The Devilā€™s Horn
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The Devilā€™s Horn
image movie
Research, camera, compilation, editing: Miranda van der Spek
Graduation film Master in Visual Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam
Prize-winning film of the Gƶttingen Filmfestival ( )

The Devilā€™s Horn, documentary on brass band traditions in Bolivia

In the highlands of Bolivia there is still a lively brass-band tradition, originating in the military bands brought to Bolivia by the European colonists. Over the years the military bands evolved into the civilianĀ bandas,Ā in which European influences blended with the local musical tradition. The bandas play an important part on the feast-days of patron saints – theĀ fiestas. Besides accompanying groups of dancers, they are involved in all the ritual and social activities associated with the fiesta. The banda serves as the main visiting card of the sponsor of a fiesta: if the band is good, the fiesta will be more successful and the sponsor will gain more respect in his village. The participating groups of dancers compete mainly on a musical level: with their singing trumpets and swinging tubas, the bandas try to outplay each other by playing as loud and as long as possible.

Most bandas keep to theĀ Andino-tradition of sacrificing to the musicians’ devil, known as theĀ sereno. They believe that he will inspire them, and that the banda with the most obliging sereno will win the competition.

This documentary tells the story of the bandas on the patron saint feasts, the rituals and the competition. The documentary is the result of an investigation carried out by me into the role and function of the bandas in Oruro, Bolivia. For a year, I played the tuba with the banda “Espectacular Pagador de Oruro”, which greatly assisted me in the making ofĀ The Devil’s Horn.

The Devilā€™s Horn

1994 Gƶttingen FilmFestival (award winning film)

1995 June: screening at the anthropological film festival Beeld voor Beeld

1995 December: broadcasting of The devilā€™s horn on NPS national television (in Passaat, a program about world music)

1996 May: Student Prize at the Gƶttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival

1998 June: screening at the Brass WorldWide symposium of music publishers Paradox

1998 October: screening at the International Festival of Ethnographic Films ā€˜Music & Ritualsā€™ in Nuoro, Sardinia, Italy

1998 November: screening at the International World Music and Media Festival in Maastricht

1998 December: sale of films to the Wereldwinkel fair trade store chain