PALOS MUSIC AND FIESTAS DE MISTERIOS IN THE PROVINCE OF SANTIAGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Hernandez Sang, Victor
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Musicians, religious leaders, and devotees of the Dominican religion Las Veintiunas Divisiones commonly assert that palos percussion music is performed in fiestas de misterios solely for religious purposes, namely, to facilitate spirit possession and entertain the misterios (deities). Based on fieldwork conducted in the Province of Santiago, this thesis demonstrates that palos music fulfills an additional important purpose in these occasions, that of attracting devotees and potential devotees. In Santiago, many practices in this religion and music are unconventional compared to other regions in country. Examining these unorthodox practices, I argue, reveals the extent to which palos musicians cater to the aesthetic preferences of the human spectators they wish to entice to attend these fiestas. Another interesting facet of the tradition that I examine is the participation of non-devotee drummers in religious ceremonies, a phenomenon that is not common in analogous Afro-Caribbean traditions such as Haitian Vodou and Cuban Santería.