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/ / 33 1/3rpm, Vinyl / INDIGENOUS MUSIC OF MEXICO



Vinyl, LP, Album. INAH – INDIGENOUS MUSIC OF MEXICO. In contemporary Mexico, a great variety of cultural traditions coexist. The groups considered as indigenous maintain much more different repertoires among themselves than they maintain with respect to groups never treated as native. There is no satisfactory criterion in music to define indigenous heritage. This is a consequence of the permanent contact that indigenous groups have maintained with other sectors of the population. Pre-Hispanic music that has ceased to exist, although some of its characteristic elements integrated into different frameworks persist. European music, though the dominant influence, has been modified to varying degrees, either in form or content. Some repertoires seem like fixations from the past, but they play a current and important role in community life and evolve with it.

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Grouped under a generic heading, that of indigenous people, a great variety of cultural traditions coexist in contemporary Mexico, which, although they contain some common elements, present equally overwhelming differences. In musical traditions the extremes are perhaps more distant. Groups considered as indigenous maintain repertoires much more different from each other than they maintain with respect to groups never treated as native. There is no satisfactory criterion in music to define indigenous heritage.

This is a consequence of the permanent contact that indigenous groups have maintained with other sectors of the population. There has been constant communication for a long time, a circulation of influences that are incorporated into a sector of expression that is always being reworked. Pre-Hispanic music that has ceased to exist, although some of its characteristic elements integrated into different frameworks persist. European music, though the dominant influence, has been modified to varying degrees, either in form or content. Some repertoires seem like fixations from the past, but they play a current and important role in community life and evolve with it.

The criteria of similarity and difference have been considered to select the material of this volume. In some cases, the genres that are considered indigenous have been illustrated by interpreters who would not be judged that way. In other cases, indigenous people interpret examples that would be considered foreign to their repertoire, but which are not, but on the contrary, are established traditions with a clear and repeated function. This is intended to show the weakness of socially established demarcations and that do not correspond to reality.

Obviously an exhaustive exemplification was not intended, not even a geographical criterion was followed. A sample was simply chosen from the available materials that have not been treated in the collection to which this volume belongs. The result is not however arbitrary. It illustrates the great variety of traditions and the need to systematize their knowledge within the framework of today’s Mexico.



1.– DANCE OF THE FEATHER – Huaxtepec, Oaxaca.

The feather dance is a variety of the conquest dance that takes its name from the colorful feather headdress with which the dancers adorn themselves. It is a dramatic dance with a plot, characters and lines that are combined with dance segments. It represents the events of the conquest of Mexico with Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma as main characters. Enough evidence allows us to suppose that this dance was introduced in the 16th century by the evangelizing friars, who made an adaptation to local themes of the traditional drama of the Moors and Christians. The feather dance is known by that name in the Valley of Oaxaca and in the State of Jalisco. Its musical accompaniment is usually performed by a wind band or a flute and drum as in this case. The dance is performed on religious festivities of the Catholic calendar, as a vague homage to the venerated images and as an important part of public worship. The dancers constitute a recognized body of the civic-religious structure that gives cohesion to the community.

Performers: Daniel Ramírez López, reed flute; Trinidad Lopez, drummer.


2.–DANCE OF THE GYPSY – San Juan Ixcaqueo, Federal District.

This dance, whose name could not be clarified, has the structure of a dramatic dance, except that it lacks characters and its dialogues are offerings in verse to the venerated image. It consists of 18 parts, from the march and the initial offer, to the farewell greeting. Four adults participate in it, one of them is the captain, who gives his instructions with a castanet, and about twenty male children, who form a pious association whose object is dance. The interpreters are from a rural community already practically linked to Mexico City.

The dance has elements and even parliaments that correspond to the auto sacramental of the golden age and responds to the practices introduced by the evangelizers. Much remains to be clarified about its history.

The musical accompaniment is unusual and includes string and wind band instruments: a violin, a sixth guitar, a clarinet and an alto saxophone. The included snippet is a praise. The recording was made inside the Chalma sanctuary during the festival on January 6.


3.–SQUAD DANCE – Tizatlán, Tlaxcala.

Quadrilla dance is possibly derived from European ballroom dances of the 17th and 18th centuries, and little is known about its introduction to Mexico and the indigenous milieu in particular. It is one of the few dances of mixed couples that evolve forming choreographic figures of great complexity. The dance is located in the states of Mexico and Tlaxcala. Its parts are variable, but almost always one is the contradanza, another the minuet and sometimes the gavotte is included. In the region of Los Reyes, State of Mexico, the gangs dress in elaborate gold-embroidered suits that stylize the charro attire.

Despite their festive and profane nature, the cuadrillas are danced associated with the religious calendar and are part of public worship. The musical accompaniment in this example is provided by a violin, a double bass, two sixth guitars and a banjo.


4.– DANCE OF THE MATACHINES – Tehuerichi, Chihuahua.

The dance of the matachines is, in its origin, a European carnival dance that has been recorded since the fifteenth century. In Mexico it is the most frequent religious dance among indigenous groups in the North of the country and its introduction can be attributed to missionary groups. Carl Lumholtz suggested that the matachines only participate in Catholic festivals as associations of men for worship, that they form groups that dance in concert, but that they are never present at festivals with gentile content.

In the Tarahumara region, where this example comes from, the matachines are accompanied only by a violin, but the rhythmic instruments incorporated into the dancers’ costumes play an important role, such as the string of winged cocoons or seeds around the ankles and a belt with bells and bells. deer hooves


5.–DANCE OF THE COWBOYS – Atlatlauacan, Morelos.

Spread throughout the center of the country, a cycle of dramatic dances is practiced that reproduce the agricultural activities of the haciendas. They are part of the cycle, among others, the dances of sowers, reapers, muleteers, milperos, tecuanes, tlacololeros and the one that is exemplified. Almost all of them have a frankly satirical tone that makes fun of real characters, which does not prevent them from being practiced associated with the religious calendar.

The dances commenting on the agricultural cycle and criticizing its directors seem to have a European origin, but have been adapted to local conditions for some time.

The dance of the cowboys is performed by a gang of ten or twelve men who act as cowboys, a dancer who represents the master and another the foreman, one who carries a frame that simulates a bull that will be sacrificed and a grotesquely dressed character that caricatures the bull. the other participants. The musical accompaniment is carried by a violin and a sixth guitar.


6.–DANCE OF THE MOON – Noxtepec de Zaragoza, State of Mexico.

Version of the Moors and Christians dance that takes its name from the crescent that tops the headdress of the Saracens. The Morisma cycle is the most widespread in the country, especially among indigenous groups. It represents the struggle and triumph of Christianity against heretics. The dance has Spanish origins and has been practiced in Mexico since at least 1524. The evangelizers used it as a form of indoctrination for the indigenous people since the 16th century and the breadth of its spread can be partly attributed to them. It is a dramatic dance with an evident religious purpose that is sponsored, as a general rule, by an association of single men, who thus begin their tenure in the civic-religious structure that in some places still dominates the government of the community.

In the present example, the musical accompaniment is performed by a flute and a drum performed by two performers. The fragment accompanies a battle scene between a Christian and an infidel and dramatizes its stages.


7.–XOCHIPITZAHUA – Amatlán de los Reyes, Veracruz.

This is the best known of the songs in the Nahuatl language. Although there is not complete agreement on the information, it seems that in most places it is sung as part of the marriage ceremony. Her name could mean flowery song of the woman. Its interpreters are almost always female.

In this case, it is accompanied by a harp like the ones used in the mestizo repertoire of Sotavento. Furthermore, the tunes correspond to the sounds or syrups of the land, attributed at the end of the 18th century to mestizos and mulattoes with excessively liberal customs according to the criteria of the court of the Inquisition. The mestizo son and an important part of the indigenous dance repertoire will derive from this tradition.




1.–SON DEL TORO – Huichol group from the State of Jalisco.

The Huichol group is one of those that preserves a religious tradition quite independently from Catholicism, although it resents its influence. Its musical tradition also has this character, although its basic instruments are the violin and the guitar, both of European origin, but it adds the huehuetl or vertical drum of a patch of pre-Hispanic origin as the foundation of the rituals. These generate a special musical repertoire to which this example belongs. The vocal tradition, also vital in the musical tradition, presents elements different from the European scales, resulting in a clearly syncretic heritage.


2.–DANCE OF THE KALALA – Suchiapa, Chiapas.

The kalala or deer dance is a dramatic dance that responds to a local legend, although it shows elements of other dances such as that of the tecuanes or the tigers, characters that are important in the representation. The day-long dance, on Corpus Christi, is performed by several ornately and intricately dressed troupes, evolving independently only to reunite at the end, obscuring its dramatic structure. The comparsa of the deer and the gigantillo, a character that wears a frame that represents a snake, and that of the tigers participate. All of them are accompanied by drums. Another comparsa, the one illustrated, accompanies two girls, the warblers, dressed in a vague resemblance to the clothes of recent European royalty. This is accompanied by two sixth guitars and two flutes.

The representation occupies an important place in the life of the community and is organized by the religious authorities of the group, where until recently the language believed to be Chiapas was spoken.


3.–VINUETES – Tiringueo, Guerrero.

The vinuetes or minuetes are practiced in various regions of the country. They are slow pieces, often waltzes, which are performed to accompany solemn occasions such as religious festivals, wakes for the dead or funerals. This use is contradicted by the apparent origin of the genre: the minuet, a European ballroom dance with festive intentions.

In this case, the repertoire of vinuetes is used to accompany, in the hot land of the state of Guerrero, the ceremony of washing the clothes of the image of the Virgin in the river, in which almost the entire community participates. The musical group is the same one that interprets the repertoire of sounds and tastes of a festive nature and considered as mestizo genres. The ensemble is made up of two violins, a sixth guitar and a small drum with a double head that resembles a military-style drumbeat.

Performers: Sixtos Cortés, first viola, José Alonso Lázaro, second violin; Luis Medina Lucas, guitar and Lázaro de la Rosa, drummer.


4.–FLYING DANCE – El Tajín, Veracruz.

The game of the flyer was apparently practiced since pre-Hispanic times, associated with religious ceremonies. Today it is practiced among the indigenous groups of the Sierra del Estado de Puebla and the Totonacos of the Papantla area, where this example comes from. Currently its celebration is associated with the Catholic calendar and its interpreters form a kind of brotherhood that performs magical acts of protection. The costumes and the music have suffered, just like the content, from a strong European influence.

Papantla groups are formed by four flyers and the captain, who plays the flute and the drum with which the dance is accompanied. This consists of four sounds that accompany the burial greeting, the ascent, the greeting at the summit and the flight or descent.

The included son corresponds to the greeting to the four cardinal points that is performed at the tip of the stick and in which the captain performs acrobatic inclinations without stopping playing. Obviously, the recording quality leaves a lot to be desired.


5.–KATIKUBI – Pinotepa de Don Luis, Oaxaca.

The Mixtec group from the coast has within its musical tradition a genre in which they realize everyday problems, especially those that refer to those that arise between the sexes. Problems of fidelity, love, behavior and even food quality are the subject of these songs in a peculiar style. Sometimes, as in this case, an accompanying instrument such as the harmonica or a three-string guitar that uses a tortoise shell as a sounding board intervenes; other times it is sung without any accompaniment. This genre does not seem to be associated in any way with religious tradition.


6.–DANCE OF THE SHEPHERDS – Ixtapan de la Panocha, State of Mexico.

The shepherdesses are generally groups of girls or women who, rather than dance, perform a rhythmic song that is sometimes combined with choreographic figures. These groups are known throughout the center of the country. This set may have emerged from one of the didactic representations introduced by evangelizers, the pastorelas, in which the shepherds pay homage to the newborn. This seems to be the model for today’s groups, who sing praises to the venerated images with musical accompaniment and marking the rhythm with their crooks.

Praise, a genre practiced by these ensembles, also has a long history dating back to the 16th century. It is a religious-type song by verses sung by the soloists with a chorus repeated by the entire group. In this case, and as is very common, the musical accompaniment is performed by a violin played by the director of the group.


7.–AZTEC MUSIC SOUNDS – Cacalotepec, Puebla.

Around the volcanoes, a musical ensemble made up of a huehuetl, a military drum and one or two shawms participates in religious festivals. This set is called Aztec music, harassed by the presence of the huehuetl of pre-Hispanic origin, which by the way they give the name of teponaztle… The other instruments, on the other hand, are of European origin, as is the basic repertoire that serves to pay homage to the images of the catholic pantheon. It is said that this set was also used to separate the storms that were broken by the sound of the huehuetl.

The groups are generally familiar and have a common repertoire, made up of sounds derived from praises or old sonecillos or jarabes de la tierra. The group plays in the atriums of the churches that celebrate a special celebration.

Performers: Group of Cresenciano Chantes.


8.–THE BAKERS – Minatitlán, Veracruz.

The sones or jarabes de la tierra formed towards the end of the colonial era, are the origin of many current repertoires, such as the son of the State of Veracruz. In this there are variants, those of the South are confused with indigenous traditions. In these the son is a festive genre that is performed at parties with a religious or family pretext. Although the repertoire is similar for the entire state, the style of interpretation changes towards the South when the harp disappears, but ultimately, indigenous and mestizo support a single tradition.

The syrup of the bakers is mentioned in the documents of the inquisition from the 18th century as an obscene and reprehensible piece. Today it serves to propitiate the beginning of the dances and gives rise to a selection of more recent sones.

Performers: Arcadio Hidalgo, jarana and voice; Noé González, requinto; Benito Gonzalez, jarana.


Arturo Warman





1.–feather dance
2.–dance of the gypsy
3.– square dance
4.–dance of the matachines
5.–dance of the cowboys
6.–moon dance



1.–the sound of the bull
2.–dance of the kalala
4.–dance of the flyer
6.–dance of shepherdesses
7.–Aztec music sounds
8.–the bakers


A 1, 3 and 7, B1 and 5
by Thomas Stanford
A 4 by Francois Lartigue
B 2 by Irene Vazquez
A 2, 5 and 6, B 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8
by Arthur Warman
Notes by Arthur Warman
Mexico, 1971. ©


Secretary of Public Education,
engineer Victor Bravo Ahúja;
Undersecretary of Popular Culture,
doctor Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán;
National Institute of Anthropology and History,
architect Luis Ortiz Macedo;
Anthropology National Museum,
Dr. Ignacio Bernal;
Educational Services Section,
Professor Ma. Cristina S. de Bonfil.





Additional information

Weight .250 kg
Dimensions 31.75 × 31.75 × 1.27 cm

LP, 45, MP3, FLAC

Media Condition

Media Condition: Mint (M), Media Condition: Near Mint (NM or M-), Media Condition: Very Good Plus (VG+), Media Condition: Very Good (VG), Media Condition: Good (G), Media Condition: Good Plus (G+), Media Condition: Poor (P), Media Condition: Fair (F), Media Condition: Generic

Sleeve Condition

Sleeve Condition: Mint (M), Sleeve Condition: Near Mint (NM or M-), Sleeve Condition: Very Good Plus (VG+), Sleeve Condition: Very Good (VG), Sleeve Condition: Good (G), Sleeve Condition: Good Plus (G+), Sleeve Condition: Poor (P), Sleeve Condition: Fair (F), Sleeve Condition: Generic


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