In 1992 I went to El Salvador with a film crew. We were at an archeology site called Joya de Cerin which was a Mayan village perfectly preserved in volcanic ash much like Pompeii. While taking a break from doing extra sound recording, I noticed a particularly vocal bird the locals called a clariniño. I was impressed by its range of vocabulary and in an attempt to imitate it, I picked a thick blade of grass which placed between my hands and blew on it. The clariniño responded immediately. Then for over half an hour we conversed with each other, each imitating the other. Many people at the site commented with amazement on our conversation.

Later I asked one of the American archeologists if there were any reed, or reed type, instruments found at the site, and he replied that only clay flutes were found and that reed type instruments were unknown. I asked if the clariniño was present at the time and he said yes. I said that if that were so, then there had to be some kind of instrument that could copy the clariniño, as it couldn’t be copied by a voice or flute. Human nature was far too imitative and the Mayans too superstitious to not make one. He found my comments interesting and said that he would keep an eye out for something. This I took half seriously but was amused to hear of an archeologist state in a lecture a while later, that there was new evidence to suggest that there were reed style wind instruments in Mayan times!

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