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Whose National Music?

Whose National Music?: Identity, Mestizaje, and Migration in Ecuador

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 268
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  • Book Info
    Whose National Music?
    Book Description:

    Musical genres, musical instruments, and even songs can often capture the essence of a country's national character. InWhose National Music?, the first book-length study of Ecuadorian popular music, Ketty Wong explores Ecuadorians' views of their national identity in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through an examination of the music labels they use. Wong deftly addresses the notion of música nacional, an umbrella term for Ecuadorian popular songs often defined by the socio-economic, ethnic, racial, and generational background of people discussing the music.Wong shows how the inclusion or exclusion of elite and working-class musics within the scope of música nacional articulate different social, ethnic, and racial configurations of the nation for white, mestizo, indigenous, and Afro-Ecuadorian populations.Presenting a macropicture of what música nacional is-or should be-Whose National Music?provides a lively historical trajectory of a country's diverse musical scene.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0059-8
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Multimedia Examples
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    People often believe that a musical phenomenon, such as a particular genre, musical instrument, or song repertoire, captures the essence of a country’s national character. Think of the Paraguayan harp, the Trinidadian steelband, the Brazilian samba, the Argentine tango, and the Dominican merengue as just a few examples of this in Latin America and the Caribbean. In its adoption of the termmúsica nacional(national music), Ecuador is unusually frank in its acknowledgment of the link between a musical symbol and ideas about nationhood. During my sojourn in Ecuador from November 2001 to October 2004, and also as an Ecuadorian...

  6. 1 The Nation in Bloom: A Search for “Ecuadorianness”
    (pp. 17-37)

    My arrival in Ecuador in October 2001 coincided with two important events that reminded Ecuadorians of their nationality and civic duties: the presidential elections on October 17 and the Fifth Population and Housing Census released on November 7. The election of a nation’s leader and an inquiry into a country’s population are certainly two important frames of reference within which citizens of any country can measure their sense of belonging to their nation. My three-year-long stay in Ecuador also coincided with several international events in which Ecuador figured prominently. In 2002, Ecuador’s national soccer team qualified for the first time...

  7. 2 La Música Nacional: An Anthology of Songs
    (pp. 38-65)

    I attended countless concerts of Ecuadorian popular music (EPM) during my stay in Quito between November 2001 and September 2004. Some were organized in the Coliseo Julio César Hidalgo (CJCH), a sports arena located near a food market and a bus transit center at the entrance to Quito’s historic center; others were organized in the Teatro Nacional of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, a concert hall situated in the Mariscal District across from the Parque El Ejido and the embassies of the United States and France. The patrons who attended EPM concerts at the Teatro Nacional were unlikely to...

  8. 3 The Pasillo: Rise and Decline of the National Song
    (pp. 66-94)

    Like many middle-class children in Guayaquil, I grew up listening tomúsica nacionalat home, in my neighborhood, and at school. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was a common feature to hear serenades of romantic boleros andpasillosdevoted to a mother or a woman one was in love with. Curious people in the neighborhood would wake up at midnight and look through their windows to see who was being serenaded. At home, my siblings and I would listen to a variety of popular musics on radio and television programs, especially the famous boleros andpasillosby the Trío...

  9. 4 Rocolera Music: New Urban Sounds in the City
    (pp. 95-129)

    The 1970s was a period of profound social, economic, and political transformations in Ecuador. The discovery of petroleum in the Amazonian region changed the country’s economic structure, which until then had primarily been based on agricultural exports. Ecuador’s new wealth was reflected in the development of national industries, the proliferation of private banks, and the construction of roads connecting the coastal and highland regions. In this decade, a military regime known as the Nationalist and Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces came to power and moved the country toward modernization. The effects of modernization were most evident in the growth...

  10. 5 Chichera Music: The “Tropicalization” of Música Nacional
    (pp. 130-162)

    The 1970s was not only a period of “rocolization” of the Ecuadorianpasillobut also one of “tropicalization” ofmúsica nacional. By “tropicalization” I mean the fusion ofmúsica nacionalgenres with Afro-Caribbean rhythms, particularlycumbiaand salsa, which in the 1960s and 1970s were at the peak of their popularity. In Ecuador, as in most Latin American countries, Afro-Caribbean musics such as salsa,cumbia, and merengue are collectively known asmúsica tropical(tropical music), a term that points to both its geographic origin and the stereotypes of a happy dance music.¹

    Música nacionalunderwent two processes of tropicalization. The...

  11. 6 The Tecnocumbia Boom in Ecuador: “A Letter with My Kisses Sent with Love by Internet”
    (pp. 163-191)

    It seems that almost every Ecuadorian has a close relative, friend, or acquaintance who has left the country in the aftermath of the economic crisis at the turn of the twenty-first century, as I learned in myriad conversations with taxi drivers, street vendors, domestic servants, teachers, musicians, acquaintances, and people in better-off positions. When I arrived in Quito in October 2001, all international airlines with connections to Europe were flying full airplanes to Madrid, Amsterdam, and Rome. Men and women from all walks of life were emigrating in search of better opportunities, including rural peasants who had never left their...

  12. 7 The Translocation of Ecuadorian Popular Music
    (pp. 192-210)

    While rural-to-urban migration has been a common occurrence in Ecuador throughout the twentieth century, emigration to the United States and Europe was rare before the 1970s (Jokisch 2001). Ecuador has experienced two major waves of emigration—one in the 1970s and the other in the 1990s. The first was centered on the southern highland provinces of Cañar and Azuay and was triggered by a decline in the Panama hat business, the main economic activity of the region (Kyle 2000). This earlier emigration was characterized by an exodus of a predominantly male rural population to the United States, most of whom...

  13. Epilogue: Whose National Music?
    (pp. 211-224)

    This book has explored different repertoires of Ecuadorian and non-Ecuadorian music which at some point have been considered (or labeled)música nacional. In analyzing the ideology ofmestizajeas a nation-building discourse in Ecuador, I have examinedmúsica nacionalas a metaphor for Ecuadorian national identity. I have suggested that the types of music that upper-middle- and lower-class Ecuadorians include or exclude in the notion ofmúsica nacionalreveal how they envision the ethnic configuration of the mestizo nation. A central argument of this book has been that upper-class Ecuadorians (white-mestizos) do not acknowledge the indigenous heritage of their mestizo...

  14. Appendices
    (pp. 225-228)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 229-234)
  16. Glossary of Ethnic and Musical Terms
    (pp. 235-236)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 237-246)
  18. Index
    (pp. 247-254)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)