Border Fandango was composed for Each Morning of the World: North American PhoNographic Mornings, a presentation of 20 soundscapes recorded at various locations throughout North America.
For my contribution I ventured to the U.S. – Mexico border on 27 May, 2017 to record. Specifically, I visited Friendship Park in the San Diego and Tijuana region, a historic meeting place for those on either side of the border since 1849, when the US-Mexico Boundary Commission first met at this location. The area was dedicated as a national park in 1971 by then First Lady Pat Nixon, and was an open seaside spot, compared to today’s standard, marked by a monument and light chainlink fence. The area continues to be a meeting place for families and friends from both countries, however today the park is heavily guarded, and the border wall is a dense metal thatching that makes it difficult to discern details of the other side. A visit to the park typically finds the contemporary consequences of Nation States on full display in the emotional rawness of friends, family and loved ones attempting to connect.
The day I visited, however, there was a unique event: Fandango Frontererizo, or “party at the frontier.” Fandango Frontererizo is an annual gathering at the border wall of musicians from the U.S. and Mexico. Musicians come to sing traditional Mexican folk songs at Friendship Park, with groups of musicians and dancers on each side of the wall. They call and respond to each other thru the wall, playing to the rhythms provided by the Zapataedo (a style of dancing performed on wooden platforms), and singing amidst a sea of guitars. The musical communion successfully connected participants, and, through its performance, demonstrated sound’s unifying abilities where walls would divide.
Border Fandango maps my arrival at the park from a mile-long hike along the coast, the gathering crowd, their warm up, and finally their combined song.