Shell horns have been used for centuries by indigenous and Pacific Island natives such as the Garifunas on the Caribbean coast of Honduras where I was born. The shell horn is the only wind instrument used today in Garifuna traditional music and has a strong spiritual connection between the ocean and life.

This instrument was commonly employed by Native Americans and may have also been used among West Africans, the exact origin and date of its initial use among the Garifuna are unknown. I learned to play it since I was a child.

The shell is made into a wind instrument when the pointed spiral top is cut off and the air is blown through the aperture with the lips.  The closed, buzzing-lip embouchure used in playing orchestral brass instruments is also used to create the sound known as “the spirit of the ocean” through the shell. Today I want to celebrate that we are alive and together in these uncertain times. 


“…Pável Aguilar wants to apprehend the sound and the texture of the seas.  
What is it, actually that makes the ocean sound? Probably the interaction between the winds and the waves . Both, winds and waves are incredible entities difficult to grasp and to encompass that cross the boundaries of the human and the a-human, the agentive and the overdetermined, and the cultural and the natural. 

These shelves: what are they granting us access to? If we bring our ears closer to them we may listen to the stories of the oceans, the knowledge possessed by all its creatures and the disasters we impose upon them. The piece —coming from an artist deeply invested in music and sound–reports on how art can bring bring aspects of life and the politics of our relation to nature into legibility, into experience…”

Chus Martínez