Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines

for percussion duo

Program Notes

The Nazca lines are gigantic figures, both abstract and zoomorphic, which are carved into the hard desert surface in a region of Perú known as the Pampa Colorada (Red Plain). They were made by the Nazca people, who flourished in that area from approximately 200 BCE to 600 CE. Their modern discovery was in the 1930s.

The huge drawings undoubtedly required hundreds of years, and the efforts of many people, to create. Because the actual figures can only be discerned from the air, and have no imaginable practical value, there has been much speculation as to why the Nazcas made them. (Among the silliest is Erich von Däniken’s notion that they served as landing sites for alien spacecraft.) Probably we will never know exactly why they were built, but they are a spectacular sight from the air: among the figures are giant lizards, spiders, monkeys, llamas, dogs and hummingbirds, as well as purely geometric figures and simple crisscrossing lines.

This piece attempts to suggest something of both the power and mystery of these figures. Percussion seemed an appropriate medium, as we often associate drums with “primitive” peoples, such as the Nazca. Nazca Lines was written at the request of my friends Deborah Sunya Moore and Brian Kushmaul, and is a sort of belated wedding present to them.

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