His­panic and Na­tive Amer­i­can mu­si­cal tra­di­tions are rooted in the same things

Tempo - - OONTHE SCENE - By Rick Ro­mancito

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


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