Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Music Now with Marysol Quevedo (University of Miami)

Monday, September 20, 2021

12:00pm – 1:30pm

The first talk of the 2021-22 Music Now Colloquium Series will be held next Monday (20 September) at Noon. 
We will be joined (on Zoom) by Prof. Marysol Quevado from the University of Miami, for a talk entitled, "Postmodern Water Music: Liquid Sonority in Cuban Composition in the Early 1980s.” A description of the talk is below. 
To attend the talk, please register here
Please note that the entire fall series will be held remotely over Zoom. 
Abstract: “Postmodern Water Music: Liquid Sonority in Cuban Composition in the Early 1980s”

In 1981, Robert Boudreau conducted the American Wind Symphony Orchestra’s premier of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s Canción de Gesta (Epopeya del Granma, la nave llena de Futuro; Epic poem of Granma, the ship loaded with Future). Throughout the work, Brouwer draws musical connections to water and the program itself—Pablo Neruda’s poem about Fidel Castro’s voyage aboard the Granma yacht from Mexico to Cuba—begged for an exploration of an aqueous sonority. The work is the only composition in Brouwer’s output (best known for his guitar pieces) to have become a standard in the US Wind Band repertory. Once the enfant terrible of Cuban art music, with experimental works such as La tradición se rompe (1969) and Exaedros III (1970), by the 1980s Brouwer’s compositional voice had evolved from an extremely experimental style to a more accessible one.

That same year, Carlos Fariñas completed his electroacoustic work Aguas territoriales (Territorial Waters, 1981) for magnetic tape, where Fariñas gradually transforms the sound of a recording of a drop of water. Fariñas was also inspired by Luis Martínez Pedro’s painting series titled Aguas Territoriales (1963-1973) and Ojos y desnudos del mar (1970) and dedicated his electroacoustic composition to the Cuban painter. The work represents a culmination in Fariñas’s electroacoustic output and was included in the LP Carlos Fariñas. Aguas Territoriales. Música Electroacústica, his first solo and electroacoustic music album.

In this presentation I explore the reception of these works and their specific connections to postmodern musical aesthetics. Borrowing Cuban musicologist Ileana Güenche’s term “liquid sonority,” I argue that these (and other) Cuban composers employed compositional techniques and styles that evoked or drew inspiration from water, consequently making their works accessible, idiosyncratically Cuban, and ultimately postmodern. I examine these works within the political and economic context of 1980s Cuba.

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