Music Institutionalization in Asunción del Paraguay in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Thursday, January 2, 2014: 1:40 PM
Columbia Hall 6 (Washington Hilton)
Laura Fahrenkrog, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Music formed part of an everyday soundscape that characterized the cities of colonial Spanish America. Church bells, songs interpreted in houses and streets, and the Kyries and Glorias that came from the temples clashed into each other to form the sounds--and noises--of the urban centers. In fact, music, as a way of drawing the attention of indigenous people in order to facilitate evangelization, was an important concern of the early Spanish authorities. This is reflected in Philip II´s Ordenanzas de descubrimiento, nueva población y pacificación de las Indias, issued in 1573. But not any music was considered fit to accomplish the task: the Ordenanzas mention the “music of bass and alto minstrels and singers”, referring to religious music, which was sponsored by an institution. According to Geoffrey Baker, music would have been an important part of the pacificación, the moment “in which earlier urbanizing efforts where consolidated or intensified”. In other words, the establishment of a city ran parallel to the establishment of its music institutionalization. The model reproduced in Spanish American settlements was the one that flourished in the metropolitan cities overseas, in which cathedrals concentrated the main resources for religious music, and had a strongly regulated institutional structure. Viceregal capitals were able to copy this model with great success. However, smaller and much more precarious urban centers like Asunción had extreme difficulties establishing and following this scheme. Therefore, it had to be constantly adapted in order to adjust it to its own possibilities. This generated a music institutionalization that differed greatly with the ideal, and had many particularities. This paper shows how part of this process took place during the XVI and XVII centuries in Asunción del Paraguay, employing documentation from the Archivo Nacional de Asunción and the Archivo General de Indias.