"As new material garnered from original field research, Maya Achi Marimba Music in Guatemala is a significant contribution to studies of folk music in any language, especially in English, on neglected Central America. The marimba is officially declared-and in fact is-the closest thing to a national instrument in Guatemala. This in-depth study on one of that nation's marimba musical cultures combines historical background with intelligent analysis and perceptive interpretation of contemporary practice to advance our understanding of a major musical tradition in Latin America. Navarrete Pellicer brings out the voices of the members of the community in this book rich in detail and sensitive in its description of personalities and human relations."-T. M. Scruggs, University of Iowa
For the Achi, one of the several Mayan ethnic groups indigenous to Guatemala, the music of the marimba serves not only as a form of entertainment but also as a form of communication, a vehicle for memory, and an articulation of cultural identity. Sergio Navarrete Pellicer examines the marimba tradition -- the historical confluence of African musical influences, Spanish colonial power, and Indian ethnic assimilation -- as a driving force in the dynamics of cultural continuity and change in Rabinal, the heart of Achi culture and society. By examining the performance and consumption of marimba music as complementary parts of a system of social interaction, religious belief, and ethnic identification, Navarrete Pellicer reveals how the strains of the marimba resonate with the spiritual yearnings and cultural negotiations of the Achi as they try to come to terms with the political violence and economic hardship wrought by their colonial past.