March 2012

Brass Sounds by Police

The police force is an institution that in the second half of the 20th century began to organize its own music bands (the players were usually called lata phukus – in the Quechan language). In Cochabamba, the El Heraldo newspaper in its 20th edition, V.1893, mentions that during the government of Dr. Francisco Velarde ‘the organization of the band is set up in the conditions in which it is currently established, with support of the entire neighbourhood.´ This band, called La Columna del Orden, from its beginnings was highly appreciated by the people in the neighbourhood, although there were prominent people who tried to stop its consolidation, as this newspaper reports:

By: Walter Sánchez
Instituto Investigaciones Antropológicas

Kiosk constructed for the band in the nineteenth century, The same kiosk at its current location: Barrio Jayhuayco
located in the square 14 de Septiembre. - Anonymous

Band of music - Bad Bolivian and worse Cochabambino, should be the author of the chronicle… when it insists on depriving us of the music band of La Columna del Orden, who in the end is the one that provides the only distraction in Cochabamba in the middle of the annoying monotony with which life is carried out ordinarily. The current budget assigns thirty watchmen for the service of security police, and if they did not increase their duties by working at the same time as musicians to earn more, it is clear that there wouldn´t be a music band… Cochabamba needs guards for the police and musicians for its military pageants. It has been established that the state is only obligated to provide for the former and the latter without a tax levy... The people that make up the band, are guards, serve as such, earn their living and live in the barracks. They themselves are also musicians who delight the audience with their retreats and serve individuals under a low fee set by the police’ (The Herald 20.V.1893).

This band is one that entertains the social life of the festive small city of Cochabamba. It is responsible also for playing music from that time fashion on Thursday and Sunday nights. It is played during religious festivals such as Corpus Christi and Holy Week processions accompanied with traditional religious music and continuing the custom imposed by the church. From time to time the band is in charge of accompanying the bullfighting afternoons at the Coliseum ´Velez’ (popularly called ‘El Acho’) playing Spanish music inciting the ‘Olé’. In this way, the police band quickly became to be the hub of musical life in the city of Cochabamba. Its importance was so great that the local government decided to build a small kiosk in the Armas Square, also known as 14 de Septiembre Square, where the band were located each week, and played popular music, while youth - men and women - walked around the square. This event was called La Retreta (The Tattoo – an outdoor military pageant or display).

The same kiosk at its current location: Barrio Jayhuayco

In spite of the changes that occurred in the city during the first decade of the 20th century, the band continued to be the sound to the youth. The local newspaper announced the program of the day and the next day they would talk about the ´Retreta´ The kiosk and the main square, splendidly lit up by a wonderful lamp by the Casa Arnold Jacob Co. the ´Semiramis´ song was announced and the public had to listen to the piece of the precious ´Norma´ (El Heraldo 26.I.1907, Cochabamba). A sample of a published program in the newspaper El Heraldo is a good indicator of the structure a tattoo would have.

´´ La Victoria ´´, `` Escena y Aria ´´, ´´ Vida Mia ´´, ´´ Isabel ´´ Pasodoble, Marcha Fragmento de la opera ´´ La Travista´´ Waltz Mazurca Pasodoble (El Heraldo, 24. VIII.1907, Nº 5132, Cochabamba)

A sample of the beats being played during 1907 and published in El Heraldo, reveals the musical taste of urban people and its influence on them, and of the foreign immigrants - mainly Germans - who came to the city of Cochabamba at the end of the 19th century.

Genero musical Nº Veces en programa
Waltz Pasodoble Marcha
Fragmento de la opera
Polea militar
Galopa (polea paraguaya)
Cuadrilla (de lanceros)

Polka and the Cuadrilla. All of the previous beats, marked a change in the identity of sound, rhythm, and music in the local upper and middle classes, taking over the first rhythms linked to the colonial Hispanic world. Paraphrasing, M. Rigoberto Paredes, who in his book El Arte Folklórico de Bolivia (5th. Edition, 1997, pg.122) said that towards the end of the 19th century: ‘The Spanish dances, together with colonial customs, were replaced by Polka, the Mazurka, Waltz and Cuadrilla which were introduced and were the favourite, since the beginning.´ Polka was not a Spanish song in which dancers ´danced with metal cleats on their shoes and tapped in harmony with the song.´ The Cuadrilla was a ´dance of extremes that has taken all the figures of the French squad with style and the beat of the Creole Huayño.

The ´national air´ (indigenous or mestizo), had not broken, yet, the boundaries imposed upon them by the sound, established the new local elites and European newcomers. This fact would not last long. By 1925, Benjamin Alejo, who approaches 'The Music in La Paz City' - quitar el espacio de las comillas, can be extrapolated in Cochabamba, highlights the band’s repertoire, the presence of Mestizo and Creole music, along with European rhythms. The band is responsible for popularizing the most celebrated works of Italian theatre and French music (and in recent years the works of the great masters of other schools) and to grant asylum, nutrition and movement to music Creole-mestizo (sad songs, dances, Cuecas, Boleros and Huayños).



Gabriela Siles de la Barra
Spaceman Africa

Calendario MARZO 2012

1 - 7 de marzo
“Itin’errance Bolivia”
Instalaciones- fotos- acuarelas
(artista plástica Hélène Barbe)
9:00 - 12:00 / 15:00 -19:00

8 – 16 de marzo
Exposición fotográfica “Planeta Mujeres”
(exhibición de algunos de los trabajos que postularon en nuestra
ciudad en 2011)
9:00 - 12:00 / 15:00 -19:00

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