Mexican Music Creating its Own Canon

Mexico’s Development of a New Canon


                For centuries of studies in music, there has been one canon of music until the twentieth century. Western European music held the focus of study for generations, while other cultures’ music was not studied nor performed at the same level. The music of the indigenous peoples of various locations, including those of indigenous Mexico and Africa, have always been underrepresented in the classical canon. In the twentieth century, this began to take a turn. As mentioned, there was seemingly only one canon for eras of music, until the canon studied by ethnomusicologists began to develop. Alongside the development of the study of this culture of music was the development of Mexican nationalist music. Today, one could consider this camp of music to be a whole canon of study and art itself. However, it was not until the Mexican nationalist style began to develop apart from the Mexican composers’ style before it that Mexican music became a subject of study that created a new canon for Mexican music. mexican-flag

                To enter a canon, per Bohlman, research and writings must occur. Mexican music has remained relatively under-researched until the last century. Assumptions can be made that music in Mexico at the time was not being produced in the same way that music in the main canon was being produced, with a European style. Bohlman speaks of multiple canons and musics in his article that began to split in the twentieth century. The new study of Mexican music and Mexico’s contentment to have their own original style, mostly produced by famous composers Silvestre Revueltas and Carlos Chavez, entered Mexican Music into their own canon. Research by writers such as Robert Stevenson and Robert Parker created a firm foundation for Mexico’s entrance it this new canon. It similar to when American music in the twentieth century began to split and create their own style apart from the European style that put American music into its own canon.  Without writings and publications about music, there is no formal record of their importance or beauty. Before there was the ability to record and mass-produce music, the only way people could understand about a work, especially without having the ability to hear it live, was to read what people may have written about it. Through the development of Mexican nationalist music, Mexican music is now beginning to gain more momentum in growing its own canon now that there is more research being done.

Joshua Lott


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