Who needs instruments?

Here is a clip of the Brazilian group Barbatuques that makes organic music using their voices and bodies as instruments. The group performs in Brazil as well as internationally, teaches workshops, gives trainings and participates in educational and social projects.

The professional development course that I am giving with Jeanne in Luxembourg 26-27 November is called “No Instruments? No Problem!” The idea for the workshop was born because of the reactions we often get from teachers: “At our school we don’t have (a budget to buy) enough instruments for all the students…” Making music and exploring musical elements and concepts is possible without any instruments at all, just like the Barbatuques show in their video (all right…they have included a Jew’s harp in this particular piece, but even that sound could be produced with the voice only).

Body percussion is probably the most ancient universal instrument. Ethnomusicologist Curt Sachs writes in ‘World History of the Dance’ (1937):

“The original time beater is the stamping foot… To the dull stamping sound is added the sharper sound made by slapping the hand on some part of the body; thus the upper arm, the flanks, the abdomen, the buttocks and the thighs become musical instruments. […] Besides stamping… only hand clapping is found among all cultures at all periods.”

Add another instrument that we all are equipped with, the human voice (vocal sounds, singing voice and speaking voice), and we have endless possibilities to create music!


By Katja Maria Slotte

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