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Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month: Exploring and Celebrating Our Diversity

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Tomorrow marks the conclusion of the nation’s official observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. But with talking books from the NLS Music Section, you can continue learning about and celebrating the diverse cultures of the Americas all year long.

From a musical perspective, there is so much to celebrate. Cuban-American composer Tania León received this year’s Pulitzer Prize for music for her orchestral work Stride, inspired by the life of Susan B. Anthony and celebrating the centenary of the Nineteenth Amendment. Additionally, the members of East Los Angeles Chicano rock band Los Lobos have been honored as National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For myself, as someone with Latin American heritage who identifies as Latina, this time of year encourages me to grow in learning and appreciation of the vast variety of cultures, histories, and experiences that make up the Americas, including communities here in the U.S. These myriad histories and identities are rich and multifaceted and cannot be reduced to a single collective descriptor. The influences are Indigenous, African, European, and many more besides. We may strongly identify with the lands from which our families originated. We may refer to ourselves as Afro-Latinx, Mexican-American, Fronteriza, Nuyorican, Chicano, Indígena, Tejano, or some combination of these. In my eyes, this diversity is to be embraced and appreciated by learning more about it. And music is a wonderful way to do just that.

Recently the NLS Music Section has acquired many new talking books that capture musical traditions from throughout the Americas. These talking books were created with cooperation from our colleagues here at the Library of Congress (Hispanic Division, Music Division, and American Folklife Center), as well as Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Please enjoy the following selection of talking books from the NLS Music Section in celebration of Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month. And if you feel inspired to make your own music, below we also list popular Latin American and Latinx songs you can learn to play with audio instruction for guitar, bass guitar, or piano.

We also invite you to enjoy past blog posts related to Hispanic to Hispanic Heritage Month that the Music Section has written.

Please note that all talking books listed below are available to borrow by mail, not only through BARD. Call us at 800-424-8567 extension 2, or e-mail us at [email protected]. If you are new to BARD, you may find the following links helpful: Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and BARD Access.

Music Appreciation and History

Alonzo Cruz: The Blind Troubador of Oaxaca. “He is somewhat of an enigma to the Oaxacans. Señor Cruz apparently sings for pleasure rather than for profit. Once a week he comes to the portales or sidewalk cafe that borders the city square and sings his songs for his many local friends. The occasional peso he charges is less than the usual fee of the mariachi, the street musicians of Mexico and would hardly keep him in guitar strings.” –Publisher’s note. (DBM04094)

Celebration of Machito: Mario Grillo. On June 1, 2015, Machito’s son, Mario Grillo, donated Machito’s handwritten scores and arrangements to the Library of Congress. In an interview with Library of Congress music reference specialist Larry Appelbaum, Grillo discusses his father’s contributions to American music. (DBM04283)

Chick Corea. The multi-talented musician plays selections from a variety of musical genres–from big band to jazz-rock fusion. In “Piano Jazz,” recorded at Corea’s own California studio, the prolific composer joins Marian McPartland for a dazzling mix of talk, improvisations, and musical portraits. (DBM01250)

Corridos: A Mexican Ballad Tradition about Outlaws & Heroes. Juan Dies presents an illustrated lecture on the Corrido, a 150-year-old Mexican ballad tradition that narrates tragic tales based on true events and honors folk heroes. (DBM04308)

Danzas Venezuela: Ballet Folklórico de Venezuela. Choreographic impressions of Danzas Venezuela are presented as examples of rich Venezuelan folklore. “The Ballet Folklórico of Venezuela, under the name of Danzas Venezuela, which, with the most demanding audiences, is an organization which forms part of the Instituto de Cultura y Bellas Artes of Venezuela.” — Publisher’s note. (DBM03652)

Gabriel Muñoz and Melodias Borinqueñas: Puerto Rican Folk Music from New Jersey. Using their unique sounds on display in this concert, Gabriel Muñoz & Melodias Borinqueñas hope to introduce Puerto Rican folk music to many people around the world, and also to provide a nostalgic experience to Puerto Ricans living away from their homeland. (DBM04310)

Grupo Rebolú: Afro-Colombian music from New York. “Grupo Rebolú is an Afro-Colombian musical ensemble that includes some of the finest Colombian musicians in the United States. The group was created by Ronald Polo (a vocalist, composer, and player of the native Colombian flute known as a gaita), Morris Cañate (a master traditional drummer), and Johanna Castañeda (a vocalist and percussionist) to promote the rich musical traditions of their heritage: the African descendants of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. They believe these folkloric traditions should continually evolve over time and incorporate the musical ideas and creativity of new generations of musicians. The original compositions of Ronald Polo for Grupo Rebolú forge new paths for Colombian music, while respectfully remaining faithful to traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms such as gaita, tambora, chalupa and bullerengue. Ethnomusicologist Dan Sheehy interviews the founding members of Grupo Rebolú. The interview was conducted partly in Spanish and partly in English.” — American Folklife Center. (DBM04323)

Interview with Chucho Valdés. Chucho Valdés–jazz pianist, composer, founder and leader of the legendary band Irakere, and winner of six Grammys and three Latin Grammys–talked with Library of Congress music specialist Claudia Morales about his childhood, his career, his connection with his late father (and famous pianist) Bebo Valdés and his next projects. Note: this interview was conducted in Spanish. (DBM04284)

Libaya Baba: Garifuna Music & Dance from California & New York. Libaya Baba means “Grandfather’s Grandchildren.” The group consists of three brothers Jeffrey, Kelsie, and Dayton Bernardez, and their cousin, Greg Palacio. Their first influence came from their grandfather, Cyril Antonio, and other master drummers of Dangriga, Belize. After migrating to Los Angeles, California, in the late 1970s, they felt the need to preserve their indigenous Garifuna culture, which has both Caribbean and West African elements. Libaya Baba has retained the traditional format of call and response in songs, to uphold the memory of their ancestors. Their music is accompanied by a pair of Sisira (maracas), one Primero (small wooden snare drum), two Segundas (mid size & large wooden bass drums), Conch and Turtle shells. The genres of music they play include Hungu-hungu, Paranda, Punta, Kuliou, Wanaragua, Hupi Malad, Warini, Gunjei, “Two for Shilling,” Chumba and Charikanari. (DBM04301)

Lone Piñon: Acoustic Conjunto from Northern New Mexico. Lone Piñon is an acoustic conjunto band from Northern New Mexico whose music celebrates the diversity and integrity of their region’s cultural roots. Using violins, accordion, quinta huapangera, bajo sexto, guitarrón, tololoche, and vocals in Spanish, English, Nahuatl, and P’urépecha, the group has revived and updated the Chicano stringband style that once flourished in New Mexico, bringing a devoted musicianship to Northern New Mexican polkas and chotes, virtuosic Mexican huapango and son calentano, and classic borderlands conjunto. The musicians of Lone Piñon learned from elder musicians, who instilled in them a respect for continuity and an example of the radicalism, creativity, and cross-cultural solidarity that has always informed folk music. In 2014, they formed Lone Piñon to strengthen the oldest strands of New Mexico string music through relationships with elders, study of field recordings, and connections to parallel traditional music and dance revitalization movements in the US and Mexico. Their active repertoire reflects the complexity of this musical landscape and includes twin-fiddle traditions from South Texas, Tohono O’odham fiddle tunes from Arizona, early conjunto accordion music, contemporary New Mexican rancheras and canciones norteñas, orquesta tejana, New Mexican and Mexican swing, huapangos, huastecos from the Mexican Huasteca region, and several styles of music from Michoacán: son calentano and son planeco from the southern lowlands and son abajeño and pirekuas from the P’urépecha highlands. (DBM04345)

A Night at the Tropicoro: Hotel San Juan Intercontinental. “Nightclubs are no better than their music, and the music in the Tropicoro is the best in Puerto Rico, swung by Lito Peña’s Orquesta Panamericana. Young Señor Peña comes from one of the island’s oldest musical families, and three of his four musician brothers play in the band on this record. The lineup consists of four trumpets (one doubling the alto-voiced flugelhorn) and four saxophones in addition to the augmented rhythm section (traps, conga and bongo drums plus an assortment of rattling and scratching instruments) demanded by complex Latin rhythms. It is the largest name band on the island.” –Publisher’s note. (DBM04091)

Ram Ramirez. He wrote Billie Holiday’s hit song “Lover Man” and enjoys continued popularity on the New York jazz scene. Roger “Ram” Ramirez converses with Marian McPartland and teams up with her for a duet of “Undecided.” (DBM01253)

Sounds & Rhythms of Contemporary Cuban Music in the American Diaspora. A conversation about Cuban music in the American diaspora with pianist Adonis González, bassist Yunior Terry and saxophonist Yosvany Terry. These highly acclaimed performers discussed their musical education in Cuba and the United States, the African, classical and jazz influences in their compositions, and their role as music professors. The conversation was moderated by Eva Reyes Cisnero of the Library of Congress. (DBM04285)

Las Tesoros de San Antonio: Tejano Singers from San Antonio, Texas. A conversation with two 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Traditional Heritage Fellows, Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas and Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez, accompanied by music from Mariachi Esperanza in the Coolidge Auditorium, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress on September 18, 2019 as part of the Homegrown concert series sponsored by the American Folklife Center. Through the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, Janet “Perla Tapatia” Cortez, Beatriz “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas, Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodríguez, and Rita “La Calandria” Vidaurri teamed up as the group Las Tesoros in the 2000s. Although Janet Cortez and Rita Vidaurri passed away in recent years, Llamas and Rodríguez continue to perform and maintain the legacy of the group. All four women grew up in the West Side of San Antonio, Texas, and each singer, with her personal style and grace, forms part of this unique ensemble that represents the important sound of the Mexico/Texas border. They are inspired by and connected to many other important Tejana singers, including the great Lydia Mendoza (1982 NEA National Heritage Fellow) and the internationally renowned Eva Garza. (DBM04326)

The Voice of Mexico. From Monterrey, the classical guitar of Gustavo Zepoll. From Mexico City, the Trío Leones. (DBM04096)

Music Instruction

Guitar Lessons

Introducción a la Guitarra para Discapacitados Visuales. “Aprenda los fundamentos de la guitarra. En formato enteramente auditivo. Sin notación escrita o braille. Usted aprenderá: cómo agarrar la guitarra, los tres ritmos más comunes en la guitarra, acordes en primera posición, y los nombres de las notas en la guitarra. También aprenderá las canciones: “Amazing Grace,” “In The Garden,” “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Mountain Dew,” “Rocky Top,” “Navidad,” “La Bamba,” “Guantanamera,” y “Rayando el Sol.” Escuche y toque junto a más de 30 pistas grabadas profesionalmente!” –From the Music by Ear website. Spanish language. (DBM02982)

Intro to the Flamenco Guitar for the Visually Impaired. This special copy has a slower presentation than the original. Bill Brown teaches the basics of flamenco guitar playing without any written or Braille materials including: how to hold the guitar, flamenco rhythm patterns for guitar, first position chords, songs using these chords, the names of the notes on the guitar and songs using these notes. Includes exercises and solos by Matteo Carcassi and Mel Agen. (DBM02587)

Al Otro Lado del Río: For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches this finger-picking Latin soft-rock song in the style of Jorge Drexler without the use of music notation. Level 2. (DBM02980)

Chica de Ipanema (for two guitars). Bill Brown teaches how to play the lead and rhythm guitar parts to Chica de Ipanema without the use of music or tab. Level 2 difficulty. For 2 guitars. (DBM02339)

La Comelona (Guitar). Bill Brown teaches bachata standard “La Comelona” on guitar without the use of musical notation. (DBM04175)

El Condor Pasa. Bill Brown teaches how to play El Condor Pasa without using music or tab. Intermediate neo-classical arrangement. (DBM03874)

Don Quixote: For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches how to play the melody and rhythm guitar parts to this Luis Villegas song without the use of music notation. Level 2. (DBM03274)

Europa: For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches how to play the Santana song Europa without the use of music notation. The basic song is level 2 and the improvisational material that is included is level 3. (DBM03275)

Girl from Ipanema: For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches how to play Girl from Ipanema on the guitar without the use of music or tabs. Level 3. (DBM02185)

Guantanamera. Bill Brown teaches Guantanamera for guitar in the style of Antony Santos without the use of music notation. Intermediate level lesson with backing tracks. Cartridge only. (DBM03814)

Isla del Sol: For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches how to play Isla del Sol in the style of Guido Luciani on guitar without the use of music or tabs. Level 3 difficulty. (DBM02253)

Lloro. Bill Brown teaches Lloro for guitar in the style of Antony Santos without the use of music notation. Level 2 lesson with backing tracks. Cartridge only. (DBM03820)

Malagueña: Level 1, For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches how to play an easy arrangement of the flamenco standard Malagueña by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona without the use of music notation. Level 1. (DBM03284)

Merenguiando Baby: For Guitar. Bill Brown teaches the solo, rhythm, and harmony guitar parts for this Oscar Lopez song without the use of music notation. Includes demonstration and backing tracks. Level 2. (DBM03002)

Oye Como Va. Bill Brown teaches how to play the fingerstyle guitar solo “Oye Como Va” in the style of Edgar Cruz without the use of music or tab. Level 3 difficulty. (DBM02346)

Sabor a Mí. Bill Brown teaches the rhythm and lead guitar parts to Sabor a Mí in the style of Los Lobos without the use of music notation. Cartridge only. (DBM03835)

Si Me Das a Elegir. Bill Brown teaches the guitar part to Si Me Das a Elegir in the style of Manu Chao without the use of music notation. Level 2 lesson with backing tracks. (DBM03838)

Soaring the Andes. Bill Brown teaches the solo and rhythm parts to this Oscar Lopez song without the use of music notation. Includes demonstration and practice tracks. Level 2. (DBM02967)

Solamente una Vez. Bill Brown teaches how to play Solamente una Vez, a Mexican love song on the guitar without using music or tab. Level 3 neoclassical guitar solo. (DBM03871)

Tiburón, Tiburón. Bill Brown teaches how to play the guitar parts to Tiburón, Tiburón in the style of the East Los Angeles rock band The Blazers without the use of music or tab. Level 2 difficulty. (DBM02328)

Bass Guitar Lessons

Chica de Ipanema: For Bass Guitar. Bill Brown teaches how to play Chica de Ipanema on the bass guitar without the use of music notation. (DBM03349)

Don Quixote (bass). Bill Brown teaches how to play the bass guitar part to Don Quixote, the Luis Villegas song, without the use of music notation. Includes backing tracks. Level 2. (DBM03240)

Sabor a Mí. Bill Brown teaches the bass guitar part to Sabor a Mí by Los Lobos without using music or tab. Cartridge only. (DBM03860)

Si Me Das a Elegir. Bill Brown teaches how to play the bass guitar part to Si Me Das a Elegir in the style of Manu Chao without using music or tab. Level 1 lesson with a full demonstration and backing tracks. (DBM03861)

Soaring the Andes. Bill Brown teaches the rhythm and lead bass parts for this Oscar Lopez song without the use of music notation. Includes demonstration and backing tracks. Level 2. (DBM02976)

Piano Lessons

Bésame Mucho. This late-beginner level piano solo is fast and easy to learn because it is taught completely “by ear.” This lesson begins with a full demonstration of the song followed by a detailed “by ear” lesson taught in two to four measure sections. At the end of the lesson you are given the backing tracks without the piano on them to practice and perform with. (DBM03491)

Feliz Navidad: Late Beginner Piano Solo. Bill Brown teaches a late-beginner piano arrangement of Feliz Navidad in the style of José Feliciano without the use of music notation. Cartridge only. (DBM03934)

Girl from Ipanema: For Piano. Bill Brown teaches an early intermediate version of this Latin standard without the use of music notation. (DBM02905)

Patrona de los Reclusos. Bill Brown teaches how to play the piano part (including the improvisation section) to this salsa hit by the Latin Brothers without using any music or written notation. (DBM02611)

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