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Across Unknown South America by Landor

The Bororos used various shaped arrow heads


[Illustration:

Bororo Children.

(The horrors of photography.)]

The Bororos used various-shaped arrow-heads, some triangular, others flattened on one side with a raised rib on the opposite side, others triangular in section with hollowed longitudinal grooves in each face of the triangle in the pyramid, making the wound inflicted a deadly one. Others, more uncommon, possessed a quadruple barbed point of bone.

The favourite style of arrows, however, seldom had a point broader in diameter than the stick of the arrow.

The music of the Bororos--purely vocal--had three different rhythms: one not unlike a slow waltz, most plaintive and melancholy; the second was rather of a loud warlike character, vivacious, with ululations and modulations. The third and most common was a sad melody, not too quick nor too slow, with temporary accelerations to suit words of a more slippery character in their pronunciation, or when sung in a _pianissimo_ tone.

The songs of the Bororos could be divided into: hunting songs, war songs, love songs, and descriptive songs and recitatives.

They were fond of music in itself, and possessed fairly musical ears. They were able to retain and repeat melodies quite foreign to them. Their hearing was acute enough to discern, with a little practice, even small intervals, and they

could fairly accurately hit a note which was sung to them. They had flexible voices, quite soft and musical, even in conversation.

In males, as far as I was able to judge, baritone voices were the most prevalent; in female voices, soprano. Their typical songs were chiefly performed in a chorus by men only, although once or twice I heard solos--which, nevertheless, always had a refrain for the chorus. The Bororos sang in fair harmony more than in unison, keeping regular time, and with occasional bass notes and noises by way of accompaniment. They possessed no musical instruments of any importance--a most primitive flute, and one or several gourds filled with seeds or pebbles, being, as far as I could trace, the only two musical instruments among them.

Their songs contained progressions in chromatic intervals. Those progressions were not only frequently repeated in the same melody, but some of the favourite ones recurred in several of their melodies. They frequently broke from one key into another, not gradually or with modulations, but very abruptly. There were constant and sudden changes in the _tempo_ of their melodies, accelerations being frequently caused by excitement in the performers, by incidents occurring, by anger or other passions being aroused. They had no set rules--nor, of course, any written music. The melodies were sung according to the temporary feelings of the performers, who occasionally adorned their performances with variations. Practically they improvised, if led by a musical talent, as they went along. Still, mind you, even when they improvised, the character of the songs was the same, although they may have added so many variations and embellishments to the theme as to make it impossible to identify them. Furthermore, no two choruses ever sang the same songs alike, nor did the same chorus sing the same song twice alike. There were in their melodies great changes in the degree of loudness. Those changes were generally gradual, although often extremely rapid.


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