Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

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Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:49 pm

Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

I finished the book Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas in 1998 after three years of transcribing songs from private and public recordings. At the next Frankfurt music fair, I tried to offer it to several publishers, all of whom rejected my work. The German shekere maker Uwe Schmidt was a friend of Bruce Polin, the owner of Descarga.com, and after he had showed him my book, in 2000 Bruce decided to sell it on the Descarga site. As I was too slow to deliver the books to cater to the sudden demand, I gave Descarga the license to re-print copies on their own in 2001. Later, other retailers in the U.S., like David Brown’s FolkCuba, ordered their copies from Descarga, while I sold and delivered in Europe.

Descarga’s first re-printed batch was already revised by me for the first time. I revised the book at least one more time, but I forgot when.

(The enigmatic publishing address “oché books” was created by myself. I intended to preserve this name for possible future publications and optional legal registration. Oché (Spanish spelling), besides being an odù (oracle sign) of the Dilogún, is the name of Changó’s double ax. I have used it’s stylized symbol for many years.)

Soon I received positive response from all over the world. I should say, 95 percent of the response was appreciative and 5 percent ugly, due to an alleged profanisation or violation of secrecy. The first person to review the book was none less than Amanda Villepastour (then Amanda Vincent), who then wrote for the British magazine “Straight No Chaser”. To this day, the book is still recognized by people from Arturo Martínez Cabrera to John Amira. However, in spite of the praises and the persistent demand, I decided to discontinue the production of the book and asked Descarga to stop the printing in 2009. By now, Cantos Lucumí should be commercially unavailable. Over all, the book had been on the market for 9 years. What made me stop the production?

In the nine years of it’s market presence, a lot of changes and actual development has taken place in my life, on the media market, and in ethnomusicology as well.

While in the inception of the project I made every effort to provide accurate material open for secular folkloric vocal ensembles (like my own) that was also musically appealing (in Western aesthetical categories), suddenly I found myself in the middle of a rapidly evolving, international dialogue between serious scholars and priests in the religion. Over the time, I not only gained more and more experience in scholarly working methods, but also made the transition to become an initiate in Añá (2005) and in Ocha (2007) myself. From this newly gained point of view, eventually my book did not correspond to my own demands and intentions anymore.

Compared to other songbooks on the market, Cantos Lucumí may still be one of the most accurate resources, but – sorry – that does not say a lot; I feel that I had made too many mistakes, and, above all, I had made the wrong mistakes. The book has ceased to be a work to express my intentionality, my interest in research, or my religiosity: These are the categories that presently supersede the innocent musical enthusiasm of my past. If I wanted to write this book today, it would come out considerably different. First of all, it would involve extensive fieldwork; secondly, it could be based on a much broader range of recordings (such as the Abbilona and Orisha Aye series); thirdly, there is so much literature to evaluate today; I could even afford being more selective. It would be too expensive in the production, but it would keep up with all the marvellous scholarly works that have cited my book, and each single song would be flawless in text and in melody. Probably I would not write the book at all. (This also answers questions for a new edition.)

After all, it was only consequent for me to stop the sales. The authorities that I earned were not worth the feeling that there was something in my life that related to my past and thereby held me back in a way. While the contents of my book have always been public domain, I now declare the written pages of my book and the work that had gone into it as free material, too.

Thomas Altmann
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby niallgregory » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:24 pm

Hi Thomas , The book was and is very special to me , as it was the only publication of lucumi songs available to me at the time it became a treasured possession in my collection of research material . I still to this day go back to it for ideas and to use as reference material along with cds and dvds and videos etc . It was a huge undertaking and a very well executed book imo and one that will always sit proudly on my book shelf 8) I for one are glad you wrote it , that being said i fully understand your reasoning for discontinuing the book and for the everything in the above statement .. Cheers . Niall ...
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby windhorse » Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:53 am

I'm very sorry for whatever mistakes you feel that you made, but also very glad that you made the book, and that I managed to get a copy before the production ended.
Well done!
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:14 pm

Thank you Niall & Dave.

Some of my mistakes:

1.) I did not differentiate between Havana and Matanzas lineages.
2.) For some of the songs I did not have enough (variety of) footage to draw from.
3.) I should have cited all the audio sources exactly.
4.) I should rather have disregarded certain audio sources completely.
5.) I should have checked the actual articulation of all the songs with different singers in live situations over a longer period (to better identify the correct consonants for instance)!
6.) I should have disregarded certain literate sources altogether (and should have referred more to Jerry Shilgi's work instead, which I didn't have back then).
7.) I should have favoured simple but more popular melodic versions over musically appealing ones.
8.) Today I feel that some of my notes and chapters in the appendix are rather embarrassing.

Thomas
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby windhorse » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:58 pm

Thomas Altmann wrote:Thank you Niall & Dave.

Some of my mistakes:

1.) I did not differentiate between Havana and Matanzas lineages.
2.) For some of the songs I did not have enough (variety of) footage to draw from.
3.) I should have cited all the audio sources exactly.
4.) I should rather have disregarded certain audio sources completely.
5.) I should have checked the actual articulation of all the songs with different singers in live situations over a longer period (to better identify the correct consonants for instance)!
6.) I should have disregarded certain literate sources altogether (and should have referred more to Jerry Shilgi's work instead, which I didn't have back then).
7.) I should have favoured simple but more popular melodic versions over musically appealing ones.
8.) Today I feel that some of my notes and chapters in the appendix are rather embarrassing.

Thomas


You jumped up and did something where you saw a gap and a need. You should never have to apologize, especially seeing how much good has come of it.
Our group (most of us have a copy) never took it as a "rosetta" stone that required us to adhere to a "gospel". Most of us have learned from Cubans or have been to Cuba.
We've learned many other songs which aren't in Cantos A Los Orichas, and many different variations. But, to date, still learn things from your book.
Just recently I figured out how several common Oya songs fit on the bell. So, it has been an extremely helpful stepping stone to our group.
With the benefit of hind-site, making this list of mistakes provides us all with a "new chapter".

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you are well vindicated :!:
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby niallgregory » Sat Mar 24, 2012 5:26 pm

Thomas Altmann wrote:Thank you Niall & Dave.

Some of my mistakes:

1.) I did not differentiate between Havana and Matanzas lineages.
2.) For some of the songs I did not have enough (variety of) footage to draw from.
3.) I should have cited all the audio sources exactly.
4.) I should rather have disregarded certain audio sources completely.
5.) I should have checked the actual articulation of all the songs with different singers in live situations over a longer period (to better identify the correct consonants for instance)!
6.) I should have disregarded certain literate sources altogether (and should have referred more to Jerry Shilgi's work instead, which I didn't have back then).
7.) I should have favoured simple but more popular melodic versions over musically appealing ones.
8.) Today I feel that some of my notes and chapters in the appendix are rather embarrassing.

Thomas



I can relate to what your saying Thomas but tbh i think we have all done things in the past as musicians and artists that we are not 100 % happy with , sometimes being slightly embarrassed even :lol: But shit happens as they say , we all grow and hopefully get better and more experienced as we get older . On other note can anyone recommend any books with palo songs ? Cheers . Niall .
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby guarachon63 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:43 am

Hi Thomas, I feel for you.

The 8 "mistakes" you list sound more to me like what could be called "shortcomings," of the sort are only natural as one (and the world) evolves, and the resulting feelings just come with the territory whenever we commit anything to print. I would suggest rather than focusing on those shortcomings, you keep in mind the enthusiasm your original work generated within the global community, and the role it played in perpetuating an appreciation and understanding of a musical form you love so much.

As someone once told me, when I requested he not use an early embarrassing version of the cancionero rumbero for a class he was teaching, one can only hope that a small percentage of students will eventually rise to the level that they even become aware of the mistakes. The truth is that the vast majority won't, and the ones that do will understand that the publication has its limitations, as all do. But your work will have proven a valuable building block in their progress.

So...Seguiremos guarachando mientras el tiempo va pasando!

un abrazo fuerte de
barry
(Proud owner of Cantos lucumí a los Orichas)
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http://esquinarumbera.blogspot.com
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:03 pm

Thank you Barry. I can tell there's another author speaking.

What you say sounds true. As a matter of fact, I don't waste my time on feeling ashamed about what I've done. I think there's no reason for that. The book was fine back then, and, as I was trying to express, it might still be (relatively) useful. But there are enough reasons to leave it as it is and quit. Hopefully, others can still use it as one building block and go from there. I just thought that CongaPlace might be the right forum to explain first hand why the book is gone.

One word to Dave: I started to transcribe the first songs for my own group; I was not looking for a gap or a worldwide need in the sense of a market niche. Maybe this is not what you wanted to say, but I felt I should clarify it anyway.

Barry, I have the 2002 Cancionero; is there a new edition available?

Thomas
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby KidCuba » Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:26 am

I find it frustrating, through no fault of Thomas or any other author, that most print resources relating to the transcription of Orisha lyrics are out of print and being sold for over $100 through most second hand sources.

My hope is to find a used copy of Thoma's book, for a fair price, soon. For now, I just listen and transcribe what I can.
Triple Pulse Conga Practice- http://www.larumbero.com
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby guarachon63 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:14 pm

HI Thomas, the current version of the cancionero is online:

http://cancionerorumbero.blogspot.com/

I sort of tell myself that when I get to 500 songs I will put together another printable edition, but honestly I am not sure that will ever happen. As you know laying out a book is quite time consuming, and my life is much different now than it was in 2001-2002.

saludos,
Barry
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby bongosnotbombs » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:50 am

guarachon63 wrote:HI Thomas, the current version of the cancionero is online:

http://cancionerorumbero.blogspot.com/

I sort of tell myself that when I get to 500 songs I will put together another printable edition, but honestly I am not sure that will ever happen. As you know laying out a book is quite time consuming, and my life is much different now than it was in 2001-2002.

saludos,
Barry

That's why they invented interns. Seriously, you should look into it.
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby vasikgreif » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:20 am

KidCuba wrote:My hope is to find a used copy of Thoma's book, for a fair price, soon. For now, I just listen and transcribe what I can.


If I understand correctly:
Thomas Altmann wrote:Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas
After all, it was only consequent for me to stop the sales. The authorities that I earned were not worth the feeling that there was something in my life that related to my past and thereby held me back in a way. While the contents of my book have always been public domain, I now declare the written pages of my book and the work that had gone into it as free material, too.
Thomas Altmann


It might be possible for someone who owns the book to scan it and share it? Maybe include Thomas comments from this post into the scan, to make Thomas attitude clear to the readers?
While I completely agree with Thomas, I think the book might be useful for many out there, and, it's a part of the history, so it would be nice to have it from a collectors perspective..:-)

On the other note, I can recommend the Luca Brandoli books - http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LucaBrandoli - these are expensive, but really well done...
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby Thomas Altmann » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:06 pm

It might be possible for someone who owns the book to scan it and share it? Maybe include Thomas comments from this post into the scan, to make Thomas attitude clear to the readers?


Whoo! 300 pages. Sounds like a lot of fun. :lol:

TA
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby Derbeno » Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:44 pm

mmmmm.....In comparison Luca's books are $50 each for a not that many pages, also the text is quite big written in verse form. It does come with a accompanying CD
Echale candela, p'afinar los cueros
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Re: Cantos Lucumí a los Orichas

Postby vasikgreif » Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:47 pm

Thomas Altmann wrote:Whoo! 300 pages. Sounds like a lot of fun. :lol:
TA

jajaja :D Any volunteers out there?

Derbeno wrote:mmmmm.....In comparison Luca's books are $50 each for a not that many pages, also the text is quite big written in verse form. It does come with a accompanying CD

Yup, the Luca books are EXPENSIVE - but they are well done, many of the songs have multiple versions (ie. matanzas vs havana), and the accompanying CD playing/singing is simply great. So, my only real complaint is each volume could/should contain more songs for the price...
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