[act-ma] 4/02 Hearing Voices in Contemporary Cuban Popular Song

July 26th Coalition info at july26.org
Sun Apr 1 06:34:13 PDT 2012

  Hearing Voices in Contemporary Cuban Popular Song

*Susan Thomas*
Visiting Scholar
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

Deborah Pacini Hernández
Department of Anthropology
Tufts University

*Date:* Monday, April 2, 12-2pm
*Location:* DRCLAS, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street, Room S-216

/About the Seminar:/
A new sound of Cuban music developed in the economically turbulent years 
of the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union roiled the Cuban 
economy. Marked by an adventurous harmonic and rhythmic sensibility and 
multi-layered and often topical and culturally-specific lyrics, this 
music's most marked characteristic is its hybridity, drawing from Cuban 
dance music, /nueva trova/, /filin/, and /rumba/ as well as from 
international influences including U.S. funk, R & B, and hip hop; 
Brazilian and North American jazz; and Argentine, British and North 
American rock. Over the last two decades, Cuban musicians have engaged 
in an international performative dialogue that went beyond the 
appropriation of instrumental stylistic features and included the 
widespread use of vocal techniques, timbres, and articulations drawn 
from non-Cuban artists and also, increasingly, iconic Cuban voices that 
had previously only been heard from a distance, whether temporal or 
geographic. In listening for the essences of well-known voices such as 
Fito Páez, Ignacio Villa, Barry White, and Benny Moré in Cuban popular 
song since the 1990s, Professor Thomas explores how such ventriloquisms 
have become central to the "voluptuousness of meaning" (Barthes 1997) of 
Cuban music making at a time when Cubans' geopolitical stability has 
been radically altered through economic crisis, diaspora, and 
transnational ties. Borrowing from Freya Jarman-Ivens' discussing of 
queer vocal performance (2011), Professor Thomas theorizes that Cuban 
musicians' vocal ventriloquisms participate in similar strategies with 
the aim to correspondingly destabilize and render visible the 
constructed nature of identity, in this case, /cubanidad/, or Cuban 

/About the Speaker:/
Susan Thomas holds an MA in Music from Tufts University, a MM in Vocal 
Performance from New England Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in 
musicology and MFA in Women's Studies from Brandeis University. At the 
University of Georgia she is an Associate Professor of Musicology and 
Women's Studies. Her publications include the book /Cuban Zarzuela: 
Performing Race and Gender in Havana's Lyric Stage/. She is currently a 
Santander Visiting Scholar at DRCLAS for the academic year to work on 
her next book, /The Musical Mangrove: The Transnationalization of Cuban 
Popular Song/.

Feel free to bring a bag lunch to this seminar.

For more information on upcoming events, visit: 

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