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Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 17 (2011) No. 1

Published 2015

Cancionero mariano de Charcas. By Andrés Eichmann Oehrli. Madrid: Iberoamericana; Frankfurt: Vervuert, 2009. [778 pp. ISBN 8-484-89454-1. $78.]

Reviewed by Drew Edward Davies*

1. Overview

2. Editorial Methods

3. A Songbook?

4. Conclusion

References

1. Overview

1.1 Interest in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music from what is now Bolivia has surged over the past decade, especially among performers. Groups such as Florilegium and Ex Cathedra, both based in Britain, have released recordings of the mission and cathedral repertoires to widespread acclaim, despite their unapologetically exoticist marketing strategies.[1] Furthermore, activities such as the Baroque Music Festival held at the restored missions of the Chiquitos region and its related International Musicology Symposium have raised awareness of earlier music from Bolivia and catalyzed a modest tourist industry around it. The scholarly community, however, remains hungry for reliable knowledge about, and interpretive frameworks for, these viceregal repertoires, and any publication at all comes as a welcome contribution, even to specialists in the area.

1.2 Amid this reality, the Cancionero mariano de Charcas (Marian Songbook of Charcas) by Andrés Eichmann Oehrli opens up to the hispanophone scholarly community a wealth of source material that would otherwise be difficult to access. An edition of texts from musical compositions, the Cancionero compiles 230 poems and twenty-three fragments in Spanish that were set to music for Marian feasts between 1680 and 1820 at the Cathedral of La Plata. Known as Sucre since 1839, La Plata served as the seat of the Audiencia (judicial district) of Charcas during the viceregal period, hence the title of the volume. The music manuscripts containing the texts are housed today at the Archivo y Biblioteca Nacionales de Bolivia (ABNB) in Sucre, Bolivia’s National Library, and have been studied extensively by Bernardo Illari.[2] No historical document known as the Cancionero mariano de Charcas ever existed; Eichmann’s modern edition unites the Marian-themed poems from disparate periods for the first time and draws from about one-sixth of the ABNB’s viceregal music collection as a whole, which also contains works for non-Marian feast days and liturgical pieces with Latin texts.

1.3 The edition features a preliminary study divided into four sections: 1) a lengthy introduction that describes the collection, lists the composers who set the poems to music and, inexplicably, discusses in detail period Latin pronunciation (all the poems are in Spanish); 2) a brief chapter that describes the Marian themes covered by the texts; 3) a chapter entitled “Classical Material in the Marian Songbook,” which identifies mythological allusions in the texts; and 4) an analysis of the literary forms represented in the collection. The edition that follows divides the poems into “Diverse Themes” (25 poems); poems for the Immaculate Conception of Mary (47); poems for various advocations associated with the Nativity of the Virgin including the Bolivian Virgin of Guadalupe (100);[3] poems celebrating other moments in the life of Mary such as the Purification and the Assumption (32); poems honoring Mary as Queen of Heaven (10); and poems concerning other devotions such as the Virgin of the Rosary (16).[4] The poems are arranged more or less in alphabetical order by literary incipit within each section, and they are heavily annotated with Eichmann’s observations by means of footnotes numbered consecutively throughout the volume from 1 to 2,907. There is also a partial discography of related recordings. Eichmann had already published substantial portions of the introductory material, as well as some of the poems, in a previous edition of texts, and he reproduces that material unmodified and unacknowledged here.[5]

2. Editorial Methods

2.1 Very few critical editions of Hispanic music texts of this period exist, a perennial frustration for scholars in the field.[6] Eichmann rightly signals the difficulties of establishing the text of underlaid “lyrics” in the absence of conventional literary sources, noting that the words are divided among multiple vocal parts, while the lack of punctuation, diacritical marks, and syllabification in the originals can lead to multiple readings. Any student of earlier Hispanic repertoires can benefit from Eichmann’s editorial method (162), which consists of 1) identifying the words; 2) removing words repeated for solely musical purposes; 3) adding the punctuation, diacritical marks, verse structure, and poetic characters, if present; and 4) modernizing the orthography, in this case according to the conventions of the University of Navarre, Spain’s Grupo de Investigación Siglo de Oro (GRISO).[7] The pedagogical value of Eichmann’s edition is limited, however, by the absence of any facsimile of an original music manuscript. Just one or two pages would have illustrated the problems inherent to this repertoire and permitted the wider community to visualize the application of the editorial method, allowing them to judge its efficacy for themselves.

2.2 The most obvious issues can be seen in an example from a villancico set to music by Juan de Araujo, “Ah del tiempo.” As is increasingly known, Araujo (1646–1712), a native of Spain, stands as one of the most significant composers to have worked in Latin America during the late seventeenth century, and texts to at least thirteen of his pieces appear scattered through the Cancionero. Below are the first few lines of “Ah del tiempo” in two versions, Eichmann’s and that prepared by Jules Whicker of the University of Birmingham for the liner notes of Ex Cathedra’s recording Fire Burning in Snow:[8]

Eichmann
—¡Ah del tiempo!
¡Ah del siglo!
¡ah de las horas!,
¡ah del instante!,
¡ah del sol!,
¡ah de la luna!,
¡ah del mar!,
¡ah de los aires!
—¿Quién llama?
—La Fama,
que la noticia previene sonora
de un Día brillante, de un Alba que dora
las selvas, los valles; […]
Whicker
¡A, del tiempo! ¡A, de las horas!
¡A, del siglo! ¡A, del instante!
¡A, del sol! ¡A, de la Luna!
¡A, del mar! ¡A de los ayres!
 
 
 
 
¿Quien llama?
La Fama,
que la noticia proviene
sonora de un día brillante
de una alva que dora
las selvas, los valles, […]

2.3 Note the discrepancies in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and verse structure, all of which result from the text existing as musical underlay rather than as a printed source. Whicker apparently conserves the orthography of the original, retaining the archaic “A,” “ayres,” and “alva,” as well as the capitalized “Fama” and “Luna,” the latter a Marian symbol. However, he adds accents inconsistently, modernizing “día,” but leaving “Quién” without the necessary diacritical mark (accents would not have been in the original). On the other hand, Eichmann modernizes the Spanish words conventionally, but he introduces excessive and inconsistent punctuation (why so many commas, but none after “siglo”?) and capitalization (why do “Día” and “Alba” get capitalized but not “luna”?).

2.4 The issues run deeper than orthography, however, and into the verse structure itself. In the last four lines of the example above, Whicker displays two balanced octosyllabic lines followed by two hexasyllabic lines, recognizing that enjambment commonly occurs in Spanish poetry of this period (“sonora” modifies “noticia” in the previous line). Eichmann insists on end-stopped lines, which results in a metrically disfigured verse and an inexplicable caesura in the penultimate line. Furthermore, despite considerable discussion in the introduction about the necessity to unscramble the order of the words from multiple musical parts, Eichmann gets this wrong in the second line by placing “Ah, del siglo” a line early and adding a cryptic footnote that “it is necessary to put it [there]” (447). Whicker’s version follows the music exactly, and his placement of two exclamations per line beautifully represents the musical setting of the phrases in pairs; Araujo presents two exclamations with solo voices, repeating the second phrase in the full ensemble before going on to the next pair. Although it would have been preferable for Whicker to have modernized the Spanish, his version shows greater affinity to both the music and the poetry than Eichmann’s does.

2.5 One of the texts in the Cancionero is the bullfighting villancico “Salga el torillo,” which has begun to enter the canon of colonial Latin American “hits,” even though it was not composed in Latin America, but rather in Seville in 1690. The piece exists in two musical versions in Bolivia, as well as in two chapbooks (text only) dated 1685 and 1690 and conserved at the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid.[9] Illari, citing paleographic evidence, shows that the version in Bolivia for the Nativity of the Virgin/ the Virgin of Guadalupe (which is the version edited by Eichmann) is a contrafactum prepared by Juan de Araujo using Diego José de Salazar’s original music intended for Epiphany in Seville.[10] As it happens, Whicker also edited this text for the Ex Cathedra recording:

Eichmann
Salga, salga
el torillo hosquillo: ¡ho,
ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!
Pero no: que se aguarde
que se espere,
que se tenga
mientras me pongo
en cobro yo. […]
Whicker
¡Salga el torillo hosquillo! ¡Ho!
Pero ¡No!
 
¡Que se aguarde!
¡Que se espere!
¡Que se tenga!
Mientras me pongo
en cobro, yo. ¡Ho! […]

2.6 In this case, Eichmann reflects the musical phrasing well, repeating “ho” as many times as it is sung, but he neither follows his policy of deleting words repeated for musical purposes nor uses commas consistently. Furthermore, he fails to capture the poem’s urgent scenario of people shouting, in paraphrase, “Don’t let the bull out until I can take cover!” which seems to demand an exclamation mark on “No.” For this poem, Eichmann may have based his edition on the 1685 Madrid print, and thus his punctuation, etc., may have a period precedent, but I wonder about peninsular literary sources trumping Bolivian musical sources in the twenty-three cases in which both exist, since the Bolivian pieces are distinct manifestations of the Spanish material. In any event, Eichmann should have more directly acknowledged that this piece did not originate as a Marian poem, but rather as a piece for the Christmas season updated with a contrafactum text, especially since Illari had already discussed this. Issues arising from these two pieces alone suggest that care should be taken before engaging the Cancionero as a reliable source for musicological research.

3. A Songbook?

3.1 Many of the poems in the Cancionero are villancicos, a genre recently characterized as “all learned songs in the vernacular performed in a sacred context.”[11] While I find this definition refreshingly broad, I was pleased that Eichmann initiated discussion on the genre differences between the villancico and cantada in his introduction (92), and I would have gone further by highlighting not only the formal differences, but also the poetic differences. For example, villancicos tend to have more “Baroque” texts with strong Neoplatonic elements and a seventeenth-century theatrical disposition, as in “Ah del tiempo”cited above, even if written in the eighteenth century. Eichmann calls pieces in the other genre present in the collection, namely strophic verses without a refrain or introduction, tonos, which translates as songs or tunes. Although more commonly used in the seventeenth century for solo songs and duets, the terms tono and tono a lo divino do appear in eighteenth-century manuscripts, including one piece for six voices in the Bolivian collection, “Niña de los cielos” (635). I prefer the genre designation alabanza for such strophic songs of praise, especially for works from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that feature homophonic music distinct from the Hispanic theatrical style of the seventeenth century in which the tono flourished.

3.2 The use of the word tono, which leans slightly toward anachronism, leads me to a final point, namely the implications of titling this edition “Cancionero.” This term alludes to sources from Renaissance Spain such as the Cancionero de Juan del Encina (1496), a collection of courtly poetry, and the sixteenth-century Cancionero musical del palacio, which contains diverse musical settings of mostly secular poems, among many others. In the New World context, it also alludes to the so-called Cancionero musical de Gaspar Fernandes, the largest single manuscript of viceregal music from Mexico. This collection of mostly religious pieces compiled after 1616 was titled as such by Aurelio Tello in the 1990s, who considers it “equivalent to the Iberian cancioneros of the Renaissance” despite its profound differences.[12] On the other hand, the term cancionero was commonly used for collections of folkloric poetry in the nineteenth century.[13] The poetry Eichmann edits and compiles here, which is principally from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and representative of erudite traditions of literary glossing and troping, accords with neither sanctioned use of the term. Indeed, when I first came across the publication, I assumed it contained folkloric poetry from late nineteenth-century Bolivia, not villancico texts set by viceregal and peninsular Spanish composers, and after reading the edition closely, I feel its author attempted to invent a Renaissance-style package for inherently different Baroque and Galant repertoires.

3.3 I believe that the anachronistic and imprecise use of terms constitutes one of the reasons so much confusion about viceregal repertoires shadows our field. The beauty of the viceregal repertoire lies in its disunity, in the contrafacta that reinvented older works, in the reuse of texts over time, and in its ingenuity. It must be approached on its own terms, as elite Hispanic religious music, and within its own temporal bounds, in this case the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Implying that it conforms to earlier or later musical practices dilutes its identity and reserves its secrets and pleasures for those who work directly with its sources and have independently sorted out such historiographic problems.

4. Conclusion

4.1 On one hand, I am grateful and excited to have 230 musical texts from Bolivia collected together in one volume. It conveniently reveals to the reader the many tropes, glosses and ingenious literary devices that characterize the Baroque villancico, and it allows easy comparison with Mexican and peninsular poetic sources. I dream that all the musical settings of these could be edited, performed, and studied as part of mainstream discourse on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music Yet on the other hand, I wish this volume were more transparent in both intent and content, more cognizant of the complexity of uniting texts written across more than 150 years on two continents, and more willing to tackle interpretive issues rather than simply present material with positivist annotations. Nonetheless, the Cancionero remains indispensable to students and aficionados of the villancico, and many will take much pleasure in reading these imaginative poems.

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