By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
"Ülkantun" is the Mapudungu term used to denote all forms of Mapuche singing, though it also refers to the instrumental music (especially on the trutruka and the kultrun) that provides the basis for the singing. Ceremonial songs or those with a sacred, religious meaning, are more specifically designated as "tayïl" (tael, tahiel), and used to be sung only by the machi.
The ülkantun is considered an expression of the thought and feeling of the Mapuche people which may occur at any time even as part of a conversation or while reciting a poem.
It is mostly used to tell ancient (or not so much) stories and has as many variants as types of emotions it suggests. Within the Mapuche repertoire there are songs of joy and sorrow, of happiness and regret, love songs (more or less cheeky), songs of struggle and war songs. Likewise, there are songs that seek to honour the ancestors and the Nature and lyrics that can either trace back ancestry or traditional proverbs and fables.