Artwork for podcast Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song)
Diana Morales (Original, English)
Episode 1310th September 2021 • Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song) • Elisabeth Le Guin
00:00:00 00:47:32

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Diana is an artist whose work expresses her connection with her P’urhépecha Indigenous ancestry. She enters a teacher training program at UCLA this Fall. We talk about “the untold stories” of resistance to colonialism that she hopes to share with her future students.


Diana’s website and Instagram 

Another Interview with Diana

On “Nuestras raíces verdes,” an interesting podcast focused on BIPOC people’s relation to the land //


Indigenous languages in México

“Catálogo de las lenguas indígenas nacionales” (Spanish only)

A Mexican government website // Un sitio Web del gobierno mexicano. 

The article “Lenguas de México” in Wikipedia is a first-rate introduction to this topic: 

English version: 


P’urhépecha music

(everything is in Spanish)

Reynoso Riqué, Cecilia. “Acercamiento a la música purépecha.” Revista redes música: música y musicología desde Baja California. Julio - Diciembre de 2007, Vol. 2, No. 2 / Enero – Junio de 2008, Vol. 3, No. 1. [ , consultado el 24-26 agosto de 2021]

  • este resumen escueto y cuidadoso cuenta con una discografía muy útil.

Chamorro Escalante, Arturo. Sones de la guerra, rivalidad y emoción en la práctica de la música p’urhépecha. COLMICH, Zamora, 1994.

------------------------------------. “La música Purhépecha a través de su forma y estructura:

Hemiola, cuatrillo, bájeos y armonías.”


Greetings and welcome to the latest episode of “Si yo fuera una canción” -- “If I Were a Song.” We are a community-based podcast and radio show, in which people of Santa Ana, California, tell us in their own words about the music that means the most to them.

ELG: I am Elisabeth Le Guin, your program host, and Director of this project.

This project is based on my conviction that we people in the modern world need to learn to listen to one another; and that music, and all it brings us, is the perfect place to begin.

DAVID: My name is David Castañeda, music researcher here for the SYFUC podcast. I am so happy to be a part of this project, using my scholarly training and my performance experience to bring you the stories, music, and lived experiences of those living right here in Santa Ana

ELG: So, Diana, welcome. I'm so thrilled to have you here to do an interview with me, and it's for me also a chance to get to know you a little bit. So why don't we start out with you just introducing yourself, as you would like our listeners to know you. Tell us your name. Tell us -- if you're comfortable, tell us your age, and anything about what it is that you do, where you are in your life, that you think will help the listeners get to know you a little bit.

Diana Morales: Yeah, so thank you for having me. My name is Diana Morales. I was originally born in Santa Cruz Tanaco, Michoacán, and I'm currently living in Santa Ana. So I feel like that's for me, where I identify as coming into Santa Ana, being a santanera, and then also having that background of coming from Michoacán. So myself, now, in the present, what I'm doing is mostly, I'm a digital illustrator that makes P'urhépecha art. And that for me, really, is to tell more stories about who I am, or stories about where my family comes from, and to be able to share our culture.

ELG: Hmm. What age were you when you came to Santa Ana?

Diana Morales: So I was about to be five years old. I don't remember much about México.

ELG: So you have not had the opportunity to go back.

Diana Morales: No, so I'm not able to, because I have DACA.

ELG: Ah yeah. Yeah, I'm sorry for that. And of course, you mentioned P'urhépecha art, and... Tell us a little bit, if you will, about that. That is your heritage, correct?

Diana Morales: Yeah, so P'urhépecha is a culture, an indigenous culture that is located within Michoacán. And within this region, there's four different regions that make up P'urépecha territory. And so they're -- they're kind of divided and they're known as the [¿Hill?] region, Sierra region, Valley region. And there's another region that I can't remember…

ELG: Mmm.

Diana Morales: But those are the regions that are considered to be provincial territory. And then from there, there's a lot of migration that has happened, either outwards into the rest of Mexico and then outwards here to the US.

ELG: Yeah, that's right, the kind of multiple layers of migration, right?

Diana Morales: Mm hmm.

ELG: Is -- forgive my ignorance, is Michoacán kind of like ground zero for the P'urhépecha people? Is that kind of the main concentration of of that nation, if you will, within Mexico?

Diana Morales: Yeah. Yeah, so that would be considered our native and traditional territory.

ELG: Wow. Well, I do -- I hope for you that you get a chance to go back as soon as possible.

Diana Morales: Yeah, I hope so, too.

ELG: It's very cool that you're maintaining that connection, even though by force you have to stay here -- far from that land.

Diana Morales: Mm hmm.

ELG: I've taken a little look at your art, you have a lovely website, and you have a presence on Instagram and we will be sure to link to those things when your episode comes out. It's really cool what you're doing. So you said it's digital art, right? I didn't realize that, but it's -- it doesn't look digital in the sense that it looks very earthy and --how should I put it? -- Kind of solid. And these beautiful images of women with beautiful background colors, and... How do you see your art? What kind of work do you see your art doing in this urban setting in which we are living right now?

Diana Morales: Yeah, thank you so much for the compliment. I do definitely feel that one of the main figures that I try to include in my art is always mujeres [women]. Especially for me because there's women, P'urhépecha women, that I really look up to, that I really admire. And that for me have been those people that I needed, you know, to look towards, for people who are culture bearers of P'urhépecha culture and here in the US being so far away from our territorios. And so, you know, growing up in Santa Ana, it's a very urban space. There's some community gardens here which I feel have been the place for me to kind of reach out to and be able to reconnect with what it what it meant for my family in the territorios to be growing milpas, to be growing cempasúchitl, all kinds of quelites. And so I feel like my art is a way to to visualize, all of that, traditional ways of growing, growing semillas. And some of those semillas do come with us, like those are seeds that we bring with us through migration. And so I like to think that our traditional ways aren't ending. They're not necessarily endangered. There's a lot of ways that we try to preserve that.

ELG: That's right, and yes, so many neat things in what you're saying there. You're referring to the, what's often called the Granjita, right here in Santa Ana.

Diana Morales: Yes.



DC: If you'd like to know a little bit more about La Granjita, listen to Episode 10. In that episode, Elisabeth talks to Abel Ruiz, who runs the Santa Ana Granjita, and [who] explains the human importance of gardens and the tensions between idealism and safety.


ELG. You know, just that the idea of seeds, of semillas, the way they -- I mean, every semilla carries a plant inside of it, you know, that will, under the right conditions, it will grow and flourish and become new life. And I mean, what a wonderful metaphor for the whole idea of migration. That, you know, seeds are like portable, right? They're super portable, most of them, and they can go to all kinds of places, and if the conditions are right, they'll grow and they'll take root and they'll make this new ecosystem. And that's a lot like what happens when people migrate and bring their culture with them.

Diana Morales: Hmm, yes.

ELG: It's very cool that you're bringing that forward in your art and in what you do. I admire it a lot.

Diana Morales: Thank you. Thank you so much.

ELG: So. Let's go to the first of the two songs that you shared with me, the one that is expressing or representing in some way where you come from, which is a phrase that is deliberately a bit open and vague, like, "Where do you come from?" That can mean geography, but it can also mean culture, it can mean state of mind. And so, if you will just tell us a little bit about this song, what its name is, and then we'll listen to it.

Diana Morales: Okay, so the first song that for me reminds me so much about where I'm from, is this song called "Adios California." And so the literal translation is Goodbye California. [chuckles] And so I chose this song because this is a song that I grew up hearing all of the time, like literally, every Sunday.

ELG: Mm hmm.

Diana Morales: And so what this song basically is saying is, that it's talking in the perspective of someone who is P'urhepecha and has migrated to California, and then for some unexpected reason, has to leave California and go back to to their pueblo.

ELG: Mm hmm.

Diana Morales: And so this is a song that I grew up always hearing. And it reminds me of my parents' experience, right? Because for them, they've always told me that they have plans of someday going back to their pueblos after we're all graduated from college, after we all have jobs and we study...

ELG: Mm hmm.

Diana Morales: That is the hope, to one day return back to the pueblo. And so this song being present, you know, throughout all of my life, I think it's a song that many, many P'urhépecha folks who are out here in the diaspora recognize. Yeah. And it's a beautiful song.

ELG: Cool. OK, let's listen to it.


La Banda de Zirahuén, “Adiós California”

ELG: So -- they don't sound too unhappy about leaving California.

Diana Morales: No, no, they don't! It's actually a very, very happy song, and I heard it a lot, too, during the fiestas that we would do here in Santana. And so it was a song that, when everybody knew you, you have to go out and dance it.

ELG: Uh huh, uh huh. And so you mentioned before we played it, you mentioned that this song is a little bit of an anthem for the P'urhépecha community here. And I know there is such a community in the L.A. area, and maybe you could tell us a little bit more, just kind of about... Is Santa Ana a major center for the P'urépecha diaspora here? Or is it in another part of L.A.?

Diana Morales: So from what I know, is that between Santa Ana and L.A., there has been documented about 700 families that are part of the diaspora.

ELG: Wow.

Diana Morales: And then specifically in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa is where you can find folks that come from the pueblo that I come from, in Santa Cruz Tanaco.

ELG: Mm hmm.

Diana Morales: And so it is known back in the pueblo that Santa Ana is one of the cities that we come and migrate to. And then other places that I also know of are, for example, up in Salinas, which is a strawberry growing field. And so that's also one of the main reasons that folks migrate out into the central coast of California: for farmworker jobs.

ELG: Right. Oh, man, picking strawberries, I am told, and I can well imagine, is one of the hardest forms of field labor because they're down so low. Right?

Diana Morales: Mm hmm. Yeah.

ELG: So you just -- you're bent over the whole time. So, yeah, I could imagine leaving a job like that behind --

Diana Morales: And being happy about it! [laughs]

ELG: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Diana Morales: Yeah. Another part that's within the song is the fact that the singer is saying that he received a letter, and that that's the reason that he has to go back to his pueblo. And so sometimes too, that could be interpreted as someone who's out here in the U.S. receiving a letter from a family member that, for example, someone is sick or that a relative of his dying. And so that's also something that I think about a lot, and some conversations that I've had within my own family, of folks that they miss, friends who they haven't seen in the longest time or even like our, my grandmother -- I only have one maternal grandmother who's living, and then one great grandmother on my dad's side who's living. And so I also think about that, like, what news would be so, so drastic that would make us want to immediately leave and be a reason to go.

ELG: Right, right, and it would be drastic news, wouldn't it, because if you left, you couldn't come back.

Diana Morales: Mm hmm. Yeah.

ELG: It would mean really just essentially dropping your life. And...yeah, that is a condition that many people that I know, here in Santa Ana and in the south part of California, you know, live with this every day.

Diana Morales: Mm hmm.

ELG: And it's interesting. I... I have enjoyed freedom of movement across borders all my life until the last year and a half, when a global pandemic made that very difficult and in many cases impossible. And it's just a funny thing that although many of my friends are undocumented and it's an issue that I take very seriously and have strong feelings and opinions about, -- I don't think I ever really knew in my heart what it felt like, until I realized that I could not go and visit my daughter who lives in Canada.

That that actually was not an option, even if she were having a really bad time or in danger of death or something, I would not have been able to visit her.

And that -- when I realized that, it was one of the strongest moments in the pandemic for me, was realizing, "Ah! OK, now I get a little taste of what so many of my friends and acquaintances live with every day." It's been a a teacher in that way, I would say.

Diana Morales: Yeah, yeah, there's definitely a lot of changes that need to happen and changes waiting to happen for the longest of times.

ELG: Yes... Yes, indeed. Well, and but then: this song! Which is extremely animated and cheerful. And that's something that I deeply admire, is the way [that] out of this situation, that is really not a good situation in so many ways, that these musicians -- and in fact a whole culture -- just pulls good cheer and buen ánimo. And, you know --And, "Let's be happy, because this is what we got!"

Diana Morales: Yeah, [laughs] Yeah, I love that. It's a... It's an embracing of the sadness, and yet also the joy that would come with realizing that you might be able to go back to your pueblo.

ELG: Yeah.

Diana Morales: That's the complexity. Nothing is just all bad, and nothing is all just good.

ELG: Yeah, you're absolutely right, I mean, that song, kind of on the face of it, it sounds like very simple music and very simple lyrics, but you're absolutely right. It's not simple at all! That what it's about is really, really complex.

Diana Morales: Yes.

ELG: Yeah, that's very cool. So, yeah, we're agreed, I think, that there are a lot of important things that really need to change, and that sort of that starts to turn our thoughts a little bit toward the future where those changes might actually take place, and maybe the question of how those changes might take place. And the second song that I asked you to pick, speaks to those kinds of questions. I ask my interviewees to pick a second song that represents or expresses their hopes for the future. So -- you want to tell us a little bit about what you chose in that category?

Diana Morales: Yeah, so for the second song, about hope and what I would wish for in the future, I chose this song, "Creo en ti," by Ana Tijoux. And so Ana Tijoux is a Chilean artist that I feel a lot of folks within the movement -- many movements here in the U.S. -- know. And I would say too, it's a song that gives us ánimos, in marchas, ánimos... We might feel that the things we are doing are not enough, but there's definitely changes that are happening, when we continue to do this work.

And so for me, I feel like Ana is someone who, with her words, just truly hits home! Pulls strings of my heart.

There's songs that, when I first heard about her, when I first heard some of her songs, I'd just be in tears because just everything that she was saying, I feel, I feel deeply.

And I also think that as an artist, she's someone who embraces so much of imagination, and claiming -- like the first lyrics that are part of this song is simply, "Creo en lo imposible." So, "I believe in the impossible." And I feel like, for me, that -- that's me! [laughs] And then within my art, that's definitely something that I feel I'm trying to do, you know, depict these illustrations that are about joy, depict illustrations that honor my, the women within my family, P'urhépecha folks who are out here continuing to do the work, resisting in any way that they do. You know, sometimes it isn't marching and putting their lives at risk. Sometimes it's simply preserving language and doing little things like cooking traditional foods, and continuing to maintain those relationships of community. Even out here. And so I feel like this song from Ana is very much about believing in what we might think is impossible. And -- it's not! I also really love the other phrase that says, " Creo en lo imposible/que de nuestras espaldas/brotaran las alas" --

That, I believe! [laughs] I truly believe that there is magic happening within ourselves and within the spaces of community that are super healing, and that make us regain the energy and the ganas [enthusiasm] to just keep going.

ELG: Yeah! Oh, well, what a beautiful introduction. Let's listen to this song.



Ana Tijoux, “Creo en ti”


DC: This is not the first time that you've heard about Ana Tijoux here on "Si yo fuera una canción." Marlha Sánchez also spoke about the importance of this artist, and the meaning of Tijoux's music in Marlha's life, and for many communities here in Santa Ana. All of this and more can be heard in episode 12.


ELG: So, yeah, this is a super hopeful song, but it's like really, ahh... I don't know. There's different kinds of hope, right? And sometimes hope can be a little bit sort of blind. Or not, you know -- you hope about things without thinking about them too much, because if you think about him too much, it's not, [it] doesn't feel very hopeful.

Diana Morales: Yeah!

ELG: But this is not that kind of song. I mean, Ana Tijoux is somebody who clearly thinks about things a lot.

Diana Morales: Mm hmm.

ELG: And, you know, you mentioned how her words just go straight to your heart. I know what you mean. She chooses them well. And...yeah, tell me a little bit so that, you know, the refrán de la canción, "Creo en ti," -- "I believe in you." How does that transformation work? where by believing in someone else, you believe in yourself?

Diana Morales: Hmm. Uff... So I feel like, well, going back to why I chose this song, I feel like it's a song that came into my life definitely as I was immersing into the activism world and just kind of learning a lot of the histories of imperialism, of colonialism, and that being something that I had never, ever known of. You know, high school education does not teach you that!

ELG: No, it does not. [both laugh]

Diana Morales: So for me, it wasn't until after college that that I started to ask those questions, and that I started to... to almost immerse into this political identity of being Indigenous, being migrant. To, you know, say, "Undocumented, unafraid." And those movements of (almost) letting go of fear. I, like that song was present throughout all that time, all that time of transition for me in my college years.

And so thinking of the song, I also think of, you know, movements within the U.S. and Latin America that are fighting against the imperialism that is still very much present, and [is] trying to destroy communities. And so for me, this song was something that I could really hold on to. And, yeah...

ELG: Well, yeah. There's an interesting thing going on here. Let me see if I can get at it with you. So... There's identity politics, where people go out in the world and they try to make changes that reflect better the needs of a group that they identify with. So they can take a lot of different forms, right? And one of them has to do with ethnic identity.

And there's a there's a kind of a view out there, I would say, that identity politics has the potential to divide us even more. And we are pretty badly divided country already. But this is -- what you're talking about, it's the opposite of that. You know, "I believe in you," and therefore I believe in me. It's like -- it's an activism that is based on, I guess, empathy. Would that be the right word?

Diana Morales: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

ELG: And do you see that as being like a particularly Indigenous kind of activism? Or how does that work for you?

Diana Morales: Yeah, I mean, I feel like for me, I didn't start to see it in that way until I started being an organizer, until I started to go out and join marches and feel that I was safe within community, and to feel that, you know, we were there collectively for a reason, to hold on to that dignity.

And so, again, I feel like being, growing up in Santa Ana, you know, you're bound to come across a lot of organizing collectives. And so for me, that's where I first started to again learn this history and then ask questions about, "Well, where was I coming from?” And “What were those stories that I still had that needed to be preserved?" -- "Las historias no contadas," right? That's what Ana Tijoux says. And so I definitely question that a lot.

And then this phrase of "Creo en ti," definitely I feel it like Ana telling me -- but also, like myself, telling all the folks that I've come across that I've built community with, you know, "I believe in you. I feel safe with you. I feel like I can count on you."

And so part of my experience with community organizing in Santa Ana has been very much -- what I've talked about in the past is this cultura of helping each other out. And I definitely, definitely feel like that has roots within practices that are Indigenous, where a lot of folks are migrating from, because there's so many places that folks are coming from, and into Santa Ana. And some of it is P'urhépecha, some of it isn't. And so now in this time, at this time of my life, I feel like this "Creo en ti" has also become within my own family, [a way] of trying to have that belief in us, that we can still do a lot more. Even if it isn't being out in marches, because that's, for example, that's something that's not safe for my parents.

ELG: Right.

Diana Morales: So I think about the different ways that we can resist without having to put ourselves so much in danger, in the face of danger. And so those ways do look like -- like I was saying, you know, preserving our language. I see that as a major way of resisting. I see the work that I do of making art and preserving joy, of preserving this orgullo, of recognizing who we are, making our existence visible -- that's another another way of resisting. And so I feel like after a long journey of, you know, being in the movement, organizing, feeling fear! Fear at marches with police presence and all that stuff, I feel like that was hard. That was really hard. And it's hard to do if you don't feel like you have community there for you. And so, yeah.

ELG: [Yeah -- I would think it'd be almost impossible to do with without that, you know, somebody respaldando a tí [backing you up]...

Diana Morales: Mm hmm. Yeah.

ELG: You said so many wonderful things. And I'm actually looking at the the lírica de la canción [song lyrics]. And she says, "Yo vine a compartir/con quien haya entendido/que la pelea empieza por el nido."



ELG: And here's a translation of those lines: "I came to share / with those who have understood /that the fight begins with the nest." -- I take that to mean, the fight begins at home.


Diana Morales: Mm hmm.

ELG: Which sounds kind of like what you were just saying, that, you know, activism can take a lot, a lot of different forms. And getting out in the streets and marching is one, but it's only one. And staying at home and cooking amazing food could could be another one, right?

Diana Morales: [chuckles] Yes.

ELG: And then there's also the language thing, which I think is super interesting,, your parents. Do they speak P'ur -- P'urhépecha, excuse me, in the home?

Diana Morales: Yeah, yeah, so they both, that's their native language. And then they learned Spanish later on in their life.

ELG: Uh huh.

Diana Morales: And then for me, I grew up speaking Spanish, hearing P'urhé at home, but not really practicing the response. So I'm like half, half [laughs] And then English.

ELG: Yeah, yeah. A so-called heritage speaker.

Diana Morales: Mm-hm. Yeah.

ELG: Yeah, and then there's English! And we're having this interview in English.

Diana Morales: [chuckles] Yes.

ELG: It's, you know, and it's a crazy, lovely mix, and the whole propósito [purpose] of this show is, we keep it bilingual. And we do translate every single interview, which is literally twice as much work. And that's just two languages! And then, of course, there's all these other languages. What is the figure in México? It's like, there are 87 different language groups, Indigenous language groups, just in Mexico alone, that are still being spoken, you know, on a day to day basis. It's incredibly rich. And, yeah, and stories come out different when you tell them in a different language! [both laugh]

Diana Morales: Yeah, yes.

ELG: And they come out different when you tell them in a different medium, too. So -- your storytelling is in the imagery direction.

Diana Morales: Mm hmm. Yeah, so part of the reason that I do a lot of pictures and images is because, um, so... Since I don't know how to write out our language -- and then that being, first, because our language isn't a written language, it's an oral language.

ELG: Right.

Diana Morales: And so I feel like the images that I'm creating are also in reference to a lot of the ways that we would hold language, through, for example, carvings, pictografías. There's a lot of amazing designs that we have within our clothes, within like clay, clay artesanías that we still have; wood carvings. There's so, so many ways that we would share what we believed in our language.



percent since:


ELG: Yeah, how cool. Well, I hope we can maybe you can help me find some nice images that we can get onto our website, just, connected with this interview. I'd love to, you know, just be able to use it as a little bit of a platform for that.

Diana Morales: Yeah, I'll share some images with you.

ELG: That would be wonderful. So just one more question about -- it's actually a question about both songs. So, I know that there is P'urhépecha music. How do those kinds of sounds as you know them or remember them, do they turn up at all in either of the songs that you chose? Are there things that are going on in the sounds of these songs that kind of take you, sonically speaking, into this world?

Diana Morales: Yeah, I mean, I feel like the first one, the first song, was written by Banda Zirahuén, which is also a pueblo in in Michoacán. And so that sound of bailes, that I feel like is always a call, like it's always something that that I recognize as home.

And so that's also part of why I chose this song, because just hearing these songs on the weekends, growing up, that always felt like home. And it's something that I wouldn't hear after I would leave my home, for example, school, or like being with friends and other public spaces. And it always was something that was like a sound of being home.

ELG: That is so cool. Yeah, so, el mero ritmo [just the rhythms], just -- like that particular rhythm that that song has. Would it have a particular name to it, do you think, as a dance?

Diana Morales: I'm not sure, I'm actually not sure. But I do know that these songs are pirekuas. And then the singers are pirerís. And so there have been folks who've done a little more research about the ways that certain instruments sound, wood sound like traditional instruments like flutes, and different kinds of drums that we would use in the past.

ELG: Yeah, yeah.



NOTE: this is not a translation but discusses the same themes in each language.

ELG: As I've come to understand it, a Pirekua refers to any music that is sung.

DC: Okay.

ELG: And instrumental music in P'urhépecha traditions seems to come in. two basic speeds, which are slow and fast. And you can have slow instrumental music; when it's instrumental, it's called a son. When it's sung, it's called a pirekua. You can have fast instrumental music, which is called an Abajeño. And when it's sung, it's called a Pirekua!

What I would like to do now with you, David, is just skim the barest surface of this very rich musical tradition and listen to a couple of selections. And let's just talk to each other a little bit about what we're hearing. We are outsiders to this musical tradition, but it's quite wonderful, and brings, I think, many, many things for us to talk about. -- So this is called "Abajeño para todos los que quieren bailar." That is, it's an Abajeño for everyone who wants to dance.

DC: To the point, I like it!

ELG: And it’s played by the Grand Banda de Ichán, Michoacán.


MUSIC CLIP #1, Grand Banda Ichán de Michoacán, “Abajeño para rodos los que quieren bailar”


ELG: Tell me what you're hearing there.

DC: So I think the first thing that really stands out to me is this six-eight rhythm, right? This rhythm underneath that, like, 123, 123, 123, 12... This is very, very common in the Americas. I would say, Central America. You hear it in Mexican mariachi and the guitarrón, the same type of thing, you hear it in Banda, lots of Banda, you hear this kind of rhythm, and it's just, it's beautiful. It's a beautiful rhythm. It's very driving. It's música alegre, a very upbeat music. --I forgot how to say "alegre" in English for some reason! I don't know if there's a direct translation. -- but very upbeat music--

ELG: I don't think there's a translation. Yeah, it's its own word, alegre.

DC: So it's…it's very, very specific to the new world and very specific to Central America, I would say, this type of 6-8, this type of meter. And it's all over this music. It's wonderful.

I note is, yeah, you got this:

But obviously the dancers would need to know the song well enough to coordinate with it. So we're not talking about we're not talking about a simple situation here.

DC: Or maybe they would do what I would do, which is basically just stumble, stumble around the dance floor, around the tarima. {both laugh] Until I give out.

ELG: [OK, let's listen to a second, very different selection, also P'urhépecha music. So this is this is a son, that is, it's slow, but it is also a pirekua, that is, it is sung. So here we go.


MUSIC CLIP #2, “Tarheperama _________

ELG: Well, I would almost have said that that was a vals, except there's something about it that is not vals-like. It's so interesting, it's got a kind of a lilt to the rhythms that is all its own.

DC: [Yeah, I would agree, I think it's a, it's more of this very particular way of approaching six-eight, right? This 123, 1... which is typical of waltzes. But then you have this, I guess we can call polyrhythm going on, where it goes, ta-ti ta-ti, ta-ti ta-ti. So it's moving from three to four at the same time, right?

ELG: Yeah.

DC: You don't hear that in waltzes, but you do hear that in indigenous musics of the new world, in Central America. You hear a lot of this -- so there's this constant switching back and forth. It's fascinating. And it's it's very, very Central American, as I hear it.

ELG: So interesting. And it's so engaging! I mean, the music is not rhythmically simple. Not at all. And and then, of course, you have a sweetness and a richness that comes when you have two voices that are just singing in this very fluid vocal harmony all the way through a song.

DC: Beautiful.

ELG: It's, yeah, really beautiful, it's true. And, you know, taking it back to Diana's first song, "Adios California.” That song is serving a different function, I would say. Clearly from the title alone, you know that this is music for migrants. And yet you can also, I think, hear some of the connections. At least that's our hope here... It's all part of a big, big complex, which we can only just touch on here, but just to give a little sense of the richness of that musical world, that is P'urhépecha music.


ELG: Well, Diana, so we're getting toward the last part of our interview. And just in the spirit of, you know, looking toward the future and hopes for the future, I learned as we were setting up this interview that you are about to begin your studies at UCLA, correct?

Diana Morales: Mm hmm. Yes.

ELG: And what area will you be studying in?

Diana Morales: So I'm going to be part of the TEP program, the Teacher Education Program, and so I'll be in the Ethnic Studies pathway. So in two years I will be in the LAUSD district teaching Ethnic Studies. And so that's something that I I'm really pursuing with all of my heart.

You know, like I mentioned throughout this this whole talk, learning the true history, and learning "las historias no contadas," is the reason why I'm going into this program. And a lot of that history is also history that I'm bringing in from my family, from oral tradition that isn't written down, that isn't in the books, and that can also definitely be told through art.

ELG: And must be told.

Diana Morales: Yes.

ELG: Yeah... What what age of kids do you plan to teach?

Diana Morales: Hopefully high school,

ELG: Yeah, they are hard cases! [both laugh] That's a tough line of work! But I agree with you, that's -- at that age is when I think history and the ways that we tell history -- or histories, I should say, because it's always plural, you know -- that's where it really, really becomes important.

Diana Morales: Yeah.

ELG: Well, congratulations to you for that. That is... That is so exciting. I'm excited for those kids, you know, two years down the road, that to be getting a teacher like you, who is going to be just blowing open this whole idea that History is a single thing with a capital H. You know, we gotta, we really gotta explode that, because it does damage on so many levels. And I, as a historian, I just believe that that this kind of change, changing the narrative like you're saying, you know, that that's fundamental, it's fundamental. So, good for you.

Diana Morales: Thank you.

ELG: And welcome to UCLA!

Diana Morales: [laughs] Thank you.

ELG: This has been a lovely interview, and I've really enjoyed getting to know you.

Diana Morales: Well, first of all, thank you, likewise. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for the invitation to be here. I really hope that the folks that this reaches out to, maybe some of them are P'urhépecha youth, that they reach out and want to have more conversations about what this experience is like, being a part of the P'urhépecha diaspora. And yeah, I'm here.

ELG: That's very cool. This is a podcast principally, but we do broadcast on Radio Santa Ana. So that, you know, is a little bit more accessible for some people. So hopefully through one of these media, yeah, we'll be reaching out to young people like yourself who are telling new stories.

Diana Morales: Thank you.

ELG: All right, thank you, Diana.

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I’m Elisabeth Le Guin, and this is, “Si yo fuera una canción -- If I were a song…”