Todas Las Voces: Latin America in the Political Imaginary of the Nuevo Cancionero Movement, Argentina 1962–70

Saturday, January 9, 2016: 9:00 AM
Room A707 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Oscar Chamosa, University of Georgia
Oscar Chamosa: Todas las Voces: Latin America in the Political Imaginary of the Nuevo Cancionero Movement, Argentina 1962-1970.

This paper explores how the members of the Argentine Nuevo Cancionero movement selectively incorporated Latin American themes in their musical compositions, helping redefine the Argentine national self as complementary with a wider Latin American identity. In August 1963, in the Argentine province of Mendoza, a small group of intellectuals and musicians formally presented an artistic manifesto for an artistic movement they called Nuevo Cancionero (The New Songbook Movement). The Nuevo Cancionero explicitly denounced the emerging Argentine pop as a decadent imitation of North American musical commodities while calling composers to reflect on the current social reality in their lyrics and look to the interior of the country for musical inspiration. With notable success, several artists followed the principles laid out in the manifesto and even expanded it to incorporate Latin American themes and folk rhythms into their repertoires.  Not by coincidence, the movement’s signature song, “Canción con todos” (Song with All/ Everyone), was a Latin American-wide call for unity and resistance, and by the same token an appeal to fellow Argentines to join the cause of hemispheric liberation. Members of the movement (Cesar Isella, Mercedes Sosa) validated their Latin American vocation traveling through Latin American countries where they popularized the Nuevo Cancionero sensibility. At their return, they worked to instill in their fellow citizens a sense of Latin-American belonging.   Still, the imaginary Latin America of the Nuevo Cancionero compositions was, as this paper will show, sketchy at best and framed in the radical politics of the movement’s members. Nevertheless, it created an idea of Latin America that was easily transmitted through records, radio and live presentations across different segments of the Argentine public and challenged exceptionalist notions of Argentine nationality.

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