Seminar on Ethnomusicology

“Cosmogonic  sounds from the Amazon to the Andes”

Sound objects that tell us stories.

The enormous organological wealth of the American continent nurtures the knowledge and everyday life of its inhabitants since it’s deeply connected to ancestral knowledge and to the ties among man-territory-sound-spirit.

In the various ethnic groups from which Maestro Ricaurte’s musical instruments have been collected, music is a part of everything, as is dance, storytelling and the sharing of daily chores. The sound objects are not perceived only as musical instruments for artistic performances, they also have a specific social role, ritual, healing, ceremonial, religious and cosmogonic.

Sound is more important than the instrument itself because it’s the acoustics that determines its specific function, for example, the rattle called waytu, used by the Murui shamans in the Colombian Amazon, is played by going around the body of the “patient” to balance his state of mind, reproducing the sound of a stream at 430Mhz, just like the sad sound of a cylinder-shaped drum reproduces the sound of the heartbeat to become one with the spirit of the healer, or shaman, while the singing of the medicine-man himself leads to relaxation.


The purpose of the seminar is to learn the dynamics and shades of the world of sound which each instrument holds and the countless distinctive tones, and its use in musical forms which are different from the ones for which it was conceived, starting right from the importance of this instrument inside its ethnic group. Knowing, playing and discovering its vast range of possibilities leads to the knowledge of ancestral cultures, often seen only in the faded postcards from exotic trips, lacking the human and socio-cultural aspect. Looking at it from this perspective, the musical instrument is a tool of communication and inter-disciplinary knowledge which enriches both musical knowledge and internal and spiritual well-being.


The ethnomusic seminar can be attended by everyone, musicians and non-musicians, music teachers, anthropologists, music students, sociology or ethnomusicology, filmmakers and composers, people interested in expanding their spiritual and intellectual growth, young people and adults.

Structure of the seminar

The seminar can take place in two ways: one is an intensive one day event; the other consists of 3 gatherings of 2 hours and 30 minutes. In both cases, there will be an introduction (from a sound, ethnomusical and educational point of view) of about 80 musical instruments from the American continent belonging to the native cultures of the Amazon and the Andes, of the Afro-Caribbean area, of the Pacific coast and of the mixed race population. The topics that will be dealt with arethe origin, the construction material, the importance of the instruments in various human groups, the musical genres and the musical contexts using the instruments. The seminar will be enriched with important workshop exercises where the participants will learn the ways in which the instruments are used in different contexts, from music therapy to teaching and composition. All the workshop experiences will take place in a circle using the ancient ways of transmitting knowledge.


  1. Intensive one day option (10.30-13.00, lunch break, 15.00-19.00)

  2. : an introduction to the instruments from the ethnomusical, historical, anthropological and sound point of view. The presentation will be made by an interactive, educational concert.

  3. : interactive workshop in a circle, to discover and show the use of different musical instruments, concentrating on: music and well-being, child education and sound colors in composition.


  1. 3 days, 2 and a half hour meetings (morning or afternoon)

  2. : introduction of all the instruments from an ethnomusical, historical, anthropological and sound point of view.

Structure of the presentation: interactive, educational concert

  1. interactive workshop in a circle, to discover and show the use of different musical instruments concentrating on: music and well-being, child education.

  2. interactive workshop in a circle, to discover and show how to use the different musical instruments concentrating on: sound colors in composition and musical dialogue.

Participants should wear light and comfortable clothes. It’s forbidden to use mobile phones and video cameras except for the ones belonging to the school or structure hosting the seminar, while it will be possible to record sounds with zoom or digital recorders as long as it does not disturb the lesson or the participants’ concentration.

The instruments used in the seminar

The seminar will be carried out with the use of about 80 musical instruments from the American continent, collected during numerous trips connected to research and ethnomusical investigation by Maestro Roland Ricaurte from 1978 to today. The instruments belong to his personal collection are over 200, from the Amazon forest, the Andes, the Caribbean coasts and the Pacific Ocean areas.

Every instrument preserves the magic and the cosmogonic way of thinking of the ancient people of age-old knowledge, becoming the vehicle for a trip in space and time to discover stories and sounds of magic musicality.

Technical requirements:

  • In order for the seminar to take place, a room suitable for musical presentations, with 3 tables approx.2 mx1 and chairs for participants (chairs that can be easily moved after the first phase in order to be able to work in a circle)

  • Sound system (technical file will be provided)

  • The languages used in the exhibition are Italian or Spanish. For other needs, a translator who can translate from one of these two languages must be present.

  • Parking space near the venue

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