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date: 26 September 2022

Thomas Stanford and His Field Recordings of Mexican Musiclocked

Thomas Stanford and His Field Recordings of Mexican Musiclocked

  • Cecilia ReynosoCecilia ReynosoUNAM


Elmer Thomas Stanford (b. Albuquerque, New Mexico, January 2, 1929; d. Mexico City, December 10, 2018) was an ethnomusicologist from the United States who settled in Mexico in 1956. He is considered one of the precursors of field recording in Mexico, which he carried out from the end of 1956 until 2005. His recording covered various indigenous and mestizo musical traditions from more than 400 pueblos in states such as Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Jalisco, Morelos, Estado de México, Distrito Federal, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Sonora. His first field recordings can be found in the Fonoteca del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). Along with recordings from other researchers, these gave rise to a series of albums entitled Testimonio Musical de México. Stanford’s recordings were accompanied by his own reflections and research about the records that were released, which he disseminated through publications in bulletins, journal articles, books, and booklets. In 2007 Thomas Stanford gave his recordings to the Fonoteca Nacional, becoming this institution’s first collection; by 2010 his recordings were recognized as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) Memory of the World program.


  • History of Mexico
  • Cultural History
  • Indigenous History

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