Disappeared Quipu[s]: Environment for Three Percussionists

Camilo MENDEZ* (Composer)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


The compositional cycle Disappeared Quipu[s] was the result of the project Post-Colonial Recherche; a collaboration with Ensemble Recherche curated by Bongani Ndodana-Breen. The works are inspired by and based on the installation: Disappeared Quipu by Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña.
Quipu were complex objects used by ancient Andean communities to keep records and communicate information. Quipu consists of knotted cords of different colours and lengths. The information was codified by placing the knots at different positions, by adjusting the lengths of the different cords and by using strands of different colours. These objects were also forms of registering current events, remembering the past and in the case of Vicuña imagine the future. Quipu were banned by the Spanish during the colonization of South America. In her installation Vicuña hanged massive strands of knotted wool from the ceiling of the exhibition space evoking ancient quipu.
In Disappeared Quipu[s] for three (3) percussionists [Line Upon Line), I am channelling Vicuña’s installation by creating a collection of 6 musical Quipu that consist of knots (percussive textures) and strands/cords (sustained textures) that can be performed in ANY ORDER, but ALWAYS as if they are a single movement, therefore all Quipu[s] must be played ATTACCA and transitions between Quipu[s] must be as smooth and continuous as possible. Under no circumstances the work must be performed in such a way that changes of Quipu[s] are perceived as such.
In order to reinforce the concept of Quipu and the connection with Vicuña’s work, percussion parts consists exclusively of found objects. Each percussionist performs a ‘musical quipu’ (collection of objects) that are combined to produce a Quipu with the whole ensemble (see comments on notation). Each individual percussion set is a ‘Quipu’ and the whole ensemble is a ‘Quipu’.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOther
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2024
EventWinter Composer Festival: Premieres - Austin, Austin, United States
Duration: 12 Jan 2024 → …

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Music

User-Defined Keywords

  • Sound
  • Environment
  • Percussion
  • Found Objects


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