Dark and Light in Spanish New Mexico

Composer(s): Traditional
Album Title: Dark and Light in Spanish New Mexico 
Cat. No.: 80292
Genre: Traditional
Description: Alabados y Bailes

The music of the alabados is as different from the music of the bailes as the dark is from the light.  It is like two sides of a people's character, one side obsessed with suffering and death, the other delighting in the dance.

Dark and Light in Spanish New Mexico is a wonderful example of salvage anthropology, preserving as it does the unique musical expression of a bygone tradition. At one time, roughly between 1600 and 1850, alabados (Spanish Catholic hymns) and bailes (social dances) thrived, the one as spiritual expression of the moradas (local chapters of the Penitente brotherhood) and the other as social dance music.  Today, these art forms are mere spirits in the Hispanic villages of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.  The dark dirges and morbid religious hymns of the alabados were used for death rituals such as wakes, funeral processions, and burials.  The bailes, on the other hand, were performed by guitarists and violinists at birthday parties, weddings, and other high-spirited occasions where dancing was not only permissible, but essential. The extensive and fascinating liner notes by Richard B. Stark include a selected discography and bibliography and put the songs in their historical perspective. 
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