Book Historia de la Música Popular
en Chile. 1890-1950 ("History of Popular
Music in Chile. 1890-1950").
Juan Pablo Gonzalez is already working on the
second volume of Historia Social de la Música
Popular en Chile (1890-1950), a recently
published illustrated book that contains an exhaustive
work of recovery, investigation and register made
by an interdisciplinary team. The book is sold
with a special CD that compiles recordings of
the 20th Century's first half.
In other words, it was a group-effort led by a
man who's passionate about music and has always
worked somehow around it. The work for this book
included related activities, such as the production
of the show From the hall to the cabaret.
"I'm looking for financing to organize an orchestra,
a group of singers and actors, and all what's
needed for a show that travels through time —from
the boites, the 'quintas de recreo',
The show will be presented on March at the Universidad
de La Serena, and has already been airplayed by
Cooperativa radiostation and Televisión
Nacional. It was also compiled for a record edited
by Warner Music, the same label which took care
of the record that is now sold with the book.
"To rescue a forgotten heritage that has
to do with the urban/popular world, in a country
where most of our identity has been defined from
a rural perspective" was the main goal of
this professor. "One sees that all of the
elements of urban identity are usually denied
as parts of national identity". Gonzalez
believes that the urban "cueca" [National
dance] and other expressions that were born from
mixtures have been considered as "an attack
against a so-called purity of the national soul
To stop prejudices and open the spectrum of national
identity is an urgent need, he says:
"The whole Chilean 'postcard' has to
integrate new elements, so this sound-space becomes
more diverse. We have to face the fact that we
have been dancing tango for more than a century;
and that it's been sixty years with the bolero
and the Peruvian vals, and fifty with tropical
music. What sells the most in Chile is Mexican
music. And that is a phenomenon that is not valued
from a heritage perspective. Those same musicians
may play fox trot, urban 'cueca', Peruvian
vals. What comes from abroad has helped us to
build our subjectivity. So this is an effort to
provide of a heritage level all that music usually
branded as 'popular', 'commercial'
The urban context of this cultural industry, with
all of its elements of communication and mass-consumption,
defines a field in which oral tradition was changed
by the mediatization of social expressions.
"People know Violeta Parra's and Victor Jara's
music because both of them made records. They
didn't live in the country. Inti Illimani
learnt about Ecuadorian folklore because they
listened to records, not because they are Quechuas.
We have to understand that the cultural industry
does exist, as well as the media and mass-culture.
The cultural elite and those who study the folklore
are full of prejudices against mass-culture. If
we talk about rural singers and cueca it is because
of records or theater, which is how the typical
citizen learns about that during the 20th Century.
The pure oral part, which has been the most studied,
we do not include".
From this memory-recovery and the archives of
other specialists, the heritage value of this
book is based. Its main thesis is that there's
a recyprocal dialogue between music and society;
one that, according to Gonzalez, "assumes
the existance of mutual conditions, interactions.
It's an intent of the Latin American song
to influence daily life and carry modernity. So,
music has been a way to make modernity more democratic".
The impact of Mexican music in our rural world,
during the 30s, and the connection that that gives
us to the rest of the world (same with the development
of tango in Valparaiso) is a good example of the
"Chileans are very astute: they have chosen the
world's best music. There's no country in
which you cand find bolero, tango, jazz, Peruvian
vals... played with such intensity. That's
why what makes an impact about Chile is folklorical
fusion music. Violeta [Parra] was the one to start
with the fusion of the folk roots within a national
trend. She is the concrete proof of this phenomenon".