Music and musicians in colonial Peru

Between 1998 and 2005 I researched the history of music in Cuzco (Peru), the former capital of the Inka empire, during the Spanish colonial period. My main focus was the social and economic history of musicians, and I worked in Cuzco’s notarial archive looking for documents relating to musicians: wills, inventories, house and land sales, and (on a good day) contracts to provide musical services. I also went through the account books of many churches in Cuzco and its surrounding villages looking for expenditure on musicians and instruments. This allowed me to build up a picture of musical activities in a wide range of institutions and to explore the social and economic circumstances of the musicians who were responsible.

This project resulted in my PhD (2001), which I revised slowly and was finally published in 2008 by Duke University Press as Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco. This book won the American Musicological Society’s Robert Stevenson Prize in 2010. For a full list of my chapters and articles on colonial Cuzco, see here.

Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco

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