New Mexican Folk Music

Cipriano Frederico Vigil is the most important performer of traditional Nuevomexicano folk music in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The book, "Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest and New Mexican Folk Music/Cancionero del Folklor Nuevomexicano," present the songs that areVigil's life work, spanning half a century of listening, playing, composing and singing ritual, social and dance music.

Vigil’s compilation is personal and performance-based. Each piece is from his own repertory, and his choices are not based in the scholarship of folklore but on puro corazón(pure heart). He shares the briefest of details about provenance and purpose, then immediately proceeds to the texts themselves. Some of the more familiar pieces were also recovered by earlier collectors. Of these “old standards,” Vigil has chosen unique variants specific to place and region that he learned not from books or archives but directly from other performers.

New Mexican Folk Music includes much traditional material that has never been seen before or studied by scholars or students. Renowned as a composer, Vigil works in traditional genres such as the romance, décima, cuando and corrido. Like the Mexican group Los Folkloristas with which he apprenticed in the late 1960s, his goal has been to research and master local styles, introduce new listeners to traditional music through performance and teaching, and to build on tradition by creating new compositions that address contemporary social themes.

Cipriano Frederico Vigil has been recognized by the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution. He received the New Mexico Governor’s Award in 1994. Vigil taught for many years at Northern New Mexico Community College.

Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest and New Mexican Folk Music/Cancionero del Folklor Nuevomexicano are available at bookstores or directly from the University of New Mexico Press. To order, please call 800.249.7737 or visit