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  • Músicas coloniales a debate: Procesos de intercambio euroamericanos ed. by Javier Marín López
  • Walter Aaron Clark
Músicas coloniales a debate: Procesos de intercambio euroamericanos. Colección Música Hispana Textos. Edited by Javier Marín López. Madrid: Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 2018. ISBN 9788489457553. Paperback. Pp. 715. In Spanish and English. €50.

When at a concert or lecture, it is increasingly common to hear a prefatory statement read aloud (and/or to read a printed version of it in the program) acknowledging the original inhabitants of the land on which we now live and work, land that was taken away by force. Although over five hundred years of white-settler colonialism cannot be erased, the conquest and colonization of the Americas by Europeans should be acknowledged and the consequences mitigated as much as possible. But this issue is not so simple, and much depends on one’s perspective.

Critiques of the mission culture in California in particular have intensified in recent years, and rightly so. We must not shy away from a critical examination of that complex and painful history. However, there is a danger lurking here, that is, that in our haste to condemn the Spaniards for their forced conversion of Native peoples, we also condemn the cultural legacy of minority groups, Latinx and Indigenous, who practice Catholicism and do not view the missions in a negative light.

Of course, the conquistadores did not just bring a new religion. They also brought music, most of which was inseparable from their theology and rituals. And there is general agreement that this repertoire has enormous aesthetic value. Thus, one has to accept the reality that great beauty can exist simultaneously with or even be the direct result of great inhumanity. And added to this paradox is an irony: just as the Iberian conquest of the Americas transformed the Indigenous soundscapes through a collision of European, Native, and African cultures, the by-products of this forcible exchange traveled back across the Atlantic to transform the Iberian and European soundscapes as well. What would Baroque music have been like without the sarabande, passacaglia, and chaconne, all of which sprouted in Spanish America as the zarabanda, pasacalle, and chacona before taking root in Europe? The ida y vuelta, or “departure and return,” of various types of music and dance during the colonial—or viceregal, if you prefer—period is the subject of the volume under consideration.

This is an impressive contribution to the growing literature on this subject. The title translates into English as “Colonial Musics in Debate: Processes of Euro-American Interchange.” In addition to the introduction by editor Javier Marín López, professor of musicology at the Universidad de Jaén in Andalucía, there are no fewer than thirty-four chapters here by leading scholars from Europe and the Americas, representing a wide variety of subdisciplines. These are organized into seven main areas of inquiry: (1) “Transplanting Traditions: Liturgy and Plainchant in the Indies,” (2) “European Models and American Realities in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” (3) “European Models and American Realities in the Eighteenth Century and Transit to the Nineteenth Century,” (4) “Continuities and Changes in Insurgent and Republican Spanish America,” (5) [End Page 391] “The Nineteenth Century in Cuba,” (6) “The Luso-Brazilian Space,” and (7) “The Performance of Colonial Music Today.”

Part 1 includes the use of Sevillian choirbooks in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City; newly composed chants for St. Peter at that same cathedral; the significant cultural role played by contrafacta; and liturgical chant in the missions of Chiquitos, Bolivia. Part 2 covers Pedro Bermúdez’s adaptation of a Lamentation by Cristóbal de Morales for use in Puebla; the life and music of Gonzalo García Zorro in Santafé, Colombia; historiographical aspects of the Baroque in the context of viceregal music; and the impact of Gerónimo González de Mendoza in Iberia and Spanish America. Part 3 deals with a genealogy of composer Martin Schmid; the Enlightenment, polyphony, and identity in colonial Argentina; the musical education of Native girls in eighteenth-century Mexico; Carlos Pera’s introduction of new repertoire to Valladolid Cathedral in...


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