Musica Popular Mexicana; 8
And now here are Tom Stanford assistant professor in the U.S. Department of music and John Fryman. Tom we have certainly ranged far and wide through this series of programs dealing with the cultures of Mexico. And today we are going to speak with a my you know in the Yaki cultures where are these cultures located and tell us something about their ways of life. They are situated on the northwestern coast of Mexico around last March is seen a lot of the state of Siena law in Mexico where they live on the banks of the rivers in that area especially the Rio del Forester and the Yockey River which is the northernmost of the three rivers which run through their area. A few of these Indians of the present time are our sedentary farmers. This is notably the case with the Yaki Indians who have their property on the northern bank of the Rio Yaki. However the
greater part of these groups live on money which is procured by work sources outside of their immediate community. For example a large part of these Indian groups actually come up here to the United States to work as farm laborers in order to earn money which they then send back home for for the women and the children the elders to be able to buy food. The particular year which was 1961 when I did my field work in that region had been a very bad year for agriculture in that immediate zone. The Indian groups especially the Maya groups did not have. As I said as one old man very touching they told me that when the years were good they had their little pile of current up on the roofs of their houses which would see them through the winter. But that year there was no pile of corn on anyone's roof. There had been no crop. There had been no rain. So you can see that this
is one of the regions in Mexico one of the many regions where people live on a mere subsistence level really. What music of these cultures will we hear today. Well the larger part of the music that we're going to hear is music associated with the famous deer dance which is best known as a dance of the Yaki but which is also shared with the MA It was the same tradition. This is a dance which is celebrated that is realized during Carnival. Actually with the usual characteristic of singing during carnival with the purpose of repenting on Ash Wednesday when it's 12:00 midnight and Ash Wednesday is declared then the dancers and the actors in this pageant kneel before the cross and beg forgiveness and swear that they're never going to seen again. Now the first recording that we'll hear
is is a recording which is is a dance which is danced by the by the deer accompanied by a rattle which the dancer holds in his own hands. The ten oddities the cocoons which are on his ankles the water drum. Which is a drum which is made up of water in a metal recipient. In this case a water bucket and there is a half ago already inverted and floating in this water upon which the. The drummer strikes blows and produces the sound which you will hear in the recording. Two other musicians who also sang I have scrapers which are made out of out of a kind of a vine which is found locally a seed pods from a line the dancers right of the singers are singing a verse in the MIO Indian language which states that the deer is a wild flower but the flower is pursued.
I think is rather interesting the way the rhythm on that example seemed to bog down until the rattle started and then it picked up in the lyrics will what was happening was that a new deer was entering to dance. This dance is particularly impressive to see for quite a number of reasons. The dancer has the head of a dried deer head on mounted on top of his own head and in the dance tries to project himself into that deer head so that the the head which he bears the deer head which he bears takes on the personality of a live deer with all the motions and the intense look in the eyes. Now it's
the dance itself is very tiring and since we know this whole complex of dances goes on for more than 24 hours. It's necessary for the dancers to alternate as a one dancer rests while another picks up. And when the rattles and the scrapers stop sounding it was that a new dancer was was putting the bells around his waist and. Preparing to enter into the dance there's never such a thing as to do your dancing at once. No it's always just one deer and when the new dancer is ready he shakes his rattle once and this indicates the musician that they should start picking up the rhythm. And when he is content with the with the pace with the tempo of the music he then enters the dance and the musicians stabilize at that temple. The next recording which will hear is recording of
Pascola music not a Pascola as are actually the same dancers who dance the deer dance. But during the ceremony the Pascola music alternates with the dances of the deer. The piece which will hear is an Indian interpretation of a popular song that was popular ten or twenty years ago very popular in Mexico City for example which is called Hill Cottage Donald. It is to be noted that in spite of many popular beliefs regarding the antiquity of Mexican Indian music it is quite frequently the case that they are consistently acquiring new tunes and new ideas from from dances which are in vogue and in centers of culture. This music is accompanied by. You buy a violin and harp. You hear the bells and the novelty their cocoons which the dancer carries on his ankles.
It's very important to notice the very precise synchronization of a 10 hour day with music. This is quite a trick really as far as the dance is concerned because the seeds that are inside of these cocoons fall a split second after the dancers feet hit the ground. So he has to anticipate in his steps everything in relation to music so that the seeds in their cocoons will fall on the beat. Precisely being. Being human being being human and humans and
human being. Eh eh eh eh eh eh. He has
the next selection his flute and drum music danced by the same by the same dancers. It's been noted that between selections they're telling dirty jokes and gossiping about people in the community. This is their singing as it were for which they repent when Ash Wednesday comes on to this music accompanied by flute and drum alternates with the other music of the sort that we have just finished hearing and this Pascola music is itself interspersed between the different sections of the deer dance which as I state goes on all night long. You will hear a rattle which the dancers there call the song an aha but which actually is made up of little discs of of metal tin can tops which are mounted inside of a fairly large stick of wood. They're rather like the rattles which are around the edge of a
tambourine. Tom in the series of recordings which you said you made in 1961 This
was before you began using battery powered equipment. Why is it that we never hear any sound of generators or equipment which you must have had with you at the time. Well in 1956 when I first realized what sort of equipment I was going to be using for fieldwork I bought 100 meters of of cable extension cable precisely for the purpose of getting my power plant as far away from the tape recorder as possible. I did take those hundred meters with me. My first year's field work but subsequently I took on the order of one hundred fifty feet to something more conservative. In order I would take the power plant to the far side of a building probably two or three. Houses away from where ever I was recording. And usually the only difficulty that I had with noise would be noise that would come in on the power line itself from the spark plugs of the plant. Now occasionally I had difficulty with stability in the power plant and this of course is
notorious. Anyone who has worked with tape recorders and power plants is aware how easily a little bit of dirt in the carburetor or or a little bit of carbon in the in the combustion chamber of one of these small motors will cause it to vary as far as speed is concerned with the subsequent variations and speed in the recording. In dealing with these people far off the beaten path. Did you have any difficulty with the little children causing problems with your generation equipment are getting into the car and among your supplies. No you know I can state that in all the field work that I did in Mexico. I have never had any trouble with anyone interfering with my equipment nor did I ever lose anything. One time I thought that somebody had taken away the the filter which I used for the gasoline that I put into the power plant and it turned out that someone had in effect taken away the said bin. Maybe it was less than a year old and I found him playing it in the patio of the next house with this artifact which he found on the
ground beside the power plant but apart from that I can't remember ever having had anything walk away. I'm afraid our reactions are pretty well founded on the tourist pathways instead of those that you travelled. The next recording which we're going to hear is a recording of drunken music has I've sometimes called it music that the Indians sing in the canteens in the places where they can buy beer and drink it with their friends. This music will deal with it at greater length in the next programme. However suffice to say here that usually it has something to do with love in one sense or another. The particular song that we're going to hear now says in its text which is improvise is right along with the music the music and the text as improvise on a formula which is established in the community. The singer is saying I have worn out sandals but I'll go with you anyway. He's referring to his
girlfriend who is going to go off to the market evidently. It's interesting to notice that this music go it's a very different intent from for example the music for the deer dance. Nevertheless the voice part is exactly the same the melody and the melodic and rhythmic formula involved here is the same as that which is sung by the players of the scrapers in the deer dance itself. It's only that the subject matter of the song is of course changes in a longer ceremony and this is sung by two musicians unaccompanied. And there
was not MOA and. And. They're loading up. Here at HLN. Tom in discussing the next election it is called I believe a minuet which is ordinarily in triple time but I believe you said this one will occur in duple time.
Yes for some reason or other of the Minuet in Mexico as it is found of the present day in the provinces seems to have been influenced by by the era of the Apostle doggedly. Of so many dances which were in vogue during the last century which were in duple time. You will recall that we had in one of the previous programs been you went there which also was in duple time and not in triple time. To my knowledge there is no place in Mexico where the minuet subsists in triple time in the provinces. Of course it's known by musicians and centers of culture in Mexico City as in this true historical context. Is this music as it evolves. Is it becoming affected by broadcasting from the big cultural centers Mexico City and the other places and the presence of the transistor radios. Well for example in the second selection which we heard today the coffee dial this
was an introduction undoubtedly affected by the well it if that particular time 10 or 20 years ago it would not have been a transistor radio that would have affected the introduction of this it would have been in the commercial recordings which entered in the juke boxes the so-called seem flawless which they have in all these small towns usually in association with their canteens places where beer is sold the Indians can put in a coin and listen to some popular song which is in vogue at that particular time. All this is affecting Mexican regional music undoubtedly and in some cases and especially where new means of transportation are being established such as airline routes. New highways in regions where there have not been highways in recent years. These all these things are affecting changes in local in the local cultures. If the local culture is as a as you might say destroyed by the
result of the impact of course the music itself changes drastically. But what usually happens is that the music begins to have more loan items in it. You might say but basically the style remains altered it just continues a normal evolution which represents that particular Indian culture until such a time as the culture be so much affected that it breaks down. The selection which we're hearing now then is a minuet which is played in church on saints days that is to say patron saints. If you asked us or it's also played in the church and among the houses and on impersonations for funerals it's played on two violins two guitars six string guitars here and they get that wrong which is of the sort of the mighty Archie uses today when they don't have a harp.
I hate thinking with. The ear to ear with the ear to ear to ear. Thank you.
Tom what was the location of that previous recording. Well it this was recorded in the local clinic of a secretary of public health and and. A Town Called the Stasi on Elm hole on the on the Northwestern railroad and in Mexico. And it's quite has been quite frequently the case in my field work since I was working in association with the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico. I
would place myself in contact with the organisms of the federal government working in the region where I was going to do field work and would quite often. Be given accommodations of an improvised sort usually but I. Sometimes it would be in a town hall or sometimes it would be in you know a clinic. Sometimes it would be in a school and sometimes in the in the homes of the informants and selves in the small towns that usually is rather a problem finding a place where you can sleep at night. You know I have usually felt that it is very much to my advantage to be in as close contact with my informants as possible. This particular recording expedition which I made in 1961 was the first time that I had taken a federal vehicle with me into the field and I was a little bit dissatisfied with the results of my investigation precisely because the fact that this additional mobility separated Me More from my
informants than I would have liked to say it was possible for me to range far and wide that's true. But I didn't have the contact with my informants which would come from eating with them three meals a day and and sleeping right on the premises at night from being able to to talk with the men women and children it at any hour of the day at leisure while they were working more. When they were resting these contacts which can give a field investigator a much better insight into the phenomenon which he is observing. Of course to me it's amazing that you got the quality of recording that you did that we've heard before. Where will we be exploring in our next program time. We will be exploring a theme studying courtship music as it is found in Mexico. Is a production of communication center the University of Texas at
Austin selection of music and commentary in this series are under the supervision of Stanford assistant professor in the Department of Fine field recordings are drawn from the sound archives of the Mexican national of anthropology and the Center for intro study folklore and oral history. University of Texas at Austin. Any are the national educational radio network.
- Musica Popular Mexicana
- Episode Number
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Series Description
- Musica Popular Mexicana is a series of programs which explores traditional regional music and dance forms of Mexico, with a special emphasis given to the history and culture of the Mexican people. Each episode focuses on specific regions and forms, with commentary from Mexican musicology expert Thomas Stanford. The program is produced in cooperation with the Department of Music and the Center for Intercultural Studies in Folklore and Oral History at the University of Texas Austin, and is distributed by the National Education Radio Network. Sound recordings are provided by the Center for Intercultural Studies as well as the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-26-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Musica Popular Mexicana; 8,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 28, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-rn30763j.
- MLA: “Musica Popular Mexicana; 8.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 28, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-rn30763j>.
- APA: Musica Popular Mexicana; 8. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-rn30763j