Music and the invisible world: Music as a bridge between different realms –Giorgio Scalici

Special Issue 11 (1) 2019 “Exploring the spiritual in music: Interdisciplinary dialogues in music, wellbeing and education” – Article (first published on 24 November 2019)

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Music and the invisible world: Music as a bridge between different realms

Giorgio Scalici

Durham University, UK


Among the Wana people of Morowali, Central Sulawesi, music serves as a connection between the human world and the hidden world of spirits and emotion. For this reason, music has a central role during the momago, the main Wana healing ritual. Music makes it possible for shamans to tap power from mythical time. By examining the momago, I will clarify the role and the importance of music for Wana rituality. During the ritual, music serves as a ritual marker and, with its relation with the hidden world, calls the spirits, transforms ordinary time into mythical/ritual time and helps shamans to get into trance. Moreover, it contributes to the playful atmosphere that characterises Wana rituals and that allows the healing of the patient and the community through emotional catharsis. To explore the role of music in this shamanic ritual, this paper will analyse the structure and the aim of the momago, a ritual in which shamans and music join forces in the effort to find the soul of the patient and save his/her life.


shamanism, ritual, music


Giorgio Scalici (born 1986) obtained his Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology at University of Rome “La Sapienza.” Currently he is in the final stages of a PhD, situated between anthropology, religious studies and ethnomusicology, at Durham University continuing his studies on Wana culture. His fields of interest include mythology, funerary rites, shamanism, and music and trance. []