmuseet.

Bermúdez, Egberto (1985). Los instrumentos musicales en Colombia. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Bermúdez, Egberto (2006). Shivaldamán: Música de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. [CD]. Bogotá: Fundación de Música.

Bórmida, Marcelo (2005). Ergon y mito: Una hermenéutica de la cultura material de los Ayoreo del Chaco Boreal. Archivos, 3 (2). [Online].

Bourg, Cameron (2005). Ancient Maya music now with sound. [Thesis]. Louisiana: State University. [Online].

Brenes Candanedo, Gonzalo (1999). Los instrumentos de la etnomúsica de Panamá. Panama: Autoridad del Canal de Panama.

Castellanos, Pablo (1970). Horizontes de la música precortesiana. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Cavour, Ernesto (1994). Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia. La Paz: E. Cavour.

CDI [Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas] (n.d.). 50 encuentros de música y danza indígena. [Patrimonio Documental de los Pueblos Indígenas de México]. [Online].

CEDTURH [Centro de Documentación Turística de Honduras] (n.d.). Instrumentos musicales autóctonos de Honduras. [Online].

Coppens, Walter et al. (1975). Music of the Venezuelan Yekuana Indians. [LP]. Washington: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Cruz, Natalia (2012). Guze Gola, en la interpretación del Grupo Gugu Huiini’. Comité Melendre. [Online].

Chávez, Margarethe et al. (2008). Instrumentos musicales tradicionales de varios grupos de la selva peruana. Datos Etnolingüísticos (Instituto Lingüístico de Verano), 36.

García Garagarza, León (2014). La tortuga, o el trueno y la lira. La Jornada de Morelos, July, 12. [Online].

García Gómez, Arturo (2013). Histoyre du Mechique de André Thévet. Patrimonio musical de la conquista. Neuma, 6 (2), pp. 28-45. [Online].

Gómez Gómez, Luis Antonio (2006). La documentación de la iconografía musical prehispánica. Revista Digital Universitaria, 7 (2). [Online].

Guzmán, José Antonio et al. (1984). Glosario de instrumentos prehispánicos. La música de México. Mexico: UNAM.

Hurtado Duéñez, Nina (2007). Instrumentos musicales indígenas del Amazonas venezolano. [Thesis]. Caracas: [n.i.]. [Online].

ICANH [Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia] (2012). Caparazón de tortuga tukano. Colección Etnográfica ICANH. [Online].

Igualada, Francisco de; Castelví, Marcelino de (1938). Musicología indígena de la Amazonia colombiana. Boletín Latinoamericano de Música, 4, pp. 675-708.

ILV (1973). Aspectos de la cultura material de grupos étnicos de Colombia, I and II. Bogota: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, Ed. Townsend. [Online].

Jurado Barranco, María Eugenia (2013). Ayot Icacahuayo. La Jornada del Campo, 70, July, 20. [Online].

Mendoza Duque, Diana Alexandra (1992). Música de ritual: Umbral del tiempo. [Thesis]. Bogota: Universidad Nacional.

Miñana Blasco, Carlos (2009). Investigación sobre músicas indígenas en Colombia. Primera parte: un panorama regional. A Contratiempo: Música en la cultura, 13. [Online].

Musique du Monde (n.d.). Musique instrumentale des Wayana du Litani. [CD]. Paris: Buda Musique.

Národní Muzeum (2009). In the Shadow of the Jaguar. Exhibitions. [Online].

Novati, Jorge; Ruiz, Irma (1984). Mekamunaa. Estudio etnomusicológico sobre los Bora de la Amazonia peruana. [LP]. Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional de Musicología "Carlos Vega".

Olsen, Dale A.; Sheehy, Daniel E. (eds.) (1998). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 2: South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. London: Routledge.

Pitarch Ramón, Pedro (1996). Animismo, colonialismo y la memoria histórica tzeltal. Revista Española de Antropología Americana, 26, pp. 183-203. [Online].

Sequera, Guillermo (2002). A la búsqueda de una cultura desconocida: los Tomárâho del Alto Paraguay. [Online].

SETUR-IHT [Secretaría de Turismo, Instituto Hondureño de Turismo] (n.d.). Compendio cultural. [Online].

SIL [Summer Institute of Lingüistics] (1999). Ididenicca ima / Relatos de nuestros antepasados. Culina (Madija), vol. 2. Lima: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano (SIL).

Stevenson, Robert (1976). Music in Aztec and Inca Territory. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stöckli, Matthias (2004). Iconografía musical. In LaPorte, Juan P. et al. (eds.) Actas del XVIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala. [Online].

Szarán, Luis (1997). Diccionario de la música en el Paraguay. [Online].

Zender, Marc (2005). Para sacar a la tortuga de su caparazón: Ahk y Mahk en la escritura maya. PARI Journal, 6 (3), pp. 1-14. [Online].

 

About this article

Text: Edgardo Civallero.

Image: Turtle shell of the Tukano people (Colombia) [ICANH].

This is the third part of the digital book Turtle shells in traditional Latin American music, by Edgardo Civallero, which may be read online on Issuu and freely downloaded here.

 


May 11, 2017

Turtle shells in traditional Latin American music

Turtle shells in traditional Latin American music

Part 02. Chaco


 

The natural region known as Chaco (from Quechua chaku, "hunting place") that stretches across portions of what is today Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, is the homeland of a number of indigenous societies belonging to the Guaykuruan, Mascoyan, Matacoan, Tupian and Zamucoan linguistic families.

In current Paraguay, Szarán (1997) documents turtle shells among the Ayoreo or Ayoréiode people (departments of Boquerón and Alto Paraguay), who use them to make a maraca called xoxo, as well as among the neighboring Chamacoco or Yshyr people (department of Alto Paraguay).

The Chamacoco people used shells of small turtles to build the polarosho or polasho. Also made of hooves, seeds and/or snail shells, the polarosho is a rattle employed by shamans, who tie it to their wrists or ankles, or place it on the end of a stick or around their waists. According to Sequera (2002), the shamans of the Tomárâho people (a Chamacoco subgroup) also take advantage of turtle shells (from Chelonoidis carbonaria, known as enermitak in the Yshyr language) to make their maracas osecha or paikâra.

In Bolivia, the Ayoreo people of the department of Santa Cruz use the shells (usually from Chelonoidis chilensis and Acanthochelys pallidpectoris, but also from Chelonoidis carbonaria and Chelonoidis denticulata) to make jingle bells called orohoró (Bórmida, 2005). They are provided with a wooden clapper made of palo santo (Bulnesia sarmientoi). Ayoreo hunters carry them hanging from their waists to communicate with each other; in addition, they believe that by taking parts of a turtle with them they become increasingly silent. They are also worn to enter as well as to leave the camp during the festival asohsná, one of the few religious ceremonies performed by the Ayoreo.

Each jingle bell is considered either "male" or "female" according to the gender of the turtle, which can be distinguished by the shape of the plastron (the female is flat and the male is sunk).

In the department of Beni, Cavour (1994) quotes the resonador de peta: a shell of a river turtle (called peta in eastern Bolivia) which is struck with a drumstick made of bone, or rubbed with beeswax and played with the fingers.

 

Bibliography

Beaudet, Jean-Michel (1998). Wayãpi of Guyane: An Amazon soundscape. [CD]. Paris: Le Chant du Monde; Collection du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / Musée de l'Homme.

Bentzon, Fridolin Weis (1963). Music of the Waiwai Indians. In Fock, Niels. Waiwai: Religion and society of an Amazonian tribe. [Thesis]. Copenhague: Nationalmuseet.

Bermúdez, Egberto (1985). Los instrumentos musicales en Colombia. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Bermúdez, Egberto (2006). Shivaldamán: Música de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. [CD]. Bogotá: Fundación de Música.

Bórmida, Marcelo (2005). Ergon y mito: Una hermenéutica de la cultura material de los Ayoreo del Chaco Boreal. Archivos, 3 (2). [Online].

Bourg, Cameron (2005). Ancient Maya music now with sound. [Thesis]. Louisiana: State University. [Online].

Brenes Candanedo, Gonzalo (1999). Los instrumentos de la etnomúsica de Panamá. Panama: Autoridad del Canal de Panama.

Castellanos, Pablo (1970). Horizontes de la música precortesiana. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Cavour, Ernesto (1994). Instrumentos musicales de Bolivia. La Paz: E. Cavour.

CDI [Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas] (n.d.). 50 encuentros de música y danza indígena. [Patrimonio Documental de los Pueblos Indígenas de México]. [Online].

CEDTURH [Centro de Documentación Turística de Honduras] (n.d.). Instrumentos musicales autóctonos de Honduras. [Online].

Coppens, Walter et al. (1975). Music of the Venezuelan Yekuana Indians. [LP]. Washington: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Cruz, Natalia (2012). Guze Gola, en la interpretación del Grupo Gugu Huiini’. Comité Melendre. [Online].

Chávez, Margarethe et al. (2008). Instrumentos musicales tradicionales de varios grupos de la selva peruana. Datos Etnolingüísticos (Instituto Lingüístico de Verano), 36.

García Garagarza, León (2014). La tortuga, o el trueno y la lira. La Jornada de Morelos, July, 12. [Online].

García Gómez, Arturo (2013). Histoyre du Mechique de André Thévet. Patrimonio musical de la conquista. Neuma, 6 (2), pp. 28-45. [Online].

Gómez Gómez, Luis Antonio (2006). La documentación de la iconografía musical prehispánica. Revista Digital Universitaria, 7 (2). [Online].

Guzmán, José Antonio et al. (1984). Glosario de instrumentos prehispánicos. La música de México. Mexico: UNAM.

Hurtado Duéñez, Nina (2007). Instrumentos musicales indígenas del Amazonas venezolano. [Thesis]. Caracas: [n.i.]. [Online].

ICANH [Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia] (2012). Caparazón de tortuga tukano. Colección Etnográfica ICANH. [Online].

Igualada, Francisco de; Castelví, Marcelino de (1938). Musicología indígena de la Amazonia colombiana. Boletín Latinoamericano de Música, 4, pp. 675-708.

ILV (1973). Aspectos de la cultura material de grupos étnicos de Colombia, I and II. Bogota: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, Ed. Townsend. [Online].

Jurado Barranco, María Eugenia (2013). Ayot Icacahuayo. La Jornada del Campo, 70, July, 20. [Online].

Mendoza Duque, Diana Alexandra (1992). Música de ritual: Umbral del tiempo. [Thesis]. Bogota: Universidad Nacional.

Miñana Blasco, Carlos (2009). Investigación sobre músicas indígenas en Colombia. Primera parte: un panorama regional. A Contratiempo: Música en la cultura, 13. [Online].

Musique du Monde (n.d.). Musique instrumentale des Wayana du Litani. [CD]. Paris: Buda Musique.

Národní Muzeum (2009). In the Shadow of the Jaguar. Exhibitions. [Online].

Novati, Jorge; Ruiz, Irma (1984). Mekamunaa. Estudio etnomusicológico sobre los Bora de la Amazonia peruana. [LP]. Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional de Musicología "Carlos Vega".

Olsen, Dale A.; Sheehy, Daniel E. (eds.) (1998). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 2: South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. London: Routledge.

Pitarch Ramón, Pedro (1996). Animismo, colonialismo y la memoria histórica tzeltal. Revista Española de Antropología Americana, 26, pp. 183-203. [Online].

Sequera, Guillermo (2002). A la búsqueda de una cultura desconocida: los Tomárâho del Alto Paraguay. [Online].

SETUR-IHT [Secretaría de Turismo, Instituto Hondureño de Turismo] (n.d.). Compendio cultural. [Online].

SIL [Summer Institute of Lingüistics] (1999). Ididenicca ima / Relatos de nuestros antepasados. Culina (Madija), vol. 2. Lima: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano (SIL).

Stevenson, Robert (1976). Music in Aztec and Inca Territory. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stöckli, Matthias (2004). Iconografía musical. In LaPorte, Juan P. et al. (eds.) Actas del XVIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala. [Online].

Szarán, Luis (1997). Diccionario de la música en el Paraguay. [Online].

Zender, Marc (2005). Para sacar a la tortuga de su caparazón: Ahk y Mahk en la escritura maya. PARI Journal, 6 (3), pp. 1-14. [Online].

 

About this article

Text: Edgardo Civallero.

Image: Turtle shell from the Parapetí River (Bolivia) [www.kringla.nu].

This is the second part of the digital book Turtle shells in traditional Latin American music, by Edgardo Civallero, which may be read online on Issuu and freely downloaded here.