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Music and protest, Latin America

Paula Rodrigues Pontes and Diogo L. Pinheiro


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From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s much of Latin America was marked by intense political and social instability. This instability had a profound impact on the arts and culture of the region, and nowhere was this impact more visible than in the music composed at the time. Just like many western nations, Latin America witnessed a boom in the number and popularity of singer-songwriters who emphasized political themes in their songs. It is possible to distinguish between two parallel but distinct types of Latin American protest songs: the more explicitly left-wing Nueva Canción or New Song movement, with its emphasis on traditional folk musical elements, and the more countercultural form of protest song, with its criticism aimed more directly at the traditional conservative moral values of the elites of the region. The Nueva Canción movement was a pan-Latin movement that coupled a strong emphasis on a common Latin identity with a critique of North American imperialism and the dominance of its pop music over the local mass media. This is a reflection of the political turmoil of the time, inspired by the Cuban Revolution and US support for the Bay of Pigs invasion, the 1964 intervention in the Dominican Republic , and the 1964 military coup in Brazil. Musically, Nueva Canción mixed local folk elements with more traditional commercial music. The adoption of folk elements symbolized ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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