Carlos Sánchez Huaringa (Peru), Esteban Valdivia (Argentina) and Gregorio Cortés (Mexico) participated in Quito in the pre-Columbian sound meetings. In the caves of the inactive volcano Ilaló, located in Tumbaco, the Argentine archaeomusicologist Esteban Valdivia has proposed to reunite the sonorities of America.
Inside the mountain, the researcher has set up a pottery workshop where he plays pre-Hispanic pieces of music, a multipurpose room and a space for weekly concerts in giant vaults. Its objective: to make Ecuador one of the largest repositories of ethnomusicology.
This work is part of a larger project that Valdivia started in 2005, called Sonidos de América, which investigates the diverse sounds of the pre-Hispanic world and reproduces musical instruments that were before the arrival of the Spaniards.
Together with his partner, with whom he currently resides in Ecuador, he is pursuing a doctorate at the Complutense University of Madrid on history and archeology in Ecuador. The Sound Central (as it is called the Ilaló caves project) was inaugurated on January 28 and designed by the Cuenca architect Juan Alfonso Peña.
“We saw the instruments in the museum showcases, but we could not touch them, then you did not know how to interpret them, so we started to reproduce the pieces,” says Valdivia in the temporary room of the Pre-Columbian Art Museum Casa del Alabado, surrounded by some objects that you have reproduced.
The Argentine recognizes that it is not possible to know pre-Hispanic music now and there is no way to recover it, but what does exist are the sound objects, most made of ceramics, which is the material that has survived the longest and with the most Americans have experienced.
His study focuses on the sonorities of ceramics and particular instruments of Ecuador, such as the whistle bottles, a kind of flute that worked only with the action of water. Valdivia takes one of those bottles with a resonant head and, through a pendular movement, the piece emits a sound similar to the whistle of a bird that seems to be hidden among a thick vegetation.
These pieces were, during the formative period, in the Chorrera culture, and then continued in the Jama Coaque, Bahia, Tolita and Guangala cultures. With the arrival of the Incas, this instrument disappeared, says Valdivia. “So it’s not only pre-Hispanic, it’s pre-Inca. Here, in Ecuador, are the oldest ceramic records. ”
Cultures of America
The Mexican Gregorio Cortés, originally from a pottery community in the municipality of Texcoco and a musician specializing in Mayan and Aztec flutes, was with Esteban Valdivia the previous week at Casa del Alabado, where they participated in pre-Columbian sound meetings and at the presentation of the book Music and sounds in the Andean world, edited by Carlos Sánchez Huaringa (Peru), director of the University Center of Folklore of the Cultural Center of the National University of San Marcos. Cortés indicates that in America there is a musical development from thousands of years ago that has not needed the writing -mode to write or represent sounds-. “As Western culture we have accepted the transmission of music through scores, when before it was not like that. What we can support is that compared to other cultures of the world, we see that Europe does have graphic records 500 years ago, but there is not a single instrument of the time. America, on the other hand, has the instruments, but not much writing. It’s the other way around here, “says the Mexican.
This same conclusion is shared by Valdivia, who during his investigation has crossed with obstacles. “Ecuador, being the land of the whistling bottles, does not have a single iconography of someone playing, but there are thousands of pieces,” says the Argentine archaeomusicologist, whose PhD thesis analyzes the evolution of whistle bottles, which are born as vases Containers of water (jars) with a utilitarian function, then they fulfill a musical function and, in the end, they become ritual elements.
Gregorio Cortés adds that the difference between the pieces that have been found in Ecuador and Mexico lies in the level of development. “In Ecuador they have more ceramic work and they are older than all we have found in the Mexican highlands. We have seen that the flutes that are here are direct percussion, for example. “Carlos Sánchez Huaringa was another guest at the meeting.
One of his concerns in this field of study is the lack of training of archaeologists. “In many projects that I have participated in Peru, I always consult the archaeologists what they have found of music, and there have been no favorable responses. Sometimes the musical instrument connects you periods.
An instrument can generate a whole cultural relationship. ” Sánchez Huaringa remarks that “our people were scribes. The history of the world tells the prehistory and history from the invention of writing, but that is a Eurocentric vision; It is not valid for us. Many students of Peruvian folklore have said that we did not need graphics or, rather, our types of graphics were in a more abstract way “. (I)