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Central America, music and resistance

T. M. Scruggs


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While relatively small geographically, Central America encompasses a variety of distinctive musical cultures that have suffered from poor cultural communication and cross-fertilization with one another across national borders. This isolation has often been even more pronounced between regions inside nations, especially the fundamental divide between indigenous/mestizo Pacific coast majorities and smaller Afro/indigenous Caribbean coast communities. With the advent of the massive social mobilizations throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Central America – and therefore its music – received unprecedented attention from many sources, probably the highest global recognition the region's music has received besides the novelty introduction of the marimba by Guatemalan and Mexican bands in the 1910s and 1920s. Socially committed music from El Salvador and Nicaragua received most of the world's notice, but it should be noted that musicians in Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama formed part of the search for solutions to the region's purportedly intractable social ills. Many were not able to record, and those that did often circulated primarily through informal cassette distribution. Fitting an established historical pattern, it was an unfortunate reality that communication between the seven Central American nations was difficult and that artists frequently remained unaware of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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