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Volume 64 / Humanities

MUSIC: MEXICO


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

VOLUME 62 OF THE HLAS included a review of the current state of Mexican musical scholarship. This introduction focuses on several notable events related to Mexican music research that have occurred since the publication of the previous HLAS humanities volume. One of the most important developments was the bringing up to date of the leading Mexican musicological journal, Heterofonía, published by the Centro Nacional de Investigación, Documentación e Información Musical Carlos Chávez (CENIDIM). The editorial committee of this important journal is to be commended for coordinating in the second half of 2007 the publication of numbers 129 through 137, the issues for 2003 through 2007, a Herculean task. Despite the relatively short time period in which this journal was brought back on track, the quality of the articles is uniformly high. All the studies published in these numbers are reviewed below. All shed new light on a wide range of topics in Mexico's musical history, from the 16th century to the present. Both musicological and ethnomusicological approaches underpin the research presented in these numbers, verifying the healthy state of musical scholarship in the country. Several of the issues are devoted to individual themes: the 19th century (numbers 132–133), and composer Ricardo Castro (numbers 136–137). I am especially pleased to see that these recent numbers of Heterofonía contain articles by both younger and more established scholars. This bodes well for the future of the discipline in Mexico.

Mexican ecclesiastical, civic, and private archives are full of magnificent musical scores in unique or rare copies from the 16th through the early 20th centuries. Though much has been accomplished in organizing these important collections so that they can be used by scholars and performers to study Mexico's immense musical past, much hard work remains to be done. Cathedral archives in Mexico City, Puebla, Morelia, Durango, Chiapas, and other locations have been or are in the process or organizing and cataloging their musical collections, a much-needed process. And the music collection at the Basilica de Guadalupe has been cataloged. Mexico's oldest music conservatories, such as the Conservatorio Nacional and Escuela Nacional de Música in Mexico City, preserve a precious musical legacy of rare or unique musical imprints and manuscripts. A team of researchers at the Conservatorio Nacional, led by its director, musicologist and pianist Ricardo Miranda, is currently in the process of organizing and cataloging its very large holdings of earlier Mexican music, which date from the early days of the Mexican nation after Independence in 1821. When completed, this substantial cataloging project promises to make the collection available for the first time on a regular, controlled basis, operating under internationally accepted archival practices. Mexican musicians and scholars and their foreign colleagues interested in Mexican music eagerly await the opening to qualified researchers of this magnificent, unparalleled treasure trove of Mexican music.

Another important musicological event was the publication of the book La música y el atlántico: relaciones musicales entre España y Latinoamérica, edited by Spanish musicologists María Gembero Ustárroz and Emilio Ros-Fábregas (item #bi2008002727#). The book presents an outstanding collection of essays by major scholars exploring the theme of transatlantic musical exchange between Spain and the Spanish-speaking areas of the Americas. An incredibly wide range of topics is included, and all the studies contribute to our knowledge of this important theme in new ways, always based on documentary evidence convincingly interpreted and contextualized. The project grew out of an interdisciplinary research team centered at the University of Granada. It is good to see Spanish scholars taking a deep interest in Latin American topics and to note the international exchange between scholars.

The new series Currents in Latin American and Iberian Music, published by Oxford University Press (Walter Clark, series editor), promises to be of signal importance to Latin American and Iberian scholarship. It will encourage scholars from all these geographic regions, and others elsewhere, to disseminate their work in an international, English-language forum. The first volume has already appeared, Alejandro Madrid's fine study of popular music along the US-Mexico border: Nor-tec rifa!: Electronic dance music from Tijuana to the world (item #bi2008003412#). Other volumes on a very wide range of topics have been contracted, and still others are under consideration. Two significant challenges in Latin American (and Iberian) musical scholarship have been a general lack of communication between scholars on an international level and the limited distribution of works outside their country of publication. This series has the potential to bridge these divides between scholars, approaches, and national borders, and to make new work more widely known. It will also stimulate new research in these areas. Ideally, books in this series would be published in English by Oxford University Press, and in Spanish or Portuguese in Spain, Portugal, and/or Latin America to achieve the widest distribution and use possible. This international exchange of scholarship is laudable, especially since it has long been difficult for scholars in Latin America to gain access to North American publications, and for North Americans to obtain books, articles, recordings, and musical scores from Latin America.


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