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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Transnational Neomelodica Music and Alternative Economic Cultures

  • Author(s): Pine, Jason
  • Pepe, Francesco
  • et al.

In the 1980s, another popular Neapolitan vocal music scene emerged that today thrives in a position of ambiguous alterity to the once-dominant “traditional” music industry that thrived in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century. La canzone neomelodica, or neo-melodic song, is produced, distributed, performed and consumed in an alternative political economic culture, where the so-called formal, informal and illicit economies overlap. The neomelodica music scene constitutes an alternative music industry that encompasses a range of affective-aesthetic sensibilities and economic practices that cause friction with dominant attitudes in Naples regarding “Neapolitan culture” and dominant aesthetic and economic norms performed by the mainstream Italian music industry and its publics. Unlike classic Neapolitan song, neomelodica song has enjoyed national and transnational success largely limited to circulation among southern Italians living throughout Italy, in parts of Europe, and in North America. We describe the neomelodica music scene from an aesthetic and moral/political economic perspective. We analyze how the unique ethico-aesthetic qualities of the neomelodico milieu and neomelodica song’s relationship to other Neapolitan and Italian music genres have conditioned neomelodica song’s national and transnational articulations while at the same time transforming transnational neomelodica music into a unitary and fragmenting repertoire of southern Italian identity.

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