Endangered Indigenous Songs is a project dedicated to rescue and revitalize indigenous songs from Latin America, which have already vanished or are threatened with extinction. It is based on a unique collection of ancestral songs collected during my field-research among Kichwa and Wayuu communities in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Endangered Indigenous Songs is a project that focuses on rescuing and reviving ritual songs which have been part of Central and South American cultures for centuries, with an emphasis on the culture of Kichwa and Wayuu communities. As a result of the ongoing devastating effects of capitalism from which mankind is currently suffering – connected to issues of migration, globalisation, media use, and social struggles – these ancient songs are increasingly being abandoned and forgotten. Their extinction means a loss of specific knowledge about indigenous peoples’ conception of human beings, nature, the cosmos and the relation between all of them. The indigenous songs also contribute strongly to strengthening a sense of individual and community identity. So when these songs disappear, much more than just music is lost.
The individuals from the affected communities are aware of this cultural crisis and are looking for strategies to restore their world view – which is closely linked to their music. Therefore, thanks to their interest, this project has been developed in collaboration with the affected communities, with the aim of supporting the communities in saving their culture and identity through their music, and thus regain control over their destiny.
In order to keep these songs alive and make their performance possible again for musicians and non-musicians, the songs have been written down in musical notation and are shared on an online archive – IMUSA (Indigenous Music Archive). This makes them accessible, especially to the inhabitants of the communities where they originate. However, since pure musical scores only provide a limited capacity to preserve all the knowledge, flavour and aesthetics so closely connected with the performance of the music, the archive also contains original recordings, lyrics and audio features in which the musicians and individuals from the communities tell their own [hi]stories and testimonies and share important knowledge about their music and their songs. These [hi]stories are reinforced by drawings and photographs.
- June 2020
- Citlali Gómez Escobar