Hispanic and Native American musical traditions are rooted in the same things
For two NewMexican cultural groups that may superficially seem so different, Native American and Hispanic musical traditions stem from both religious and secular expressions.
At Taos Pueblo, for instance, the music they embrace comes from a rather complex set of origins. One type of music is integrally a part of the rituals and ceremonials associated with the native religion, songs that are not sung anywhere else but at the village at certain times of the year and for certain reasons. Then, a second type of music has been adopted from a pan-Indian tradition involving centurieslong integration with many other tribes in the region they encountered through hunting, trade or even conflict.
The foreigners who began arriving in this area, starting with the first Spanish explorers with Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540 and later among the colonists who established settlements in 1698, no doubt brought troubadours with them, plus the tradition of music that eventually became rooted in the Catholic faith. While, over time, hints of subtle influence emerged, each became symbols of cultural identity that were best expressed during occasions such as powwows, fiestas and parties.
For instance, the Taos Pueblo Powwow that happens on the second weekend in July is a gathering of Native American Nations for three days of intertribal singing, drumming and dancing (for more, visit taospueblopowwow.com). The second is the Fiestas de Santiago y Santa Ana, an event that happens in late July, celebrating Ana in July.
the Catholic Feast Days of Saints James and Ann. This event brings the community together for three days of Hispanic music, dancing and religious commemoration.
While some outside the cultures might think these musical traditions are frozen in time and in danger of being lost once some elders pass on, they have perpetuated over decades as a kind of popular culture within each group. Among Native Americans, a thriving recording industry has developed in which tribal members compose and digitally record new songs all the time, with some individual performers and drumgroups taking on the same status as music stars.
Brittanica.com explains it this way: “Native Americans trace the ultimate origin of their traditional music to the time of creation, when specific songs or musical repertories were given to the first people by the Creator and by spirit beings in the mythic past. Sacred narratives describe the origins of specific musical instruments, songs, dances and ceremonies.
“Some ritual repertories received at the time of creation are considered complete, so that by definition, human beings cannot compose newmusic for them. But many occasions are suitable for newmusic; this music may be received in a variety of ways. For example, shamans and other individuals may experience dreams or visions in which spirit beings teach them new songs, dances and rituals. Many Indian communities learn new songs and repertories from their neighbors and have a long history of adopting musical practices from outsiders. Yet in every case, the music is a gift that comes from beyond the individual or community.”
On Wikipedia, which is used here with a grain of salt, an interesting explanation is given for Hispanic musical origins in New Mexico: “New Mexico music is a genre of music that Maria Ernestina Elena Archuleta laughs as she dances with the other Reina contestants in the 2015 Fiestas de Taos Royal Pageant. Archuleta was named La Reina de Las Fiestas de Taos 2015.
AMARIACHI BAND exits Our Lady of Guadalupe Church after the crowning of la Reina de Taos during the Fiestas de Santiago y Santa