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The University of Texas. Program given to the culture of the program with the Department of Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. And now here are Tom Stanford assistant professor in the U.S. Department of music and John fireman. Tom I suppose if we were to boil the area of music down to its very rock bottom foundations we would find that music of religious ritual and war and courtship probably are the
main foundations of music of our world today. I see we are going to be discussing the music of courtship with the Indian cultures of Mexico. Where were these recordings made with these recordings were made among the mystic Indians they all told me this in central Mexico with the witch royalists in school in Europe north of Guadalajara in shop us and south of Mexico and among the movie scores a group which is related to the mystic Indians in the state of Gatorade on near Acapulco relatively near. This courtship music which we're going to be discussing today is perhaps the only type of music. Which I have found in Mexico and Latin America about which probably we can make some assertion regarding its pre has Spanish origin. The music has many characteristics which are not European.
And it has a pedigree which goes back at least to the time of the Conquest. Sabran for example the sixteenth century or the mid 16th century commented. That there was a special type of love music which was played in the corridors for four as thick maidens who were designated to the entertainment of the Aztec warriors in Mexico City what is today Mexico City. In the early seventeenth century the Inca gods the loss of the lie they got talking about. The Incan culture in South America commented on a type of music which is very similar to what we find in Mexico and and in Latin America in general. As I've already stated this is a musical type which is not just Mexican in Latin America which has several very interesting traits. First of all it was associated in with the Incas it was associated with the flute. And this instrument was
according the comments of Garcia Los a la Vega reserved only for love of music and the flute not only played melodies but it also spoke. It evidently conveyed some concrete meaning so that for example Garcia the last of the Vega gives the case of a priest in Cusco in in what's today Peru who was walking on streets at night and came upon upon a young girl that he knew and offered to accompany her to the door of her house. But she answered him No. Yon flute that plays in the distance calls me and I cannot but hurry because it is singing love and my heart cannot die but hasten to arrive there. There is a type of music in Mexico which I have not recorded which also conveys a concrete meaning and is found among the papa Luca for example in the state of Veracruz. It's also
found among non Indian speakers in the state of either go it's a music which residents will tell you Well it is saying such and such it's saying we're going to go the altered saying. It has been studied by another North American investigator Charles boiling who has set down a certain linguistic structure for the music itself where actual and melodic segments express concrete words. I have some doubts regarding the structure of the music but in any event here is a music which does express a concrete. Meaning the first selection which we'll hear today is from the mystic Indians again of the coast of the haka. And they have a music which they called the cool be a narcotic remains. This is what I would say to her. And it has a counterpart which is khaki which is what the woman would sing to the man saying this is what I say to him.
In this particular case the the man is singing to the woman telling her how beautiful she is and the things that he had Meyer's about her. In my mind. That might be.
Tom that music seemed almost to be a rhythmical. Yes there is a basic harmonic pattern. Very simple pattern I might comment. It would practically any man in the mystic culture is capable of learning in 10 or 15 minutes. Of course this doesn't preclude the fact that there are some musicians and some people who just play the music without artistry. But over this basic harmonic pattern the words of the text are improvised on the spot and following a certain series of melodic notes that should be kept in mind that the mistake language is tonal so that they words of the text have to some degree to accommodate themselves to a melodic formula. But beyond that you'll notice that sometimes there are a great many syllables in a phrase and sometimes there are relatively few. And the phrase in the first hand is stretched out in the second hand is shortened. What about the instrumentation that was on that recording. Well this instrument is a
small guitar made out of a turtle shell and the tuning of the Nano was in itself interesting the harmonica company meant almost might appear to be a tonal besides being a rhythmic It almost sounds of tone. Tom this question occurs to me which bears on this entire subject. We're discussing courtship itself of course is an intimate thing. Is most of this music a private performance or will you find several people involved in it in the name of one particular person. It is not a private performance. It's not a private performance in several senses first of all Usually the person who plays the instrumental accompaniment is such is a friend of a person who sings and sometimes when the boyfriend is unable to sing because he doesn't feel that he has a good voice or he would not be able to sing with adequate artistry he
may even ask somebody else to sing for him. This music is sung Moreover like outside of the patio of the house of the woman concerned. Is there a certain status that goes with the person who can sing exceptionally well. No I wouldn't say so by and large in Mexican culture anyone can be a musician it's not like in our own society where we usually think that a musician is a gifted person. The Mexican has the idea that but he can be a musician if he just feels like being it. She feels like spending the necessary time to practice the guitar or or to practice singing whatever be the case. And many times some of these young men become very fine musicians during their youth and later abandoned. Music you might say and you'll come upon them in middle age and they'll say well when I was a boy I played this but I'm out of practice I can't play it anymore. You know occasionally you'll still be able to detect the artistry that they had originally. But getting back to the recording that we just heard this music is played at night
you know outside the patio of the house of the girl to whom any young fellow wants to sing live. First of all should be commented that these are to translate the Spanish expression used in the region. These are the women who have had husbands. But who are for one reason or another lot no longer living with these husbands and thereby constitute You might almost say a special social caste in the community that is respected. There are sometimes even written represented in the town councils. Of the localities and they function of this particular music of this cutie could be as it's called is to make public in the community the amorous relations between the man and the woman or the amorous intents. It is not although nothing will officially ever come of it. Well no not officially. It should be stated however that the young fella will not sing to the woman if he has not already had some token of her esteem or so or something which would.
He's not going to make a public fool out of himself by singing to a girl who doesn't doesn't have any affection for him. In other communities for example among the sample text of the isthmus actually these songs are sung periodically during a courtship but to say this is a young girl that the fellow hopes to marry and he will sing periodically announcing to the community the how the courtship is getting on if it's going well or is going badly. And if he breaks off the courtship he will even announce to the community the motives for his breaking off a courtship. This is given rise to a type of music in the mystic culture which is quite spiteful and which the. Singer says terrible things to the woman who has shunned him. Among the sample takes on appears not to be the case if the courtship is leads to marriage the last time that that music will be sung will be to announce the time
and date of the wedding ceremony. The next recording that will hear is another example of such music recorded among the autonomy in a small town San Pedro call in the state of Dago. This is north of Mexico City. A couple of hundred miles north and I hear it is a woman who is singing she's singing about having encountered her husband in in one of the local bars and a conversation ensues. How do you. Know. Who
was this woman we just heard was she already married. Well I would assume that she was because in the text of the song she's talking about having run into her husband in a bar. Of course many of these Indians are never married legally. Is this a Roman Catholic section of the country or do they have many Indian customs. Well the problem in the usual rural community in Mexico is the fact that the priest only passes through once a year or something of the sort they may have a local church but they don't have a resident priest and the end result is quite natural since there are not the necessary civil authorities present and frequently neither are there funds to pay the civil authorities for a wedding before a judge which would normally be followed by waiting in the church. These Indians just are. Common was married by common law. In this particular case the recording is a transformation of the same tradition I
would say it's not singing about love though it is singing a man to a woman to a man or a man to a woman. The next recurring that we'll hear is a song for pleasure. That is required with some which all Indians after the recording was made in Mexico City during the planning and construction of the new Museum of Anthropology there. This song for pleasure is is another. I believe another transformation of the same tradition. This is music which is property of every member of a community. Any man any woman can play this music and among We choice it seems that everyone is a musician. The name of the song in The Witcher language it sequin you unity. Am. I am I.
Am. I am. I am. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank. You. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Did I notice some violin puts a cut in that previous recording.
No actually this is a which on violin that's a rather small violin and the sound that you hear is just the way it is just the sound of the ball against the strings. We had hear a violin which old violin and a wee cello guitar which is also a very small instrument. The next recording that we'll hear is again from the highlands of chop us from the town of tiny Hoppa. And this is a music which is sung to the saints of the community. Now as I've stated I believe that this music belongs to the same tradition as what we've been hearing previously. There are a number of traits which are in common. One of these traits is the use of a basic harmonic pattern in association with some sort of simple melodic pattern to which the musician improvises his text. And and in the improvisation. Varies the rhythm according to the necessities within certain limits. Also another
characteristic of this music is that each rhythmic pattern each harmonic formula and each melodic formula that goes with this music is representative of one single community so that it's possible to recognize the town the hometown of each musician according to the way he plays his music. You can recognize that the musicians from a neighboring community just by the way he says he sings or plays the music which belongs to this general type. Now the next music is about the science of a patron saint ceremony in tiny Hoppa the Indians are singing insult a local language there and the music is accompanied by accordion guitar and guitar with whistling between verses. Tom coming up next we have another recording as we frequently have in this series.
Of drunken music. I think if you refer to it. Yes and it occurs to me that probably you encountered some difficulties among you or the people you were recording in getting them to adequately follow instructions if you were truly getting this music recorded in a drunken state. What about that. Well it should be commented that a human being when he is really drunk is as a dangerous adversary. And when you are working in a community where perhaps the inhabitants have some feelings about outsiders because generally speaking working in these communities these isolated communities it didn't particularly matter that I was the gringo that I was the North American as far as they were concerned it would have been just the same if I was from Mexico City. I was an outsider one way or the other and quite often there are very hard feelings about outsiders because of the of the bad treatment which the local inhabitants have received
from businessman who are exploiting them from Kassie kids who are mistreating them. I saw that. I must admit that I have been through some very difficult situations in recording this type of music. A point which we have not made up to now is that one of the invariable associations with this music is drinking. This sort of music you will not record it you will not get anyone to sing it for you if they have not had something to drink. And I really can't say exactly why that has to be so why it is that you don't find a musician who will play this music for you. Stone sober. But it's an observable fact. The drinking doesn't necessarily mean that they have to be stoned. But it does mean that they have to have had a few ceremonial drinks before they start and I believe that this is could be addict aptly described as ceremonial drunkenness. That the drinking is one of the features
which goes with this music and that it is an invariable factor in association. The next recording is from source such East LA Waka and will hock a little town which is virtually. Without communication with the outside world the only way you can enter into this town is in a small aircraft in one of the worst airfields that I've ever tried you have to land going uphill. You come diving in over a ravine and you're at the airstrip goes up the side of a hill. Of course the takeoff the worst you can do coming down against the other mountain you see. But this isn't a linguistic group the a moose goes which is related to the mystic though rather distantly. And again here again we have an example of music which is sung when drunk and which is associated with love making. Do you. Put.
The world. One wrong and wrong with what looks like a book. What. Am I good like you. Whoa whoa I thought you were. Oh all those who are in the book treat you well we're not we're not like you. But don't worry about. Them what they. Come up with a few months long like the world record for well. Here you have them on the moon. Tom as a matter of general interest what about the attitude of the members of
these societies toward music in general. Well I think we can state that music is the province of every Mexican Mexican society is not like our own in this sense. You know we have talked about about some of the motives of course the tremendous wealth of musical heritage during the colonial period in Mexico the tremendous musical activity that existed in the churches the large number of choirs and orchestras the profusion of orchestras and musicians everywhere at the present time. We can still observe this profusion of music. The colonial tradition is is all but lost. A few communities were as I mentioned as late as nine hundred thirty nine. They were still performing colonial music by colonial chapel masters and musical directors. However this is rapidly disappearing and
it's only a few places where it has existed so recently. However one of the things which one has produced to me Mexican society is the feeling that any man may be a musician. There is nothing special about a musician in an Mexican society is just another man like your neighbor like yourself. And when a person feels like he would like to sing to his girlfriend there is nothing that inhibits him from doing whatever he can however badly he sing or however well he sings. Usually its motive for pleasure. You know people will gather around a guitar and one after the other will play it and one after another will sing whatever little it he knows and hear you're speaking of the Indians as well as the urbanized Mexican. I'm speaking of the Indian as well as the urbanized Mexican. Now this of course is is decreasing like common in such centers of
culture as Mexico City which are being strongly influenced by European and American North American attitudes. But in the provinces you will find that there are many Indian groups and mestizo groups alike in which it would appear that every member of the society is a musician to some degree. The musical culture is not demanding the be proficiency on a musical instrument is not tremendous what you need to accompany one of these songs you need to know three or four positions on the guitar and to know a wealth of verses and that's about all that's necessary. It was when a most interesting collection on this program. What do we explore next week the next session will be presided by Dr. Americal part of this of the Center for intercultural studies in folklore and oral history who will talk on the subject of a quarter either.
Top Gun is a production of communication center the University of Texas at Austin selection of music and commentary in the series are under the supervision of Tom Stanford assistant professor in the department of the interviewer is John Prine field recordings are drawn from the sound archives of the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology and the Center for intercultural study folklore and oral history at the University of Texas at Austin. Any are the national educational radio network.
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How Do You Say Hello?
Episode Number
Producing Organization
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
How Do You Say Hello? is a series of radio programs hosted by Charles Winter and produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in cooperation with UNICEF. In each episode, Winter visits a different country in the developing world and talks with a young person about their local traditions, culture, history, language, and community. Throughout their conversation, they visit various local points of interest and describe these events and environments. Winter also interviews adults and other members of the community.
Global Affairs
Local Communities
Media type
Host: Winter, Charles
Producing Organization: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-25-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:05
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APA: How Do You Say Hello?; 10. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from