Musical ritual in Mexico City: From the Aztec to NAFTA

Mark Pedelty

Research output: Book/ReportBook

26 Scopus citations


On the Zócalo, the main square of Mexico City, Mexico's entire musical history is performed every day. "Mexica" percussionists drum and dance to the music of Aztec rituals on the open plaza. Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral, choristers sing colonial villancicos. Outside the National Palace, the Mexican army marching band plays the "Himno Nacional," a vestige of the nineteenth century. And all around the square, people listen to the contemporary sounds of pop, rock, and musica grupera. In all, some seven centuries of music maintain a living presence in the modern city. This book offers an up-to-date, comprehensive history and ethnography of musical rituals in the world's largest city. Mark Pedelty details the dominant musical rites of the Aztec, colonial, national, revolutionary, modern, and contemporary eras, analyzing the role that musical ritual played in governance, resistance, and social change. His approach is twofold. Historical chapters describe the rituals and their functions, while ethnographic chapters explore how these musical forms continue to resonate in contemporary Mexican society. As a whole, the book provides a living record of cultural continuity, change, and vitality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationAustin, TX
PublisherUniversity of Texas Press
Number of pages340
ISBN (Print)9780292702318
StatePublished - 2004


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