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EU Month of Culture Spotlight: Spain

As part of the European Month of Culture in May 2016, we focus on scholars from European Union member states who have conducted research at The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Wish to apply for a fellowship at the Library? Applications are now being accepted for Kluge Fellowships. Scholars worldwide who have earned a terminal advanced degree within the past seven years are eligible. Apply today

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita, Alan Lomax Fellow

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita will be the 2016 Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at The John W. Kluge Center. Photo provided by the scholar, used with permission.

The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) holds a collection of traditional music that includes more than 20,000 songs collected in Spain between 1944 and 1960. The Library of Congress holds a collection of Spanish folk music documented by Alan Lomax during the same period. No one has fully compared the two holdings to see how they complement each other and how they differ. Until now.

Ascension Mazuela-Anguita is a postdoctoral research assistant at CSIC’s Institució Milà i Fontanals, Barcelona. As the next Alan Lomax Fellow at The John W. Kluge Center, Mazuela-Anguita will be the first scholar to systematically compare these two collections and establish connections between them when she arrives at the Library in January 2017. The materials were collected around the same time from often the same villages and regions, so it is likely they complement each other. But no one is sure to what extent. During her fellowship Mazuela-Anguita will explore the holdings, as well as learn about how the Library of Congress catalogs and preserves traditional music.

The CSIC collection was acquired throughout Spain during the 20th century. The former Instituto Español de Musicología, founded by Higinio Anglés, commissioned researchers to gather the collection between 1944 and 1960. More than 4,000 people from nearly 3,000 Spanish locations participated, singing and playing songs. Most of the repertory remains unpublished.

Spain detail

Map of Spain. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sp.html

Since 2011, Mazuela-Anguita has been involved in cataloging and making accessible this music. Since 2013, the songs have been available through an online database. Directed by Dr. Emilio Ros-Fábregas, the project enables free access to one of the richest collections of Spanish traditional music.

Mazuela-Anguita will use her Kluge Center fellowship to establish connections between the Library’s Alan Lomax Collection and the CSIC-IMF collection in Barcelona. One example: in his trip to Spain in the early 1950s, Alan Lomax visited Yebra de Basa, a remote location in the Aragonese province of Huesca. He took pictures of the village and of a man named Alfonso Villacampa Villacampa, who played for him on the “chiflo” and the “salterio” several musical pieces. Six years earlier, in 1942, the Spanish folklorist Arcadio de Larrea visited the same village and transcribed some of the same pieces performed by the same musician. The information from both collectors can now been linked electronically. In addition, Mazuela-Anguita has identified Lomax’s piece entitled “El ruiseñor”, performed by Alfonso Villacampa, as a variant of a popular piece known as “La cardelina,” which has been documented in several versions in Aragón. These are just two examples of what a thorough examination of the two collections could uncover.

Spain map

Map of Europe with Spain highlighted. Image courtesy the CIA World Factbook. Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sp.html

Mazuela-Anguita hopes that after her fellowship concludes it will be possible to research Alan Lomax’s collection of Spanish music in a richer context, opening new lines of comparative research and better appreciating his contribution to Spanish traditional music and the Hispanic world.

Related Links:

Listen to traditional Spanish music here

Explore the Alan Lomax Collection at the Library of Congress

Additional posts in this series:

More about the European Month of Culture can be found here or on social media at #EUMC2016.

Check back all month for additional posts in this series.

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