Journal: Carlos Carty addressed the group of resident artists tonight. Carlos is from Lima, Peru, but he has lived for the past few years in Brazil. He told us how, at the age of 15, he had discovered music while still in school. It was, he said, love at first sight. However, musical instruments were expensive and not easy to obtain, so he learned to play rhythms and music on throwaway things, empty boxes, plastic and glass bottles, material that could be re-cycled. He was self-taught and has had few lessons. However, his explorations have led him to the Pan Flute, the Andean flute, the Chinese (or sideways) flute, and to many of the myriad flute-like instruments that are played in the Andes in general and in Peru in particular.
Carlos is interested in all types of music and would love to be a full-time musician, dedicated exclusively to his music. However, he has a family to look after and music alone will not keep food on the table. This was a problem shared by all the artists in residence. He then told us of some of his difficulties. He also told of his preference for his own people’s traditional music. This music existed before the Incan Empire and long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores who laid his land and his people to waste. Part of Carlos’s musical experiments have centered on restoring a melodic happiness to a Peruvian traditional music that is, by nature, sad. Add to this his ability to create music from all types of recyclable material, and you will see Carlos as an innovator. His own compositions demonstrate this innovative spirit and he happily blends any and all types of music to the traditional music as he searches for new ways in which to express himself, his moods, and his emotions.
With regards to KIRA and the Kingsbrae experience, Carlos stated that six months ago, while thinking about his application to KIRA, he realized how important it was to write down his ideas and focus on the elements that made him the musician that he is. From these cogitations arose his ideas on the eclectic nature of music and the necessity to recycle not just music, but the means by which music is made. Music, for Carlos, comes as an imitation of nature. It is the sound of water, of rocks knocking against each other. It is the sound of the wind through grass and reeds, the beating of wood on stone. He also spoke of the various waves of immigrants who came into Peru. The African slaves, in their moments of leisure, expressed themselves in sound, sounds made from the very materials with which they were laboring. This too became a part of Peruvian music.
One of the reasons why Carlos loves the flute is that it is one of the world’s most ancient instruments coming after the percussion of wood on rock and taut animal skin or shells. Flutes go back many thousands of years, to ancient Greece, among other places, and they are the world’s original instruments and bind all cultures together via the international language of music.
Many questions followed Carlos’s presentation. Most of them centered on a clarification of one thing or another. However, thanks to Anne Wright, a very productive theme was introduced: the relationship between North American aboriginal music (especially the first nations peoples of Canada) and the traditional music of other aboriginal American people. This theme merged into the question of identity, loss of identity, and the attempt to recover that lost identity, especially in the current age when so many differences are so easily erased. Language, culture, identity, music … they are all tied closely together. Carlos is an excellent ambassador and has the personality to explore and develop such links as these. Perhaps there will be further room to develop these contacts at a later date.