Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba

Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba

Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba

Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba

Synopsis

Music and Revolution provides a dynamic introduction to the most prominent artists and musical styles that have emerged in Cuba since 1959 and to the policies that have shaped artistic life. Robin D. Moore gives readers a chronological overview of the first decades after the Cuban Revolution, documenting the many ways performance has changed and emphasizing the close links between political and cultural activity. Offering a wealth of fascinating details about music and the milieu that engendered it, the author traces the development of dance styles, nueva trova, folkloric drumming, religious traditions, and other forms. He describes how the fall of the Soviet Union has affected Cuba in material, ideological, and musical terms and considers the effect of tense international relations on culture. Most importantly, Music and Revolution chronicles how the arts have become a point of negotiation between individuals, with their unique backgrounds and interests, and official organizations. It uses music to explore how Cubans have responded to the priorities of the revolution and have created spaces for their individual concerns.

Copub: Center for Black Music Research

Excerpt

In retrospect, the process of my growing interest in Cuban music and history over the past fifteen years has been somewhat fortuitous and deserves explanation. I grew up in Southern California, surrounded by Latin American culture, but, as in the case of far too many Anglo Americans, largely oblivious to it. My family and friends had virtually no contact with the large Hispanic population in the area aside from casual acquaintances. After entering college and deciding to pursue music, I was encouraged to take German, ostensibly the “best” language choice for my major in the conservative environment that prevailed. I did so and found that I enjoyed languages; shortly thereafter, I spent a year on exchange in Austria. The trip made a lasting impact in many ways, but perhaps most importantly changed my perspective on the United States, raising my awareness of cultural difference. After my return, I began for the first time to take serious note of Spanish speakers in the area. Continuing to study German seemed silly given the demographics of the Southwest. I soon made the decision to switch to Spanish.

In an attempt to combine the study of language, travel, and music, I entered graduate school at UC Santa Barbara in ethnomusicology, a new program there. My professors offered excellent courses on a variety of subjects but little specifically on Latin America. I felt strongly about pursuing work that would be relevant to the region I lived in, and for that reason eventually transferred to the University of Texas at Austin. There I began to play in a mariachi band, learned something about Andean music, and slowly became more familiar with Caribbean styles. The percussiveness and overall sound of Afro-Latin music in all its permutations (Brazilian, Colombian, Cuban, Puerto Rican, etc.) attracted me a great deal, as they have many North Americans. Undoubtedly this is because U.S. and Afro-Latin popular styles . . .

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