Sound composition

"POPOL VUH - The Book of the Origin of the Maya".

Sound composition by Götz Naleppa

Language: Maya K'iché - German

Text production: Anja Gundelach

Prehispanic instruments: Jorge Reyes

Recordings and sound design: Peter Avar

Concept, composition and realisation: Götz Naleppa

Production: Radio Educación, Mexico / Deutschlandradio Kultur / RBB 2006

length 48:22


Leticia Méndez Intzin: Maya-K'iché

Juan Chuno Lopez Intzin: Maya-Tzeltal

Pascual Pérez de Mesa: Maya Tent Valley

Guadalupe Asunción Gutierrez: Maya-Chol.

Martin Engler: German

The piece exists in five versions:

K'iché German / K'iché Spanish / K'iché English / Kiché solo and in a 5.1 surround version.

The "Popol Vuh" - the 'Book of Advice' of the K'iché Maya is one of the most important creation myths of the early advanced civilisations in the world. A Maya from the K'iché people, who had learned Spanish after the conquest, wrote down the texts in K'iché language with Latin letters between 1545 and 1555, which had previously only been passed down orally. Father Francisco Ximenéz copied this book and translated it into Spanish. The original was subsequently returned to the K'iché people. As a result, the book escaped the radical burning of almost all Mayan writings recorded on bark and leather by the Spanish. Today, only an original copy from around 1700 remains. The Popol Vuh contains texts about the story of creation, about gods and heroes and reports on the migration of the K'iché until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1524. The myths contained in the Popol Vuh are still of inestimable importance today for the Maya peoples struggling for their cultural identity. The Popol Vuh, the 'Sacred Book of the Maya', is the common heritage of the 'people of corn', as the Maya call themselves, and connects the different peoples, of which 13 indigenous groups with completely different languages live in the Mexican state of Chiapas alone. Their habitat is the tropical rainforest of the lowlands near the border with Guatemala and the highlands of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas and the Meseta Central.

The sound composition "Popol Vuh - The Book of the Origin of the Maya" by Götz Naleppa is limited to the first part 'Book of the Council', the story of creation, in which the cruel and cosmic-comic of creation becomes tangible (text version Anja Gundelach). The text - in classical K'iché-Maya and in two other Mayan languages (Tzeltal and Chol) - was partly recorded in temple sites in Chiapas with Mayan speakers and later supplemented with a German language layer (a Spanish-language version was produced in parallel). The voices are orchestrated by Originalton recordings from the Maya's habitat, the rainforest, and by Jorge Reyes' improvisations on pre-Hispanic instruments in the temple sites of the rainforest. Thus, after 500 years, the ritual conch shell sounds again in the temple district of Bonampak and the myth of the creation of man from maize in a burial chamber of Palenque.

This sound work is dedicated to the Mayan peoples' struggle for recognition of their dignity and cultural identity.

"Popol Vuh, the book of the origin of the Maya" - Interview "El Compositor Habla" on the occasion of the CD release

GOLD AWARD of the New York Festivals 2008 | 2nd prize Marulic Festival, Croatia 2007

Soundfile Popol Vuh (Excerpt, mp3-file, 2:35 min, 3,6 MB

Text Popol Vuh (pdf-file, 156 KB)

Production report by Anja Gundelach (pdf-file, 303 KB)

Video Popol Vuh - Recordings in Chiapas, Mexico (©Götz Naleppa)

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