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Aztec gods’ names have a certain beat to them...

Ideas for RHYTHMS based on Aztec GODS’ NAMES

Don’t be put off by the names of Mexica (Aztec) gods! Turn them to your advantage. There are patterns in them that are positively rhythmical... Written by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore

Aztec gods’ names come from the Náhuatl language (still today Mexico’s second language after Spanish). A key rule in Náhuatl is that the accent usually falls on the penultimate syllable (see the picture). Why not develop a whole creative music session based on these names? All you need is a good range of simple percussion instruments, including shakers and rasps as well as drums. Split your class into two teams, and get them competing against each other to create the most lively and exciting rhythms using say the names of 4 gods with suitable names. Each team should have a leader with a good sense of rhythm. All chant the names, accompanied by a mini-band. Try:-
• TezcatliPOca
• HuitziloPOchtli
• MictlanteCUhtli
• ItztlacoliUHqui

NOTE: Try accompanying the first three syllables of each name with shakers, then using drum beats to emphasise the two final syllables...

‘I believe in the fertility of sound...’
‘I believe in the fertility of sound...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

In his classic novel The Plumed Serpent D H Lawrence wrote:-
Ah, the NAMES of the gods! Don’t you think the NAMES of the gods are like seeds, so full of magic, of the unexplored magic? I believe in the fertility of sound...

There’s more to a shaker than meets the eye: after all, it isn’t YOU that makes the sound, it’s the seeds inside. These were considered to have magic powers in ancient Mexico, able to imitate sacred sounds from the rainforest such as the rattle of a rattlesnake...

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on May 10th 2016

‘A Gallery of Aztec Gods’

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