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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Diagonal: An Ibero-American Music Review is the open access online journal of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California, Riverside. Its purpose is to highlight the latest research into the vast musical heritage of Iberia and Latin America, as well as other regions once under Iberian colonial rule whose cultural traditions bear some imprint of Spanish or Portuguese influence, e.g., the Philippines or parts of the United States. The name refers to the fact that the journal's mission cuts across disciplinary and regional boundaries. It accepts contributions in Spanish, Portuguese, or English from scholars in musicology, ethnomusicology, and related disciplines. Diagonal: An Ibero-American Music Review is a peer-reviewed journal with an editorial board, and it conforms to the highest standards of modern humanistic scholarship.


Los sonidos de Costa Rica 200 años después / The Sounds of Costa Rica 200 years later

El presente ensayo propone analizar, en el marco del bicentenario de la independencia de México y Centroamérica (1821-2021), cómo la composición musical y el diseño sonoro son utilizados como herramientas publicitarias para popularizar el imaginario que los grupos hegemónicos consideran pertinentes para cada nación. En su momento requirieron de la invención de la “música nacional”, ahora necesitan “audio branding” para la “marca país” que promocionan en el mercado empresarial transnacional. El análisis propuesto se realizará a partir de los estudios sonoros decoloniales, eligiendo obras costarricenses que conservan testimonios con el fin de examinar las contradicciones de los ideales nacionalistas, así como sus repercusiones en la vida cotidiana.

Danzón-Cumbia: Audible Legacies of Cuban Music in Panamanian Popular Music

By the early 20th century, Cuban danzones took firm hold in the rural communities that dotted Panama’s western littoral. In this context, sectional danzón compositional forms were combined with the open-ended cumbia song-forms to produce what rural Panamanians called “danzón-cumbias”—exceedingly popular musical hybrids that by the mid-20th century and on through the present time had come to dominate the sound of Panamanian cumbia. In this work, I provide an analysis of the key structural features of the danzón as it came to be fully integrated into Panamaian cumbia song-forms. I also discuss the impact that danzón had on contemporary Panamanian dance music.

Maria de Baratta’s 'Nahualismo' Revisited: Quantum Identity Politics, Crises, and Reconfigurations

While attention to the provocative composer Maria de Baratta has increased in the past few years, mysteries about her past remain. Solutions inferred from available data remain uncertain. However, uncertainty itself, and the attendant multiple possibilities, are academically and scientifically supported by quantum theory, postcolonial and new materialist feminisms, ritual technologies like those depicted in de Baratta’s ballet Nahualismo, and known practices of some of the most vaunted artists of our time. Together, these disciplines bring understanding of Maria de Baratta and her ballet into a more multi-dimensional, thus more complete perspective. Paradoxes and quirks in her expressions of the indigenous culture of El Salvador (of which she was a descendant) emerge more as strategic preservation than appropriation.


Standing the Test of Time: Neo–Traditionalism as Neoliberalism in Garifuna World Music

The encroachment of enclave tourism upon centuries-old villages of Afro-indigenous Garifuna along Honduras’s North Coast presents but one example of neoliberalism’s global ascendency during the 1990s. One way that the privatization of the commons materialized was in the commodification of “minority” cultural practices within nation-states -- what Charles Hale (2005) calls “neoliberal multiculturalism.” Mark Anderson (2013) observes that this “marketing of ethnicity produces the promise of inclusion at the potential price of cultural and territorial rights” (ibid.: 277-78). Garifuna cultural practices are pivotal to the promotion of Honduras as a tourist destination; however, visitors encounter visual art, costumes, music, and dance as forms of entertainment while remaining segregated from surrounding Garifuna communities. As a result, their market value is as “symbolic capital” which traffics in stereotypes and apolitical narratives (ibid.: 291).

I argue that Garifuna music functions similarly as symbolic capital within the world music industry. I examine the success of Garifuna musical neo-traditionalism within this industry during the mid-aughts as contingent upon neoliberal marketing strategies akin to those implemented by the resorts built within Garifuna Central American coastal villages. Dale Chapman (2018) and Jay Hammond (2020) have noted a similar function for neo-traditionalism in present-day jazz scenes, whereby musicians mine past aesthetics and values for new forms of individual branding and new options for consumers. Moreover, the premium placed upon “timelessness” in these cases presents neo-traditional musical practices as a foil to musical styles too “untempered” and “common” (reminiscent of “the commons”) in comparison. Central to the story of Garifuna world music is its development as a preferred alternative to punta rock, which arose circa 1979 as a dance genre driven by youths soon realizing local punta and paranda rhythms on keyboards and drum machines. In contrast, the production of recordings by the Garifuna Collective and Aurelio Martinez from the early millennium until today—dominated by acoustic instruments and featuring time-tested, respected musicians steeped in traditional storytelling—takes a page from the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon of the late 1990s to generate global esteem for Garifuna music and culture.

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