Foto: Beto Ricardo, 2002


  • Other names
  • Where they are How many

    MT669 (Siasi/Sesai, 2014)
  • Linguistic family

Music and rituals


The Yamurikumalu ritual as well as the kagutu flutes suggest that it is above all through music that the differences and antagonisms between the sexes are emphasized. Yet, at the same time, the music effects communication between the performers of one sex and the listeners of the opposite sex, promoting a situation of control over those dangerous powers. Thus, in Kalapalo myth, music is treated as both the manifestation of aggressive transformations of powerful beings (itseke) and as a means available to people for controlling these forces.

In this way, the Kalapalo use music ritually as a means of communicating between what they define as insurmountably separated, or grossly unequal categories of beings: men and women; human beings and powerful beings; adults and small children. This communication takes place not so much by establishing a mood of sympathy as by demonstrating the power of these beings to listeners, using the latter’s powers to temporarily disarm them.

The most important ritual use of music occurs in public, collective events that take place for weeks and sometimes months at a time during the six-month dry season (isoa-) that falls between May and September. At the onset of this season, the Kalapalo are intensely occupied with these complex collective efforts that involve both a musical performances and economic activities.