Magina: In Memoriam Mario Juruna (for septet and tape)

This piece was written in homage to Mario Juruna and all indigenous people in the American continent. (Para a versão em português, clique aqui)

Mario Juruna (1943 – 2002) was a Brazilian Congressman in the Lower House from 1983 to 1986, elected by the PDT (Democratic Labour Party). He was indigenous, belonging to the Xavante (Shavante) ethnic group, and he was the only indigenous Congressman in the Lower House in Brazilian history. He became to be publically noticed years before his candidacy because he used a portable cassette recorder to record his conversations with the competent authorities and to unmask the lies of a corrupt and corrupter system.

The piece uses excerpts of some of his recorded speeches in the Lower House. His mother tongue was Gê, an indigenous language spoken by more than 10 thousand people. Thus, he learned the Portuguese language just with 17 years old, which contributed to a particular attribute to his speech: a unique sound, especially his intonation, very distant from the standard intonation in Brazilian political speeches, and much more musical.

He was elected in a transitional period when Brazil was moving from a military dictatorship to a new democracy. However, the president at that time, João Figueiredo, was still a reminiscence from the military regime. Juruna often used his speeches to complain and denounce Figueiredo’s authoritarianism.

Not by accident, Figueiredo party was the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), one of the parties responsible for the 2016 juridical mediatic coup d’etat in Brazil.

Therefore, this piece is an echo of Juruna’s voice, from the past to the present.

The piece is structured in 5 different and continuous parts:

  1. Background Sentiments: where I work with the cultural-historical background of Mario Juruna, with inspiration in Xavante music;
  2. First Speech: where I use mostly excerpts of Mario Juruna discourse from April 19, 1983 (Brazilian Indian Day);
  3. The Good Son Always Comes Back: Inspired by a short TV documentary that showed one of the moments that Mario Juruna returned to his village after getting his position as a representative. The main inspirational moment was a scene where one of his aunts starts to cry when seeing him;
  4. Second Speech: where I use just excerpts of the speech from April 9, 1986, where he does strong criticism to the PMDB and to the PFL (former ARENA and now DEM);
  5. Epilogue or The Last Speech: in which I used excerpts of his last recorded speech in the congress (to my knowledge), on May 15, 2002, years after the ending of his mandate, participating in a special committee for the human rights.

Moreover, I also tried to bring, throughout the piece, the idea of the portable recorder that he did use, which was fundamental for a good part of his acts as an interlocutor between the indigenous leaderships and the government.


Special thanks to the Deviant Septet, who bravely faced the herculean reading of this piece: Mike Gurfield (trumpet), Bill Kalinkos (clarinet and bass clarinet), Karen Kim (violin), Brad Balliette (bassoon), Doug Balliett (contrabass), Mike Lormand (trombone), and Jared Soldiviero (percussion).

Additionally (coming soon!): a video animation for this piece!

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