The Moseño flute is a very special, spherical instrument. Flute players appreciate the instrument for its warm, light sound that is able to spread genuine tranquility. That’s why the Moseño is suitable for meditations – whether for oneself or for others. The Moseño is easy to learn: with its six grip holes and an easy to use mouth piece it doesn’t require practising for years. The Argentinean musician Pablo Salcedo from the group Markama is a passionate Moseño player. He is fascinated by its smooth, humming tone.
What is particular about the Moseño is a blowing pipe, which is placed on the sound tube. This mechanism, which only serves to transport the breathing air from the player to the other end of the flute originates from the traditional Moseños as they are used in Bolivia. There, Moseños can reach a length of more than 2 meters. Those sound particularly deep and airy. The attached air pipe is there to make it easier for the player to reach the grip holes. Otherwise, they would be too far away from the mouth piece. That’s why the Moseño is being held like a transverseflute. Several spellings are common for the instrument: Moxeño, Mohoceño, Moceño.
The Moseño in Bolivia
In Bolivia, the Moseño is being played outdoors at public festivities. “Usually, not only one instrument is being heard. The Moseño is being played in groups of 10, 20 or more instruments. There are four different sizes: the biggest is called Salliwa, the others are named as follows (in a descending order): Moseños Eraso, Licu, and Chili”, writes Pablo Salcedo in an email to DAN MOI. Mainly, men are playing on the Moseño. The Bolivian province of Inquisivi is famous as its place of origin and it’s located about 5 hours by car in the East of Bolivia’s capital La Paz. There, every year the Mohoseñadas take place. “Traditionally, Moseños will be accompanied by Huancara drums and an Imilla. The Imilla is a high oboe (similar to a Chirimia) with a screeching sound”, Pablo explains. Young, unmarried people are dancing on the streets to the music of the Moseños.
The Mohoseñada (also known as Moseñada) is a ritual dance of the Aymara culture, which is being performed during the rainy season, so usually in February. It is dedicated to the youth and fertility of the earth. When the potato plants bloom in lilac and white the Mohoseñada is being danced, too, as a token of gratuity to the Pachamama, mother earth. The dancers wear strong, distinctive colours: red or green skirts and yellow or red blouses. Their high-spirited dance that involves many moves is a symbol for the peak and power of youth. Today, the dance and instrument have become quite popular and are cultivated in many places in the region around La Paz. In February 2011, the Mohoseñada was officially recognized by being declared an Immaterial Cultural Heritage of La Paz.
Music of the Andes, meditation and insider tip for flute experts
Pablo Salcedo who plays with the Latin folk band Markamasince 1994 describes the sound of the Moseño as curative and full of compassion and love. The Moseño is an instrument with an incredible personality. “The Moseño’s power of expression is remarkable, when played for meditation. The sound does not only captivate the auditory, but the flute player, too. That’s truly magic.” As a matter of fact, the Moseño is being used for relaxation music. The warm sound is taken as background music for Yoga exercises or Reiki and is highly appreciated for meditation as well.
For friends of the Latin American flute music, the Moseño is a very special rarity. It is an eye-catcher. Its warm sound triggers excitement. With the instrument all known melodies from the Latin American folklore can be played. Solemn, slow songs unfold their charm the same as faster songs from the repertoire of the Andes music. The Argentinean flute expert Uña Ramos, too, loved to play the Moseño. The Chilean music group Illapu uses the Moseño in some of their songs. In particular, the songs “Labradores” and “Tristeza Incaica” have become popular. Both of them emphasize the melancholic sound colour of the Moseño. They serve as a reminder that the Moseño is also being played at funerals in the Bolivian Andes.
Yet the Moseño is an insider tip among flute fans. “It’s pretty difficult to get an instrument of good quality”, writes the flute player and founder of the World Flutes Festival Pablo Salcedo. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is rather seldom used by music bands that don’t have a direct connection to the Latin American folklore. But everything is possible with it. The Brazilian Duo Portal sketches a mysterious acoustic landscape with the Moseño.
The Moseño is diatonically tuned and held like a transverse flute. Sometimes flute players put long instruments on their shoulders. To elicit a sound, one blows into the round opening at the air pipe. The stream of air is being transported through the pipe to the upper end of the flute. There the air hits a so-called windway that makes the flute sound emerge. In terms of sound creation, the Moseño works exactly like a recorder. The tone can be varied by blowing with different pressure into the air channel. The Moseño resembles the Slovakian Fujara. This very long shepherd’s pipe works also with an attached air pipe. However, the Fujara is being held vertically.
Perhaps, in the Western world the Moseño is also the instrument of celebrated loneliness and longing. Particularly, the big flutes with a deep sound found their way out of the Bolivian mountains into the big cities of the world. Pablo Salcedo describes their magic effect by saying: “One can play the Moseño fabulously by oneself, thereby creating a moment of meditation. It reflects the spiritual relationship between human, nature and the infinity of the mountains.”
The Moseños you find in the DAN MOI shop are manifectured by a master instrument maker from Portugal, who learned to build Moseños in South America. Our Moseños are made from European bamboo, that is prepared for the local climate conditions. The construction process of one instrument takes a year. Build with care, they have an excellent quality.