Music was a significant part of both Native California and Spanish colonial culture. In the context of the missions, music was introduced as a part of the worship practices and as a way to train Native peoples in the traditions of western music as an element of creating, in the view of the Padres, “gente de razon” or civilized people. Reconstructing the musical practices of the missions has been a project of many historians and musicians listen. For example, see Craig Russell’s From Serra to Sancho: Music and Pageantry in the California Missions and the history of the Jose Carabajal violin at Mission San Miguel.
These efforts to perform historic music raise many interesting questions. What were the soundscapes of the colonial period missions and how did music fit in? How did the missions differ from the soundscapes that Native peoples were familiar with prior to the arrival of the Spanish? Even if the performances of mission music is accurate, how can we know how Native people heard and understood the sounds? And beyond the sonic experience of the music, what can we understand about the significance the embodied experience of performing the music in which bodies were simultaneously generating motions and sounds synchronized under the direction of a choir director? What is the potential of performing historic music on historic instruments to engage audiences in new ways? And finally, how does the interpretation of music in the context of colonial missions shape how those audiences understand the past? Was training in western-style music beneficial or can it be seen as yet another imposition of Spanish expectations on Native bodies?
Music clip from:
Music of the California Missions
Recorded at Loyola Marymount University
Produced by John Fleherty
Ron Schmidt, SJ and Luis Proenca, SJ
A collection of engaging music that highlights the artistic contributions of the Franciscan friars who develeoped the California Missions. Music was an integral part of life in all of the Missions, marking the day´s activities. Listen and enjoy the many styles here, from Latin Mass settings and Gregorian chant to new compositions set for multiple vocal parts and Hispanic folksongs with memorable melodies and lively rhythms.
Published by World Library Publications, ISBN 978-1-58459-307-2