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Reviewed by:
  • Sones y huapangos: Musique de la Huasteca et de Veracruz (Mexique), and: El gusto: 40 años de son huasteco
  • Alex E. Chávez
Stéphane Fargeot, Comp. Sones y huapangos: Musique de la Huasteca et de Veracruz (Mexique). 2011. CD. Collection Mémoires Sonores (GEMP68). Association CORDAE/La Talvera (France). 77 mins.
El gusto: 40 años de son huasteco. 2011. CDs. Discos Corasón México (COB601). Disc 1, 75 mins.; disc 2, 80 mins.

In the opening son of “La petenera,” a member of Trio Los Pingüinos de Tamazunchale sings a verse for the French researchers who were present there recording, skillfully displaying the virtuosic lyrical and musical maneuverings particular to the styles of Mexico’s lower Gulf Coast region: “y a Francia está saludando, mi huasteca potosina” (and my huasteca potosina [End Page 148] greets France). This moment sets the tone for the subsequent sonic excursion focused on both the huapango huasteco—as practiced in the states of Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, and Veracruz (although it extends also into the states of Puebla, Querétaro, and Tamaulipas)—and the son jarocho of the state of Veracruz. True, there exists no shortage of recordings (commercial or otherwise) of Mexican sones like “La petenera” or “El cascabel,” be it by individual ensembles or as part of ethnographic collections produced by cultural and arts organizations. Yet despite this abundance, few recordings such as this capture the mosaic of syncretic expression particular to the music-culture of the region. That is, although the collection Sones y huapangos: Musique de la Huasteca et de Veracruz (Mexique) does not necessarily offer anything new in terms of the material it captures, its approach is novel.

Rather than adhere to the neat compartmentalizing of the Mexican son supergenre, Stéphane Fargeot and his collaborators instead accentuate the overlap between forms that in some ways lends a more accurately fluid representation. Culled from field recordings conducted in 1970, the twenty-eight tracks that comprise the Sones y huapangos CD are one installment in the Memoires sonores collection released by the French cultural arts organization CORDAE/La Talvera. Featuring an array of styles including the secular son jarocho and huapango huasteco, as well as ceremonial indigenous danzas, and even the vinuete commonplace in funeral rituals, comparison can be made to the volumes Música huasteca (1969) and Voces de Hidalgo (1993) released by the Fonoteca del INAH in Mexico with the support of the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA, Ediciones Pentagrama).

Since its inception in 1979, CORDAE/La Talvera has been committed to the conservation and dissemination of the language, music, and terpsichorean practices of Occitania through research and educational efforts. A cultural zone spread over present-day southern France as well as portions of Italy and Spain, the Occitan region extends its influence throughout Europe and Latin America, and accordingly CORDAE/La Talvera’s catalogs explore this cross-continental cultural topography. The Memoires sonores series, specifically, is centered on music traditions and has featured a diversity of styles across countries, ranging from Brazil to France. And it is perhaps this holistic perspective that informs the conceptual approach to the musics of Mexico’s lower Gulf Coast region.

The recordings that constitute Sones y huapangos: Musique de la Huasteca et de Veracruz (Mexique) are analog field recordings, and their sound quality reflects both the inviting warmth and the temporal wear of this technology. In some ways, however, these in-the-moment representations are preferable to isolated studio sessions, for they give the listener not only insight into the music but also a sense of its performance. Audience [End Page 149] participation, gritos (emotional cries of approval), improvised verses, and zapateados (patterned dance steps), in addition to subtle imperfections and active negotiations, can be heard on most of the tracks, which include ten huapangos huastecos, seven sones jarochos, seven indigenous danzas and ritual sones, two children’s songs, and two instrumental versions of “La petenera” played on jarana—one of the huasteco and another of the jarocho variety. Featured are lay musicians, professional ensembles, and individual performers largely across the region of La Huasteca in San Luís Potosí and...


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