The repertoire featured on this record is traditionally played at religious ceremonies and community gatherings. Each piece is performed with a different instrument and represents a different animal from the ocean or rainforest. The wind instruments, played by the men, are made by the artists with natural materials such as hollowed-out seeds, reeds, crabs’ claws, or armadillos’ skulls. The women hold the tempo with the nassis, maracas whose rattling seeds remind the Kuna of their fundamental union with the natural world. Their powerful dances literally shake the earth and create a trancelike heartbeat which slowly accelerates throughout each piece.
Reclining in his hammock where the rainforest meets the Caribbean Sea, Santiago Campillo recounts the ancient story of how Gammibe, God’s messenger of music, came down to Earth at the beginning of time to teach humans and animals to play the flute so that they could receive God with joyous fanfare. The Guna have long since occupied this coastal region of Panama near the border with Colombia and have developed a rich musical tradition which pays homage to their origins and connection to the earth.
The traditional Guna folkloric group, Gammibe Gun Galu was created by Santiago Campillo in 1973 in the town of Armila. Their award-winning and moving performances have garnered acclaim at national and international music festivals. The production of this album, their first professional recording, is part of an ongoing collaboration with the locally-managed Sea Turtle Commission of Armila to promote and preserve the town’s unique culture and to conserve one of the most important nesting beaches of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle.
All proceeds from the sale of this album help to secure the future of these turtles and this music for generations to come.