Haack [Haacke, Haak, Haake], Friedrich Wilhelm

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Hondt, Cornelius de.

See Canis, Cornelius.

Hondt, Gheerkin [Gheraert] de.

See Gheerkin de Hondt.


Country in Central America. The name Honduras derives from the characteristic steep valleys (Sp. honda:‘deep’) that carve the mountainous terrain making up about two thirds of this republic's 112,000 km2. The population of approximately four and a half million is almost 95% mestizo, a mixture of indigenous American and European peoples and cultures. Historically, the area's geography encouraged social and cultural isolation of different segments of the population, a phenomenon that only broke down in the latter half of the 20th century with the marked increase in communications and massive migration to the capital, Tegucigalpa. Latin American, Hispano-Caribbean and, increasingly, North American musics have had a strong impact on the consumption of popular music. During the 1990s, there was a heightened awareness of the country's indigenous peoples and of the Garifuna, who are of mixed indigenous and African descent.

I. Art music

II. Traditional and popular musics




I. Art music

Research on music before independence still remains to be done in colonial government and church archives, although the low level of economic enterprise during the colonial period probably limited state and church sponsorship of musical activity. In the early independence period, José Trinidad Reyes (1797–1855) founded both the National University and the first school of music (1834) as well as composing several masses and villancicos.

In the last decades of the 19th century, emulating the success of military brass bands, the central government promoted the development of civil brass bands in major cities across the country. In 1876, the first concert military band was organized under the French conductor Linier. In 1887, the national government contracted the German Gustavo Stamm to create an élite concert band that was given the name Banda de los Supremos Poderes (Band of the Supreme Powers). The fame of this wind band throughout the Central American region was due in great part to the efforts of Manuel Adalid y Gamero (1872–1947), organist, composer and director of the Banda de los Supremos Poderes for several years from 1915. Government sponsorship in the last quarter of the 19th century led to the professionalization of other urban-centred concert bands. These ensembles were the primary vehicle for Honduran composers of European-derived classical music well into the 20th century. Other prominent composers include Ignacio V. Galeano (1885–1954), who was a prolific composer of both religious music and band music, and Rafael Coello Ramos (1877–1967), several of whose children's and patriotic songs remain in the educational curriculum. The first compositions for symphonic orchestra were written by Francisco Ramón Díaz Zelaya (1896–1977), a student of Adalid y Gamero, whose four symphonies are characterized by an essentially Romantic style. Even though composed well into the second quarter of the 20th century, a Romantic approach also characterizes the Violin Concerto of Roberto Dominguez Agurcia (1917–89), his most important work, and the Violin Concerto of Humberto Cano, who also directed the Banda de los Supremos Poderes in the 1960s. Leading contemporary composers include the pianist and teacher Norma Erazo (b 1947), who studied at the University of Montreal, and pianist Sergio Suazo Lang (b 1956), who studied at the National Conservatory in Quebec City. Erazo has composed primarily for the piano, e.g. Tres momentos para piano published in Mexico in 1983, but also for wind and percussion as well as vocal works. In addition, she has catalogued the Honduran repertory of children's music. Suazo Lang has explored several contemporary compositional techniques; his two-part piano piece, Añoranzas, received an award from the Canadian Association of Composers in 1985.

Different symphonic orchestras have been organized at various times in the nation's history, but with little continuity over time. Díaz Zelaya founded both a Wagner Orchestra and a National SO; Rafael Coello began a Verdi Orchestra; and another Symphony Orchestra was started in 1951 but has ceased performing. Several large choirs, often employing large numbers of children, performed throughout the 20th century. The Coro Polifónico is based in the National School of Music in Tegucigalpa. This music conservatory was founded in 1953 by Héctor Gálvez, who also directed the Coro Polifónico in the 1960s. Another music conservatory is currently active in San Pedro Sula, with more advanced study in European classical music offered in the music faculty in the U.N.A.N., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, in Tegucigalpa. No course of study on Honduran music is available, though several limited research projects on traditional folk and popular musics have been conducted by the Dirección General de Cultura and the Departamento de Investigaciones Científicas del Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia.


II. Traditional and popular musics

1. Amerindians.

Six indigenous groups have been identified as being separate from the majority mestizo culture; each group has retained elements of indigenous culture to varying degrees. The accelerated contact with mestizos and Honduran national culture that all groups experienced in the late 20th century led to increased acculturation into the majority mestizo population and loss of indigenous language.

There has been no significant documentation of the musics of the two westernmost groups: the Maya Chortis, who straddle the Guatemalan border with approximately 2000 members residing inside Honduras, and the Jicaque or Tolupán, who are estimated at 5000 to 8000 and inhabit the central provinces of Yoro and Francisco Morazán.

For the Lenca, who have spoken Spanish exclusively for several generations, any ethnic boundary between Amerindian and mestizo is increasingly irrelevant. The most recent population figures remain an estimate (1950) of 80,000 semi-acculturated Lenca in four southwestern departments. (There are also Lenca across the border in northern El Salvador.) Among the Lenca, as in the rest of mestizo Honduras, the pito (a small vertical cane flute) and tambor (a small double-headed drum played with one or two sticks) accompany saint's day dances. The bumbum, used in a variety of contexts, is the onomatopoeic name of the long music bow known by mestizos as the caramba (see below). Maracas, bamboo flutes with three and four finger-holes, and drums accompany dance during annual festivities.

The Paya, estimated at 1500 in the late 1990s, inhabit the central eastern department of Olancho. Brief descriptions from the 1920s remain the only published documentation of Paya music. Instruments used in funerary rituals included maracas, flutes from reeds or animal-bone, and a drum made from a hollowed-out tree trunk and covered with frogskin. The Paya have played a small metal stringed musical bow held in the mouth, similar to the Miskitu lungku of Nicaragua. Contact with mestizo society is evidenced by the use of guitar and accordion beginning in the 1920s; migration into Paya territory towards the end of the century has accelerated the process of mestizo acculturation.

The small Sumu population, estimated at less than 400, is located along the Río Patuca in the department of Olancho (for discussion of related Sumu groups, see Nicaragua). The bra-tara flutes are used in the sikro funerary ceremony. These are 1 metre long with four holes located towards the distal end to produce a low tone. Another flute, the liban, is a three-holed globular flute made from a crab's claw and bees' wax. The Sumu in Honduras also share with the neighbouring Miskitu several instruments that are used primarily to attract game for hunting. Orange-tree leaves, placed between the lips, are used to imitate various animal sounds while hunting and for recreational use. A friction drum, translated as llamador del tigre (caller of the jaguar), consists of a large hollow gourd across which goatskin is stretched. Pulling a string made from horse-hair through a small hole in the skin produces a loud sound of low register that is used to flush out wildlife during a hunt.

There are approximately 50,000 Miskitu in Honduras located along the littoral and major tributaries of rivers in the eastern region known as Mosquitia; most Miskitu live inside Nicaragua.

2. African-Hondurans.

There have been three migrations of peoples of African descent to what is now Honduras. The first occurred during the early colonial period, when a small number of Africans were taken into the central part of the country. Although this group probably introduced both the marimba and the caramba (musical bow), it later mixed so thoroughly with the dominant mestizo population that it no longer exists as a distinct group. At the end of the 20th century, there were no identifiably African musical stylistic retentions in mestizo music.

The most enduring African presence comes from the second migration, that of the Garifuna, who number 100,000. These are descendants of the black Caribs, a group of mixed Africans and Carib Indians, who were forcibly relocated from St Vincent in 1797 to the Honduran island of Roatán. Garifuna are found along the northern littoral from Puerto Cortés near the Guatemalan border to as far east as Plaplaya, near the mouth of the River Paulaya in the northeastern part of the country. Despite the Garifuna's historical connection with Honduras and the fact that the bulk of the population still resides there, almost all significant research on their music has been conducted with Garifuna in other Central American countries, such as Belize and Nicaragua.

The Garifuna in Honduras were the first to organize a performing Garifuna folk troupe in the mid-1960s, El Ballet Garífuna. The local and international success of the troupe's stylized stage presentations of music and dance has been a key factor in the validation of Garifuna culture at the national level. In addition, punta, a song form once part of Garifuna funerary ritual, developed into a new popular music style in the mid-1980s. Although punta is usually sung in Garifuna and includes at least part of the garavón drum ensemble, as it became more widely popular it also integrated a host of non-Garifuna Afro-Caribbean musical influences. In a scenario similar to that of the Creole Palo de mayo in Nicaragua, punta became popular with Honduran urban mestizo young people in the late 1980s. By 1990, the 11-piece punta group Banda Blanca enjoyed tremendous national and then international success, achieving the highest level of exposure to date of any Honduran music worldwide.

The most recent migration came earlier in the 20th century, when a small population of West Indians, primarily Jamaicans, migrated to the northern port cities; there is no published research on the music of this community.

3. Mestizos.

The essential foundation for musical expression among the majority mestizo population has come from Spanish musical culture, dating from European contact, together with the later introduction of other European musical influences. The earliest detailed descriptions of music were provided by 19th-century travellers. These writings documented a strong affinity for string instruments throughout the country, typical of an Iberian-based musical culture, as well as the acceptance and transformation of imported European dances. Two examples of the latter are the fandango Fandango danced to solo guitar without the use of castanets, which had been accepted as a national form by the 1850s, and La lanza, a shortening of La cuadrilla de lanceros, which was popular among the semi-urban middle classes at the beginning of the 1880s and has since become part of the rural campesino (peasant) folkdance repertory.

A major instrument of mestizo folk music is the Marimba. The large chromatic marimba was first imported from Guatemala and southern Mexico around the beginning of the 20th century. As in other Central American nations, marimba doble ensembles enjoyed substantial popularity in the country's major urban areas during the first half of that century. The large marimba, which follows the Mexican marimba's standard piano keyboard arrangement (not the off-centred Guatemalan one), is played by four musicians. The bass part is doubled with a double bass. A trap drum set and a second, smaller marimba doubling the parts of the three musicians with the highest registers on a marimba doble are also commonly added. This basic instrumentation has often been expanded to include saxophones, trumpets and/or guitars. The advent of affordable record players and other sound-amplification equipment in the mid-20th century severely contracted the popularity of marimba doble ensembles. In the capital city of Tegucigalpa, marimba ensembles (without horns or guitar) are reduced to playing in hotels catering for tourists; in the nation's second largest city, San Pedro Sula, the marimba has disappeared entirely. Nevertheless, smaller diatonic and chromatic marimbas played by one or two musicians are still common in parts of the highlands, especially in the Comayagua region and the western edge of the country bordering Guatemala. These smaller, more folk-rooted ensembles can integrate a variety of percussion instruments and continue to provide recreational entertainment and dance accompaniment in small towns and rural areas. Frequently, an accordion or violin is included in the ensemble, usually doubling the melodic line; a guitar may also provide harmonic reinforcement. These marimba groups accommodate a wide range of repertory, occasionally even providing music for both Catholic and Protestant religious services.

The caramba or zambumbia, a monocord over 2 metres long, is the other major instrument used in mestizo music that is of African origin, though Manzanares (1967, p.126) maintains an American origin and Boilès (1966) considers this possibility to be valid. Contemporary instruments use a single metal string, but in earlier times a fibre from the kankulunko or caramba vine was used, hence the instrument's name. While striking the string with a small wooden stick, the player can elicit an impressive pitch range by producing overtones through the muting of an attached small hollow gourd. In addition, the instrument rests upon a cucurbitácea, another larger gourd, or open resonator box that amplifies the sound and can be manipulated either by one of the player's feet or by an assistant. The caramba is related to the quinjongo (a musical bow), which has disappeared in Nicaragua and is nearly extinct in Costa Rica. The presence of the Honduran caramba is slowly declining, but it is still used in the southern Department of Valle and accompanies several folkdances in the western region.

The bulk of other folkdance forms and their corresponding musical accompaniments carry the titles of European salon dances that took root throughout the mestizo population during the colonial and early independence period. These dances are found especially in more remote rural areas and often bear only a token similarity to their ostensible European origins. The most popular include cuadrilla, danza, contradanza, mazurca, pereke, polka, vals, varsoviana and zapateado. Xique (also spelt xike or sique) remains the most popular and widely dispersed folkdance. In xique, the dance may come to an abrupt halt when a dancer interrupts with the cry of ‘Bomba!’. The same dancer then proclaims a set of two to four coplas, termed bombas, octosyllabic quatrains with an ACBC' rhyme scheme. Traditional bombas with a humorous couching of romantic themes can be used, or the content can be improvised to refer directly to other participants.

Major tonality, 3/4 or 6/8 metre and a sectional structure with corresponding changes in metre or tempo are general characteristics of mestizo folkdances. The accompaniment usually centres around a six-string Spanish guitar in combination with other string instruments, such as the four-string guitarrilla, eight-string mandolina, three-string tiple and the six-string requinto (tuned a 4th above the guitar). All but the guitarilla often have a melodic function, as does the violin, which is most commonly played held at the chest rather than tucked under the chin. The harmonica, and both button and piano accordions, have also found wide acceptance among the campesino population and are used in a variety of contexts.

Prominent among song forms is the corrido. As in other parts of Latin America, the Honduran corrido is descended from the Spanish romance. Corrido lyrics are structured within the copla format and commonly praise the attributes of a local town or recount the life of major historical figures. The corridoEl torito pinto’, found throughout Central America, preserves lyrics from the Spanish peninsula; an instrumental version accompanies the dance of the same name. Song forms with religious content that are prevalent in rural areas include canciones navideñas and villancicos (songs for the Christmas season), alabados (praise-songs to the Virgin Mary), motets and litanies (Manzanares, 1965, p.200).



and other resources

GEWM (‘Honduras’, ‘Miskitu’, T.M. Scruggs)

E. Conzemius: ‘Los Indios Payas de Honduras’, Journal de la Société des américanistes, xix (1927), 245–302

E. Conzemius: Ethnographical Survey of the Miskito and Sumu Indians of Honduras and Nicaragua (Washington DC, 1932)

R. Manzanares Aguilar: ‘Brief History of Honduran Music’, El libro de Honduras (Tegucigalpa, 1957), 125–33

R. Manzanares Aguilar: Canciones de Honduras/Songs of Honduras (Washington DC, 1960)

G. Chase: A Guide to the Music of Latin America (Washington DC, 1962) [enlarged 2nd edn of Guide to Latin American Music]

R. Manzanares Aguilar: ‘Etnomusicología hondureña’, Conferencia interamericana de etnomusicología I: Cartagena, Colombia, 1963, 199–202

R. Manzanares Aguilar: ‘La etnomusicología hondureña’, Folklore americano, nos.11–12 (1963), 68–73, 91

D. Stone: ‘The Northern Highland Tribes: the Lenca’, Handbook of South American Indians, iv: The Circum-Caribbean Tribes, ed. J.H. Steward (New York, 1963)

R. Manzanares Aguilar: ‘Instrumentos musicales tradicionales de Honduras’, Music in the Americas: Bloomington, IN, 1965, 123–8

C.L. Boilès: ‘El arco musical, ¿una pervivencia?’, Palabra y el hombre: revista de la Universidad Veracruzana, no.39 (1966), 383–403

R. Sider: The Art Music of Central America: its Development and Present State (diss., Eastman School of Music, 1967)

M. de Alidad y Gamero: ‘La música en Honduras’, Boletín de la Academia hondureña e la lengua, xv/15 (1972), 97–102; repr. from La época (Caracas, 1940)

R. Manzanares Aguilar: La danza folklórica hondureña (Tegucigalpa, 1972)

L.R. Campbell: ‘The Last Lenca’, International Journal of American Linguistics, xlii/1 (1976), 73–8

R. Velásquez and T. Agerkop: Miskitos–Honduras (Caracas, 1979)

F. Martínez Landero: La lengua y cultura de los sumos de Honduras (Tegucigalpa, 1980)

H. Cargalv [H.C. Gálvez]: Historia de la música de Honduras y sus símbolos nacionales: reseña histórica de los himnos nacionales de Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua y Costa Rica (Tegucigalpa, 1983)

A.M. Chapman: ‘Los tolupán de la montaña de la flor: ¿otra cultura que desaparece?’, América indígena, xliv (1984), 467–84

A.M. Chapman: ‘Los hijos del copal y la candela: ritos agrarios y tradición oral de los lencas de Honduras’, ibid., 543–52

A. Ghidinelli and P. Massajoli: ‘Resumen etnográfico de los caribes negros (garífunas) de Honduras’, ibid., 485–518

M. Ardón Mejía: ‘Religiosidad popular: el Paisanazgo entre Ojojona y Lepaterique’, Folklore americano, no.43 (1987), 127–63

J. Muñoz Tábora, ed.: Organología del folklore hondureño (Tegucigalpa, 1988) [incl. A. Crisanto Meléndez: ‘Instrumentos musicales pertenecientes a la cultura Garífuna’, 65–124; R. Velásquez: ‘Instrumentos musicales pertenecientes a la cultura Miskita’, 105–24]

A. Miller: ‘Teaching the World to Punta’, The Beat, x/4 (1991), 38–41, 54

T.M. Scruggs: ‘Honduras’; ‘Miskitu’, Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, ed. D. Olsen and D. Sheehy (New York and London, 1998), 738–46, 659–65


The Black Caribs of Honduras, coll. D. Stone, Folkways FE 4435 (1953) [incl. notes by D. Stone]

Songs and Dances of Honduras, coll. D. Stone, Folkways 6834 (1955) [incl. notes by D. Stone]

Música y canciones de Honduras, coll. R. Manzanares, ELIA 01–03 (1975)

Honduras: música folklórica, Tegucigalpa [Secretaría del Turismo y Cultura] (n.d. [1988])

Fiesta tropical, perf. Banda blanca, Sonotone Music POW 6017 (1991)

Songs of the Galifuna [sic]: Honduras, perf. Lita Ariran, JVC VICG-5337 (1993)
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