Flower World - Mundo Florido, vol. 2

Music Archaeology of the Americas - Arqueomusicología de las Américas

Staging Sound: Acoustic Reflections on Inca Music, Architecture and Performance Spaces

Henry Stobart

This study explores connections between Inca musical performance practices and acoustic spaces. Drawing on historical sources, and informed by contemporary ethnographic perspectives, it considers a variety of Inca performance contexts. As a starting point it examines the large ushnu platforms that were built by the Incas in several parts of the empire, arguing that rather than acting as “stages” for musical performance per se, such monuments probably served as important foci for ceremonial activity, involving participatory music and dance. The existence of outside and inside music making is then considered, with various examples examined to raise questions about how Inca musical sonorities were adapted to particular acoustic environments. In turn, it is speculated whether the Incas developed an elite chamber music culture – adapted to resonant interior spaces – comparable to that of, for example, medieval Europe.

El presente estudio investiga las relaciones entre las prácticas musicales inca y los espacios acústicos en los que éstas solían realizarse. Basándose en fuentes históricas y aplicando perspectivas etnográficas contemporáneas el estudio cubre una variedad de contextos musicales. Como punto de partida sirven las grandes plataformas ushnu, construidas por los inca en varias partes de su imperio, al respecto de las cuales se argumenta que más que “escenarios” para la ejecución musical en sí tales monumentos representaban probablemente centros importantes para la realización de ceremonias, incluyendo prácticas musicales y danzarias de carácter comunitario. Luego se toma en consideración la existencia de actividades musicales llevadas a cabo tanto fuera como dentro de espacios cerrados. A partir de diversos ejemplos se plantean preguntas acerca de cómo las sonoridades musicales inca se adaptaron a ambientes acústicos particulares. También se pone a especular si los inca hayan desarrollado una cultura élite de música de cámara – adaptada a espacios cerrados resonantes – comparable, por ejemplo, a la de la Europa medieval.

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