Student Theses

Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MMUS)





First Advisor

William Rothstein

Second Advisor

Emily Wilbourne

Third Advisor

Emily Wilbourne


During the 15th-18th centuries, the major European religious orders; the Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, and Jeronymites, journeyed to the newly colonized American territories in an attempt to convert the multitudes of natives peoples living there. Along with prayer books, crucifixes, and religious images, these missionaries brought sacred European music to American shores in an attempt to attract the native people to the Catholic faith.The use of music as a tool for conversion of native people in places such as Mexico, South America, California, and the South West United States, have been well researched and documented. However, the research of the spiritual colonization of the island of Hispaniola (modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), which was the first European city in the Americas, is not as plentiful, and is virtually non existent when it comes to the study of the role of sacred music in the conversion of Hispaniola's natives. This thesis proposes that during the earliest days of Spanish colonization on the island of Hispaniola, missionaries were active spreading the Catholic religion to the native population, and that they were using sacred music to facilitate their conversion efforts. This thesis also discusses the multiple reasons why the study of early conversion in Hispaniola is such a ambiguous topic.



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