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date: 25 May 2020


  • J. Richard Haefer


Flute of the Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands of Panama. It is an end-blown instrument of cane, about 60 cm long and 2 cm in diameter with an external duct. The supe is played in male/female pairs; the male or ‘primary speaker’ has four fingerholes and one thumbhole and is shorter than the female or ‘secondary speaker’, which has one or two fingerholes. The female instrument provides obbligato notes between the melodic notes of the male instrument, imitating the sounds of birds. The related dolo is a single external-duct flute with four fingerholes and one thumbhole, similar to the kuizi and used for improvising melodies.

The Kuna have four end-blown internal-duct flutes: gorgigala, mulagala, sulupgala, and uasgala, all made from the ulna bones of birds (eagle, pelican, or vulture). They are used for puberty ceremonies and sometimes hang from a cord around the neck of dancers. Other Kuna flutes include the ...

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