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Two Songs for Red Girl: Music and Language in Eastern Amazonia

Description

The Araweté are 500 maize cultivators and hunters that live in Eastern Amazonia in seven villages in the Brazilian State of Pará. They have been in contact with Brazilian government representatives since the late 1970s and most of them currently speak Portuguese. The two songs examined in this talk belong to the “Music of the Gods” poetic genre, although they are quite unique. One of them is a “spirit capturing” song in which the shaman searches the outskirts of the village at night to capture the Anĩ spirits, who are often responsible for deaths amongst the Araweté. What is important, here, is that these two songs – the song that captures spirits and the one that heals lost souls – are connected through the same event. Red Girl, my neighbour who loves listening to recordings of shamanic songs, was pierced by a spirit’s arrow and became gravely ill. The Songs were her relatives' attempt to rescue her from this dire situation.


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