Hands-on workshop has a pre-Columbian goal

Museos del Banco Central photo Workshop participants will create one of these.

The love of music predates humanity, and one can guess that even the earliest protohumans and humans had their pickup percussion groups.

Archaeologist have unearthed a bone flute that is perhaps 40,000 years old. With the advent of ceramics, modern humans had a chance to make even more sophisticated instruments. Now the humans of today can, too.

Those interested in creating a personal ceramic ocarina will have a chance during a workshop at the Museos del Banco Central July 9 to 13.

The ocarina dates from at least 12,000 years ago and resembles a fat flute. Sound is made by blowing from the mouthpiece into the rotund body. The vibrations are customized at the finger holes on the outside. Many ocarinas are ceramic, but there are versions of glass, wood, metal and plastic.

In the America the ancient Aztecs, Mayans, Incas and other residents shaped ocarinas after birds and animals and performed for audiences. Vendors in the downtown often can be heard playing such an instrument. They even are on sale at the various souvenir stores.

The museum’s goal is to educate the public about this historical object, while giving participants a chance to take one home, said a staffer there.

“This work is in relation to the pre-Columbian groups. We want to show people the pre-Columbian culture,” said Carolina Castillo of the museums’ education and culture department. Representatives from Compañía Pájaros del Monte, an organization dedicated to collecting native pre-Colombian art of America, will teach the workshop. Currently the organization works in Costa Rica researching and presenting ceramic instruments like the ocarina.

The museum needs at least 20 people to sign up for the workshop. Class is from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, and costs $40. To reserve a spot those interested can call 2243-4202.

As to pre-humans, researchers in Japan showed that even infant chimpanzees appreciate and have a preference to certain types of music.

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