Indiana University Bloomington

Anthony Seeger dances with  Kĩsêdjê, Mato Grosso, Brazil, 1972


Location: Mato Grosso, Brazil
Date: 1971-1981
Format:  Open reel tape, audio cassette, and 8mm videocasette
Accession Numbers: 73-097-F and 80-081-F

Anthony Seeger (b. 1945) is an ethnomusicologist, anthropologist, archivist, and record producer who has conducted extensive field research with the Kĩsêdjê people of the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. (The Kĩsêdjê were formerly known as the Suyá.) Seeger’s collections were recorded on open reel tapes during his field research between 1971 and 1978, and documents Kĩsêdjê Indians of Mato Grosso, Brazil, and their oral traditions and performances, which include singing, teaching, myth telling, speeches, oral history, and flute music. The collection also includes recordings of several other Amazon groups including the Kayabi, Yawalapiti, and Northern Kayapo tribes. 

In 1987, Seeger published the book, Why Suyá Sing: A Musical Anthropology of an Amazonian People (Cambridge University Press), which is now considered a classic in the field of ethnomusicology. Based on years of field research and musical exchange, he explores the reasons for the importance of music for Kĩsêdjê people through an examination of myth telling, speech making, and singing in an initiation ceremony. Analyzing different verbal arts and focusing on details of musical performances, Seeger reveals how Kĩsêdjê singing functions within the village to strengthen communal bonds and create properly socialized adults. Seeger also authored a book-length ethnography on the Kĩsêdjê Indians titled, Nature and Society in Central Brazil, The Suyá Indians of Mato Grosso, published by Harvard University Press in 1981.

Seeger has made significant contributions to the field of ethnomusicology as an author, distinguished professor, and director of several important archives of sound recordings, including the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University (1982-1988), Smithsonian Folkways Recordings at the Smithsonian Institution (1988-2000), and the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive. As executive producer of all recordings issued on the Smithsonian Folkways label between 1988 and 2000, Seeger produced approximately 250 recordings and oversaw the rebirth of the Folkways Records legacy. The new Smithsonian Folkways releases set high standards for informative and educational recordings through extensive notes and commentary. Seeger's numerous published articles have focused on issues of land and human rights for Brazilian Indians, issues of archiving and intellectual property, and ethnomusicological theory and method.

Sample: "Puiyi ngere." 1971. "Puiyi ngere" is a women's song. This song would normally be sung in the houses by young Kĩsêdjê women as part of the "todnchi" festival. This performance of "Puiyi ngere" was sung by the wife of Bentvtumti (73-097-F).

In addition to these audio recordings of Kĩsêdjê performances, approximately ten hours of annotated field video recorded in the 1990s is available online through the EVIA Digital Archive Project. Visit and search for Suyá.