Kagapa Onapa, for Saxophone Ensemble

Saxophone Octet (2 Soprano, 2 Alto, 2 Tenor, 2 Bariotone) or doubled

Duration: circa 8 min.

Kagapa Onapa means “music of Kagapa“, name of a spirit among the Wauja people of the upper Xingu River, Amazonia, Brazil. During the ritual of Kagapa, two singers sing in unisson. While one stands up behind the other and plays maracas, the other remains seated and plays a rhythmic stick beating it on a trunk. Both singers are surrounded by dancers who also sing their high onomatopoeic cries. The origin myth of Kagapa tells that Kagapa Onapa was learned by a boy when he visited the village of the fishes, where he was invited to marry the chief’s daughter. Since then the Wauja can play Kagapa’s very powerful, energetic and pulsive music for the healing of people and all society.

This piece is inspired in the Kagapa ritual music, which I experienced, recorded, transcribed and analysed during fieldwork among the Wauja for my doctoral dissertation, an ethnography of the their flute music. I used some rhythmic, motivic and textural materials, and some principles such as constant pulse, nucleus-periphery and alternating style. However these materials are deeply transformed to enact another ritual provided by the flexibility and colors of the saxophones at stage.

Kagapa was premiered at 12/07/2023 by the Orquestra de Saxofones do Dão in Palmeira, Portugal.