From Bulls to Music: Social, Religious, and Economic Aspects of a Pilgrimage to Nuestra Señora, La Vírgen de Altagracia
Every August 10th, about 800,000 pilgrims begin a five-day pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Virgin of Altagracia in Higüey, Dominican Republic. In this paper, I will show some interesting aspects of this pilgrimage’s economy that, while not unique to this pilgrimage, become much more tangible because of the presence of bulls as alms. I will continue, through the study of the music making and ritual, to show the role that music (and especially improvisation) plays in the social and devotional aspects of this pilgrimage. By examining the complex web of assumptions and expressions that contains the acts of music production, we can gain some insight into the significance of the pilgrimage as a whole.