User:Harry W1234/Kuisi

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A Kuisi (or Kuizi[1]) is a Native American fipple (or duct) flute made from a hollowed cactus stem, with a beeswax and charcoal powder mixture for the head, with a quill made from a goose or turkey feather for the mouthpiece.

Kuisi bunsi and kuisi sigi[edit]

There are male and female versions of the pipe (or gaita in Spanish). The female Kuisi Bunsi (also rendered kuisi abundjí) is called a Gaita Hembra in Spanish and has 5 holes.

The male Kuisi Sigi (or kuisi azigí) is called a Gaita Macho in Spanish and has two holes.[2][3]

Players often use wax to close fingerholes and alter the sound of the flute. One or other on the kuisi sigi, and on the kuisi bunzi either the upper or lower fingerhole so that only four holes are in use at any one time. The change of wax from one fingerhole to another alters the fundamental tone and series of overtones that can be produced. A photograph of the paired flutes of the Cuna Indians of Panama shows that their hembra has only four fingerholes.[1]


Kuisis are between 70 and 80 centimeters (traditionally, this length was defined by the arm length of the luthier), which is constructed from a cactus (Selenicerus Grandiflorus) which is bored and whose thorns are cut. The center is removed, first moistening and then boring with an iron stick. The cactus stem is thicker at one of its ends, this will go upside and coupled with the bee wax head which carries the feather mouth piece. The instrument has five tone holes, but only four of them are used when performing: the lower tone hole is rarely used, but when used, the upper tone hole is closed with wax. Though the instrument is slightly conic on the outside, its perforation is cylindrical.

The instrument’s head made with bee wax mixed with charcoal powder, giving it a characteristic black color, to prevent the wax melting in high temperatures. The mouth piece, made with a feather, is encrusted in this bee wax-charcoal head, with an angle and a distance to the edge of the air column which varies from instrument to instrument.

Since construction is not serial, the only instrument which matches the tuning of a particular kuisi bunsi (female) is the kuisi sigi (male) constructed to accompany it. The lower tone hole of the kuisi sigi is rarely used. Its length and the length of its corresponding kuisi bunsi are the same and the position of the two tone holes matches the position of the lower tone holes of the kuisi bunsi.[4]

Origins and traditional use[edit]

The earliest known use of Kuisis is among Kogui (or Kogi) [5] and Ika of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Similar flutes are also played in matched pairs by the Kuna (people) (or Cuna) who live around the Darien Gulf in both Colombia and Panama.

The male and female kuisi are traditionally played as a pair in counterpoint to one another; the kuisi sigi usually marking the beat and the kuisi bunsi playing the melody. They are usually accompanied by drums and the maraca. The player of the kuisi sigi often holds that in one hand and a maraca in the other, playing both simultaneously.[6]

Modern use in Colombian music[edit]

In lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, for example the Spanish-speaking village of Atánquez similar flutes are called carrizos from the name of the cane from which they are made, and the ensemble is thus named conjunto de carrizos. This conjunto accompanies the dance chicote, a circle dance in which men and women alternate, placing their arms on each other's shoulders.

On the coastal plain, for example the town of [[San Jacinto]], an ensemble known as the conjunto de gaitas commonly provides the music for the cumbia, porro, and other folk dances. This ensemble consists of two duct flutes (gaitas), a maraca, and two hand-beaten drums of African descent.

A Colombian historian writing in 1865 (Joaquín Posada Gutiérrez, Memorias histórico-politicas, Bogotá: Imprenta Nacional, 1929) has been cited (by Aquiles Escalante, El negro en Colombia, Monograflas sociologicas no. 18, Bogota: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 1964, 149.) on the fusion of Native American, African and European instruments and music cultures[1]: the early part of the nineteenth century there were great festivities in honor of the patron saint of Cartagena, which at that time was the principal city of the region. At this festival the inhabitants of some wealth and position danced in a pavilion to the accompaniment of a regimental band. Those of the lower classes participated in one of two dances held in the open air. The dancers in one were blacks and pardos (individuals of mixed racial inheritance) and in the second Indians. The blacks and pardos participated in a circle dance of couples, much like the popular cumbia of this century. The dance of the Indians, on the other hand, was a closed circle in which men and women alternated and joined hands, a dance similar to the closed circle of the chicote as danced in Atánquez. The dance of the blacks was accompanied by two or three hand-beaten drums and a chorus of women who clapped. The dance of the Indians was accompanied by gaitas. By 1865 these two castes had lost their mutual antagonism and combined to dance what was then known as the mapalé. Players of gaitas and players of drums joined together to accompany this dance. This merging was apparently the origin of the conjunto de gaitas.

Notable contemporary Colombian performers playing kuisis (or gaitas) include Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto[6], and the Spanish based group Lumbalú [7], researching and updating of the different traditional coastal Colombian rythms under the direction of kuisi bunsi player Hernando Muñoz Sánchez[8], and mixing both traditional kuisis with modern instruments and musical styles.

Modern use in world music[edit]

French archaic flautist, Pierre Hamon of the Alla Francesca ensemble[9] has also performed on the kuisi bunsi in Ritual1 Ritual 2 and Omaggio Kogui on the Hypnos album (2009).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c List, George (1991). "Two Flutes and a Rattle: The Evolution of an Ensemble". The Musical Quarterly. Oxford University Press. 75 (1): 50–58. Retrieved 2009-08-18.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "List.2C1991" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "List.2C1991" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ Sturman, Janet L. (2003). "Technology and Identity in Colombian Popular Music". In René T.A., Lysloff; Leslie C., Gay. Music and technoculture (illustrated ed.). Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. pp. 153–180. ISBN 0-8195-6514-8. Retrieved 2009-08-16.  Unknown parameter |separator= ignored (help)
  3. ^ [Egberto] (12 August 1997). "Itinerario Musical por Colombia". Expedición Humana (in Spanish). Instituto de Genética Humana, la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Retrieved 2009-08-16.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help); Check |author-link1= value (help)
  4. ^ Hernández, Juan Daniel (2007). "Instrumental Acoustics Study About The Gaita Hembra" (pdf). Bachelor of Music Final Project. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  5. ^ [Egberto] (24 August 2007). "Egberto Bermudez discoteca virtual virtual music library" (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Retrieved 2009-08-16.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help); Check |author-link1= value (help)
  6. ^ a b [Ellen] (2003-07). "Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto - Gaitero Music". Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto. University of California Extension Center for Media and Independent Learning. Retrieved 2009-08-16.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help); Check |author-link1= value (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Lo, Mono (2009). "Review of Me Voy Con El Gusto" (html). DOSSIER March 2002. RadioChango. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  8. ^ "Programación" (html). Expo Zaragoza 2008. 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 
  9. ^ "Ensemble Alla Francesca" (html). Goldberg early-music portal. Goldberg Publications Ltd. Retrieved 2009-08-19.