Guatemalan Music 1600-1800

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Guatemalan Music 1600-1800

Culture of Proximity

Gaspar Fernandez was born in Evora, Portugal c. 1565. He was first organist and then Maestro of the Guatemala City Cathedral. He left behind skilled compositions and renown ethnic villancicos, making great contrbutions to Guatemalan folklore and saceed music alike. His musical contribution is still remebered, honored and sung today.

The Spanish explorer Cortes sent Pedro de Alvarado, his lieutenant, to conquer Guatemla in 1524. After a tumultuous civil war, he finally succeeded in 1528. Along with his conquest came rebeliion from the natives and the spread of European disease.

In the 1600-1800 time period, the Kingdom of Guatemala included Chiapas, Costa Rica and El Salvador. It was establised in 1542 ad existed as part of Spain's viceroyaltry. Guatemala was an important center in this kingdom.

The Kingdom of Guatemala

Guatemla: An Era of Music

A History of Conquest

Although it is still debated if the Marimba is indigenous to Guatemala or imported from Africa, the country was the ideal place to make them. Lots of suitable wood was available for these unique instruments. Spanish missionaries even encouraged the inclusion of marimbas in sacred music.

The Marimba

Other significant musicians from this time in Guatemala include Rafael Antonio Castellanos and Manuel Jose de Quiros. Quiros served as chapel master at the Guatemala City Cathedral and wrote villancicos, cantatas and sacred songs, too! Castellanos took over his position after he passed and established folk melodies in the classical and Baroque styles.

Guatemalan folk music included membranophones and idiophones, both percussion instruments. Included in these are chinchines and sonajas, simialr to maracas, and many kinds of drums to estabish rhythm. The tortuga, or turtle shell dru, was used alongside the huehuetl drum for pitch. The tzu, tzicolaj, and ocarina were all aerophones used in this time period as well as the famous chirinia - a type of oboe - with its melodious sound.

European Influence

The Essential Instruments

Guatemla was the first country to be introduced to European influence in the New World. It was first brought in Flemish and Spanish styles by Spanish missionaries in the 1500s. The Guatemala City Cathedral has accounts of Western European Choral singing as early as the 1500s - both plain song ad polyphony were being expounded upon.


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