Hybridization and the Creation of "Third Spaces": An Analysis of Two Works by Tomás Gubitsch1

By Munarriz, Alberto | Intersections, July 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Hybridization and the Creation of "Third Spaces": An Analysis of Two Works by Tomás Gubitsch1


Munarriz, Alberto, Intersections


Over the course of the last three decades, tango has shown a persistent and vibrant resurgence. This renewal has taken place not only in tango's home country of Argentina, but also elsewhere around the globe - Paris in particular. The current resurgence has greatly intensified the momentum of an already century-long, intercontinental dissemination of the genre. The cross-cultural and cross-musical dialogues promoted by tango's renewed popularity in recent years have set the stage for an unprecedented period of tango artistry, one marked by creative collaboration, experimentation, and richly productive mixings with other musical expressions and forms. As a result of this hybridization, the genre is undergoing numerous changes, among the most striking of which are the new sonic shapes tango is assuming. An investigation of these developments reveals that tango, in its current phase, is a highly flexible form of musical expression that, while capable of engaging and incorporating a range of outside musical influences and "non-traditional" components, is nevertheless able to retain a distinctive core of traditional identity.2

In this paper, I focus on a number of the musical influences- at times surprising and at times ambiguous- with which current tango has become, to borrow a phrase from Jocelyne Guilbault (2005), "audibly entangled." More specifically, I aim to discern the role played by these influences as well as to identify the musical elements (both structural and aesthetic) that allow for tango's current remarkable stylistic malleability. In order to facilitate these objectives, I concentrate on the works of one of current tango's most innovative contributors, the guitarist and composer Tomás Gubitsch. Gubitsch is one of many exiled Argentine musicians who, since the 1970s- the time of the country's notorious and brutal "Dirty War" - have resided in Paris. His musical life, begun as a teenager while still in Argentina, has involved a number of musical migrations and integrations, including experiences and experiments with such seemingly diverse and irreconcilable traditions as rock, tango, new music, and jazz.

For purposes of this paper, I centre my analysis on two of Gubitsch 's tangos from the 2006 CD entitled 5, a title chosen in reference to the fact that the tracks on the recording are performed by Gubitsch 's quintet3 (see discography). The two works with which I am concerned here are, respectively, "Te acordás de mí?" (Do you remember me?) and "De los hermanos" (All things brotherly). These two works show the numerous and intricate compositional processes through which Gubitsch weaves in the sonic tapestry of his compositional output a number of idioms, musical traditions, and aesthetic conceptions conventionally disparate from the traditional Argentine tango ethos. In essence, Gubitsch incorporates into his music the defining characteristics of various forms as a way to articulate the eclectic nature of his musical conceptions within the stylistic framework of tango. In particular, I investigate the influences that jazz and free improvisation, Western art music, new music, minimalism, French impressionism, and rock have had on the conceptualization and subsequent materialization of "Te acordás de mí?" and "De los hermanos." By this investigation, I hope to shed light on Gubitsch the composer and on the current tango phenomenon itself, as well as to contribute to a better understanding of the ways musical hybrids are constructed.

In order to contextualize the musical analysis proper,4 I begin the paper with a brief discussion of the history of tango and its hybridizing tendencies, this followed by a review of Gubitsch's biography.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TANGO AND ITS HYBRIDIZING TENDENCIES

The emergence of urban popular music genres such as tango and their subsequent creative and productive connection with other musics constitute a longlasting and prominent line of inquiry in musical scholarship. …

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