Emulating ancient Mexico's sounds

Agustín García recreates pre-Hispanic sounds thanks to his knowledge in physics and mathematics

Craftsman recreates ancient sounds
Agustín García in his workshop – Photo: Jorge Alvarado/ EL UNIVERSAL
English 08/07/2018 14:05 Claudia González Metepec Actualizada 11:50

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Several pieces that resemble recently buried archeological vestiges lay on his table, but they are created by Agustín García Reyes, a craftsman who has been making wind and percussion instruments for 20 years, to recover the pre-Hispanic musical tradition.

Flutes and drums are piled up inside his workshop. He makes ocarinas in the shapes of jaguars, birds and other animals, whose sounds are pretty similar to those of the species; he has accomplished this through the study of mathematics and physics.

He says that since he was a little boy he learned traditional dances, to ask the gods for productive harvests, prosperity, fertility and other virtues.

He is an electronics technician and during high school, he specialized in physics and mathematics. This knowledge has worked as the foundation for the development of techniques that allow him to reach certain musical notes, sounds, and frequencies. Other disciplines that have been useful to him are fluid mechanics, acoustics, thermodynamics, among others.

The 47-year-old is also a cattle breeder and sells dairy products. Next to the cows and calves is his small workshop, which looks improvised, but in fact, it's the scenario where he developed all his pieces, some of which have made it to Europe, the United States and Asia, mostly China and Japan, France, and other South American countries.

The instruments play sounds identical to the ones you would usually hear at an anthropology and history museum, they look like seashells. tortoise or armadillo shells, that according to history, the “old ones” used, as Agustín calls them, to communicate between them, during ceremonies or during a sacrifice.

His work is spread through social media; it's a vehicle for showing his work to people all over the world, so they become interested and buy his pieces.

Some of the sounds, he says, draw death near; others, love; some others, draw battles close, and for each of those pieces it was necessary to introduce himself into the most ancient Mexican roots. However, many have patented these products. He says they have stolen not just his ideas, but the Mexicans' identity.