Back to top

Music in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Encyclopedic History

Music in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Encyclopedic History
Volume 1: Performing Beliefs: Indigenous Peoples of South America, Central America, and Mexico

Taking a sociocultural and human-centered approach, Music in Latin America and the Caribbean gathers the best scholarship from writers all over the world to cover in depth the musical legacies of indigenous peoples, creoles, African descendants, Iberian colonizers, and other immigrant groups that met and mixed in the New World.

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

January 2004
Add to cart
448 pages | 8.5 x 11 | 57 b&w photos, 111 figures, 13 maps, 2 CDs |

The music of the peoples of South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean has never received a comprehensive treatment in English until this multi-volume work. Taking a sociocultural and human-centered approach, Music in Latin America and the Caribbean gathers the best scholarship from writers all over the world to cover in depth the musical legacies of indigenous peoples, creoles, African descendants, Iberian colonizers, and other immigrant groups that met and mixed in the New World. Within a history marked by cultural encounters and dislocations, music emerges as the powerful tool that negotiates identities, enacts resistance, performs belief, and challenges received aesthetics. This work, more than two decades in the making, was conceived as part of "The Universe of Music: A History" project, initiated by and developed in cooperation with the International Music Council, with the goals of empowering Latin Americans and Caribbeans to shape their own musical history and emphasizing the role that music plays in human life. The four volumes that constitute this work are structured as parts of a single conception and gather 150 contributions by more than 100 distinguished scholars representing 36 countries.

Volume 1, Performing Beliefs: Indigenous Peoples of South America, Central America, and Mexico, focuses on the inextricable relationships between worldviews and musical experience in the current practices of indigenous groups. Worldviews are built into, among other things, how music is organized and performed, how musical instruments are constructed and when they are played, choreographic formations, the structure of songs, the assignment of gender to instruments, and ritual patterns. Two CDs with 44 recorded examples illustrate the contributions to this rich volume.

  • Prologue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Native Peoples: Introductory Panorama (Carol E. Robertson)
  • Myth, Cosmology, and Performance (Carol E. Robertson)
  • Metamorphosis: Mythic and Musical Modes of Ceremonial Exchange among the Wakuénai of Venezuela (Jonathan D. Hill)
  • Brazil's Indigenous Universe (to ca. 1990): The Xavante, Kamayurá, and Suyá (Elizabeth Travassos)
  • The Yawari Ritual of the Kamayurá: A Xinguano Epic (Rafael José de Menezes Bastos)
  • Music and Worldview of Indian Societies in the Bolivian Andes (Max Peter Baumann)
  • Local Practices among the Aymara and Kechua in Conima and Canas, Southern Peru (Thomas Turino)
  • Amerindian Music of Chile (Maria Ester Grebe)
  • Musical Culture of Indigenous Societies in Argentina (Irma Ruiz)
  • Fertility Ritual (Carol E. Robertson)
  • Music and Healing (Carol E. Robertson)
  • The Fundamental Role of Music in the Life of Two Central American Ethnic Nations: The Mískito in Honduras and Nicaragua, and the Kuna in Panama (Ronny Velásquez)
  • Mexico's Indigenous Universe (Marina Alonso Bolaños)
  • Musical Traditions of the P'urhépecha (Tarascos) of Michoacán, Mexico (E. Fernando Nava López)
  • Aerophones of Traditional Use in South America, with References to Central America and Mexico (Dale A. Olsen)
  • Epilogue (Carol E. Robertson)
  • Index
  • Contributors
  • Recorded Examples

Malena Kuss is an internationally recognized musicologist specializing in Latin American music. She is Professor of Music Emeritus at the University of North Texas, Denton.


Browse the book with Google Preview »

This unprecedented work covers in considerable depth the musical legacies of indigenous peoples, African descendants, Iberian colonizers and creoles, and other immigrant groups that met and mixed in the New World. Within a history marked by cultural encounters and dis-encounters, music emerges as the powerful tool that negotiates identities, enacts resistance, performs beliefs, and challenges received aesthetics. Approached from a number of perspectives, music mirrors an inner history that writers of contemporary fiction can penetrate and historians often fail to capture, providing a point of entry into spiritualized conceptions of the world that take shape in multiple and different ways of being musical. Collectively and individually, the peoples in this region welded powerfully expressive forms by resignifying ancient practices and breeding new life into fragments of traditions brought by colonists, slaves, and settlers. The infinite variety of musical responses to the New World's complex history, however, maps a wealth of vibrant and dynamic forms that set the region apart from any of its tributaries. This work was conceived to empower Latin Americans and Caribbeans to shape their own musical history, privileging their modes of representation and traditions of scholarship. It also was conceived to emphasize the role that music plays in human life. As such, it highlights the meanings that traditions carry among practitioners, as seen mostly through the lens of cultural insiders.

As the Polish/German scholar Walter Wiora predicted in an unassuming but prophetic book he called The Four Ages of Music (1961 in 1965), the twenty-first century was to be "the age of technology and global industrial culture" that eradicates the predominance of Western ["art"] music. A pioneer among Europeans in realizing the need to approach music history from a global perspective and break artificial barriers between folk and art musics, he relativized the perceived centrality of European culture by projecting it onto the larger canvas of past and future "ages"—such as prehistory, the age of high cultures of Antiquity and the Orient, and the age of globalization and diversity. He was bound, however, to assumptions of linear evolutionism in his conception of a historical sequence of hegemonic cultures, and to a perspective that ultimately remains "ethnocentric ... [because] the configuration of all the world's music is formed about the Third [European] Age as a zenith; the rest is preparation and decline" (Treitler 1989b: 130-31). The age of globalization eradicates more than the centrality of any one culture, as it presupposes the simultaneity or interactive coexistence of many musics shaping a shifting quilt best represented in Foucault's image of the Archive as the site that accumulates and collapses [musical] discourses from the past and the present into a de-historicized metaphorical place. What the twenty-first century foreshadows is nothing less than the replacement of hegemonies by the concept of equivalence of cultures, each understood according to the terms of its own rationality.

We have divided the world into convenient geographic lumps we call "regions" that more often than not assume the connotations of "cultures," a concept that implies at least a metalevel of commonalities (among them Europe, Asia, and Africa, the original trinity contained within the orbis terrarum and prioritized in that order by the geographers of Antiquity). America erupted as a geographic entity only after it was "discovered" by Europeans, prompting Edmundo O'Gorman's famous epigraph: "At long last, someone has arrived to discover me!" (Entry for October 12, 1492, in an imaginary Private Diary of America) (1961: 9). Few such "virtual or implicit cultures"—which as totalities only can exist in our imagination—could be more complex or resilient to implicit organicism than the region that carne to be called "Latin America." Extraverted branding (Agawu 2003: xii) is embedded in the colonialist act of taking possession, and the politics of naming for external consumption can turn upside down the logic that names have to correspond to that which they name. The story of how this externally-generated label was affixed to our "region" turned "culture" is but one strand in a web of foundational mythologies that writers of fiction, composers, and scholars often sublimate through pervasive irony.

At Long Last, Someone Has Given Us a Name

Is "Latin America" a cultural or a geographic concept? This question, which neophytes frequently ask, was explored with unlimited imagination and no small dose of irony when, in the context of the Quincentenary of 1492 that catalyzed reappraisals, the Chilean writer Sergio Marras interviewed sixteen titans of Latin American literature and published these conversations under the title América Latina: Marca registrada (1992). To each of them he posed the same question: "Does Latin America exist"? After the cast of Spanish and Portuguese conquerors, colonizers, missionaries, and settlers had shaped the foundational imaginaire in a daunting corpus of chronicles spanning well over three centuries (1493-1819), recording events and customs while naming in the process fauna, flora, and some musical practices and instruments for which the foreign observers had no names, a new image of the vast territorial expanse between Patagonia and Mexico erupted upon the stage of history, this time credited to France. "Did you know that this business of 'latina' in América latina was not of our making?" says Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes to Marras in one of the most provocative interviews. "No, it is nothing less than a French invention, like so many others: la Bardot, the négligé, cognac, the corset, and the ménage à trois. L'Amérique latine [a monolithic abstraction] is, in fact, the invention of Michel Chevalier (1806-79), the French ideologue of a panlatinism conceived to justify France's ambitions in the Territoires d'Outre-Mer." Specifically, this image was forged to further the political expansionism of Napoleon III (1808-73), which materialized in the short-lived imposition of an Austrian emperor on Mexico (1864-67) when President Benito Juárez defaulted on Mexico's foreign debt. Needless to say, "Maximilian was promptly shot down by a few soldiers who dispatched him in less time than the fastest rooster in Querétaro could crow, leaving poor Maria Carlota of Belgium a widow at the age of twenty-six" (Fuentes in Marras 1992: 15).

Michel Chevalier was a "communicator," continues Fuentes, not unlike those "brainstorming around a table at transnational corporations," where imaging is both reactive to existing preconceptions and active in carving a place for a new registered label (a marca registrada or marque déposée). The process of naming was seldom arbitrary in the New World. Columbus appears to have followed a hierarchical order in his baptisms, which corresponded successively to the Christian Savior, the Virgin Mary, the King and Queen of Spain, and the Royal Princess, when he called the first island he sighted San Salvador "in honor of His Heavenly Majesty who wondrously has given us all this," although he was aware that the Indians called it Guanahani; then Santa María de Concepción, Fernandina, Isabella, and Juana ("Letter to Santángel," February-March 1493). Because "things must have the names that correspond to them ..., this obligation plunged Columbus into a veritable naming frenzy" wherein he appropriated the right to name as a form of taking possession of the "virgin world" unfolding before his eyes. Thus he named mountains, rivers, and capes by direct resemblance to elements in nature (like Islas de Arena, or islands of sand; and Cabo de Palmas, or cape of palm trees ), and settlements after symbols of "his" world. These "acts of extended nomination" did not spare the Indians, as "the first men brought back to Spain were rebaptized Don Juan de Castilla and Don Fernando de Aragón" (Todorov 1984: 27-28). On occasion, the process of naming took the form of mistranslation, as in the case of the Yucatan Peninsula, according to a story that Tzvetan Todorov relishes, but does not substantiate. It appears that, to the shouts of the first Spaniards landing on the peninsula, Mayans responded with "Ma c'ubah than" (We do not understand your words), which the Spaniards heard as "Yucatan" and assumed it to be the name of the place (1984: 99). Todorov himself, so "sensitized to the misdeeds of European colonialism" by his own account (1984: 58) and relentless in his representation of Columbus as impervious to human alterity, seems to have accepted uncritically the French "invention" of an Amérique latine (1984: 49-50):

The entire history of the discovery of America, the first episode of the conquest, is marked by this ambiguity: human alterity is at once revealed and rejected. The year 1492 already symbolizes, in the history of Spain, this double movement: in this same year [Spain] repudiated its interior Other by triumphing over the Moors in the fmal battle of Granada and by forcing the Jews to leave its territory; and it discovered the exterior Other, that whole America that would become Latin [my emphasis].

Amused by the concept that Chevalier tossed into the ideological market of the Western hemisphere's fledgling nations, Carlos Fuentes embellishes on the success of the French enterprise:

The title suited us, criollos and mestizos, because we needed to distance ourselves from such traditional hispanophilic labels as Hispanoamérica or Iberoamérica, not only because our Motherland had fallen into global disrepute, but also because we had rebelled against her and were obstinate in our resolve to assert our differences and walk our own path. Moreover, we already suspected that the simple geographic term "América del Sur" would not protect us, because the United States already was seriously claiming "America" for itself, as it took possession of parts of Mexico and Caribbean islands in a voracious rush to plunder the remaining spoils. We could not but smile at this ingenious turn ... toward a "latinidad" that turned us overnight into honorary French citizens. I am not going to criticize monsieur Chevalier because he did his thing rather well, so well, in fact, that we still believe in this tale (Fuentes in Marras 1992: 17).

Of course, the story would have been different if the reversal of history in Mare nostrum: Discovery, Pacification, and Conversion of the Mediterranean Region by a Tribe from the Amazon (Berlin, 1975) by Mauricio Kagel (b.1931) had been more than a flight of fancy for his brand of experimental music theater or an expression of subliminal Desire (Kuss 1991:10).

As for the much-berated colossus of the North, it appears that it narrowly escaped the fate of being called "Freedonia," or "Land of the Free," when this name was discarded after the communicators wrestling to find the right image received a letter alerting them that "donia" or "Doña" meant "woman" in Spanish, and thus Freedonia could be interpreted as "The Land of Free Women." ("Freedonia" survives in a map by R. H. Laurie published in London in 1830 and updated in 1832, 1833, 1834, 1836, and 1849.) Columbia or Colombia also was considered, but by then it had been snatched by the legendary Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) for the newly independent Viceroyalty of New Granada which, comprising Venezuela, New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama), and Ecuador, was renamed Republic of Colombia in 1819 and is known as Gran Colombia to distinguish it from the smaller modern Colombia after the short-lived confederation disintegrated in 1830. Writing in 1962 about unity and diversity in "The Four Americas"—namely Indo-Spanish America, Portuguese America (Brazil), English America (the United States), and Anglo-French America (Canada)the distinguished and controversial Colombian historian and statesman Germán Arciniegas (1900-99) argues that the United States is the only country in the world which does not have a name. "There are other confederations in the Americas, like the United States of Mexico, the United States of Venezuela, and the United States of Brazil. The philosophers gathered in Philadelphia to draw up the constitution ... did not think of giving the new state a name of its own. To say 'United States' is like saying federation, republic, or monarchy" (Arciniegas 1962 in Hanke 1964: 237-38).By default and abbreviation, then, the nameless United States of America, not unlike Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil, became just simply "America."

The question of whether "Latin America exists" addresses not the fact that the French invention is a misnomer, because neither Native Americans nor Africans and their descendants are "Latin," but when and at what levels cultural insiders identify with this act of utopian reductionism. When confronted with the question of why his literature did not contain a "Latin American or Latin Americanist coloration," the Argentinian Juan José Saer (b. 1937), who has been called one of the greatest living writers in the Spanish language, responded: "Of course not, because I am not a Latin American, I am Argentinian. To be 'Latin American' is an abstraction; it is like saying 'I am European.' If I wrote like [the Mexican] Juan Rulfo, everybody would laugh at me. The language of a writer is 'maternal' in the broadest sense of the term, it is a language etched in many emotional elements. For a writer, language is essentially polysemic and connotative, namely. the opposite of a metalanguage" (1987). Scores of cosmopolitan composers, who barely tolerate this form of extraversion, would identify with this statement. The tropification of stereotypes, or discourse centered on whether a "Latin Americanness" shines through (as in the question posed to Juan José Saer), also is replicated at the national level. When Aaron Copland visited seven South American countries on behalf of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in 1941 and reported his impressions in an often-quoted article published a year later in Modern Music, he found it necessary to explain to an apparently uninformed U.S. audience that "lumping" was not such a good thing:

To see the field of composition as it actually is down there we should of course stop thinking in terms of The South American Composer. No such person exists. South America, as we are often told but never seem fully to comprehend, is a collection of separate countries, each with independent traditions. Their musical developments are various and there is little or no musical contact between them. Brazilian, Colombian, Peruvian composers are just as different from each other as are Dutch, Hungarian, or Yugoslav composers. European music covers a lot of territory, and so also does South American (Copland 1942: 75).

Copland did not go far enough in his well-intentioned attempt to eradicate stereotypes, and he himself would have objected if his compositional poetics had been lumped together with Milton Babbitt's or Charles Ives' in the service of constructing the national myth or politico-cultural masterstory. If "The Latin American Composer" is a monolithic abstraction that obliterates national differences, "The National Composer" submerges and obliterates individual poetics. The former is a product of the discourse of difference stemming mostly from cultural outsiders; the latter feeds the tropification or construction of discourses on the politico-cultural national myth; and both contribute to the construction of stereotypes. Lodged in conceptual frameworks developed by German music historiography to marginalize and subordinate compositional aesthetics deemed antithetical to the canonized metaphysics of purely instrumental music in the nineteenth century (Dahlhaus 1974; Fischer 1979), the tropification of "nationalism" is one of the most glaring examples of self-colonized and colonialist discourse (Kuss 1998). Composer Marlos Nobre (b. 1939) settled this core issue—whose complex nuances are treated at length in Volume 3 of this series—in response to one of those banal questions based on expectations of exoticism at a festival and conference held at Fort Worth's Texas Christian University in 2000: "I am Brazilian; I write music; I do not write Brazilian music." The same can be applied to scores of composers and particularly to the poetics of Alberto Ginastera (1916-83). In "El escritor argentino y la tradición" (1932 in 1974: 270), Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), whose cosmopolitan literature was not immune to the same expectations of "explicit Latin Americanness" as Saer's, once wrote that "The Argentinian cult of local color is a recent European cult that nationalists should reject for its foreignness" (El culto argentino del color local es un reciente culto europeo que los nacionalistas deberían rechazar for foráneo).

The implications of a concept frivolously conceived and often stereotypically applied, however, merged with the idea of a community of nations and established an interplay between frequently insurmountable national differences and utopian commonalities. Long before our "Latinidad" was fabricated in France, the Venezuelan Simón Bolivar had envisioned "the most immense, or most extraordinary, or most invincible league of nations the world had ever seen" after solidifying Peru's independence in 1826 (García Márquez 1989 in 1991: 74). His thwarted dream of integrating the fledgling American nations into a free and powerful single republic spanning from Mexico to Patagonia is the overriding theme in The General in His Labyrinth by the Colombian recipient of the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. "He had wrested from Spanish domination an empire five times more vast than all of Europe, he had led twenty years of wars to keep it free and united, and he had governed it with a firm hand..." until 1830, the year of the General's last journey chosen by Gabriel García Márquez to weave his masterful web of historical fiction (1989 in 1991: 37). The foundational interplay between commonalities and differences in the early nineteenth century took the shape of an attempted redemption in the utopian dream of continental unity, which, conceived as a strategy to fence off the European Holy Alliance of the 1820s and face the increasingly powerful Anglo-America in the North, also could defeat internal anarchy, the new enemy of the fledgling republics. While the Bolivarian dream survives in the present-day Organization of American States, the figure of the Liberator remains firmly entrenched in the domain of myth. As historian David Bushnell put it, Bolívar "has been claimed as a precursor by every ideological current from the revolutionary Left to the extreme Right .... There is something about Bolívar to appeal to every taste and every age" (Hanke and Rausch 1999: 3; Bierck, Jr. 1999: 11).

Historically, an identification with the idea of a community of nations forged from within has been in constant flux and gains strength and substance at specific junctures. In the words of the revered U.S. historian Lewis Hanke, "There are moments of universal agony, of crisis, in which histories of continents [or countries] join hands to survive in the great tests with which are measured the characters of men and the vigour of their faith" (1964: 2-35). Few historical intersections validated the existence of a bond between Latin American nations as did, for instance, the sociopolitical movement that soared throughout the 1960s and 1970s giving tangible shape to rebellion against tyranny, dictatorships, and social injustice in the Nueva canción latinoamericana (addressed by Cuban scholar Clara Díaz Pérez in Volume 4 of this series). Prefigured in folklore revivals of the 1950s, the voices of cantautores (singers-authors)—such as the Chileans Violeta Parra (1917-67) and Victor Jara (b. 1938-assassinated in Santiago de Chile, September 15, 1973), Argentinians Atahualpa Yupanki (1908-92) and Mercedes Sosa (b. 1935), Brazilians Geraldo Vandré (b. 1935) and Chico Buarque (Francisco Buarque de Holanda, b. 1944) Nicaraguans Carlos Mejia Godoy (b. 1943) and his brother Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy (b. 1945), Uruguayans Alfredo Zitarrosa (1936-89) and Daniel Viglietti (b. 1939), Mexicans Judith Reyes and Oscar Chávez (b. 1935), Peruvians Tania Libertad and Nicomedes Santa Cruz (b. 1925), and Venezuelans Lilia Vera (b.1951) and Soledad Bravo (b.1942), among so many others—carried the plight of voices suppressed by repressive regimes throughout the continent, spreading it at home and abroad well into the 1980s. The idea of a community of nations singing with one voice validated in this instance the substance of Latin America's existence.

Historical Fictions and Fictional Histories

In "Questions of Conquest: What Columbus wrought and what he did not," the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa calls the early chroniclers "the first Magical Realists .... The chronicles of Conquest form an astonishingly rich literature—a literature at once fantastical and true. Through these books we can rediscover a period and a place, much as the readers of contemporary Latin American fiction discover the contemporary life of a continent" (1990: 46). The fables constructed by the chroniclers, at once fantastical yet not confined to the domain of fiction, are the foundational writings that set the course of America's being in history. They are foundational because, by naming for the first time realities for which the namers had no names—and wherein naming becomes an art of approximation or translation—they mark a historical chasm, a rupture with the familiar that casts the past into an ontological void (González Echevarría 2006). In turn, this void obsesses history with questions of origins and concomitant fixations with identity. The "invented" historical being of America (forged by the European imagination after its own image) (O'Gorman 1961) took place in the domain of discourse and, initially, in the discourse of the chronicles. This corpus of letters, reports, diaries, and historical narratives spans from Columbus' letter to Luis de Santángel of February 1493 (González Echevarría 1990 in 1998: 43) to the early 19th-century writings of the Spaniard Diego de Alvear (1749-1830), respectively the first and last entries in Francisco Esteve Barba's monumental Historiografía Indiana (1964), the most comprehensive roadmap to chronicles from "discovery" (1492) to the birth of nations.

The fact that some writers of fiction would turn to the discourse of chronicles verging on myth in canonic works of contemporary literature (such as Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude [1967]) to define a poetics of history that defies verification, paradoxically validates them beyond the empirical level summoned by most scholars searching for historical certitudes of the verifiable variety. Most of all, the observations and events recorded in the chronicles, their multiple lines of transmission, and the utopias they catalyzed in the course of their European reception (as in the case of Garcilaso de la Vega's Comentarios reales de los Incas [1609] [Montiel 1992 and 2000]), constructed an imaginaire whose domain is neither temporal history nor atemporal myth—two domains that Europeans have kept safely apart (Kuss 1996 and 2005). Built on the discourse of difference, this imaginaire became as much a scaffolding for America's being in history as cathedrals superimposed on submerged Aztec temples—as is the case in Mexico City—became a part of the skyline of colonial cities.

Western epistemological orders traveled with conquerors, colonizers, and settlers, and later on with explorers and scientists in the nineteenth century, building and superimposing layers of discursive modalities through which Americans themselves would represent their own being in history. This led Tzvetan Todorov, who made the most of linguistic disencounters in his influential The Conquest of America: The Question of The Other (1984), to imply that America was not conquered by swords but by a mastery of language, or control of signs. The entrenched European belief in the superiority of written expression (verbal and musical) surfaces already in the foundational Relación of the Ur-cronista Fray Ramón Pane (1498 in 1991), a Catalan entrusted by Columbus to record in Spanish information on myths told to him by the Indians of Hispaniola in a branch of Arawakan, who, according to Todorov, repeats that, "Since the Indians have neither alphabet nor writing, they do not speak their myths clearly, and it is impossible for me to transcribe them correctly" (1984: 41). As a storehouse of images and versions of events seen from the start through the lens of the foreign observer, the foundational imaginaire mirrored epistemological orders in "perfected histories" written to fit a variety of objectives, while submerging ways of knowing that did not conform with the linear logic of European thought under layers of superimposed Western modes of representation (in an imaginary archaeology of discourses). The chroniclers themselves were not of one mind and often projected contradictory perspectives. Among them are the historically untrained conqueror/soldier who recorded firsthand observations; the friar committed to redeeming the oppressed Indian; the serene, apparently non-biased pioneer ethnographer who relied on our first "informants"; the classically trained humanist, the colonized Indian; the erudite mestizo; and the armchair historian filtering primary and secondary sources to fulfill the tasks of Crown-appointed official Cronista Mayor de Indias (1572-ca. 1793) (Esteve Barba 1964: 8-10, 112-36). Discourse, not praxis, forced a historical experience and representations of the exuberant creativity it spawned into a procrustean bed whose implications for musicology (broadly defined) remain to be exorcised.

Five centuries later, self-awareness and the assimilation of texts that blazed a liberating trail (especially Edmundo O'Gorman's The Invention of America: An inquiry into the historical nature of the New World and the meaning of its history [1961] [Kuss 1993]) have catalyzed a flurry of creative scholarship in a number of disciplines that submit the received conceptual frameworks and their concomitant discursive modalities to critical scrutiny. Confining ourselves only to Peru as an instance, it is important to note that some of the paradigmatic texts generated within a more generalized movement of postcolonial revisionism have been driven by a need to heal fractured national identities and finally assimilate the trauma of Conquest, which is still an open wound in Andean countries and emblematic of current social struggles. Written by Peruvians to understand and sublimate their own historical experience, these texts are not addressed to the foreign consumer (extraversion) but directed inwards (intraversion). For instance, in Entre el mito y la historia (Hernández, Lemlij, Millones, Péndola, and Rostworowski 1987), ethnohistorians and psychologists engage in "archaeological" efforts to rescue patterns of Andean thought (see also Luis Millones, "Popular Dramas and Commemorations: The Incas of Carhuamayo," in Volume 3 of this series); in Memoria del bier perdido: Conflicto, identidad y nostalgia en el Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1993), Max Hernández probes the subtending integrity of a universalist project while painting an intimate psychoanalytical portrait of the mestizo who wrote the vastly read Comentarios reales de los Incas (1609) to recover and reconstruct his conflictual identity (see also González Echevarría 1990 in 1998: 43-92) and in Del paganismo a la santidad: La incorporación de los indios del Perú al catolicismo, 1532-1750 (2003), historian Juan Carlos Estenssoro Fuchs rescues the quest of Indians to be recognized as Christians, exposing the strategies of colonial power to perpetuate the myth of resistance in order to maintain a marginalized class that itself defined and ensured the perpetuity of the colonial structure, and challenging the entrenched essentialist view of generalized resistance to conversion by a static indigenous society incapable of change. Critical editions and rereadings of canonic texts also have proliferated. Among them, few are as paradigmatic as Rolena Adorno's reading of native-born Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala's Nueva corónica y buen gobierno (1615) as a comprehensive critique of colonialist discourse on religion, political theory, and history (1986 in 2000), as well as her critical coedition of this text with John V. Murra (Guamán Poma de Ayala 1615 in 1980).

To the vibrancy and integrity that this research communicates and the potentially inexhaustible lines of inquiry it suggests, we must add literary criticism and, specifically, the work of Roberto González Echevarría, whose essay on "Latin American fiction and the poetics of history" sets the tone for our inquiry into the paradoxical encounters and disencounters we map in Volume 3 of this musical history. The vigor of postcolonial studies in a number of disciplines, however, has yet to emerge with the same generalized conviction from musicological quarters (Kuss 1993; 1998; 2005). Only a relatively small number of scholars—whose work is included in these volumes—are shaking the belief in the supremacy assigned to the entrenched masterstory defined by European- and, more recently, U.S.-centric frames of reference.

Musicology's relative isolation from contemporary criticism in the field of Latin American Studies begs one of the most important questions in postcolonial thought, best formulated by V. Y. Mudimbe in The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge (1988). Published by the same press that brought out O'Gorman's The Invention of America seventeen years earlier, Mudimbe's work scrutinizes "processes of transformation of types of knowledge" and "interrogates images of Africa":

Western interpreters as well as African analysts have been using categories and conceptual systems which depend on a Western epistemological order. Even in the most explicitly "Afrocentric" descriptions, models of analysis explicitly or implicitly, knowingly or unknowingly, refer to the same order. Does this mean that... African traditional systems of thought are unthinkable and cannot be made explicit within the framework of their own rationality? My own claim is that, thus far, the ways in which they have been evaluated and the means used to explain them relate to theories and methods whose constraints, rules, and systems of operation suppose a non-African epistemological order (1988: x).

The questions this text raises and the foundations it jolts are echoed in Kofi Agawu's "The Invention of 'African Rhythm'" (1995) and in his polemical book, Representing African Music: Postcolonial notes, queries, positions (2003), whose "Introduction"—with a substitution of terms and names—easily could argue our case. At a metalevel, these "virtual cultures" share a similar predicament: no matter how culture-specific and profoundly different the processes by which these imaginaires were constructed, each has affected how members of these cultures represent themselves. As the Indiano says to Filomeno in Alejo Carpenter's Concierto barroco (1974: 76) when they part in a Venice train station after their adventure in "time" (defined as the substance of rhythm and history): "Sometimes it is necessary to see things from afar, even with an ocean in between, to see them up close" (A veces es necesario alejarse de las cosas, poner un mar de por medio, para ver las cosas de cerca).

History as Aesthetic Construct

The mythological dimensions of Latin America's history, prefigured in the chronicles but not limited to their tmespan, compel writers to turn to history for the themes of their fiction and seize larger-than-life heroes or villains (as in the portrayals of Bolivar by García Márquez in The General in His Labyrinth [1989 in 1991], and of the Dominican Republic's dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina (1891-1961) by Mario Vargas Llosa in The Feast of the Goat [2000 in 2001]), or to mythological cycles of colossal proportions (as in García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude [1967 in 1970], and Carlos Fuentes' Terra nostra [1975 in 1976]). The fact that reality can be more surreal than fiction also feeds an innate proclivity to mythologize it. In the speech he delivered when he received the Nobel Prize in 1982, García Márquez observed that "Independence from Spanish dominion did not spare us from insanity. General Antonio López de Santa Anna, three-time dictator of Mexico, staged magnificent funerals for the left leg he had lost in the so-called Guerra de los Pasteles (1983: 1).

From the perspective of a canonic corpus of contemporary literature as interpreted by González Echevarría in "Latin American fiction and the poetics of history" the opening essay in Volume 3 of this series, history then becomes fulfilled poetic prophecy. He writes:

Modern Latin American novelists obsessively turn to Latin American history as source because they find there the prolegomena of their narrative art—what comes first, how events determine each other, how causality works, who are the heroes and villains. History becomes in the works of Latin American novelists an artistic construct whose truth is aesthetic rather than documentary or factual, and more often than not runs counter to official histories found in textbooks and government pronouncements.

With different words, García Márquez expressed a similar thought in a famous dictum: "If historians have written fiction, it befalls us, the writers of fiction, to write the history" (Si los historiadores han hecho ficción, me parece natural que los escritores de ficción hagamos la historia). Aesthetic constructs override "official histories" because the latter served to construct powerfully political fictions whose colonizing purpose defined a conquest by mastery of [written] language, or control of signs. Always more precocious than musicology, literary criticism offered us twenty-five years ago a perfect formulation of this historical predicament:

The New World occupies a doubly fictive place: the one furnished by the European tradition, and the one reelaborated by Latin American writers [and composers]. Writing within a Western tradition and in a European language, Latin American writers [and composers] feel they write from within a fiction of which they are a part, and in order to escape from this literary for musical] encirclement they must constantly strive to invent themselves and Latin America anew (González Echevarría 1977 in 1990: 28).

Mastering the code becomes then a way out of "the imperialism of context" (Ibid.: 29).


“Simply put, this is a wonderful--in some respects even an extraordinary--book. From one end to the other, it strikes a series of elegant balances on every level.”
Allan W. Atlas, Distinguished Professor of Music, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York