José Lorenzo Justiniano Noe Noco, Sinclair Thomson, 2018. "Echoes of the Missions", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
Download citation file:
The Jesuit missions produced musical works of extraordinary beauty, composed by European and to a lesser degree anonymous indigenous musicians and performed by local choirs. This musical culture persisted at the local level for centuries and enjoyed a renaissance starting in the 1990s. The villancico (Christmas carol) presented here—which has its roots in early modern Iberian popular song—shows the vitality, evolution, and reach of mission musical forms. It was performed in one of the communities in the Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) that were established in the early twentieth century by Moxeño indigenous groups fleeing from encroachment on their territory around Trinidad (Beni). They brought with them the violins and musical scores which had become part of their culture and have been passed on from generation to generation.
The following song is in Spanish, with inflections from Portuguese (as in the phrase “bona note teña uted” [good evening to you]) and Quechua (Viracocha [lord]). It contains elements of a lullaby, including a warning of punishment if the child does not sleep, and is sung and danced as part of a Christmas ritual cycle. The score presented here (one of many versions) comes from the community of Coquinal del Sécure, which has conserved 1,448 scores. This version was copied in 1944 by José Lorenzo Justiniano Noe Noco, who was responsible for copying 330 scores between 1909 and 1961. He was the choir master, violinist, flautist, and cantor of the community.