The Ten Tracks Project
The Ten Tracks Project is an invitation to both listen and visualize ethnomusicology students’ research projects. Limited to ten sound and/or audiovisual files, Ten Tracks Project participants are challenged to create a playlist to introduce their listeners into a glimpse of the sounds, performers, audiences, dances, and/or performing spaces that they are writing, thinking, and learning about.
- Playlist author: Ana María Alarcón Jiménez
- Where do you study? Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal
- Fieldwork Location: Galicia, Northwestern Spain
- Research title: Spatializing Galician Music at the International Festival of the Celtic World.
- Why are these ten tracks on your list?
- “Danzón“ is a song from the CD/DVD Descarga ao Vivo. The album is part of a project with the same name, which was developed between 2008 and 2009 in La Habana (Cuba) and Galicia (Spain) by a group of Galician and Cuban musicians. It was lead by Ramón Pinheiro and the Music Conservatory of Traditional Music of Lalín, Galicia (today known as A Central Folque and located in the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela). The project was financed by the Galician autonomous government or Xunta de Galicia in response to the invitation of Galicia as the guest country for the La Habana Book Fair of 2008. The video starts with a solo by Galician zanfona player Oscar Fernández. His zanfona has a red star on it, a symbol placed on the autonomous flags of the Spanish regions of Galicia and Catalonia to express a political inclination towards regional independence. The song, a danzón, represents the overall spirit of the project in which researcher Ramón Pinheiro (artistic director and motor of the school involved) looked for Galician repertory taken to La Habana by Galician immigrants throughout the 20th century. The song reminds me of the music that Ramón played in the car when I was doing fieldwork in Galicia, as he generously drove me around to meet different Galician researchers and musicians. The project also involved a good number of the teachers from the school where I took Galician voice and percussion lessons (A Central Folque) while doing fieldwork in Santiago de Compostela in 2013. Finally, I decided to include this clip because this song resonates with my inner perception of Galicia as a region deeply connected to Latin America, a perception that made me feel at home as I was doing fieldwork in this particular part of Europe.
- It was not easy to choose one out of the many pandereteiras (female tambourine groups) that one can find in Galicia. The video is part of a larger project entitled Não Lugar (Galician for “No Place”) directed by Aitana Eanes and Davide Salvado. Davide is a former student of the Music Conservatory of Traditional Music of Lalín, and he was one of my voice teachers at the music school A Central Folque in Santiago de Compostela. Although I do not know this particular group of pandereteiras, the video shows a trend among young Galician musicians to make music videos based in rural environments (in addition to the landscape, one can see a man working in the back as the women are performing) but with an urban, youthful, and artistic touch. Also, this group of singers does not use what is called in Galicia a “nasal” vocal timbre, which was a negative critique of young female singers by both the male and female musicians that I had the opportunity to meet while doing fieldwork.
- In this video, Davide Salvado and Pepa Yañez are singing a cappella in Portuguese. I chose the track as it is sung in Casa das Crechas, a musical must-stop for Galician music in Santiago de Compostela. The place holds concerts and foliadas (a kind of party/“jam session”), and it has become so popular among Erasmus students that some of these events are programmed according to the local university calendars. The song, also, is presented here as a way to hint towards the deep connection that many Galician musicians feel with Portugal and Portuguese musics and which is historically supported by the existence of the medieval Galician-Portuguese canticles of Alfonso X the Wise.
- This “video“ features a post-festival party at Fredi’s Bar, in the village of Espasante, Northwestern Galicia. The video features a lot of the musicians from whom I learned about the music of Ortigueira (a region of Galicia where Espasante and the village of Santa Marta are located). This is the center of my current research. In this clip, we can see musicians and dancers playing and dancing after three intense days of ongoing performances at the International Festival of the Celtic World of Ortigueira. Most of the musicians featured in this video are either members of the Bagpipe School of Ortigueira (which gives, free of charge, Galician bagpipe and percussion lessons in Santa Marta de Ortigueira) and of the Cultural Association Gamelas e Anduriñas (which gives, free of charge, Galician bagpipe, percussion, voice, and dance lessons in Espasante). Fredi’s Bar is one of the few spaces where music can be legally performed live in this part of Galicia (a permit, granted by the local government, is necessary for bars and restaurants to present live music in Spain). Alfredo López (a.k.a. Fredi), the owner, keeps this bar and the cultural association Gamelas e Anduriñas alive with a lot of effort and hard work (most of which is done pro bono, motivated by his love for Galician dance and music).
- I wanted to show this “video“ of the Galician band Os Cempés (Galician for “The Centipede”) because it was a performance that Serxio, the lead singer, remembered very fondly. It depicts quite well the amazing energy of both this band and of Galician summer music festivals such as the Irmandiños Festival in Moeche, Galicia. The group sings in Galician and plays with a mix of Galician musical instruments plus instruments like the saxophone and the bouzuki. All of these musicians are involved in a number of other musical projects, and they are all active cultural forces in the places they live (they are based in different corners of Galicia).
- “Here“ we can see members of the advanced dancing group of the cultural association Gamelas e Anduriñas from Espasante. They are dancing, in informal clothing, in the context of a foliada (party/jam session) in the nearby town of As Pontes, Galicia. Javier Pena (bagpipe teacher of Gamelas e Anduriñas and former conductor of the Bagpipe School of Ortigueira) is playing the Galician bagpipe and Ismael (former member of the Bagpipe School of Ortigueira) the caixa (a Galician double skin drum). They are playing a xota or jota (name of a dance).
- “Here“ we can see the same dance group but in the staged context of the International Festival of the Celtic World of Ortigueira. The stage itself was built as a civil initiateve by people from Ortigueira. As the space of this stage has drastically shrunk for local musicians since the festival was appropriated by the local government in 1984, Gamelas e Anduriñas only appears on stage thanks to the sharing of performing time and space by the Bagpipe School of Ortigueira (they are standing in the back while Gamelas performs during this school time performance). In the first part of the video, Gamelas plays and dances the muñeira (a Galician dance) “Arabexo” and in the second part (min. 2:33 onwards) we can hear Cristina Pico, one of the dancers of the group and the voice teacher of Gamelas e Anduriñas, singing a xota (dance). According to Cristina (interview with author, 2013), when the dance group told her that they wanted to dance a xota from the Galician region of Coristanco, she started to look for verses from this region to fit into the music of the dance. Her sources to find such verses were YouTube videos of Galician music contests and Swiss folklorist Dorothé Schubarth’s songbook Cancionero Popular Galego (1995).
- This “video“ features the Bagpipe School of Ortigueira. They are playing on the stage that the first members of this school created back in 1978. In this video we can hear a piece composed for the school by Galician composer Ernesto Campos. This presentation is one of the few times of the year when they play on a stage (they usually perform in street parades), and they have included instruments rarely used by the band, such as the marimba and the Galician mouth harp. The group of the school is frequently criticized because of their recent use of non-traditional Galician drums and percussion instruments, a sonic borderline that marks the limit between what can and can’t be included as Galician music for former members of this school, as well as for other Galician musicians and music listeners.
- These two last songs are part of the Galician protest music repertoire that became an important voice for pro-Galician and anti-Franco youth movements in the last years of the dictatorship and the first years of the Spanish transition towards democracy (Francisco Franco was a right wing dictator who remained head of the Spanish state between 1939 until his death in 1975). In this “video“ we can listen to a recent rendition of Lois Álvarez Pousa’s poem “Sementeira,” which was both musicalized and popularized in 1978 by Galician music group Fuxan os Ventos. In this version, the song is sung by different generations of Galician singers and musicians such as the former members of Fuxan of Ventos, some of the members of Galician folk music group Milladoiro, and singer-songwriters Xavier Díaz, Uxía Senlle, Guadi Galego, and Mercedes Peón, among others. The song is sung in the Galician language. Its chorus says “To sow seeds, I will sow seeds / at daybreak ,/ as long as among our people / a child, an old man, and a song grow” (translation by the author).
- This “song“ was pointed out to me by Galician Celtic harp player Rodrigo Romaní. It used to be sung publicly and collectively in Galician, youth-led political rallies against Franco’s dictatorship. The song was able to avoid the censorship enforced by the Spanish authorities (even after Franco’s death), a censorship which was supposed to make sure that only “appropriate” lyrics were publicly presented. The song is entitled “Can de Palleiro” (this is a large dog of Galician breed) and was written and sung by the duo Benedicto e Bibiano. Its lyrics talk about an old dog whose teeth are falling out. In both the Galician and Spanish languages, the word used to talk about all the teeth that are in the mouth is “dentadura” and the word for dictatorship is “dictadura.” So the choir of this song says something like: poor old dog, “the teeth are falling, the teeth are falling!” (in Galician language “abaixo a dentadura, abaixo a dentadura!”) which was sang by Bibiano and Benedicto as “abaixo a dentadura” (the teeth are falling) and by the audience as “abaixo a dictadura” (the dictatorship is falling).
For the full playlist, please visit the SU Blog’s YouTube channel.