Issues Regarding the Teaching of Non-Western Performance Traditions Within the College Music Curriculum

October 1, 1995

Issues Regarding the Teaching of Non-Western Performance Traditions Within the College Music Curriculum1

While still in its early development, the move towards multi-cultural education in this country is already having considerable impact on music teaching in the academy. And well it should, for music in the postmodern world has come to reflect and inform new levels of global awareness and cross-cultural experience. In today's popular music we can hear sophisticated electronics combined with the interlocking polyphonic song of Central African pygmies. Even the dijeridoo of the Australian aboriginal peoples is not an uncommon addition to instrumental textures. The impact of postmodernism is extending to the world of Western art music as well. The once staid Chamber Music America now embraces music ensembles playing jazz arrangements, transcriptions of compositions by Jimi Hendrix or the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, or original compositions by crossover artists such as David Samuels and Lyle Mays. If we are to keep abreast with the ever changing social and political conditions of today's musical world, we must continually re-examine our goals and responsibilities as music makers and music educators.

In this article I am interested in exploring the impact that teaching a music genre not traditionally represented in the academy might have on the culture from which the music derives, on the students who are studying it, and on the educational system itself. I am using music associated with the Afro-Cuban religion Santer for my discussion. The data are derived from field research conducted between 1986 and 1988 within the Santería religious community of New York's metropolitan area, field research undertaken in Cuba during the summer of 1995, and my own experiences performing and teaching this music tradition.2

In its traditional setting, Santería's music is used within highly formalized ritual contexts as an agent for spiritual transformation. The drums produce rhythms that represent the spiritual nature of the West African deities known as orishas. When called by the drums the orishas themselves, through the vehicle of possession trance, may come to participate in the affairs of mankind.

Santería's music is also developing in secular venues and is increasingly heard outside of the ritual context. In New York City, performances for the general public by folkloric groups such as Patakin, Eya Aranla Ensemble, or the Cuban group Los Muñequitos de Matanzas have become a common occurrence. In popular idioms Mongo Santamaría, Celia Cruz, or groups such as Irakere, Talking Drums, and many others are incorporating this music into compositions clearly divorced from any religious context.

Nevertheless, the shifting of performance contexts is occasionally problematic for both performers and religious practitioners. Throughout the paper a central tenet, sometimes explicit but always implicit, is the concept in Santería that performance of this music constitutes the application of social and spiritual power. Practitioners believe that the music itself—no matter what the context—is capable of both representing and invoking the orishas; even experienced musicians cannot always control such potential.


The Belief System

Santería has its roots in the traditional religious practices of the Yoruba people of West Africa.3 In Cuba, Yoruba beliefs were syncretized with Roman Catholicism and aspects of Kardecan spiritism.4

Santería's beliefs are constructed upon a hierarchical, pantheistic system of thought which reaches from the all powerful Olorún (also known as Olodumare or Olofi), through the orishas (lesser deities), to the realm of man (which is also populated with individuals of varying degrees of sacred authority). For the Yoruba, Olorún, as the embodiment of all possibilities, is beyond human comprehension and therefore impossible to worship directly. Consequently, practitioners generally direct entreaties to the orishas. Each orisha embodies and governs various aspects of Olorún; such as natural features (rivers, oceans, mountains) or elemental forces acting within nature (wind, lightning, or disease).5

Reflected and developed within these beliefs are practices which are designed to access the various layers of religious hierarchy. Each point of entry within that hierarchy in turn reveals multiple notions of, and means towards communion with, the sacred. Music-making is just one of many techniques which Santeros may use to honor and influence the orishas. The orishas reciprocate these various endeavors by lending their spiritual puissance in order to improve the practitioner's stature within the physical world.

In general, the everyday effects of such efficacy are subtle and may require the expertise of a skilled diviner to be properly discerned and interpreted. This, however, is usually not the case within public music ritual. There, musicians and practitioners actively work to invoke an explicit manifestation of spiritual efficacy. Music ritual is the domain where individuals come together as community, actively working to bridge and mediate the distance between the physical and spiritual worlds through spirit possession trance. Should one of the members of the community indeed become possessed by an orisha, the orisha will use that opportunity to give specific advice and assistance to those who might seek it.

The batá drum ensemble is the most important instrumental combination used within Santería ceremonies. Able to speak to the orishas through the imitation of Yoruba speech inflection, the set of three double-headed, hour-glass shaped drums is believed to be rich in spiritual essence. Steeped in tradition and protected from outsiders, in Cuba the batá drums had never been played in public until Dr. Fernando Ortiz was able to negotiate a performance in Havana in 1936. While perhaps unintentional, with that presentation the process of secularization was begun. The performance generated considerable interest in Afro-Cuban musics, and use of the batá within new contexts quickly ensued as Cuban composer Alejandro García Caturla and other nationals began to use the drums in orchestral works.6


Development in North America

The practice of Santería appears to have come to New York City in the late 1950s, and it was not until the mid-1960s that local initiations took place with any frequency.7 Since that time, the religion has grown from a small group of Latino insiders to a broad based, multi-ethnic, and economically stratified religious complex. As in West Africa and Cuba, cosmological thought continues to evolve along paths that reflect the specific and varying needs of individual practitioners. There are temples throughout the New York metropolitan area, and although Cuban culture remains dominant, it rules by force of tradition rather than numbers. While most practitioners are Latino, there are growing communities of non-Hispanic blacks and whites. Within these various groups one finds a multitude of factions holding different beliefs, goals and loyalties.

In the United States today, the batá drums are being played by men and women, blacks and whites, Cubans and Americans. The drums, which are being produced commercially by the Latin Percussion Music Group,8 can be heard in sacred and folkloric performances, and increasingly, in popular music. Santería's music has made its way into North American school classrooms since at least the late 1970s.9


Music Tradition

Just as the cultural and ethnic mix has shifted with the religion's recent development in the United States, so has the way in which the music tradition is maintained and passed on. An understanding of this is important because the details outlined below suggest that the fundamental rules by which the religious and musical heritage are maintained are in constant flux.

The development of ritual drumming in New York can be seen as a history consisting of three major phases.10 The first phase began with the introduction of the music to the New York community by Cuban drummers in the late 1950s. The second phase was initiated when local drummers, who had little or no previous exposure to Santería, took interest and began attempting to perform its repertoire. Phase three commenced with the arrival of a new wave of Cuban musicians via the Mariel boat lift of 1980.

Cuban drummer Julio Collazo, who set up residence in NewYork in the late 1950s, was the catalyst for the development of ceremonial drumming there. Through the 1960s, Collazo performed occasionally at local ceremonies, and while his performance attracted the interest of New York musicians, he took few students and was generally unwilling to teach this material.

Traditionally, the technical and social requirements of drumming for Santería have been passed down directly from teacher to student within the context of religious culture, thereby assuring that the apprentice would attain both sonic and ritual competence. However, with the exception of the few musicians that apprenticed with Collazo, this was not done in New York. There, students used a combination of sources; attending the occasional Collazo performance was important, but a great deal of information was attained by studying the published transcriptions of Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz, and by transcribing commercially available recorded examples.

One of the elements lacking in this pieced-together drumming was the traditional model of socialization, and in fact at first the drummers had little understanding of, or interest in, the religious implications of performance. However, by taking advantage of the expanding opportunities for participation in ritual performances musicians gradually achieved an insider's perspective and their relationship with the music shifted in focus from secular to sacred. Musicians' early considerations dealt primarily with performance practice, but for those who played in ritual settings, this merged with a focus on ideology and community.

The third major impact on the evolution of New York ritual drumming was the arrival (during the Mariel boat lift) of Cuban master drummer Orlando "Puntilla" Rios. Puntilla was eager to teach both novices and advanced players; he quickly established himself at the center of the growing New York scene.11


Santería Within the Academy. Performance Taboos

The issues and events described above present a series of interesting questions for anyone wishing to learn or teach this music. Among them are two central issues that must be considered before performance of Santería's music may be successfully incorporated into the college curriculum: taboos concerning who may play the drums and the difficulties involved in producing secular performances of religious music.

Because of issues dealing with blood and sexuality, belief strictures render it taboo for batá drums to be played by either women or homosexual men. When the New York musicians began learning and performing amongst themselves in the 1960s and 1970s, these restrictions were ignored. However, ritual performance, which involved the direct confrontation and integration of Santería's music with its sacred roots, generally shifted those musicians' overall perspective towards a view sympathetic with traditional religious values.

The question here for educators is simple: can one offer a performance course within a public institution when that music tradition systematically excludes specific groups of people from participating, not by voice range, or musical competence, but according to gender and sexual orientation? While overly simplified, the three hypothetical responses and rationales which follow suggest a range of possibilities.

First, one might decide to reject teaching any performance tradition that does not fit the generally accepted ideas in higher education towards attaining ethnic and sexual equality.12 By what rationale could these goals be compromised for the sake of teaching a little known music tradition which remains well outside of the American mainstream?

A second response characterizes a different extreme. Educators might go ahead and teach each musical tradition according to the dictates of that tradition's own social and spiritual universe. Perhaps the strongest rationale for following this course would be the possibility that through a multitude of cultural perspectives and experiences one might find an even higher realization of equality than that already being embraced by our educational philosophy. Perhaps, from this new perspective, the hegemony of Judeo-Christian beliefs or European-derived traditions would give way, beyond not just individual prejudices, but to the point of accepting the prerogatives of an entirely different world view. If well managed, embarking on such a tack might be liberating and energizing for educators as well as students.

A third alternative would be to teach those aspects of the tradition which are not controversial while avoiding involvement in those issues which may be problematic. If done with integrity and sensitivity this position may be acceptable. After all, in every facet of music education we are constantly required to make decisions—based on course level, student aptitude, or other issues—regarding the nature of the information we disseminate. The issues governing the decision-making process in regards to teaching Santería's music and culture may be more complex than those normally encountered within the music classroom, but they are certainly not insurmountable.

Three choices have been presented. On what grounds do we decide which (if any) is appropriate? When bringing non-European traditions into the sphere of Western education, the educator must attempt to mediate the social distance between disparate cultures. To do this successfully, one must endeavor to discern the sources, realities and imperatives of individual cultural systems.

Social norms serve specific purposes and the manipulation of those norms will vary according to context and the particular requirements of individuals. Concerning the gender taboos surrounding the batá drums, some of my New York informants ignored them and accepted no limitations on who should be allowed to play. Others stated that the taboo against homosexuals and women is for practical reasons; the batá are very demanding physically and women simply lack the necessary strength. In my estimation, the responses of still others revealed little more than deep-seated homophobia and chauvinism.

Some musicians support the taboos and defend their position by citing various religious tenets. For example, mythology holds that the batá drums belong to Shango, the powerful orisha of lightning, who is notorious for his heterosexual prowess. The batá drums, with their hourglass shape symbolize the head of Shango's thunder axe. The sound the drums produce is the thunder of the heavens, Shango's divine voice. Therefore, in order to complete the symbolism successfully, the drummers, who represent Shango himself, must be heterosexual males.

A conflicting mythology suggests a different source for the drum's efficacy (but results in the same taboo); because the drums enclose the space from which the rhythms of the orishas emanate, they are feminine, a divine womb fertilized by the phallic driving of the drummers' hands. The rhythms produced represent the pulse of the cosmos.

Leaving the mythological basis that appears to influence the rules of performance practice, it is necessary to examine behavior, for there can be considerable discrepancy between what drummers purport to believe and what they actually do. For example, in New York, there are homosexual drummers playing the batá drums in ceremonial contexts.13 Their participation is not questioned because they are good performers and long standing members of the community. Therefore, their sexual proclivity is neither discussed nor acknowledged. (In other words, the taboo is held.)

During fieldwork I found the homosexual taboo invoked for a very different purpose. In this case the taboo was employed by established musicians to exclude neophytes from either learning to play or from performing at ceremonies. Their rationale was that these novices might be homosexuals.14 Interestingly, in both this and the preceding situation the homosexual taboo was being manipulated in such a way that it supported the status quo by creating boundaries which protected members of the established music scene while simultaneously erecting sociological gates through which both the musically competent and incompetent must pass.

The issues surrounding women's performance are equally complex. I have attempted to sort them out with Katherine Hagedorn, an ethnomusicologist at Pomona College who has done extensive field research in Cuba. I summarize below observations she made in a 1992 letter.

1. Women are not allowed to play batá drums, because "the religion" forbids it.

2. There is an all-female batá performance group in Cuba, but they all swore they would never play in "religious" circumstances.

3. It is actually Cuban women who are forbidden from playing the batá drums. The consensus is that because they are so atrevida [bold, impudent] since the revolution, they'll play in "religious" contexts as soon as they can.

4. I can take batá lessons because I'm not Cuban and I'll never be able to fit into a "religious" context (i.e., no one would take me seriously in a toque [a religious ceremony]).

5. Hardly any of these students (foreigners studying with members of the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional) ever play at toques because they are effectively blackballed by the street/religious community.

6. The most effective and inspiring way to learn batá drumming is to play at ceremonies. I, as a token white North American woman, was invited to play a "guest number" [at a ceremony] in Guanabacoa.


The issue for women in the United States is a little less muddy and yet, curiously, more repressive. To the best of my knowledge, the most accomplished female drummer in the United States resides in Houston. I will refer to her as Mary, although that is not her real name.

Mary first heard this music at a national meeting of the Percussive Arts Society. She told me that she left the concert resolved to play the batá drums. Her quest took her to Cuba where she has been able to study with one of the country's batá masters. However, while she performs in Houston's tiny religious community, she has been shunned by musicians in established centers elsewhere in the United States. Nevertheless, Mary is confident that she will get to play, and even frames her quest in religious terms, suggesting that the orishas themselves are behind her and would stop her from playing if that was their will. I suspect that she will realize her goal. This white Texan woman was recently fully initiated into the religion (a consequence of her pursuit of the drums) and to the secrets of Ochosi (the orisha of the hunt). A modern day Artemis, Mary's quest is a disturbing (and perhaps intimidating) event in the lives of many North American Santeros (both male and female).15

Perhaps Katherine could play briefly in a Cuban ceremony because as an outsider she is so far from both the religious and general culture that her impact is inconsequential. In this context, her musical skills and ambitions are easily dismissed. If not altogether irrelevant, at the very least she stands out and the Cubans can easily categorize, separate, and insert or delete her from the social whole. Mary's insistent presence within the United States is much more difficult to dismiss. Indeed, she could have considerable impact on the much smaller, often marginal North American religious and performance community.


Sacred Versus Secular Music

While formerly a purely sacred tradition, today Santería's music is regularly presented to general audiences within secular contexts. There are interesting parallels. In modern Western culture I suspect that the majority of our concert audience would have little difficulty classifying a concert hall performance of Bach's Mass in B minor as an essentially secular event. However, unlike Western art music, Santería's music serves as a central catalyst for religious experience. The music itself is the matrix through which the sacred incarnates.16 This raises a number of issues for educators. Since music is central to Santería's religious ritual, perhaps a public institution is not the place to be teaching this tradition.

Must every performance be religious in nature? It seems to depend on whom you ask, or where the performance takes place. In Cuba, long established folkloric ensembles give performances regularly, and within that specific performance venue Cubans seem to have no problem in distinguishing secular entertainment from sacred events.17 However, Katherine Hagedorn's observations suggest that the issue is far from being resolved within all contexts.

Music-making in the United States appears to be equally complex. While in Los Angeles in 1988, I went into a botanica (a store that sells religious artifacts) hoping to find information that might help in the translation of song texts. When I told the saleswoman what I was seeking, she responded that she knew nothing about such things. Persisting, I decided to sing a portion of a commonly heard religious song. This had an immediate effect and she urgently asked me to stop singing before the orisha himself began to play havoc with, or even be incarnated in, her store. We talked for a few minutes after which she telephoned one of her religious elders and asked him to speak with me. While delighted with the excellent contact that I eventually made from this episode, I was concerned about the powerful tactics I had unwittingly applied. Perhaps the most important insight for me was that, for this woman at least, the song itself could not be sounded without cosmic implications.

A couple of months after the Los Angeles incident I had the opportunity to attend a folkloric concert at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. About thirty minutes into the performance the principle dancer went down onto the floor in front of the drums. She had fallen into trance and was possessed by an orisha. The performance came to a halt as believers approached the front of the stage and left hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars for the orisha, who meanwhile, reciprocated by communicating with various members of the audience. Through all of this, the seemingly bewildered security forces looked on while attempting to keep some semblance of order in the hall.

Before a crowd of perhaps one-thousand people (some who were practitioners of the religion, many who were not), this previously straightforward secular event had suddenly turned both sacred and extremely complex. The individuals that I was sitting with (who happened to be prominent ritual musicians themselves) had no doubt that the trance was real, and they chastised the musicians on stage for their provocative musical choices. The orisha had been insistently called, and, naturally, he came. My companions found the dancer guilty as well; she should have known to stop before the orisha mounted her.

Some informants have suggested that occurrences such as the one at the Natural History Museum would not have happened if true adepts had been in charge. Adepts would have harnessed the religious flow and kept the event secular. In light of this analysis, the event's outcome suggests that the musicians and dancers knew too much to remain unaffected by the music and yet knew too little to completely control the outcome. Indeed, during fieldwork I found that many American Santería musicians and religious practitioners fall into this category.

Obviously, the events that transpired at the museum would be problematic at a student performance.18 The first semester that I offered to coach an ensemble in the performance of Santería's music at the institution where I now teach, I had one male initiate in the class, knew a female student and practitioner of Cuban heritage who was interested in dancing with the ensemble, and met a number of people of either Cuban or Puerto Rican heritage who grew up around the religion and either joined the ensemble or were interested in attending our performances. I also received a call from a campus minister. (He eventually joined the ensemble.) Santería was more ingrained and of greater interest in this small midwestern town than I had ever imagined it could possibly be.



A great many under-represented secular music traditions also could have served as vehicles to highlight issues similar to those outlined above. I chose to discuss a religious music for two reasons. First, quite simply, this is where my experience lies. While broaching issues of this type is standard in academic classes in ethnomusicology, such issues have not arisen within other performance ensembles that I have directed.19 Second, the presence of religious belief not only escalates and deepens the complexity of concerns over incorporating new music into the curriculum, but also helps to focus those concerns. My informant's ideas were energized by religious axioms. For this article to be successful, it needed not only to represent those perspectives, but to satisfy the supposedly secular axioms of our own educational system.20

Within the introduction of this article I stated that my interest was in discussing the effect that teaching a music not traditionally represented within the academy might have on that music's culture, the academy's students, and on the educational system itself. I have found that these three areas cannot be cleanly separated; they interact reflexively.

I can use an example from my own institution as an illustration. In 1992, my ensemble was invited to perform on a program in honor of one of Santería's most senior American priests. Recognizing the priest and his religious tradition through a concert of ritual music was an appropriate gesture, and at that time ours may have been the only university in the United States that could have accomplished the performance with our own students. Nevertheless, organizing the performance was not without complications, for at that time the ensemble included a woman playing one of the batá drums. I discussed the situation with the musicians and as a group we decided to avoid any potential controversy and replace this highly qualified drummer with a male. The ensemble performed again the next evening for a concert sponsored by the African-American Student's Organization. At that performance the woman drummed. I do not believe that we were acting hypocritically in these situations, rather, we were fully conscious of the implications of our decisions and attempted to correctly modify the ensemble's configuration to fit a changing set of social norms.

Where will my students be taking this music? If they are proficient, might I facilitate their participation in ceremonial performances? I have not, but can find no reason that I could or should not. After all, it seems that entering the world of ritual performance is a natural consequence of being trained into the intricacies of the music tradition. If the development within Santería's New York music culture is typical, outsiders who have extended contact with the music do not remain detached from the religious canon. Rather, they tend to adhere increasingly to those values and become insiders themselves.

This should not seem surprising. We have parallel expectations for students studying Western instrumental and vocal traditions. Those students—after a rigorous study of instrumental or vocal technique, performance practice, theory, and history—move into the professional world as performers and/or teachers. Through sacred and secular venues, these young professionals use their knowledge of music and music culture to charge their audience and/or students aesthetically.

Who should be responsible for deciding where, when, and how the music of Santería is to be taught or performed? At what point of expertise does one gain the authority to make that decision? Is it necessary to have the information passed down from someone in the culture, or is studying books, transcribing records, or taking a class enough? The answers to these questions change with one's relative closeness to (or distance from) the religious culture. I constantly ask myself whether I have the right to teach and direct folkloric performances in this tradition.21 I teach out of fidelity to the musical and social system as I understand it, but realize that if the nature of my relationship to the religion were to change, I too, might alter my choices and be obliged to follow different rules. At that point, my teaching a college ensemble might no longer be possible.

The issues that I have raised in this article are far from resolved. I continue my attempts to work them out every time I perform, teach, or write about Santería's music. When New York percussionist John Amira and I presented workshops in 1993 and 1994 at the New England Conservatory of Music, nearly half of our time was spent discussing historical and philosophical issues like those presented above. This was not pre-planned, but was rather an outgrowth of the collective intellectual curiosity of the students themselves. While as a group we found few pat answers, we all came away with new questions and a sense of found community in our struggle to grow as musicians, educators and individuals.

Santería's music is one of the most demanding and satisfying traditions that I have had the privilege to witness, study, perform, and teach. Throughout my association with this music I have had to wrestle with a broad range of philosophical issues surrounding the music culture as a whole. There have been no easy answers. However, I continue to believe that the music and its accompanying culture should be given a voice within the academy, whether that culture's beliefs fit cleanly with the generalized goals of higher education or not. Further, I continue to believe that our students deserve to be introduced to as wide a range of music-making as we can deliver. Our job as educators is not simply to preserve the older and more deeply entrenched music traditions, it is also to prepare our students for a future in an ever-changing musical landscape.

Santería's music will continue to proliferate with or without the academy. Its availability and aesthetic strength preclude any other possibility. In the broadest sense, the transmission of performances and performance practice for an ever-increasing proportion of the world's musics though recordings, publications, traditional teachers, and even college professors is the reality of the postmodern era.

The reader will recall that an early observation in this article was the idea in Santería that knowledge is power. Such a concept is no stranger to any educator. The attainment, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge are the central tasks around which we have built our life's work. My experience with Santería's music has begun to teach me just how formidable each of these three tasks can be.

1An earlier version of this article was presented in San Diego at the 1992 Annual Meeting of The College Music Society.

2I have taught the performance of this music at the college level since 1991 and present annual workshops in the United States and Europe.

3See John Mason Orin Orisa: Songs for Selected Heads (Brooklyn, NY: Yoruba Theological Press, 1992), 2-3; or Christopher Waterman "'Our Tradition is a Very Modern Tradition': Popular Music and the Construction of Pan-Yoruba Identity" (Ethnomusicology, Vol. 34, no.3, 1990), 367-380, for a discussion of the numerous difficulties in grouping together the many polities (the Ife, Ijebu, Ijesa, Oyo, etc.) that by the late 19th century became broadly known as the Yoruba people. As Eades notes in The Yoruba Today (Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 118-119, while generally similar, the religious practices of these peoples varied (and continue to vary) considerably not only by area, but even amongst individuals within single communities.

4In fact, even the word Santería, which means "worship of the (Roman Catholic) saints," is problematic. Cuban practitioners may refer to themselves and their religion as Lucumí, or they might refer to the religion as Regla de Ocha (rule of the orisha). New York practitioners identify the religion as Santería, Lucumí, Regla de Ocha, or Yoruba Traditional Religion.

5See E. Bolaji Idowu, Olodumare: God in Yoruba Belief (Nigeria: Longman Nigeria Limited, 1962), 60.

6Roberto Nodal, "The Social Evolution of the Afro-Cuban Drum," in The Black Perspective in Music 2:2 (1983), 162.

7See John Mason, Orin Orisa. Mason gives a concise overview of the music's introduction to the United States.

8A spokesperson for the company told me that they manufacture batá drums primarily as a service to the music community. The market is small and sales are not expected to match manufacturing costs.

9During an interview with New York percussionist Louis Bauzo I was told of a short-lived attempt to include the music in the curriculum of one New York City school.

10For a detailed analysis see Steven Cornelius, "Drumming for the Orishas: Reconstruction of Musical Tradition in New York City," in, Essays on Cuban Music: North American and Cuban Perspectives, ed. Peter Manuel (USA: University Press of America, 1991), 139-155.

11While it is too early to tell, two recently published books suggest the possibility of another paradigm shift in Santería's music culture. For the first time, publications in English have presented detailed accounts of song texts and drum rhythms. See John Mason's Orin Orisa: Songs for Selected Heads and, John Amira and Steven Cornelius's The Music of Santería: Traditional Rhythms of the Batá Drums (Crown Point, IN: White Cliffs Media Company, 1992). Practitioners and scholars alike must decide for themselves whether these works will become a part of the tradition (as did those of Fernando Ortiz) or are merely peripheral to and separate from that tradition.

12I recognize that the notion of teaching sexual or ethnic equality is merely a gloss of the enormously complex issues that are coming out of our institutions' women's, black and ethnic studies departments. Nevertheless, I would argue that striving for the recognition of equal worth or value is a central part of the political agenda that motivates this essential work.

13Katherine Hagedorn (July 9, 1993) told me of temples in Cuba in which all the music-making is done by and for homosexuals.

14This is an interesting issue. Since it is impossible to prove that one is not homosexual, the only recourse the aspiring drummer has is to continue to forge social relationships in the hope of eventually being accepted by the musical community.

15Katherine and Mary studied batá drumming with the same teacher in Cuba. One of his requirements for teaching women has been they not play the batá drums in religious contexts. In the teacher's view, women performing upon these instruments within sacred contexts would be sacrilegious. (Katherine Hagedorn, correspondence of July 28, 1995).

16 One might argue that at the time of their composition, this was also the case with Western sacred works from Gregorian chant through Bach and Handel. Today however, because the aesthetic response to the above repertoire is so tightly interwoven with the social behaviors and mores that govern our secular performance venues, we gloss the deeper issues of the repertoire's original religious intent and (one might argue, continuing) impact. Were the aesthetics and activities of Santería's religious culture a part of mainstream American culture the tranformative power of its music might also not be an issue.

17For a discussion of the complexities in maintaining traditional Afro-Cuban religions in post-revolutionary Cuba see Peter Manuel "Musical Pluralism in Revolutionary Cuba," in Essays on Cuban Music, ed. Peter Manuel (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1991), 292-297.

18In November of 1993 one of the men with whom I attended the performance at the Museum of Natural History was invited to Columbus, Ohio to give a weekend of classes in the music and dance of Haitian vodou. To his surprise, after attempting a series of provocative dance figures, one of the students went into trance.

19There is no reason why they could not or should not. Removing any music from (or returning it to) its traditional venue can cause considerable controversy; consider the debates over the use of original instruments in early music, Christian heavy-metal, or the work of pop singer Madonna. [And see the article in this issue by Margaret Dilling on the incorporation of gospel music into an academic setting.]

20It seems significant that, borrowing from discussions in literary criticism, social anthropology and other disciplines, scholars are discussing the musicological canon (see Katherine Bergeron and Philip V. Bohlman in Disciplining Music: Musicology and its Canons (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). Beyond the authors' use of canon as a "measure" or "rule," the term also brings to mind ecclesiastical traditions. In 1991 I presented an informal lecture on Mozart's horn concertos. In the course of my discussion I mentioned Joseph Leutgebfor whom Mozart wrote a number of these worksand read some bawdy remarks that Mozart had included within the manuscript (see Robert L. Marshall, editor, Mozart Speaks: Views on Music, Musicians, and the World, NY: Schirmer Books, 1991). When the lecture was finished one of my colleagues was visibly upset and asked me how I could treat sacred music in such a fashion.

21Western musicians use a variety of gauges in assessing the pedigree of what Henry Kingsbury in Music, Talent, and Performance: A Conservatory Cultural System (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988), 44; calls "pedagogical lineages." We regularly question a performer's qualifications and ability to play and/or interpret the great masterpieces of Western art music. Critics reviewing such performances regularly use such descriptives as "masterly," transcendent." or "immature."

4110 Last modified on October 22, 2018