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Volume 62 / Humanities

MUSIC: Mexico

JOHN KOEGEL, Associate Professor of Music, California State University, Fullerton

SCHOLARSHIP IN MEXICAN MUSIC is currently in a very healthy state. In the past five years there has been a significant expansion in the range of topics investigated and the number of publications issued both inside and outside Mexico. There is nevertheless a need for continued growth and development. Numerous Mexican musicologists, ethnomusicologists, historians, and other scholars interested in music are working on a very wide range of topics in art, popular, and traditional musics (though art and popular music studies are the most numerous). Cross-disciplinary cooperation is becoming somewhat more common, and scholarship is enriched accordingly. Mexican institutions of higher learning are increasingly becoming involved in graduate education in music in Mexico, which heretofore has been lacking in Mexican conservatories and universities. The first formal graduate program in musicology, the Maestría en Música of the Facultad de Música of the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, has graduated a number of promising musicologists who can serve as the first generation of music scholars trained in musical investigation in a Mexican institution devoted to graduate-level instruction in music; they have presented their research in three international colloquia in Xalapa (2003, 2004, 2006) (some of this is included in the first issue of the journal Discanto, published by the Universidad Veracruzana, and abstracted below). The Escuela Nacional de Música of the Universidad Autónoma de México has more recently initiated a doctoral program in musicology that shows potential for future success.

A number of foreign scholars and Mexican investigators living outside Mexico (graduate students, professors, and independent scholars) continue significant research agendas in a multitude of Mexican musical topics. Various aspects of Mexican American music and the music of Latino communities in the US have also been studied by North American and European musicologists, ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, and other scholars. Mexican researchers are also becoming more interested than before in the music of "el México de afuera," the Mexican diaspora abroad, especially throughout the US.

Financial support for music research and publication continues apace in Mexico but varies considerably according to institution, agency, funding cycle, and current priorities, which are often connected to regional and national political developments. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of fine publication activity takes place in Mexico despite periodic financial challenges and the lack of research libraries with collections of standard musical (non-Mexican) reference sources. (On the other hand, Mexico does possess a tremendously rich abundance of primary musical resources relating to Mexican music.) The main Mexican musicological journal, Heterofonía, published by the Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical "Carlos Chávez" (CENIDIM), continues to publish important studies by some of the leading Mexican (and foreign) musical scholars. The journal Pauta, intended for a more general readership, also continues its regular publication schedule. CENIDIM and other nationally supported cultural organizations such as the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA), Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA), and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) issue and/or support the majority of the scholarly publications on Mexican music that appear in Mexico. However, regional institutions also support excellent work, for example, the Centro Regional de Investigación, Documentación y Difusión Musicales "Gerónimo Baquero Foster" in Mérida, Yucatán and the Conservatorio de las Rosas in Morelia, Michoacán.

There have been several recent notable developments on the research front outside of Mexico in terms of publication. US university presses continue to publish significant studies of Mexican (and Latin American) music, though not to the same extent as books relating to Mexican history and society. However, Oxford University Press has started a new book series devoted to Latin American and Iberian music, edited by Walter Clark. Latin American Music Review, which has published many important studies of Mexican music over the years, was founded and edited for many years by Gerard Béhague, and is published by the University of Texas Press. Happily this valuable journal continues in existence after the lamented death of its founder in 2005 and is now edited by Robin Moore. (See John Schechter's tribute to Béhague in Latin American Music Review, 26:2, Fall/Winter 2005, p. 143–157.) The principal North American music journals devoted to the study of the entire range of music making from different perspectives, the Journal of the American Musicological Society (known as JAMS—published by the American Musicological Society) and Ethnomusicology (Society for Ethnomusicology), as well as the more specialized American Music (Society for American Music), have been publishing a greater number of articles and reviews relating to Mexican music in its many forms. (Ethnomusicology has always published more articles and reviews on Latin American—including Mexican—musical topics than have JAMS or American Music.) North American non-music journals such as American Quarterly (American Studies Association) also publish important studies on a wide variety of Mexican American musical topics (usually on popular music), which, by virtue of their theoretical orientation, favor sociological or cultural studies approaches over musical analysis. (In-depth discussion of music as a sonic art is usually not the objective in these studies.) It should be noted that interdisciplinary cooperative work between music researchers (musicologists, ethnomusicologists, music theorists/analysts) and scholars from other humanistic and social science disciplines—history, sociology, ethnic studies, American studies, for example—can produce impressive results. Those cross-disciplinary studies about music that place music in the key, central position may indeed be the richest.

Too often in the past in the US in "mainstream" musicological circles, Mexican (and Latin American) music has been viewed as peripheral and of limited interest. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The national and international developments discussed above and that are reflected in the following bibliographic entries reveal the falsity of such a shortsighted attitude. But happily this attitude seems to be on the wane. (The Robert M. Stevenson Award for Iberian and Latin American Music Scholarship of the American Musicological Society is a step in the right direction.) This more enlightened approach and the large amount of good work identified in the following entries bodes well for the future of Mexican musical scholarship.

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