Bajando por la montaña: Ecology of Colombian Gaita music

Vol. 7, núm. 1, 2019

Por: Jaime O. Bofill Calero

After living the past two decades in the city of Bogotá, gaitero Fredys Arrieta realizes that the only way to sustain his tradition is to create consciousness about the intrinsic relationship between gaita music and the ecosystems of Los Montes de María. From local flora such as the cardon cactus and the caracolí tree, the raw materials from which the gaitas and drums are traditionally made, to fauna such as the guacharaca bird many times imitated in gaita flute playing, nature has had primordial role in shaping the sounds of gaita music. In this paper I would like to discuss how the relationship of gaita to the environment championed by Fredys Arrieta is being developed in the documentary film Bajando por la montaña: ecology of gaita music. From instrument making and Caribbean food, to densely forested areas, birds and the urban soundcape of Bogotá, the film establishes the constellation of lifeways (cultural and natural, urban and rural, local and global) that make up the ecology of gaita.

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