\u0022I am Felipe Garcia Villamil\u0022 begins Drumming for the Gods, the life history of the Afro-Cuban artist whose music has survived both political and personal upheaval. \u0022Balogun for thirty years. Oluana, of Matanzas, Cuba, for about forty years. Omoana for almost forty-five years. OluIyesa [he knows the secrets of the Iyesa drums].\u0022 A practitioner of sacred drumming for almost his entire life, Felipe practiced his trade in Cuba both before and after the Revolution and brought it with him to New York, where he continues to play for the gods. This book focuses on three periods of Felipe's life, each marked by changes in his personal life and by important historical events. The first period covers his formative years during which he received his initial training. Through Felipe's story, we explore the legacy of slavery in Cuba, the nature of Afro-Cuban religions and their musical traditions, and the history of bata drums. The second period covers the critical years of the Cuban Revolution. Here we see the effect of social turmoil both n music and religious practice (santero, palero, and abakua). The third period covers Felipe's life in New York as a refugee/immigrant, and the role of music in rebuilding his identity. Felipe's story illuminates his cultural practices and beliefs as well as the ways in which an individual musician selects and modifies the elements of his cultural heritage to create a voice that is personal and unique. Felipe not only lives through history but also makes history, shaping an identity that cannot be described as \u0022Cuban immigrant,\u0022 \u0022Afro-Cuban,\u0022 \u0022religious drummer,\u0022 or \u0022santeria initiate,\u0022 but is composed of all of them. Through Felipe's experiences, Maria Teresa Velez reveals the interaction between social, political, economic, and cultural forces and an individual's own actions. The professionalization of musicians in Cuba following the Revolution and the plight of Afro-Cuban immigrants in New York are seen as large historical and social problems to which Felipe must personally respond. A noted ethnomusicologist, Velez provides the most insightful and comprehensive English-language study of an individual Cuban religious drummer available.Drumming for the Gods is a must-read for those interested in ethnomusicology, Caribbean studies, and Afro-Cuban religions and culture.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited or by the publishers or by their respective licensors: all rights reserved.
Maria Teresa Velez is a freelance ethnomusicologist and a consultant for the International Division of S.I.F.I. S.p.A. Italy.
A Note on Spelling
PART ONE: Learning the Trade
Entrance into the Afro-Cuban Religious World
Entering Felipe's House
Santeria: The Lucumi Door
Palo Monte: The Congo Door
The Abakua Society: A Secret Passage from Calabar
Early Musical Experiences
Learning to Play Bata
History of the Drums
Other Bata Lineages in Matanzas
Other Drumming Traditions in Matanzas
PART TWO: Life as a Musician During the Revolution
Making Ends Meet
Becoming a "Cultural Worker"
Performing Afro-Cuban Religious Music in Secular Public Contexts
Organizing a Professional Folkloric Ensemble
Negotiating the Limits of Secrecy
Performing Other Afro-Cuban Secular and Sacred Drumming Styles
Performing Afro-Cuban Religious Music in Private Ritual Contexts
Searching for Alternatives: Becoming a Craftsman of Religious Objects
Crafting a Bembe Drum: "Manufacturing" Material Culture to Obey the Orichas
PART THREE: Life as a Diasporic Musician
Building the Present: Exercising His Trade in His New Home
The Tools of the Trade
Instruments as Immigrants: Ana Grosses the Ocean
Applying "Cultural Memory": Making Instruments
Drums as an Extension of the Self, as a Source of Living, as Life Itself
The Artisan Transformed into an Artist
Felipe's "There" Faces His "Here"
Felipe's Concept of Tradition
"The Orichas Behave Different Here"
Confronting the Written
The Struggle of Memory over Forgetting
Teaching as a Way of Remembering
Teaching Women to Play Bata
Singing as a Way of Remembering
"[This book] documents the musical traditions of the Afro-Christian Santaria cults through the life history of one of Cuba's most esteemed practitioners of sacred drumming."
-Institute for Studies in American Music Newsletter "Drumming for the Gods constitutes an impressive accomplishment and includes a great deal of previously unavailable information. It represents a significant contribution to existing literature on Cuban music and cultural history."
-Robin Moore, Temple University "This is without a doubt the most comprehensive English language study of an individual Cuban religious drummer."
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