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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Que te Vaya Bonito: Breath and Sentimiento According to Chavela Vargas

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 3.0 license

Listening to the voice and breath of Chavela reveals the power structures that exist as and within sentimiento, the affirmation of a public that notes in the vocal production of the other their own disgrace or good fortune. Understanding its historical trajectory as a highly contested ground for representation, not as a single representative of a national “Mexican” feeling. This is not to say Vargas rescues a voice of the past; instead, she forces one to listen and indulge in her pain, which resonates through her body messily, a cry to awaken the timbre corporeal, Musicologist Nina Eidsheim’s concept of the voice we hear as , to that sentimiento, that is only possible to perceive through the voice’s body, and cannot be attributed to merely “passionate” or “pastoral” lyrics, as it has been.

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