Latin American Music: Translating Cultural Sensibilitie

Latin American Music: Translating Cultural Sensibilitie

by Maria Celina Bortolotto and Leonel Alvarado
From Massey University, New Zealand

https://www.open2study.com


Module 1, Topic 1
Introduction to musical styles

JOURNAL ARTICLE
The Popular Roots of the Argentine Tango
Simon Collier
History Workshop
No. 34, Latin American History (Autumn, 1992), pp. 92-100


Module 1, Topic 2
Historical Social context 19th- 20th century

 


Module 1, Topic 3
Style description of Tango

Enrique Santos Discepolo

Tango come from :

  1. Cuban habanera
  2. African quebrada
  3. German bandoneon

Carlos Gardel

New dialect from italian emigrants: Lunfardo


Module 1, Topic 4
Emilio Bertrand

Astor Piazzolla

Rubato

 


Module 1, Topic 5
Translating Lunfargo

Lunfargo comes from Italians and spanish poor immigrant in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It arrives like a secret code for criminals. Like Verlan (L’envers) it use words backwards.  « Al Vesre » = « Al reves », « Jermu »= « Mujer », « Langa »= »Galan ». The word itself come from « Lombardie » the region of Italy where does come from the majority of italians immigrants.

Rapidly due to massive immigration, the nationalists develops deep xenophobia against immigrant and develop a vast program of education for that the next generation been assimilated rapidly.

Spanish immigrant were called « Gashehos, Italians, « Panos ». Eastern Europe « Rusos » and « Turkos » for all Middle east immigrants.

Lunfargo allowed liberty and improvisation and do not correct syntax or grammar as it not belown to any commun language. Seen as rebel language who dont want to be assimilated, Lunfargo language became a urban symbol of Argentina and Urugay.

« Creativity, resilience, rebelousness and wit. »

The region of « Rio de la plata » had, since spanish colonisation, welcomed natives words in his commun utilisation.

  1. Quechua: choclo, naupa, chacra, llama, alpaca, mate, pampa, mapuche, cancha, poncho, pucho
  2. Calo from Spain: chorro, afano, changui,
    Caló (Spanish: [kaˈlo]; Catalan: [kəˈɫo]; Galician: [kaˈlɔ]; Portuguese: [kɐˈlɔ]) is a language spoken by the Spanish and Portuguese Romani. It is a mixed language (referred to as a Para-Romani language in Romani linguistics) based on Romance grammar, with an adstratum of Romani lexical items[4] through language shift by the Romani community. It is often used as an argot, a secret language for discreet communication amongst Iberian Romani. Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, and Spanish caló are closely related varieties that share a common root.[5]Spanish caló, or Spanish Romani, was originally known as zincaló. Portuguese caló, or Portuguese Romani, also goes by the term lusitano-romani; it used to be referred to as calão, but this word acquired the general sense of jargon or slang, often with a negative conotation (cf. baixo calão, ‘obscene language’, lit. low-level calão). (wikipedia)
  3. Italian: lungo, apoliyar (apollaiare), bagayo, mina, laburar, fiaca (fiaco)
  4. Lunfargo: melon (head), bobo (dump), corralito (corral), arbolito (illegal vendors with american dollars)

    Module 1, Topic 6
    « Compadron » (1927)

    Letras de « Compadron » (1927)

Compadrito a la violeta,
si te viera Juan Malevo
qué calor te haría pasar.
No tenés siquiera un cacho
de ese barro chapaleado
por los mozos del lugar.
El escudo de los guapos
no te cuenta entre sus gules
por razones de valer.
Tus ribetes de compadre
te engrupieron, no lo dudes.
¡Ya sabrás por qué!

Compadrón
prontuariado de vivillo
entre los amigotes que te siguen,
sos pa’ mí, aunque te duela,
compadre sin escuela, retazo de bacán.
Compadrón,
cuando quedes viejo y solo (¡Colo!)
y remanyes tu retrato (¡Gato!),
notarás que nada has hecho…
Tu berretín deshecho
verás desmoronar.

En la timba de la vida
sos un punto sin arrastre
sobre el naipe salidor,
y en la cancha de este mundo
sos un débil pa’l biabazo,
el chamuyo y el amor.
Aunque busques en tu verba
pintorescos contraflores
pa’ munirte de cachet,
yo me digo a la sordina
¡Dios te ayude, compadrito
de papel maché!


Module 1, Topic 7
« Compadron » analysis and translation

« Compadre »: At the top of the prestige rank is the « Compadre ». A brave man that fight against injustice and keep his words. Dressed in impeccably in black with a white vicuna scarf, he fight with his facon, a knife that he use as weapon.

« Compadrito »: That type try to be compadre but is nothing like. He use bad language, lies, and do everything to be noticed. People did not respect him, and he fight with a gun. He was using 2 or 3 women to work for him. He was a pimp (cafiolo).

« Compadron »: Even more miserable that « compadrito ». Disloyal coward that get money from informing on others, he just want to impress even untill dismatch his ensemble.

« Malevo »: A cruel man that abuse women, children, elders and the weak. He send innocent people to jail and hide from the police. His toxic masculinity is laughable.

In the song, the autor disclaim the compadron to the bravery and honour of Tango, denonciating him by using Lunfargo as language that the compadron cannot claim.


Module 1, Topic 8
« El Choclo » (1954)

Letras de « EL Choclo » (1954)

Con este tango que es burlón y compadrito
se ató dos alas la ambición de mi suburbio;
con este tango nació el tango, y como un grito
salió del sórdido barrial buscando el cielo;
conjuro extraño de un amor hecho cadencia
que abrió caminos sin más ley que la esperanza,
mezcla de rabia, de dolor, de fe, de ausencia
llorando en la inocencia de un ritmo juguetón.

Por tu milagro de notas agoreras
nacieron, sin pensarlo, las paicas y las grelas,
luna de charcos, canyengue en las caderas
y un ansia fiera en la manera de querer…

Al evocarte, tango querido,
siento que tiemblan las baldosas de un bailongo
y oigo el rezongo de mi pasado…
Hoy, que no tengo más a mi madre,
siento que llega en punta ‘e pie para besarme
cuando tu canto nace al son de un bandoneón.

Carancanfunfa se hizo al mar con tu bandera
y en un pernó mezcló a París con Puente Alsina.
Triste compadre del gavión y de la mina
y hasta comadre del bacán y la pebeta.
Por vos shusheta, cana, reo y mishiadura
se hicieron voces al nacer con tu destino…
¡Misa de faldas, querosén, tajo y cuchillo,
que ardió en los conventillos y ardió en mi corazón.

Tango was the music of the poor, the criminals,the prostitutes of excentred neighborhounds of Buenos Aires. This song is talking about live in « Arrabal ».

Un arrabal (del árabe hispánico «arrabáḍ», y este del árabe clásico «rabaḍ»)1​ es una extensión o agrupación territorial de viviendas y comercios no sujetos a control municipal o planes urbanísticos. Fue característico del crecimiento de las ciudades europeas durante la Edad Media, como formación urbana espontánea extramuros, es decir fuera del recinto amurallado, expandiéndose a partir de las puertas y los caminos principales que partían de los núcleos de población, o en torno a los nuevos monasterios y conventos que se fundaban en los terrenos vecinos a las villas.2​ La construcción de nuevas murallas o cercas, para ampliar el perímetro municipal, hacía que los primitivos arrabales quedasen incluidos en la ciudad como barrios.(Wikipedia)

In this song, Tango is personified. After The (diseapered) mother come to kiss to toes of his​ child is when the sound of bandoneon (accordéon) comes to live.

Tango moves between a lost part and an illusive future.

The « canjingue » (twist from the hips of african dances), is a fierce desire to express love.

Between this song and « The Compadron » have 30 years of changes, both in culture and society.

The first song is a dialogue between archetypes of people living in those times. The second on is dialogue between people living in those times and Tango itself.


Module 1, Topic 9
« El Choclo » (1954)

Lyrics « Kiss of fire » from Georgia Gibbs

I touch your lips and all at once the sparks go flying
Those devil lips that know so well the art of lying
And though I see the danger, still the flame grows higher
I know I must surrender to your kiss of fire
Just like a torch, you set the soul within me burning
I must go on, I’m on this road of no returning
And though it burns me and it turns me into ashes
My whole world crashes without your kiss of fire
I can’t resist you, what good is there in trying
What good is there denying you’re all that I desire
Since first I kissed you my heart was yours completely
If I’m a slave, then it’s a slave I want to be
Don’t pity me, don’t pity me
Give me your lips, the lips you only let me borrow
Love me tonight and let the devil take tomorrow
I know that I must have your kiss although it dooms me
Though it consumes me, your kiss of fire
Since first I kissed you my heart was yours completely
If I’m a slave, then it’s a slave I want to be
Don’t pity me, don’t pity me
Give me your lips, the lips you only let me borrow
Love me tonight and let the devil take tomorrow
I know that I must have your kiss although it dooms me
Though it consumes me
Your kiss of fire


Modulo 2, Topic 1
Journey from Tango to Bolero

The first bolero had been composed in 1883 in Santiago de Cuba. « Tristezas », from Jose (Pepe) Sanchez.

The world « Bolero » come from « Bolar » « to fly ».

The spanish culture arrived first in Cuba, that was the first port of Christophe Colombus ( I tough it was « Name of the island » that is now Dominican Republica and Haiti) before spreading in the continent.

African percussion blended with spanish guitar on Spanish romantic poetry (was extremly corny and sentimental). Spanish literature didn’t enjoy the revival of French, German or English romanticism. From 18th century, Spain become a cultural island in Europe.

In the last decades of 19th century, in a small village of Nicaragua, a poet reinvent Latin American literature. Ruben Dario will influence literature untill the lyrics of songs.

Bolero travel from Santiago de Cuba to Havana and then VeraCruz for arriving in 1910 in Mexico City.

JOURNAL ARTICLE
BOLERO: SENTIMENTAL UTOPIAS, MODERNITY, AND MESTIZAJE
LEONEL ALVARADO
Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Revue canadienne des études latino-américaines et caraïbes
Vol. 32, No. 63 (2007), pp. 147-166


Modulo 2, Topic 2
Historical Social context 1920s onwards

Porfirio Diaz is president of Mexico since 1878, the mexican elite want to be white and imported fashion, music, even architecture from France. In 1910, Diaz relinquished power and exile himself to Paris.

Mexican Revolution bring new immigration to Mexico city. With that huge process of modernisation, a new social class is rising: The middle one.

Radio arrived in the 1920’s and talking movies started in 1921. Another technology is the platinium disk. RCA Victor, Records Victrolas radios and his dog « Nipper » on the logo with a gramophone and « His master’s voice »

By 1930’s, Carlos Gardel, tango singer, become movie star. (Rudolf Valentino too). Bolero enter in cinema but not in an innocent manner. La Santa was a prostitute. Like Tango, Bolero was an expression of the poor, the bandits, the protitute but, unlike Tango, Bolero was linked to that idea of revolution against the power. The revolution made governements change but the institution remains. Bolero start to attack social and religious hypocrisy.

As Carlos Gardel was for Tango, Agustin Lara was for Bolero.


Modulo 2, topic 3
Style description

The Golden age of Bolero starts in the 1930’s with the arrival of tropical orchestra, particulary the trio. This bonanza least untill the mid 60’s when bolero couln’t compete with more popular music style.

Maria Felix (or Feliz) became a star with bolero.


Modulo 2, topic 4
Artist interview (Bolero Player – Emilio Bertrand)

African influence: bongo, maracas, clave, quinto

Spanish influence: guitar and romantic lyrics

Mexican input: el trio


Modulo 2, topic 5
Translating “cursi”/kitsch

The word « cursi » would be the best translation for kitsch. « Over the top », « corny » or « Cheesy » are other words that describe kitsch, as « Defeated pretentions ».

As a failed attempt to artistic or beauty sublimity takes in « cursi » a sudden intimacy, tenderness, loving qualities that suggests innocence and a will to imporve one’s social conditions.

The word « kitsch » and « cursi » arrived in a context of industrial period where the middle class were shown in possession of beautifull objects that were reproduction of very expensive and exclusive ones.  » The taste of the wannabee’s »

« Cursi » sensibility of Latin america express a certain emocional disposition that was marked by nostalgia from the past, new ambitions that seems hard to realise and a strong religiosity.

Carlos Monsivais, mexican writer and crtitic, say »our TV Soap is a melodrama that move to the rhythm of Bolero ».

Melodrama is characterised by the central role granted by romantic love. There is a clear limitation between good and bad, gender are clearly identifyed and conservative and there is always need for happy ending.


Modulo 2, Topic 6
Song 1: “Solamente una vez” & analysis

« Solamente una vez », letras

Solamente una vez
Amé en la vida
Solamente una vez
Y nada más
Una vez nada más
En mi huerto
Brilló la esperanza
La esperanza que alumbra el camino
De mi soledad
Una vez nada más
Se entrega el alma
Con la dulce y total
Renunciacion
Y cuando ese milagro realiza
El prodigio de amarse
Hay campanas de fiesta
Que cantan en el corazón
Y cuando ese milagro realiza
El prodigio de amarse
Hay campanas de fiesta
Que cantan en el corazón

Analysis

The most anti religious song of latin america.

Solamente una vez Amé en la vida
(Only once in my live I truly loved)

In the next stanza, the protagonist put himself in Jesus’ place.

Una vez nada más En mi huerto Brilló la esperanza
(Only once did hope shine in my garden)

It’s a clear reference to Gethsemane.

So in this song, what is above everything is not God, but the love of the loved one. And this love get sublime.


Modulo 2, topic 7
Song 1 Translation Analysis (Language & Culture)


Modulo 2, topic 8
Song 2: “Plazos traicioneros (Total)” & analysis

« Plazos Traicioneros », Héctor Lavoe
Letras

Cada vez que te digo lo que siento
tu siempre me respondes de este modo
deja ver, deja ver
si mañana puede ser lo que tu quieres.
Pero asi van pasando las semanas
pasando sin lograr lo que yo quiero
si tu Dios es mi Dios
para que son esos plazos traicioneros.
-r-
Son traicioneros porque me condenan
y hoy me llenan de desesperación
yo no se, si hoy me dices mañana
porque otro me robo tu corazón.

Y cada vez que te digo lo que siento
no sabes como yo me desespero
si tu Dios es mi Dios
para que son esos plazos traicioneros.
Traicionero….


Modulo 2, Topic 9
Song 2 Translation Analysis (language & culture)

Olga Guillot

La Lupe


Modulo 2, Topic 10


Modulo 3, Topic 1
Journey from Bolero to Salsa

Both Bolero and Salsa are born in Santiago de Cuba. If Bolero travel toward Mexico city, Salsa travel north to arrive in USA.


Modulo3, Topic 2
Historical Social context 1950s – 1960s

Cuba and USA have problems. Cuba is runned by a dictator: Batista. Backed by USA, Batista made La Havana like a new Las Vegas. The elite travel to Miami and New-York and it’s there that they fly away from the cuban revolution in 1959. Little Havana from Miami and Barrios latinos from New-York were born.

The carabian immigrant were from Cuba, Dominican Republic or Porto Rico. You can remember the latin gang of « West side story » or the porto ricain dancer of « Saturday night fever ».

When you say latin music from New-York, few names come to mind: Johnny Pacheco, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Ruben Blades.

Also what come to mind is Fania Records founded by italian Jerry Masucci and Johnny Pacheco in 1964. Salsa became the original new-york latin sound and Fania Records transform it into an industry.

Few latin icon become famous like Ricky Ricardo from « I Love Lucy » or Ceasar Romero, the Joker from « Batman » opened up some sort of curiosity about latin culture.

The special status of Porto Rico after the Spanish-American war of 1898 made it possible to them to travel to the USA.

That create a dynamic north-south that soon extended to Venezuela and Panama.

Romulo Castro, from Panama, Oscar DLeon from Venezuela became famous.


Modulo3, Topic 3
Style description

Salsa got it’s name from Fania. Some musician were not confortable with the name « Salsa ». Tito Puente was arguing that Salsa was nothing new and it was in fact « Son » the cuban rythm that give origin to Bolero.

For Puente « Salsa » was sauce for cuisine. In fact « Salsa was use for the first time in a cuban song « Echale salsita ».


Modulo 3, Topic 4
Artist interview (Salsa Musician – Rómulo Castro)

Montuno Son cubano like the origin of Salsa

Puerto ricain « Plena » and « Bomba »

Dominicain merengue

Bunny More

Hector Lavoe


Modulo 3, Topic 5
Translating national identity


Modulo 3, Topic 6
Song 1: “Parte de la historia” & analysis


Modulo 3, Topic 7
Song 1 Translation Analysis (Language & Culture)


Modulo 3, Topic 8
Song 2: “Por Panamá” & analysis


Modulo 3, Topic 9
Song 2 Translation Analysis (language & culture)


Modulo 3, Topico 10
A summary of the Salsa era and artist and introduction to Trova


Modulo 4, Topic 1
Journey from Salsa to Trova

In the 80’s there were civil war in Guatemala and in El Salvador while the revolution was in full force in Nicargua. Chile was still under dictatorship.

Trova’s poitical stance never changed and in some case been linked in specific political movement.

Silvio Rodriguez, Cuba

Some artists became big poetry reader and look over latin america untill Spain. Generaciones del 98 is a group of spanish poet that include Frederico Garcia Lorca, Luis Cernuda, Miguel Hernandez some whom were victims of Spanish civil war.

In Latin america, poets like Cesar Vallejo, from Peru, Pablo Neruda, from Chile were very influencial.

Those poets were influenced by another artistic revolution: surrealism. Salvador Dali, Picasso, Magritte. Psychoanalysis and the exploration of dreams was an essential part of surrealism.

Trova too is born in Cuba. Lot of artists saw in Cuban revolution the long dreamed decolonisation that was overdue.

JOURNAL ARTICLE
La « Nueva Trova »: New Cuban Song
Rina Benmayor
Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana
Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring – Summer, 1981), pp. 11-44


Modulo 4, Topic 2
Historical Social context 1960s


Modulo 4, Topic 3
Style description

Atahualpa Yupanqui, Argentina

Violeta Parra, Chile

Victor Jara, Chile

Influenced by american folk.

Woody Guthrie

Pete Seger

Bob Dylan

Leonard Cohen

Artists present at Havana Protest Song Festival en 1969: La Nuva Trova Cubana.

Silvio Rodriguez


Modulo 4, Topic 4
Artist interview (Trova Musician – Rómulo Castro)


Modulo4, Topic 5
Translating politics


Modulo 4, Topic 6
Song 1: “La Rosa de los Vientos” & analysis

Lyrics
La Rosa de los Vientos
Rómulo Castro / Panamá, 1990

(…) cada hombre lleva encima
la huella de su tiempo (bis)

¿Quién dijo que la risa
tuvo que emigrar
o que la llamarada
con que me mirabas
ya no alumbra más,
qué te ganó el olvido,
que no te beso más,
si al cabo ahora vivimos
repartiendo humanidad?

¿Quién dijo que perdimos
la facultad de amar
o que estamos perdidos
entre tanto signo
de brutalidad?
Seguimos respirando
también por los demás
y es una carga noble
que me agobie su pesar.

(…) mi Tierra, ay, homb’e
(…) mi Patria, ay, homb’e

¿Quién dijo que la vida
se puede apuntalar
con la historia manida
de la sacrosanta
libertad de atar?
Puedes negar un nombre
o un ghetto desecar,
decir que el Polo Norte
está en el Sur… y delirar

(…) mi Tierra, ay, homb’e
(…) mi Patria, ay, homb’e

Yo soy de donde nace
La Rosa de los Vientos:
la azota el vendaval,
pero crece por dentro.

(…) cada hombre lleva encima
la huella de su tiempo (bis)

La Rosa de Los Vientos
Ruben Blades

Cuando uno lleva encima, la huella de sus sueños

Quien dijo que la risa, de tanta alma joven tiene que migrar?
Porque la llamarada, de los sueños nobles ya no alumbran mas
Quien dijo que nos gano el olvido, o que nos venció el jamas?
Quien dice que hay caminos imposibles de encontrar?

Quien dice que perdimos siempre las angustias, si es que van a amar?
Quien cree que no hay manera, de dar a su historia un mejor final?
Sigamos respirando, también por los demas
Porque la causa es buena, no me canso de tratar

Hey, ye-ye-yo, mi tierra y yo
Hey, ye-ye-yo, mi tierra y yo

Quien dijo que la vida se puede apuntalar
A fuerza de de mentiras, removiendo heridas y olvidando amar?
Como borrar distancias sin echarnos a andar?
Por que asumir que el norte esta en el sur y delirar?

Hey, ye-ye-yo, mi tierra y yo
Hey, ye-ye-yo, mi tierra y yo

Yo soy de donde nace la rosa de los vientos
La azota el vendaval, pero crece por dentro
Yo soy de donde nace la rosa de los vientos
La azota el vendaval, pero crece por dentro

La rosa de los vientos!
La azota el vendaval, pero crece por dentro

Pablo Milanes


Modulo 4, Topic 7
Song 1 Translation Analysis (Language & Culture)

Rhetorical questions: Question that are not meant to be answered. We use them for make effect, to assert or deny a point or to gain agreement from a person or people.


Modulo 4, Topic 8
Song 2: “¿Quién?” & analysis

¿QUIÉN?

Rómulo Castro / Panamá, 2000

Quién fuera vagabundo:

desconectado y libre

de otros asuntos,

sin código de acceso

y sin visa múltiple

rumbo al mundo.

Quién fuera equilibrista:

suspendida en un hilo

su vida misma,

flotando en la aventura

de ser él mismo

y su propia crisma.

Quién fuera segador

de su propia siega…

Cristiano en Tierra Santa,

madre en apuros,

puertorriqueño en Vieques,

niño en lo oscuro.

Hutu en casa de Tutsi,

muchacha fea,

amigo porque sí,

etíope en Eritrea.

Quién fuera indiferente:

el corazón blindado

al dolor de gente,

seguro en el silencio

y la eterna paz

de quien yace ausente.

Quién fuera sordomudo:

a fuerza de silencio,

claro y agudo;

con patente de corso

para mandar al mundo

por un tubo.

Quién fuera domador

de su propia fiera…

Judío en Terezín,

párroco sin oblea,

borracho sin desliz,

palestino en Judea.

Anciano en el desván

o en Aranjuez contigo,

prostituta feliz

o seropositivo.

Cristiano en Tierra Santa…


Modulo 4, Topic 9
Song 2 Translation Analysis (language & culture)

 


Modulo 4, Topic 10
Subject overview, further learning

 


 

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