sound composition

POPOL VUH – The Book of the Origin of the Maya

Sound composition by Götz Naleppa

Language: Maya K’iché – German

Text-research: Anja Gundelach

Pre-hispanic instruments: Jorge Reyes

Recordings and Sounddesign: Peter Avar

Concept, composition and realization: Götz Naleppa

Prodcktion: Radio Educación, Mexiko / Deutschlandradio Kultur / RBB 2006

Duration: 48:22


Leticia Méndez Intzin: Maya-K’iché

Juan Chuno Lopez Intzin: Maya-Tzeltal

Pascual Pérez de Mesa: Maya-Tzeltal

Guadalupe Asunción Gutierrez: Maya-Chol.

Martin Engler: German

The piece exists in 5 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 belongs to the most important creation myths of the early advanced cultures in the world. A Maya from the people of the K'iché, who had learned Spanish during the conquista, between 1545 and 1555 noted down the texts in K'iché with Latin letter, which before were only verbally delivered. Father Francisco Ximenéz copied and translated this book into Spanish. Then he returned the original to the people of the K'iché. Thus the book escaped the radical burning by the Spaniards of nearly all Maya-writings on crusts and leathers. Today only one original copy from the time around 1700 is preserved. The Popol Vuh contains texts of the creation of the world, about Gods and heroes and reports about the migration of the K'iché up to the arrival of the Spaniards in the year 1524. The myths contained in the Popol Vuh still are today of inestimable importance for the Maya peoples, fighting for their cultural identity. The Popol Vuh, the “holy book of the Maya”, the common inheritance of the “humans from corn”- as the Maya call themselves - connects the different peoples of the Maya, (alone in the Mexican Federal State Chiapas live 13 indigene groups with completely different languages). Their habitat is the tropical rain forest of the low country close to the border to Guatemala and the highlands of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas and the Meseta Central.

GOLD AWARD at 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 - Aufnahmen in Chiapas, Mexico (©Götz Naleppa)

The sound composition „Popol Vuh - the book of the origin of the Maya-people“ by Götz Naleppa is restricted to the first part of the „book of advice “, in which the cruel and cosmic- comical elements of the creation can be experienced. The text - in classical Maya-K'iché and in two contemporary Maya languages (Tzeltal and Chol) - was partially recorded in temple places in Chiapas with Maya native-speakers and supplemented by an English language level. The voices are orchestrated by Field Recordings from the habitat of the Maya, the rain forest, and by Jorge Reyes' improvisations on prehispanic instruments in the temple places of the rain forest. Thus the ritual conch-horn rings out again after a silence of 500 years in the temple district of Bonampak and the myth of the creation of the “humans out of corn” sounds in a grave chamber of Palenque.

This sound work is dedicated to the fight of the Maya-peoples for acknowledgment of their dignity and cultural identity. Awarded with Prix Marulic and New York Festivals Gold Award.

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