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This research project includes the creation of a digital collection of manuscripts found in several towns located near Jesuit missions along the Rio Sonora in Mexico. Placing these manuscripts in a cultural context and making them available to the general public, free of charge, will benefit and strength our shared culture on both sides of the border.


BNAI acts as a necessary intermediary in this project, supporting the researchers and their assistants on both sides of the border.



In the latter part of the twentieth century, a plethora of research and newly discovered manuscripts appeared in the field of Mexican musicology, with many compositions found in the cathedrals of Mexico City, Puebla, and Oaxaca.  These discoveries led to the acquisition and performance of colonial music that has enriched the historical music scene with otherwise forgotten compositions. 



Research continues to explore the importance of these revealed treasures from the colonial world.  Their performances are now part of many early music ensembles' repertoires.  Musicologists in the Americas realize the importance of this type of work as it relates to cultural research in our region. 



Mexican musicologists emphasize the importance of discovering more of these treasures in missions and cathedrals throughout the country. Manuscripts, whether colonial or later, from the region's churches reveal a great deal about the culture and daily life in these towns.

The Rio Sonora region lies within hours of the international border with Arizona.  The seven townships near the river include Ures, Baviácora, Aconchi, Huépac, Banámichi, Arizpe, and Bacoachi. Each has a mission that was established at the end of the 17th century by Jesuit missionaries. After the Jesuit expulsion in the 18th century, Franciscan priests became the administrators of these communities along with other regional missions like the nearby rural town of Cucurpe.  

Some files from this early period are extant, including baptismal and confirmation records.  Research into the existence of possible music manuscripts within these missions began informally six years ago.  This project proposes to continue the search for existing manuscripts from the missions of the Rio Sonora, and within archives in Hermosillo.

The collaborative team of researchers and student interns will publish music manuscripts within a digital library and preserve the original manuscripts from the Rio Sonora within the Museo Regional y Casa de Cultura, Ures, Sonora, MX.  



Events that occurred in this northern Mexico state affected people in Arizona.  Due to their geographic closeness and their distance from the populated central Mexican states, reciprocal economic and cultural influences between Sonora and Arizona are prevalent.



The Mexican Cristero conflict of the late 1920s received funding from faithful Catholics in Arizona.  Priests exiled from Sonora came to Arizona.  Migration, economic dependency, and familial ties between the two states are well known.  This cultural exchange can be seen in the dance music of Sonora, which incorporates the two-step and the waltz and on norteno music, which includes the polka and American rock music. Popular music in the U.S. is saturated with Latino rhythms.


Research will show how the sacred music of this rural region has incorporated influences from both its northern neighbors and central Mexico into its changing culture during the 20th century.



The study of sacred music in 20th century Sonora is consequential since current scholarship includes studies of the region's celebratory and folk music, such as corridos and other popular music, but not the music of the evolving Catholic Church.  

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