Issue - June 2010

June 2010


In this edition Lauren Rutter reviews the UPB's theatre production Dr. 0; CBA students highlight ways to solve the garbage problem in the city; Floriane Guyot discovers how micro financing can help to empower women; Jaime Bassett explains about sustainable development week; Rocio Carranza looks at why richer nations should take responsibility for climate change and Walter Sanchez uncovers the history of band music in the Valle Alto. read more...

June 2010

Banda y Musica Popular en el Valle Alto

Walter Sánchez C.

The study of popular music has been limited principally to main cities. In other words, it seemed that villages of province and municipalities do not have their own story or that their story disappeared behind stories of urban popular music. Nothing is further from reality. Popular music really had a powerful presence in provinces. The existence of “music schools” there demonstrated it. These schools not only gave musical instrument lessons; but theory, harmony and music history lessons too. Instrumental bands of different kinds were formed as well.

Metal bands are one of the ensembles that sprung from these music schools. As instrumental groups, they were participating in many events during the 20th century: civic parades, funerals, weddings, religious festivities. They were playing a broad variety of musical rhythms and types included local, national and international ones. That is why they are one of the ensembles closer to popular music.

Nobody knows when the tradition of metal bands appeared in the Valle Alto. Mercedes Anaya de Urquidi indicates that until the 1860´s, Mariano Melgajero, devout fervent of the Virgen del Patrocinio (20th of November) of Tarata, visited this festival every year, accompanied by his army and several bands, whose music celebrated sumptuously the festival dedicated to this Virgin. Such a fact shows that the band was already associated with the religious festivities and it is possible that it was accompanying some church services as well as entertaining popular festivities.

Nobody knows how the first civil bands began. It might be due to a worker from a military band who had decided to live in this valley. In 1902 there is the first documented evidence of a civil band in Tarata, due to acontract agreed between a landowner with “six workers and two types of drummers, that is to say 8 musicians in total”. This document showed that they played at the festivity of la Asunta (15th of April), in the village of Isata (province Esteban Arze). According to oral tradition, by the end of the 19th century, Villa Rivero was already an important musical center, with a strong tradition linked to band music. Consequently, it is possible to assume, that in this Villa some band schools might have existed. The organization of the first “band school” in Tarata is attributed to Nicasio Guitiérrez (14-XII-1876; 11-IV-1952), in 1908. A Native from Villa Rivero, Carlos Iriarte Fiorilo discussed the coming of this musician in this way: “he arrived in this province to find an old band. Originally, from Villa Rivero, the music teacher fell in love with a girl from Tarata and he stayed there to teach people how to play wind instruments. It is all about don Nicasio Gutiérrez. Every child from Tarata turned to him: sons of very poor families who could not even afford to study in primary school; children from 7 to 12 who never had an interest in music before; and sons from farmers, retailers, butchers, weavers, etc. They went to Nicasio Gutiérrez’s band school of and learned how to play, first leading the pace with the bass drum and side drum and continued with the cornet, the clarinet or the trombone”.

With these children, Gutiérrez organized a band which accompanied church services of the village, offered shows in the weekly military parades (retretas) in the main square of Tarata, as well as going to private events to entertain including weddings, misa-chicos/ familiar festivities in honor of a saint, christening parties, and birthdays. This ensemble offered people a broad musical repertoire: opera extracts, fantasies, Spanish light opera passages, waltz, traditional dance of Madrid, shimmies, fox trot, tangos, boleros and “national airs” (Chilean national dances / popular handkerchief dances, Bolivian military marches, passacaglia, sad love songs and folkdances.)

In the second half of the 20th century, this presence and the growing demand from the people of the village, caused two new music schools to open. Music teachers Pedro Toranzos and Jacinto Borda led them and, in turn, they organized new bands with their students.

Apparently, the demand was so high in the entire Valle Alto that, in other villages they also began to organize new bands with workers who got back from the music schools of Tarata. Thus, in 1925 the locals of Cliza had their own band, which offered weekly military parades (retretas) in the main square. In Toco, the band “Los Rueda” began to stand out; the metal ensemble celebrated civic and religious festivities of the locals and even included bordering provinces.

With the 1952 revolution and the slowdown of the economical and social basis of the system of hacienda, a strong economical and social crisis arose which affected the entire Valle Alto and had repercussions in the demand of local bands. Lots of musicians begin to move to other places, principally La Paz, where they got a job quickly in the bands of the Bolivian army.

Without the support of local authorities, the old military tradition of open-air concerts begins to decline and local bands live only with contracts linked to religious festivities of the whole Valle Alto.

Calendario Junio 2010

Ciclo de cine “El mundo según Agnès Jaoui” Martes 1
“Como una imagen”

Miércoles 2
“Para todos los gustos”
Hora: 19:00
Lugar: Auditorio Christian Valbert (calle La Paz NÂş 784
casi J. C. Carrillo)
Ingreso libre
SubtĂ­tulos en castellano

Semana del Desarrollo Sostenible
Exposición “La riqueza de esas comarcas” 140 años
atrás: Biodiversidad boliviana- Los grabados de Alcide

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