McSherry, J. Patrice. Chilean New Song: The Political Power of Music, 1960s-1973.

Author:Zentella, Yoly
Position:Book review
 
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McSherry, J. Patrice. Chilean New Song: The Political Power of Music, 1960s-1973. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2015.

Chilean New Song: The Political Power of Music, 1960s-1973, a product of several years of research conducted by J. Patrice McSherry in Chile, will have a significant impact on many of its readers. For this reviewer, the historical snapshots describing hope, loss, victory, and memory in Chile rekindled similar memories of struggle during the 1960s Chicano Movement in the United States. The Chicano Civil Rights Movement, also known as El Movimiento, was an extension of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement that began in the 1940s with the stated goal of achieving Mexican-American empowerment. For those who lived through the tumultuous era of the 1960s and 1970s, as activists or observers, reading this book will be an act of remembrance of the many people who lost their lives resisting and rebelling.

Chilean New Song takes the reader into the world of grassroots music and song, a combination of traditional indigenous music and folk music entwined with political messages. Conceptualized as la nueva cancion, this genre reflects political change and mirrors the pulse of the popular classes. The genre also gives testimony to a people's counter-hegemonic political movement, and is a historical musical repertoire that tells of the changing politics of Chile. Embedded in discussions of la nueva cancion are the "political and musical debates and disagreements that existed," giving the book a balanced perspective without tinges of romanticism (p. xix). Experience, memory, identity, and emotion are embedded in la nueva cancion; here lie the threads that weave together book and reader.

The book is organized into eight smoothly-written chapters. The reader quickly moves from a rich, concise introduction to the rise of la nueva cancion and its connection to social change, to the book's conclusion. This last section ties together within a Gramscian hegemonic context--the musicians, the penas [musical spaces created by and for la nueva cancion], the institutions that supported it and the obstacles created by mainstream media to block its distribution to the general public. Chapter 1 describes the Gramscian conceptual framework of the book and presents the phenomenon of la nueva cancion in great detail. Chapter 2 gives a brief political history of Chile from colonization to the 1960s. Chapter 3 presents a history of Chilean...

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