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YANOMAMO

Yanomamo describes the crisis situation in the Amazon Basin, where rainforest trees are being felled for use as commercial timber, the land cleared for ranching, and thousands of peasants from Brazil's overcrowded cities arrive in search of a better life.

The Yanomami is the oldest Indian Tribe living in the forest. Unlike our own civilisation, which uses natural resources with little thought for the future. the Yanomami lead a way of life in harmony with nature which, undisturbed, would survive with the forest for the next twenty thousand years and more. The Indians' existence, and that of millions of animal and plant species, is threatened by the destruction of the trees and the arrival of the incomers.

Outsiders assume that the soil is permanently rich and expect that once the trees are cleared, the land will be very productive. But after two years, no crops will grow. Why? Because the richness of the jungle is in the trees, not in the soil.

The delicate balance of nature is being systematically removed, and soon the rainforests, which are crucial to the world's eco-system, will disappear together with the Indians and the wildlife.

Is there the time or the will to save them?


Instrumentation:

3 Flutes,  3/4 Bb Clarinets,   2 Alto Saxophones,  2 Tenor Saxophones
3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba
Electric Bass   Classical/Acoustic Guitar
Electric Keyboard,  (String) Synthesiser,  Piano
Timpani, Bass Drum, Drum Kit, Cymbals, Xylophone, Vibraphone,  Glockenspiel,   Tambourine,  
Maracas,   Cabasa,   Wood Block



Details of Publications currently available:
Piano/Vocal Score, Chorus Book and Word Book are available from this website. Click here.
Full Score and Stage Band parts available on hire from Josef Weinberger Ltd. Click here.

Recordings and Additional Resources:
A cassette/CD recording, performed by the Choir and Musicians of St. Augustine's RC High School,Billington and narrated by Sir David Attenborough is available by contacting Alex Dangerfield at Josef Weinberger Ltd.
A Video Cassette and Audio Cassette of Song of the Forest, narrated by Sting is available from WWF.UK. Contact Liz Rossall for details.

For listening to mp3 audio files of Yanomamo songs, click here.
For viewing YouTube selection of Yanomamo songs, click here.

Television Appearances:
Yanomamo was filmed as Song of the Forest and shown on Channel 4's Fragile Earth series, narrated by Sting. Many songs from this programme can be viewed on YouTube. Click here.

Performing the Musical:
The number of performances of Yanomamo throughout the years have never failed to amaze us! Hundreds of thousands of children have sung this musical, the world's first environmental musical. If you are considering a performance and would like to know more about licensing details and hire of parts, please contact Josef Weinberger Ltd.



NARRATIONS (Revised for 2017)

The situation in all the world's rainforests is constantly changing. In order to ensure you have narrations that are up-to-date, this page will contain any revisions.

NARRATION ONE

The Amazon River is about four thousand miles long. Only the river Nile is longer. But, unlike the Nile, The Amazon isn’t just a river. It’s a massive river system with more than a thousand tributaries, and seventeen of these are over a thousand miles long. At any one time, this mighty river system holds more than half the river water in the world. More water pours from its mouth in a day than leaves the Thames in a year and at its mouth it’s like the sea, for the banks are as far apart as London and Paris.

The Amazon jungle, the largest tropical rainforest in the world, extends for almost two and a half million square miles, an area almost the size of the United States of America. Just as impressive as its size is the variety of life it contains, for there are more living species in this jungle than anywhere else on earth.

It would seem that one reason for this wealth of life is the great age of the jungle. Some say sixty million years, some a hundred million years, but all are agreed that much of the Amazon Rain Forest has been in existence for a very long time, long enough for this great variety to evolve, long enough, too, for some amazing partnerships to develop between its inhabitants.

 The interdependence of species is normal throughout the world. Every form of life, including human life, is part of the tree of life. Without insects to pollinate their flowers, many plants cannot reproduce themselves. Without the food provided by smaller animals and by plants, birds and mammals would simply starve. We are all quite familiar with this kind of dependence. In the jungle, though, many species have become totally and exclusively dependent on each other. One of the most amazing of these stories of total interdependence is the life history of the fig tree and the fig wasp. 


NARRATION TWO

So, in the jungle, the tree of life is very strong. Over millions of years, life forms have evolved to fill every available niche. Some have specialised to live entirely in the tree tops, some entirely on the forest floor, some even to spend the whole of their life on a single epiphyte high up on a branch of one of the giant trees.

All of this life, of course, includes the animals, and the Amazon is well supplied with animals; some well known, others less so; some attractive, others quite the opposite; and others so strange it is difficult for us to believe they really do exist. 



NARRATION THREE

People, too, are part of the tree of life. In the forest this is more obvious than it is in our developed world, for there the forest people take their place in the balance of life that has developed over thousands of years. And these people have lived in the Amazon for at least twenty thousand years.

There are many distinct tribes, the Yanomamo, the Ticunas and the Auka being just some of them. There are estimated to be about twenty thousand Yanomamo in a territory of about sixty thousand square miles in the region of the Venezuelan border to the north west of Brazil. And the Yanomamo are special because they are the oldest and most numerous of the tribes.

Their way of life may well seem primitive, even savage, to people accustomed to twenty-first century western affluence. And indeed, the way of life is, undeniably, simple in material terms. It is, though, also undeniable that the Yanomamo are perfectly adapted to the place in which they live. Unlike our civilization, which uses natural resources with little or no thought for the future, the Yanomamo have a way of life which, protected from outside interference, could survive for the next twenty thousand years, and more. 


NARRATION FOUR

Brazil 1983

Total population: 120 million
Peasants with no land: 50 million
One in five children dies before its sixth birthday

The Arid North East

Life expectancy: 30 years One child dies every minute

Sao Paulo

Total population: 12 million
47% of houses have no piped water.
70% have no drains.
The average wage of a shanty town dweller: twenty pence an hour.
10,000 people a week come to the city in search of work. 


NARRATION FIVE

During the last thirty years, there have been enormous changes in Brazil. The population has risen from 120 million to 205 million. There has been a massive improvement in the country’s economic prosperity. However, in the months before the Olympic Games 2016, the noisy demonstrations by the poor who live in the overcrowded favelas of Rio demonstrated to the world that Brazil remains a country of stark contrasts, where the few accumulate great wealth and the many live in conditions of great poverty.

Ever since the 1970s, the government of Brazil has seen the Amazon as one solution to the problem. People were given easy credit to help them move away from their poverty. They were given a piece of land and cheap housing close to one of the new roads which have opened up the forest for development. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have moved to the Amazon.

And this pressure of migrating people, this organised movement of the landless poor, continues to this day. Those early migrants had great hope in their hearts, and so it is even now. Thousands of people are still trying to leave their poverty and their despair behind them, as they set out for the Amazon with great enthusiasm. 

NARRATION SIX

So now, the people who had no land have their own farms. Things in the jungle might be uncomfortable, but at least they have planted their crops and can hope for a good harvest.

Their new home is likely to be on the edge of one of the big new roads, such as the Trans Amazonian Highway. It’s an impressive sounding name, but it’s really just a very long, single track dirt road. The farm is probably near one of the frontier towns which have sprung up to cater for the incomers. These towns look for all the world like the wild west towns in the cowboy films, with a general store, a saloon bar, and a few other hastily erected wooden shacks. The towns are always very busy because, once the road has been built, the jungle is open to anybody who wants to go there in the hope of a new life or a quick profit.

In these frontier towns there is often conflict between the Indians and the townspeople, as the Indians fight to protect the territory they have held for thousands of years and the townspeople attack to defend themselves from people they see as simply wild and dangerous savages.

So this is what home is now like for the new farmers as they patiently wait for their crops to grow. And they must wait with a certain amount of confidence, for the Amazon gives the appearance of great fertility; the land seems to support a great quantity of life. It is natural to expect that, once the trees have been cleared, the land will be very productive.

But, in fact, this is not the case, for the richness of a jungle is in the trees, not in the soil. 


NARRATION 7

At best, then, life in the jungle is very hard for these peasant migrants. At worst it becomes so impossible they return to their old way of life, leaving behind them land stripped of its trees.

Prospectors also have their effect on the jungle, for the Amazon holds rich deposits of minerals. During the 1980s the discovery of gold in the north western border area of Brazil sparked off a gold-rush, with devastating consequences for the Yanomamo and for the forest they call their home. 10,000 gold prospectors invaded their land. These intruders were desperately poor people themselves and were trying to find a new life among the trees. What they found instead was a hostile environment and dangerous working conditions. The effect on the Yanomamo was catastrophic. Western diseases and conflict with the newcomers combined to reduce their population by nearly a fifth in only a few years. The gold mining and the problems it brings to the forest and its people continue to this day.

Despite such dramatic developments, however, individuals, be they peasant farmers or gold prospectors, have only a limited effect on the forest as a whole. Huge international companies contribute most to the speed of forest destruction. Some of these companies are farming the land for soya bean production; some are harvesting the trees for their timber; others are simply clearing vast areas of the forest for ranching.