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Re: arsclist Ayala Cuban Sound Archive Donation
Thank you David! Much obliged.
Video Works! Is it working for you?
PO Box 273405 - Houston TX 77277-3405
----- Original Message -----
From: "David Hamilton" <davidham@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 5:29 PM
Subject: Re: arsclist Ayala Cuban Sound Archive Donation
> Here you go,, Joe....
> This article from NYTimes.com
> has been sent to you by davidham@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> A Collector Bequeaths His Huge Archive of Cuban Sound
> October 24, 2001
> By BEN RATLIFF
> SAN JUAN, P.R. - To build his huge music library, it has
> taken Cristóbal Díaz Ayala 25 years, countless missed
> family vacations, much of his savings and every skill he
> has learned in a multifarious life.
> His collection includes about 25,000 LP's, 17,000 78's, wax
> cylinders, sheet music and a trove of books encompassing
> all of Latin American music, though its strongest area by
> far is the music of Cuba, Mr. Díaz Ayala's native country.
> The Fundación Musicalia, as the collection is known, is
> thought by experts to be the largest collection of Cuban
> music in the world.
> But Mr. Díaz Ayala, who has used his success in the
> construction business to finance his personal interests, is
> now 71. And supervising the Fundación Musicalia, in a
> two-story house on a quiet residential street in the
> Santurce neighborhood, has become burdensome. His latest
> acquisition, 5,000 78's bought from a Puerto Rican
> collector, is stacked horizontally on metal shelves; it is
> taking him longer than usual to catalog it.
> Quick to smile and exhibiting a wide- ranging curiosity,
> Mr. Díaz Ayala has graduated from the collector's anxious
> hunger to deep contentment. "I've spent such good times
> here," he said, relaxing in the air-conditioned top floor
> of the Fundación. And so it is with some sadness that he
> has decided to give up the collection. Over the last five
> years, he has sought a suitable home for it, and in June he
> made his decision: Florida International University, in
> Miami, the largest university in South Florida. Over the
> next three years, he will donate the entire collection,
> with the provision that the university finance the final
> stages of cataloging it - in other words, cover the
> operating costs, which include new computer software,
> electricity, water, air-conditioning and Lysol. (The
> greatest enemy of most North American record collectors is
> temperature change; in the tropics, where the heat holds
> fast, it is mildew.)
> "There is an old proverb which I learned reading Lin
> Yutang, the Chinese philosopher who was educated at
> Harvard," he said. " `You must learn to get old
> gracefully.' You have to say goodbye to some things. I'm
> not going to have the collection anymore, but on the other
> hand, I know that many people will get to use it."
> The bequest of the Díaz Ayala collection, recently
> appraised at $825,000, is more evidence of increasing
> interest in Cuban studies. Now that the mania sparked by
> the album "Buena Vista Social Club," or what Mr. Díaz Ayala
> calls "Cubanitis," has subsided a bit, there are clear
> tasks for musicologists, collectors, producers, writers and
> people like Mr. Díaz Ayala, who is all of those.
> The Smithsonian's traveling exhibition on Latin jazz, which
> is to tour 12 cities, will be unveiled next fall. Alejo
> Carpentier's fundamental study, "Music in Cuba," published
> in Spanish in 1946, is finally available in an English
> translation from the University of Minnesota Press. Two
> volumes of field recordings made in the late 1950's by
> Lydia Cabrera, who captured Yoruban music as it was played
> by Cuban religious elders, have just been released by the
> Smithsonian-Folkways label. And A Cappella Books, an
> imprint of the Chicago Review Press, is scheduled to
> publish Ned Sublette's sweeping, still untitled history of
> popular music in Cuba, which will help provide
> English-language readers with a historical context for
> Cuban music.
> Mr. Díaz Ayala spoke to representatives at the Smithsonian,
> Miami University (in Florida) and the Conservatory of Music
> in Puerto Rico, who were all interested in his collection.
> But he chose Florida International University for several
> reasons: its plans to transfer the collection to digital
> form immediately and to his satisfaction; it was closer
> than Washington; and Miami seemed the most central location
> for those interested in Latin music.
> Giving the collection to Cuba, he said, was unthinkable; he
> explained that valuable items were known to disappear from
> its museums, and that waiting to see what happened after
> Castro is a risky venture.
> "You have to be practical," he said. "At my age, you don't
> know how long you're gonna live. And besides, I'm not
> leaving a collection - I'm leaving a system."
> The Fundación Musicalia is a matrix of research as well as
> a music collection. With the help of his wife of 48 years,
> Marisa, and one assistant, Mr. Díaz Ayala has cataloged his
> holdings by performer, songwriter and song; gathered an
> archive of newspaper articles about Latin music; answered
> 10 queries a week from international researchers; and drawn
> up discographies of Cuban music from 1898 to 1960.
> In the process he has become an expert on missing links,
> and there are many in the history of 20th-century Latin
> American music. The Victor record company, for example,
> lost a huge cache of mechanical prototypes for all the
> Latin music it recorded from 1904 to some point during
> World War II. (According to one widespread theory, the
> company gave them to the armed forces to be melted down for
> In the early years of the century, Cuba had a rich
> recording history: Zon-o-phone, Victor, Edison and Columbia
> had made 500 recordings in Cuba by 1905, Mr. Díaz Ayala
> estimated. Some are now in the hands of a few collectors;
> most no longer exist. There is no telling how many of those
> records could be crucial to understanding not only the
> development of Cuban music but also all that was related to
> it, including Mexican, Colombian and Argentinian music and
> jazz, he said.
> Those gaps bedevil him, and they have also forced him into
> the realm of philosophy and logic to answer basic
> questions, like who invented mambo and what is the earliest
> recorded example of Afro-Cuban jazz. And - this one's for
> you, Ken Burns - what did jazz come from?
> Mr. Díaz Ayala's hypothesis involves three elements: the
> improvised trio portion of a danzón, played by danzón
> orchestras as early as the 1880's, involving cornet,
> clarinet and trombone; the music taken home by black
> soldiers from New Orleans who went to Cuba during the
> Spanish-American war; and the popularity of Cuban danzón
> records in the United States during the first decade of the
> "Now let's go to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917,"
> he said, turning professorial. "What do you have? The
> rhythm part is completely different, but melody-wise, you
> have the same combination: the cornet playing the melody,
> and then the trombone and the clarinet playing with him.
> Where did jazz get that?" He laughed conspiratorially.
> Mr. Díaz Ayala's long history of collecting falls into two
> parts. Growing up on the outskirts of Havana, he was a jazz
> fiend who logged all his acquisitions in a three-ring
> binder, decorating each page with pictures of musicians cut
> from books. On family trips to America, he bought jazz 78's
> released on independent labels. (In Havana, fans could buy
> only Victor, Columbia and Decca.) In his late teens, he and
> a friend had an afternoon slot playing records on a radio
> station, and after he earned doctorates in both civil law
> and social science (Castro was a law school classmate), as
> well as studied journalism for three years, he wound up
> practicing law and running a record store in Havana with
> his wife.
> A year after the revolution, Mr. Díaz Ayala fled Cuba
> without his records. In San Juan he became a partner in a
> construction company, eventually taking control of the
> business. At the same time, he became even more interested
> in Cuban music but found little research available to
> compare with the discographies and nascent musicology that
> focused on jazz.
> "Cuban music was at a very low ebb," he remembered. "Salsa
> musicians were using many compositions of Cuban composers
> without putting their names on it. People were talking
> about `tropical music' but not Cuban music."
> In the late 1970's, Mr. Díaz Ayala approached Vicente Baez,
> who had edited a major encyclopedia about Cuba that lacked
> proper documentation of Cuban music, and asked if he could
> write the encyclopedia's music entry for its second
> edition. The answer, surprisingly, was yes, and he began
> his work. After the publisher decided to abandon the second
> edition, he pressed on anyway, writing "Música Cubana: del
> Areyto a la Nueva Trova," a one-volume overview of Cuban
> music history.
> "When that book came out," said Mr. Sublette, the historian
> of Cuban music, "there was no other book out there to tell
> you this information." Mr. Díaz Ayala's books, all in
> Spanish, are available from online retailers like
> Amazon.com, or at Casa Latina Music Shop, at 116th Street
> and Lexington Avenue, Harlem, (212) 427-6062.
> Mr. Díaz Ayala then turned to compiling a discography -
> drudgery, but the kind of drudgery that entire fields of
> study rest on. "Although I had a lot of answers, I had more
> questions that I didn't have answers to," he explained. "It
> was like drinking a glass of water that never quenched the
> He came across the Latin-music volume of the
> ethnomusicologist Richard Spottswood's "Ethnic Music on
> Records," which organizes into discographical data the
> music of other cultures recorded in America. Mr. Díaz Ayala
> was determined to respond with a discography of Cuban
> music. "Dick Spottswood is responsible for my craziness,"
> he said.
> What followed was 20 years of trips to Puerto Rican and
> American libraries. Mr. Díaz Ayala stood in front of copy
> machines for hours, pored over RCA's catalog information on
> its history of Latin music recordings and pressed his whole
> family into service.
> "This is a martyr," he said, gesturing to his wife, who was
> breezing through the office during another day of
> cataloging. "I took a lot of the time that I should have
> spent with my family - I have to recognize that." So he was
> obsessed? "Yes," he said, considering the term carefully.
> "That is the word."
> Volume 1 of his discography, "Cuba Canta y Baila," spanning
> 1898 to 1925, was published in the mid- 1980's. He has
> recently plowed through the rest of the 20th century and
> has come to believe that his work should not be published
> piecemeal. He is looking for a CD-ROM publisher to issue
> its 3,500 pages.
> Mr. Díaz Ayala isn't a musician or a trained musicologist,
> and his research is usually based on discography. "I
> believe in the recording," he said. "If you're a researcher
> of Indian ceramics, all you have is doubts. You'll dig and
> find some ceramic, and you'll call two other
> anthropologists, and each of the three will have a
> different opinion of what has been found - we can be
> discussing it forever. But with a recording, it speaks for
> itself. It tells its own story. It doesn't cheat you. You
> don't have to say, `this might be' - no, no, you hear it."
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> At 04:44 PM 10/25/03 -0500, you wrote:
> >Could you post a summation of the article? I don't really want to sign up
> >for any more web sites so they can sell my address and I am not able to
> >access it now.
> >Joe Salerno
> >Video Works! Is it working for you?
> >PO Box 273405 - Houston TX 77277-3405
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: "Steve Green" <sgreen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> >To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 12:14 PM
> >Subject: arsclist Ayala Cuban Sound Archive Donation
> >ARSC listers might be interested in this New York Times article about the
> >Cuban record collector, Cristobal Diaz Ayala, who has donated his
> >collection to Florida International University in Miami. Perhaps this
> >has already made its way through ARSC channels but as I wasn't at the
> >meeting this year, I hadn't heard it.
> >Steve Green
> >For subscription instructions, see the ARSC home page
> >Copyright of individual posting is owned by the author of the posting and
> >permission to re-transmit or publish a post must be secured
> >from the author of the post.
> For subscription instructions, see the ARSC home page
> Copyright of individual posting is owned by the author of the posting and
> permission to re-transmit or publish a post must be secured
> from the author of the post.