Social Change  
Traditional Skills  

Click on arrows
to find more
these themes










Tiltepec, Oaxaca


5 October 1999


Macedonio is a farmer from Tiltepec. He plays the trumpet and flute and has played in a band for 25 years. He has also taught and organised dances in the community. Much of the interview focuses on music and dance, although at the beginning of the interview he also discusses the work of their forefathers. He explains that they not only grew cotton but also worked it and used it for clothes: “As there wasn’t cloth then, they made it themselves – the cloth – and they made their clothes, shirts and trousers and the women made their skirts and blouses from [cotton] cloth too.” He says that this tradition was lost following the introduction of “poplin” fabric.

As well as describing how he learnt to dance, and some of the dances they used to do and the instruments they played, Macedonio reflects upon why the interest in traditional dancing has died out in the community. He says his sight is failing, and he can no longer see well enough to teach, but anyway young people’s “enthusiasm” has declined and “there aren’t any willing young men now to say that this is what we’re going to do”.

Towards the end of the interview Macedonio recalls how he used to play his flute to receive the new authorities. He explains how “they gave out mescal (traditional alcoholic drink made from maguey, the agave, an aloe-like plant, about 1 metre high) for the ciudadanos (citizens), there was a party when the authorities arrived”, but says that this no longer happens. “They’ve stopped that now because there’s no respect, not from the authority or anybody, everything has gone – the respect has been left behind”. He blames the loss of festivals more generally in the community on this lack of respect for tradition.

The interview is fairly short and only considers a couple of issues. It is clear, however, that music and dance are very important to Macedonio and his resigned sadness at their decline in the community makes this an interesting, personal account of cultural change.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1-2  Work of their forefathers: “They planted cotton, they prepared it, they made yarn, and they began to weave the fabric, they made trousers and shirts”. Explains how they made clothes. Loss of tradition of growing cotton: “later they let the cotton be lost, they didn’t take care of it, now there’s Poplin fabric.”
Section 2-4  The borreguito (literally little lamb) and the Pascua dance: used to be danced on Christmas night. No longer performed: “people aren’t interested any more”. He can still sing the song which accompanied the dance. Describes the dance, the instruments used, the food prepared for festivities.
Section 4-5  How he learnt to dance: “a music teacher came here and I liked learning the notes to be able to play.” He organised and taught dances. He played the trumpet in the band for 25 years – joined in 1959. Went with their flutes to receive the new authorities.
Section 5-6  Loss of tradition of playing flute and drum: no longer any enthusiasm – authorities have stopped leaving mezcal for the players – “They’ve stopped that now because there’s no respect, not from the authority or anybody.” First gave his services as a ciudadano when he was 15 or 16 – started playing the flute.