If the opening theme sounds a bit
familiar to you, it's
because 'Ancestral Voices' was originally composed for
the Pyramid Films documentary 'Search For The Maya'.
Narrated by Ricardo Montalban, the hour-long program
was broadcast on PBS in 1995.
The sheer wonder of the ancient
Mayan artifacts, some
of them marvelously preserved, and the incredible story
they told inspired composer and producer Brian Ascenzo
to study and learn to understand Pre-Columbian music.
To fully realize his vision, two
more tools would be required.
One was an example, written or audible,
of the Mayan
music itself. This came in the form of a recording of an
actual 'Mayan' band! Hailing from the Beliz area, 'Xochimoki'
is an amazing group of individuals, playing the music
handed down aurally through the centuries on the very
same hand fashioned instruments as their ancestors.
From this recording, Brian was able to learn and utilize
a basic musical language of a Pre-Columbian culture.
Enraptured by the percussive moods,
Brian knew that he
needed another, even more valuable resource. So he called
on trusted friend and colleague Charles DeChant.
Charles DeChant has been the saxophonist
for 'Hall and Oates' for nigh on twenty years. In his many
travels with this classic pop supergroup, he has taken up
the practice of collecting flutes, recorders, shells and,
well, just about any instrument you could blow through.
"Why don't I just bring over
So there they were. Poking their
way out of this exotic
tangle of wood and bone were many actual instruments from
the region of Mayan influence. With all the pieces firmly in place,
Ascenzo and DeChant set about the task of recording several of
Brian's themes and improvising in the many varied moods and
styles that the stunning imagery of this once mighty race evoked.
After a while, there were so many themes and beats that Brian
was able to meticulously follow the dramatic growth
and eventual devastion of this historic people.
Many of these beautiful pieces (and
some that weren't in the
show) have been joined to create this musical journey through
through the past.