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Music and Revolution

Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba

Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 1
Pages: 367
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  • Book Info
    Music and Revolution
    Book Description:

    Music and Revolutionprovides a dynamic introduction to the most prominent artists and musical styles that have emerged in Cuba since 1959 and to the policies that have shaped artistic life. Robin D. Moore gives readers a chronological overview of the first decades after the Cuban Revolution, documenting the many ways performance has changed and emphasizing the close links between political and cultural activity. Offering a wealth of fascinating details about music and the milieu that engendered it, the author traces the development of dance styles,nueva trova,folkloric drumming, religious traditions, and other forms. He describes how the fall of the Soviet Union has affected Cuba in material, ideological, and musical terms and considers the effect of tense international relations on culture. Most importantly,Music and Revolutionchronicles how the arts have become a point of negotiation between individuals, with their unique backgrounds and interests, and official organizations. It uses music to explore how Cubans have responded to the priorities of the revolution and have created spaces for their individual concerns.Copub: Center for Black Music Research

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93946-2
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Music and the Arts in Socialist Cuba
    (pp. 1-25)

    Though the scope of its influence has declined in recent years, socialist thought represents one of the most far–reaching conceptual developments of modern times. It has resulted, directly and indirectly, in fundamental political changes throughout the world and has given rise to educational systems that produce artists of world–class status, in Cuba and elsewhere. This introduction considers the prominent role that leaders in state socialist countries typically ascribe to culture. It includes a summary of the practical issues facing them as they attempt to inspire music making in a more utopian world and some of the deficiencies they...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Revelry and Revolution: The Paradox of the 1950s
    (pp. 26-55)

    Memories of Cuba in the 1940s and 1950s vary widely; they represent a point of tension between those sympathetic to the socialist revolution and others ambivalent or opposed to it. From the vantage of the present, prerevolutionary memories can be used to justify the actions of revolutionaries or to criticize them and thus retain discursive significance. Authors often discuss the period in essentialized terms. Supporters of socialist Cuba have tended to characterize the “pseudo-republic” as one of the darkest periods of the country’s history. To them, midcentury life was fundamentally marred by the effects of government corruption and political violence...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Music and Social Change in the First Years
    (pp. 56-79)

    The sudden departure of Batista in the final days of 1958 and the occupation of the capital by opposition forces represented significant events to Cubans in several respects. Those who had fought against the dictator did so without significant external assistance; their success bolstered faith in the country’s ability to manage its own affairs. Revolutionary victory brought an end to a period of undeniable political oppression and suggested that responsible constitutional rule soon would be restored. Beyond this, the struggle represented the culmination of Cuba’s many attempts to achieve complete autonomy. Overtly, the battle had been against Batista, but for...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Artistic Institutions, Initiatives, and Policies
    (pp. 80-106)

    For years, essayists in Cuba avoided critical evaluations of domestic arts institutions. Some considered it counterproductive to focus on negative aspects of the revolutionary experience. Others may not have felt at liberty to express critical views or have had access to the sorts of information that would substantiate them. Authors consistently found fault with music making in the capitalist world yet discussed local initiatives only in the most positive terms.¹ In retrospect, their unwillingness to evaluate revolutionary initiatives objectively may have done more harm than good, placing the credibility of many publications in doubt. Commentary on exactly what problems have...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Dance Music and the Politics of Fun
    (pp. 107-134)

    When Ernesto Guevara described Cuba in the early 1960s as having given rise to a revolution withpachanga(the ambience of a party), he perhaps unknowingly touched upon a subject that has generated controversy for many years: the place of fun, humor, sensuality, and irreverence within the lives of concerned socialists. Marxist leaders often strike the public as somewhat puritanical; the society they strive for, while humane, is not necessarily one in which fun plays a central role. Abel Prieto has recognized the problem in Cuba, describing the cultural establishment of the 1970s and early 1980s as “impregnated with a...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Transformations in Nueva Trova
    (pp. 135-169)

    Despite its broad impact, surprisingly little of substance has been written aboutnueva trova,¹ the music most closely associated with the Cuban Revolution. My primary interest in this repertoire concerns its changes in status through the years.Nueva trovabegan as an oppositional form of expression in aesthetic terms and sometimes in political terms. During its early years it was referred to ascanción protesta(protest song) and provided a unique perspective on the revolution for those willing to listen. As a result of their nonconformity, youngtrovadoresoften ran afoul of the police and cultural organizations through about 1971....

  11. CHAPTER 6 Afro-Cuban Folklore in a Raceless Society
    (pp. 170-196)

    Throughout the Americas, the expressive forms of African descendants have proven central to the emergence of distinct regional and national identities. As slaves brought forcibly to the New World, they had no choice but to adapt to radically new social conditions, forms of labor, and language. While in some cases they perpetuated traditions brought with them across the Atlantic, it is not surprising that in their new environment Afro-Cubans were among the first to fashion a distinct cultural sensibility by fusing elements from their past with the practices of their colonial masters. Following abolitionist and independence movements in the nineteenth...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Ay, Dios Ampárame: Sacred Music and Revolution
    (pp. 197-224)

    Those who study the arts as a pan-cultural phenomenon have long recognized the close ties between music and religious activity. Chanting and singing are a prominent means of communication with the divine in nearly every culture. Yet music and dance are more central to African-derived religions than most others, as ethnologist Roger Bastide noted years ago. Theorichas,or African deities, are said to love music so much that they rarely resist the chance to visit worshippers personally when summoned by songs and rhythms (Hagedorn 2001:75–76). Many have described the activities surrounding Santería and related religions as a form...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Music and Ideological Crisis
    (pp. 225-250)

    Cuba at the turn of the millennium is undergoing a rapid series of changes that have affected almost every facet of society. In the space of only about fifteen years, the country has become less militantly socialist—in practice, if not discursively—and is more closely in contact with capitalist countries. Ideological slogans, once virtually the only messages seen in public spaces and on the radio, now compete with commercial advertisements. Job security is largely a thing of the past, with emphasis placed on competency and efficiency in the workplace. Cubans purchase many household products in foreign currency at international...

  14. CONCLUSION: Musical Politics into the New Millennium
    (pp. 251-264)

    It is difficult to foresee a resolution to long-standing tensions between Cuba and the United States in this period of escalating political rhetoric and extremism. Politicians in Washington and Havana show little willingness to compromise. On the contrary, they have converted ideological intransigence into a virtue; their pronouncements have become “mirrors of intolerance” (Rojas 1998:131). Hostility toward Cuba on the part of recent U.S. administrations contradicts their ostensible goal of fostering understanding, dialogue, and political reconciliation. This is especially inappropriate given Cuba’s massive troop reductions in recent years and the State Department’s own conclusion that it is neither involved in...

  15. Appendix: Publications on Music from Revolutionary Cuba
    (pp. 265-274)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 275-306)
  17. Glossary
    (pp. 307-316)
  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 317-340)
  19. Index
    (pp. 341-350)