The role of music in smaller, provincial towns has till now remained little explored; as has the extent to which the image created by studies based upon larger cities remains valid for smaller urban contexts. This thesis studies the musical life of Jaca, a small provincial Spanish town that was peripheral in both geographical and hierarchical terms during the eighteenth century. It assesses the production and consumption of music at the local institutions from a global perspective through an integrated approach to the different levels of music-making in the town: from a central institution such as the cathedral, through religious orders, to popular-based religious organisations such as confraternities. It also provides an insight into the life of musicians, discussing aspects such as their devotional practices, patterns of residence, and personal and family networks. It aims to elucidate how they were integrated into the urban fabric and how they interacted with other social and occupational groups. The preservation of an exceptionally rich musical repertory from the period in the cathedral archive allows a detailed analysis of processes such as the formation of an ecclesiastical music library, the reception of "imported" music, the role music played as an integral element in urban ceremonial, and the co-existence of a tradition in the repertory with the introduction of new stylistic features.
In order to understand the significance of these aspects, it has been necessary to adopt and adapt some of the approaches developed in recent years by historians and musicologists involved in urban studies. Up till now, musicologists have tended to focus on sizeable urban centres that played a major role at a political, economical and cultural level, or they have concentrated on a given city as local background to the lives of major composers. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that music operated in a much more complex way than traditional research on individual high-profile composers and institutions would suggest. It has also become clear that the often-neglected minor establishments influenced the musical life of urban communities to a far greater extent than was previously thought: parish churches, convents, monasteries and confraternities are now regarded as valid and important centres for music-making and music patronage. This thesis focuses on these "minor" institutions which operated in a provincial Spanish town.