Dance Tunes from the
Joseph María García Manuscript:
Volume 1: Contradanzas
Eleanor Hague Collection
A Mexican dance master’s fake book from 1772
Arranged for traditional music performance by
Vykki Mende Gray
Item Number: BK-206 CAL $15.00
Other Period Tune Sources
Eleanor Hague (1874-1955) dedicated much of her life to the collection, study and performance of music and
dance, specializing in the cultures of Mexico, Latin America, and the Spanish-speaking peoples of the American Southwest. She worked
not only to preserve the music, but to keep it alive in the communities that had created it.
Much of Ms. Hague’s work is still available to the academic community in the books she wrote, such as:
Folk Songs from Mexico and South America, H. W. Gray, 1914
Spanish-American Folk-Songs, The American Folk-Lore Society, 1917
Early Spanish-Californian Folk Songs, J. Fischer & Bro., 1922
Latin American Music: Past and Present, The Fine Arts Press, 1934
She also contributed regularly to periodical publications.
In 1930 Eleanor Hague founded the Jarabe Club in Pasadena, working with the Pasadena Settlement Association to encourage young people of Mexican heritage to learn and perform this music and dance.
Eleanor Hague travelled widely in the course of her research, and on one of those trips to Mexico she discovered in a small bookstore a copybook from 1772 of popular secular dance tunes. A notation written in on the fly stated that this belonged to Joseph
María and below it is a note saying that Joseph Matéo Gonzalez Mescia bought it from his estate on November 16, 1790 in
Chalco. Hence it is commonly referred to as either the Joseph María García Manuscript or the Eleanor Hague
Copybooks of dance tunes were not unusual at that time. What is unusual about this one is that it is specifically
a Mexican manifestation of these dance pieces. Many of the actual dance pieces are common in English country dance tunes of the
seventeenth and eighteenth century, with some showing up in French and Spanish sources. But this document shows that these common
dance tunes were also common in the repertoire of Mexican dance musicians, and would have been familiar to the musicians accompanying
the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition in 1775 from Mexico to Alta California. Father Pedro Font, who accompanied that expedition,
related in his journal how those musicians played for dances held in the evenings during that journey, lamenting that they did not
invite him to play along on his psaltry.
The Joseph María García Manuscript document has two distinct sections. The first section has
one tune transcribed per page, numbered sequentially from 1 to 168. At the bottom of page 168 in the manuscript, the transcriber
has written: “168 contradanzas: y siguen piezas de Danza, y minues, y otras cosas.” [This makes 168 contradances: and following
here are ball dance pieces, minuets, and other things.]
At this point the page numbering also changes, and where there has been one piece per page for 168 pages, the next
page is numbered 69, and from here on the consecutive numbers are shown only every other page, that is, where there is a new sheet
of paper, and there are multiple pieces on most of the pages. And the nature of the pieces changes (with some duplication between
the sections) from the type of piece that still flourishes in the folk dance community, to the grand ball dances and pieces
associated with composed dances used in the theatre, opera and ballet.
This first volume documents the first 168 pieces of the manuscript with notes about sources, and arrangements with
chords and a harmony line to assist musicians in presenting the pieces.
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