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Tonos del Sur

Tuesday, October 15

7:30 PM |  First Presbyterian Church 

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Juan Orrego Salas 100th Birthday Celebration Festival

Guest Lecture:
Eduardo Herrera, "Experimentation in Practice: CLAEM and the Musical Scene of Buenos Aires during the 1960s"

 

Abstract

In his article “ Traditions, Experiment and Change in Contemporary Latin America” (1988), Juan Orrego Salas demonstrates a shift in hemispheric compositional practices towards experimentation starting in the 1940s. As the most important meeting point for Latin American composers during the second-half of the twentieth century, the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (CLAEM), part of the Di Tella Institute, was a key site for this shift in the regional approaches to music composition. From 1962 to 1971, a total of fifty-four composers from all across Latin America went to Buenos Aires to study classical music composition at CLAEM. This presentation demonstrates that the kind of practices, sounds, ideas, and attitudes that the community of creators and connoisseurs in Buenos Aires around CLAEM were calling “experimental” were not a sign of one thing but a cluster of things which included at least four different associations. First was electroacoustic music and works that used tape or live electronics. Second were instrumental compositions that were heard as rupturing familiar conventions of classical music regarding sound production, instrumental technique, the ritual of the concert, the compositional process, or music making that might be perceived—although not necessarily conceived—as aleatoric and improvisatory. The third was actual improvisation as done by CLAEM’s Grupo de Experimentación Musical, which led to important questions regarding musicality and the relationship between experimentation and music making. Fourth, it was through a lived, embodied experience that experimenting as part of being avant-garde was felt as authentic, valid, and truthful. In other words, participation in the musical avant-garde meant not only composing within certain aesthetic ideals, but also extending these ideals to everyday practices that directly affect the body. These four snapshots create a picture of the complex indexical cluster that was known as “experimental” at the time.

Presenter Biography

Eduardo Herrera (he, his, him) is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He specializes in contemporary musical practices from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinx peoples in the United States from historical and ethnographic perspectives. His research topics include Argentine and Uruguayan avant-garde music, soccer chants as participatory music making, and music and postcoloniality in Latin America. Herrera first book is titled Elite Art Worlds: Philanthropy, Latin Americanism, and Avant-Garde Music (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) explores the history of the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (1962–1971) as a meeting point for local and transnational philanthropy, the framing of pan-regional discourses of Latin Americanism, and the aesthetics and desires of high modernity. Herrera’s co-edited volume Experimentalisms in Practice: Music Perspectives from Latin America (Oxford University Press, 2018) discusses a wide variety of artistic and musical traditions from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos/as in the United States, conceived and/or perceived as experimental. Herrera’s second book project, titled Soccer Chants: The Sonic Potentials of Participatory Sounding- and Moving-in-Synchrony, studies collective chanting in Argentine soccer stadiums. Mixing ethnography and semiotics, Herrera pays attention to the way that moving- and sounding-in-synchrony frames the interpretation of symbolic and physical violence. Drawing on the performative theories of public assemblies, and informed by research on affect and emotion this work argues that chanting brings together sounds and bodies in a public affective practice that through repetition contributes to the construction of masculinities that are heteronormative, homophobic, and aggressive, often generating a cognitive dissonance with the individual beliefs of many of the fans.

 

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