Dance Tunes from the
Joseph María García Manuscript
A Mexican dance master’s fake book from 1772:
Volumes 1 & 2
Eleanor Hague Collection
Arranged for traditional music performance by
Vykki Mende Gray
Volume 1: Contradanzas
Item Number: BK-206 CAL $15.00
Volume 2: Volume 2: Piezas de Danza, Minuets, y Otras Cosas
Item Number: BK-207 CAL $15.00
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, which includes notes on how to do many of the dances, written in
archaic Spanish script using a dancemaster’s shorthand system.
A notation written in on the fly stated that this book belonged to Joseph María García, and below it
is a note saying that Joseph Matéo Gonzalez Mescia bought it from García’s 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, particularly in the first section, 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 these common dance tunes were also present in the repertoire of the Mexican dance
musicians that the dance master would have had to call on to accompany him in presenting these dances. Which implies that the pieces
would have been familiar to the dance musicians accompanying the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition in 1775 from Mexico to Alta
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. This section compriseS Volume 1 of the current publication.
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
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 dance tunes used in the theatre, opera
and ballet. These are the pieces presented in this Volume 2.
Following the convention established by John Warren and Eric Greening, I have designated this second page 69 as 169
(to distinguish it from the contradanza #69). The front of the page is 169A, while the back is 169B. I will follow this convention for
the rest of the manuscript, designating multiple pieces on the same page as #1, #2, etcetera.
In Volume 1, I had great luck finding period references and sources for a large number of the tunes, which are
included in footnotes throughout.
I haven’t had near that success for Volume 2. There are sources for a small portion of the pieces, but the minuets
have been particularly difficult to document in other period sources.
Which doesn’t mean those references aren’t out there somewhere, but rather that there are still more research
opportunities available to energetic persons so inclined.
If you are such a person and you find such references, I would be delighted to team up with you to get those references
attached to these pieces.
And thank you all for your support of this project!
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