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Music, Blackness and National Identity: Three Moments in Colombian History

Author(s): Peter Wade


Source: Popular Music, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan., 1998), pp. 1-19
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/853270
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PopularMusic (1998) Volume 17/1.Copyright@ 1998 Cambridge UniversityPress.


Printedin the United Kingdom

Music, blackness and national


identity:threemomentsin
Colombian history
PETER WADE
Introduction
The study of music and national identityhas been limited,in my view, by some
underlyingassumptions. The firstis connectedto some influentialideas on nationalism, while the second has to do with long-standingideas about the relation
between music and identity.On nationalism,many approaches place too much
emphasis on the homogenising tendencies of nationalistdiscourse, whereas, in
my view, homogenisation exists in a complex and ambivalent relationshipwith
the constructionof differenceby the same nationalistforcesthatcreatehomogeneity. In a related fashion, with respect to music and identity,several studies of
Latin Americanmusical stylesand theirsocio-politicalcontext- forexample, ones
focusingon the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Brazil - display a tendencyto set
up a model of homogenising elites versusdiversifyingand resistantminorities.
This means that diversityalways comes fromoutsideofficialdiscourse on cultural
identityand music and I thinkthat this over-simplifiesthe situation- at least for
Colombia and probablymore generally.
In what follows, I examine assumptions about nationalismand then look at
how I thinkthey underlie some recentaccounts of music and the representation
of national identityin Latin America. I will then look at some stylesof Colombian
popular music in a way that I hope takes us furtherin the understandingof how
music and nation-buildingfittogether.

Nationalidentity
Anderson (1983) and Gellner(1983, 1994)both emphasise the importanceof homogeneityin the ideologies of modern nationalism.The nation is characterisedby its
'communityof anonymity'(Anderson 1983, p. 40), the identificationof the citizen
with otherunknown compatriotsin a common allegiance to the nation itself.This
qualityis created,accordingto Anderson, primarilyby spreadingliteracyand print
capitalismwhich allow people to imagine a communityof nationals. A precondition is the emergence of a concept of 'homogeneous, empty time' (WalterBenjamin,citedin Anderson 1983,p. 28) in which people can imagine theiractionsbeing
simultaneous with those of others located elsewhere in the nation. For Gellner,
'homogeneity,literacyand anonymityare the key traits'(1983, p. 38). Modernising
production systems needed educated people who could manage information
(includinginstructionsabout production).Thus a literate'high culture',previously
1

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PeterWade

the prerogativeof rulers,began to pervade the entiresociety,creatingan identificationwith 'an anonymous mass society' (Gellner 1994, p. 41).
Segal and Handler criticiseGellner and Anderson for implying that the
nationalistidea of homogenenitywithina social unitpre-existednationalismitself,
but they still propose that the ideal-typicalnation is 'fundamentallyconstituted
by a principle of equivalence' (Segal and Handler 1992, p. 3). Bhabha has also
contended thatthe holism of which nationalismis an example asserts 'culturalor
politicalsupremacyand seeks to obliteratetherelationsofdifferencethatconstitute
the languages of historyand culture' (1989, cited in Asad 1993, p. 262) and Hall
has argued that'national cultureshelp to "stitchup" differences'into one identity
(1992, p. 299). Gilroy'swork on the Britishnation also focuses on representations
of Britishnessas, in essence, culturallyand raciallyhomogeneous (Gilroy 1987).
Taussig has noted, concerningwritingson nationalism:
much of anthropology
... fromVictorTurnerto MichelFoucault,forexample,claims
likean organicunitybetweentheseal ofthesymboland thewaxoftherecipient,
something
betweenthediscourseand thecitizen.The Romanticaestheticsof symbol,fromHegel to
Goetheonwards,and the structuralism
of de Saussureconvergeon thispoint.(1992,p.

54).

The analysis focuses on what nationalistdiscourse itselfdefinesas ideal - homogeneity- with littleattentionto the evident paradox thattotalhomogeneitywould
entail the obliterationof the differencesof hierarchywithinthe nation that even
nationalistelites struggleto maintain.
This does not mean that heterogeneityis by any means ignored in many of
these approaches, but it tends to be conceptualised in certainways: eitheras the
struggleof one potential nation within another nation - admittedlyan issue of
pressing importance - or more commonly as a series of resistanttraditionsor
hybriditiesset againstthe homogeneityofthe modernnation.The latteralternative
is, in fact,the common oppositional paradigm that pits a homogenisingnational
eliteagainst a heterogeneouspopular or traditionalsubalternculture,seen as more
or less resistant.The recentliteratureon hybridity- forexample, by Gilroy,Hall
or Bhabha - tends to fitthis mould by seeing new hybrid cultures or cultural
elements as resistant,counter-hegemonic,or contestatoryforceswhich challenge
the modernistproject of the nation-state.
Now, I do not, of course, wish to suggest thatall these approaches are simply
barking up the wrong tree. I do think that the analysis of heterogeneityis not
thebasic oppositionbetween homoadequate. There is a tendencyto over-simplify
genising nation-buildersand heterogeneous others, sometimes wedded to the
implicationof strategicintentionalityon the part of the elite and/orthe subaltern.
There is also a tendency to romanticiseresistance,although this is not my main
concern here (Abu-Lughod 1990).
Bhabha's work,while fittingin some respectsinto the mould outlinedabove,
also containsother,different
lines of thought.Speaking of the 'space of liminality'
of the national discourse (Bhabha 1994, p. 149), he identifiesa 'double narrative
where the nation's people must be
movement', a 'contested conceptual territory
thoughtin double-time':
the people are the historical'objects'of a nationalist
pedagogy,givingthe discourseof
thatis based on thepre-given
or constituted
authority
origininthepast;thepeopleare also
the 'subjects'of a processof signification
thatmusteraseany prioror originary
presence
ofthenation-people
to demonstrate
theprodigious,livingprinciples
ofthepeopleas con-

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Threemoments
in Colombian
history

as thatsignofthepresent
thoughwhichnationallifeis redeemedand iterated
temporaneity:
as a reproductive
process.(ibid.,p. 145)
Bhabha is not referringhere to the paradox noted by Nairn, Anderson and
Gellner - and captured in Nairn's Janus-facemetaphor (Nairn 1977) - in which
nationalism looks two ways at once: forwardsto progressive modernity,backwards towards the legacy of tradition.Both directionsof gaze share the same
teleological temporalitywhich Bhabha detects in 'nationalistpedagogy'. Instead,
he is exploringa furtherambivalence between this 'continuistaccumulativetemporality'and the 'repetitious,recursivestrategyof the performative'(Bhabha 1994,
p. 145). Bhabha is makinga distinctionbetween a historicisttemporality- dependent on Anderson's emptyhomogeneous time - in which the nation is both timelessly ancient and moving forward,and a performativetemporalityin which the
'cultural shreds and patches' (Gellner 1983, p. 56) of the nation are invoked. In
the firstmode, the nation and its people are moving throughhistorytowards a
national destiny of coherent identity;they are a modern(ising), homogenising
whole. In the second mode, deprived of this historicism,'the nation turns from
being the symbolof modernityinto becoming the symptomof an ethnographyof
the "contemporary"withinmodern culture' (Bhabha 1994, p. 147). In this ethnography, the heterogeneityof 'the people' necessarilycomes to lightbecause the
focus is on the repetitiveperformancesof theirdaily lives which effectively
constitute the nation's culture.To ratherover-simplify,
the distinctionis similarto looking at the nation from the inside out (when it is a whole, marching through
historicaltime), as opposed to seeing it fromwithin (when it is what people do
with their lives). The point I wish to bring out is that, ratherthan creatingan
opposition between a dominant state or ruling class bent on homogeneityand a
varied populace who, to a greateror lesser extent,vindicate theirheterogeneity
against this oppressive force,Bhabha shows that the nationalistnarrativecarries
this splitas a liminalspace withinitself,'sliding ambivalentlyfromone enunciatory
position to another' (1994, p. 147).
This gets us beyond an emphasis on the trainingand pruning of diversity
that, although very useful - and reminiscentof Hall's idea of differencesbeing
'stitched' togetherinto one identity- also suggests the antagonisticopposition
between nationalist discourse and diversitywhich is too simple to capture the
ambivalence Bhabha indicates. That nationalist elites may intentionallyseek to
discipline diversityis clearlytrue,' but it mightbe more productiveto say that,in
a diversitywhich theyalso partly
doing so, theyuse heterogeneityby resignifying
construct:ethnographicvarietyis not just 'out there'to be representedand manipulated in disfiguredform,itsveryexistencein the nationis mediated by the official
representationsof it. In this sense, a nationalistprojectdoes not just tryto deny,
suppress or even simplychannel an unrulydiversity;it activelyreconstructsit.
Asad has also recognised this in his recentwork:
The claimthatmanyradicalcriticsmake thathegemonicpower necessarilysuppresses
in favourof unityis quitemistaken.Justas mistakenis theirclaimthatpower
difference
- dominantpower
To secureitsunity- to makeitsown history
alwaysabhorsambiguity.
has workedbest throughdifferentiating
and classifying
practices.India's colonialhistory
furnishesample evidenceof this. In thiscontextpower is constructive,
not repressive.
its abilityto selector construct
the differences
Furthermore,
thatserveits purposeshas
the dangersand opportunities
containedin ambiguoussitudependedon its exploiting
ations.(1993,p. 17)

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PeterWade

There is more at stake here than just a recognitionthat officialmulticulturalism


exists - forexample, in Colombia (Wade 1995) - because such a situationcan be
reductivelyexplained as a state strategyto co-optand containtroublesomediversity.My argumentis thatthe diversityis partand parcel ofnation-building,whether
or not multiculturalismis an official stance, and that diversity is itself
(re)constituted through nation-building and not just tamed or battered into
submission.
Diversityis necessary to nationalistideas, partlybecause it is only vis-a-vis
diversitythat unity can be imagined, but also because diversityalmost always
involves power relations.Justas in colonial power relationsthe coloniser's sense
of dominationis fed by a narcissisticdesire forthe submission of the subordinate
other (Bhabha 1994, p. 97), so the nation-buildersdefine theirown superiorityin
relation to the diversitythey observe and construct- and desire. Distinctionas
excellence depends upon distinctionas differentiation;
discriminationas refined
and superiortaste depends on discriminationagainst those definedas inferiorand
different.

Music and identity


When analysts examine the relationof music to national identity,I thinkthatthe
ideas about nationalismcriticisedabove oftenunderlie the approach taken. This
can be compounded by 'the assumption thatthe sounds must somehow "reflect"
or "represent" the people [who produce them]' (Frith1996, p. 108). This is the
theoryof homology that Middleton criticisesat length is his assessment of the
studyof 'popular music in culture'(Middleton 1990,pp. 127-71). A centralcharacteristicof many studies within this perspective, according to Middleton, is the
idea of a relationof homology between musical formand social structure(which
can be said to include the social positioningfromwhich identityis held to arise).
He presents a detailed argumentwhich, in brief,concludes that many of these
studies tend to overstatethe tightnessof fitbetween the two levels, may understate conflictover musical meaning within the social group whose identityis
supposedly being reflectedand, in the case of those studies which posit a counterculturalmusic reflectinga subculturalgroup, may overstatethe elementof subversion. In general, there is a tendencyto see social identityas a pre-formedthing
which music simplyexpresses.2
In the contextof this discussion of national identity,the problemsMiddleton
outlines would be reflectedin a tendencyto see a 'national music' as the homoeliteand to see other
genisingimpositionof a nation-building(musical/intellectual)
as
to
redefine
that
music
and/or
the
terrainwith other
groups
trying
contesting
musics. What mightbe missingwould be a more subtleappreciationof the diversitycontained withinthe nationalistmusic or discourse about music. The move that
Frith(1996) and Stokes (1994) recommend towards seeing music as constituting,
ratherthan simplyreflecting,
identitywould clearlywork against such a tendency,
since both music and identitybecome more flexibleand less reified.The move
thatMiddleton (1990) suggests towards a Gramscianview of hegemony,in which
disparate culturaland ideological elements are neverthelessheld togetherby an
articulatingprincipleor set of centralvalues, is also usefulas itbringsin the notion
of a diversitywhich is subject to, and hierarchisedby, a structuringhegemonic

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Threemoments
in Colombian
history

principlethat is orientedby the values of the dominant class. (Although such a


view can be distortedinto an elite versus masses opposition.)
A look at some examples fromstudies of Latin Americanmusical styleswill
help to illustratemy point. Pacini (1991) interpretsDominican merengue as a
musical stylecontrolledand appropriatedby the Trujillodictatorshipas an expression of Dominican nationalidentity.Contestshave takenplace between the urban,
orchestratedformof merengue and other stylesthat express other social groups'
values: salsa, ruralmerengue,bachata, nuevacanci6n- the lattertryingto redefine
merengue itselfas a more African-derivedstyle. The analysis is penetratingand
revealing of Dominican music and culturalidentities,but diversityalways comes
fromoutside (below) the imposed national musical style;each social group has its
musical style(s) that representits values or interestsand these groups and styles
engage in a luchasonora(sound battle).
Davis (1994) sees merengue in a similar light. Under Trujillo, the African
roots of merengue were denied, although others contested this erasure of blackness (Davis 1994,p. 127) - again a relativelysimple oppositional model is implied.
Davis complicatesthisa littleby statingthatmerengue has a dual aspect: different
aspects ofDominican identity(traditionaland modern,ruraland urban) are represented by traditionalmerengue and orchestratedmerengue (ibid., p. 136), but this
insightis not theorised.
For Duany, in some contrast,the key to merengue's success as a national
music was its evidentAfro-Europeansyncretism(1994, p. 74), even thoughTrujillo
used it as part of his campaign against Haitian influences (which were seen as
stronglyAfrican).Nevertheless,Duany sees merengueas 'a symbolof the Dominican sense of peoplehood' (1994, p. 80) and does not really deconstructthe idea
of 'peoplehood', thus abrogatingthe problem of diversity.
Averill's analysis of Haitian music explictlyadopts a homological approach
(1994, p. 178). He sees music as a site for a contest over cultural identityby
differentgroups: 'ideologies of Africandescent help both to constructthe nation
... and to deconstructit' (ibid., p. 158). Averill's approach is close to my own
since differentnotions of Haitian identityand the musical styles associated with
those notions all emanate principallyfrom the intellectualand middle classes,
so that diversityis constitutedfromwithin what could, very broadly, be called
nation-builders.Nevertheless,Averilltends to set different
groups of people, with
theirassociated homologous musical styles,in opposition to each other. He also
tends to set up a basic confrontationbetween a dominant ideology - which,
although noiriste,was anti-Voodoo and Francophile - and subversive, more
African-oriented
tendencies which have gained ground post-Duvalierand are the
'musical corollaryto populist politicalmovements' (ibid., p. 178).
Reily's approach to Brazilian national identityand music is ratherdifferent
in that she is examining musicological discourse about nationhood, ratherthan
stylesof music perse (Reily 1994). Focusing on the veryinfluentialMario de Andrade, writerand musicologist among other things, she traces his search for a
national music. This took place in the contextof Brazilian intellectuals'attempts
to overturnthe negative images of race mixtureimplied by the scientificracismof
the earlytwentiethcenturythatsaw miscegenationas a weakening and contaminating process. Mixturebecame a positive feature,heraldingtolerance,democracy
and integration,as it did to varyingextentsin Colombia and elsewhere (Wade
1993). Likewise, in Mario de Andrade's view, a national music, if such a thing

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PeterWade

could be said to exist,had the qualities of combinationand synthesis:'the nationalist projectrequired a discourse thatwould allow forthe integrationof the various
regional genres. Mario was to find this unityin the way the national psyche had
transformedEuropean, Africanand Amerindianelements' (Reily1994,p. 83). Now
it is undoubtedly the case that a nationalistprojectrequires integration,at some
level, but what is also interestingis the diversitythat is constantlyreproduced,
invoked and actively constructedby Mario's writingson music: the 'Brazilian
psyche' that seems, in Mario's view, to have been the active agent in the process
of incorporationand synthesisundergoes a simultaneous fragmentation
- this is
inevitablebecause that psyche was itselfformedthroughsynthesisand continuously rediscoversthe heterogeneityof its originsin reflectingon itselfand on the
continuingdiversityof musical styles.
It is not my contentionthat therehas been no denial and disparagementof
blackness in nationallypopular music stylesin the Dominican Republic or Haiti these are not my area of expertise. Nor would I presume to criticisePacini's or
Averill'snuanced accounts of the relationsbetween music, social change and politics. I am interested,however, in the evident tendency to interpretdiversityas
- usually between an elite with a projectof culresultingprincipallyfromconflict
tural unificationand some oppositional others- or, in Reily's case, to emphasise
the homogenisingaspect of the nationalistproject.Denial or rejectionofblackness
certainlydoes existin the Colombian materialand, in my previous work on blackness in Colombian society(Wade 1993), I was initiallydrawn to make sense of it
as a nationalistdiscourse of culturalhomogenisation. Referenceto mixtureas a
definingtraitis common in Latin Americandiscourse on the nation and has been
seen by many academics - includingmyself- as invokinga historyof homogenisation (Whittenand Torres 1992, Wade 1993, 1995). Past diversityof race and culture - African,Indian and European components - is said to be supplanted by
present or futurehomogeneitybroughtabout by mixture.
But it is now my view, as outlined above, thatthis over-simplifiesthe ambivalences and complexitiesof nationalistdiscourse; researchingmusic made this
especially evident since in discourse about music, questions of originsand diversity were constantlyforegrounded.Aside fromthe factthat to deny blackness or
Africannessor diversityin general,it has to be inscribedin some formin the first
place, I found constantreferenceto racial and culturaldiversityin official,intellectual and elite discourse on the nation: it was by no means simplybeing denied,
although it was oftenplaced on the bottomrungs of a moral hierarchy.This was
particularlyevident in discourse about music and the nation. It is even more
evident in the 1990s when, as we shall see, recent 'post-modern' Colombian
triesveryexplicitlyto relocatediversityas
nationalism,invokingmulticulturalism,
part of the modern nation. This, I argue, is not a radical departure,but a change
rung on the same bells.

Music and national identityin Colombia


I want now to look at threemomentsin the historyof Colombia's popular music:
the late nineteenth century with the emergence of a national style; the midtwentiethcenturyboom of tropicalmusic stylesand the 1990s emergenceof postmodern nostalgicrevivals of (modernised) tradition.3

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Threemoments
in Colombian
history

Bambuco
In urban areas duringthe nineteenthcentury,dances originatingin Europe, such
as the waltz, contradanza, polka and mazurka, were popular among 'respectable'
people in Colombia, played in their salons on piano and string instruments,
although they would have been heard by a range of classes when played by
militarybands during public festivals. These European formswere sometimes
'creolised' to produce new forms,such as the pasillo,a formof waltz popular in
Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. For the upper classes, regional variationin
this sortof music was not very marked: the same music was listened and danced
to in Bogota, in the Andean interiorof the country,and in Cartagena, on the
Caribbean coast. However, there were also urbanised versions of more varied
regional rural stylesand here therewas more diversity.
Colombia was and stillis a highlyregionalisedcountry(Wade 1993). To the
northis the Caribbean coastal region:a hot savannah with a population of evident
black and indian heritage,although the elite is mostlywhite. The rural peasant
musical traditionsshow a good deal of Africanand some indian influences,alongside European influences. To the west is the Pacific coastal region: inhabited
mainly by blacks and indians, the region has varied peasant musical traditions,
showing mainly Africanand European heritageoutside the indian communities.
To the east lie the Llanos, or plains, (which merge eastwards into the Amazon
jungle): peasant music thereshares a greatdeal with the Venezuelan joropostyle.
In the middle ofthese diverseand peripheralregions,lies the centrein geographic,
economic and political terms: the Andean interior,populated mostlyby whites
and mestizos,with small indian populations in isolated areas. In the interior,there
was a variety of musical styles, mainly based on guitars of various sizes and
mandolins. In this region,bambucowas already popular in BogotAand othercities
of the interiorfromat least the mid-nineteenthcentury(RestrepoDuque 1991, p.
126; 1988, p. 529).4
Towards the end of the nineteenthcentury,music in Colombia began to be
integratedinto discourses about national identityand it was bambuco of the interior region's stringensembles that took pride of place. The pasillo, which was
actuallymore widespread, did not acquire the same nationalistovertones- probablybecause itwas popular in severalneighbouringcountries.The author,journalist and politician,Jose Maria Samper (1828-88), said of the bambuco that, '[There
is] nothingmore national, nothingmore patrioticthan this melody which counts
all Colombians among its authors. It is the soul of our pueblo[people, nation]made
into melody.' Accordingto Baldomero Sanin Cano (1851-1957),an educator,critic,
of
journalistand politician:'Bambuco resounds with the heartbeats[palpitaciones]
the fatherland.'In the words of the historian,Luis Angel Cuervo (1893-1954):'The
historyof bambuco is the historyof the whole Republic, of its societies and its
individuals.' Writingin 1960, Eduardo Caballero Calder6n (b. 1910), writer,journalist and politician,affirmedthat 'Withoutbambuco, the fatherlandwould not be
conceived' (all cited in Perdomo Escobar 1963, p. 308). Not surprisingly,even
is takento mean bambuco and otherstylescharactoday the termmbsicacolombiana
teristicof the Andean interior.
Bambuco, along with pasillo and otherstylesfromthe interior,provided the
inspirationfornationalistart music by Colombian composers such as Guillermo
Uribe Holguin (Bdhague 1996, p. 317). Abadia Morales notes how bambucos had

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PeterWade

as lyrics'select poetry,taken froma universalrepertoireor sometimesfromeminent poets' (1983, p. 156). On the otherhand, bambucos were performedby more
popular musicians such as Pedro Morales Pino, Emilio Murillo, Alejandro Wills
and JorgeAfiez (Restrepo Duque 1991). Several of these recorded in New York
between 1910 and 1930, playing bambucos, marchas, pasillos, waltzes - not to
mention Cuban habaneras and boleros and Mexican rancheras.5
The nationalistimage of bambuco has to be seen not only in the contextof
the music nationalismcommon all over Latin America at the time,but also in the
context of the internationalisationof popular music that the nascent recording
industryimmediatelyrepresented. With the establishmentof Columbia Gramophone Company (1903) and Victor Talking Machine Company (1901), gramophones were soon widelyavailable in Latin America- althoughtheircost restricted
purchase, they could be easily heard in public places. Radios soon followed and
several Latin Americannations, includingColombia, had theirown radio stations
fromthe late 1920s. From the very start,the US record companies recorded Latin
American music for sale in the USA, Latin America and elsewhere. They would
send agents with portablerecordingmachines to Latin Americancitiesand record
in hotel rooms; later they set up theirown studios and presses in urban centres
such as Mexico City, La Habana, Santiago and Buenos Aires (Fagan and Moran
1986, p. 521). Conversely, their retail agents would send artists to the record
companies in these cities or in New York.
The music directedat the Latin American marketwas exceptionallyeclectic
and included waltz, mazurka, polka, pasodoble, blues, one-step, foxtrot,tango,
danz6n, son, bolero, rancheras and so on. A single artistmight record a wide
varietyof these, backed by a house orchestramade up of an equally wide variety
of nationalities. The music industry,in effect,prefiguredcertain aspects of a
eclecticism,
globalised condition now associated with post-modernity:flexibility,
collage, staging and so on.6 Nevertheless, just as recent globalisation has not
entailed the demise of the nation (Hall 1991), certainstyleswere associated with
certaincountries- bolero with Cuba or tango with Argentina.There were notionrested on
ally 'national' repertoires.For Colombia, a claim to national particularity
thebambuco, or sometimeson songs simplylabelled cancidncolombiana
(Colombian
song). It is no accident that one of the firstrecordingsby a Colombian was the
Colombian national anthem, cut in 1919 by Emilio Murillo with the Lira Antioquefia (a stringensemble). In short, then, bambuco became a national music
of the music industry.
partlyin response to the internationalisation
It would be easy enough to see in the rise ofbambuco a projectof nationalist
culturalhomogenisationwhich marginalisedthe musics ofotherregionsand privileged the mainlywhite/mestizoAndean interioragainst the more black and indian
peripheries. But things are not quite so simple. There have been long debates
about the origins of bambuco. In his dictionaryof Colombian music (1867), J.C.
Osorio said the bambuco originallycame fromthe bunde,held to be a black dance.
The poet Rafael Pombo wrote of bambuco as a fusionof indian melacholy,African
fireand Andalucian wit - a classic moral trilogyin discourse about the Colombian
nation. The novelist JorgeIsaacs, in his famous novel Maria (1868), said it had a
black origin,while JorgeAiez, one of its greatexponents,asserted thatits origins
were firmlyin the Colombian Andes, rejectingIsaacs' contentionthat the name
itselfcame fromAfrica.7Davidson (a Colombian, despite the name) dedicates some
400 pages of his dictionaryof folkoreto the bambuco and concludes that it is of

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Threemoments
in Colombianhistory

Spanish origin- some hundred pages are given over to discussing possible indigenous and Africanoriginsin the process (Davidson 1970, pp. 49-460).
So while bambuco was hailed as the musical essence of nationhood, discussions about it oftenforegroundedand indeed activelyconstructeddiversity.This
diversitytended to be located in the past - i.e., at the originof the nation - but it
mightalso be broughtinto the present,as in Pombo's pronouncement.This was
all subject to contestation- Afiez discounted an Africanorigin,as did the frankly
racistmusicologistDaniel Zamudio who disdained black music as 'simian'8- and
this indicates that diversitywas always liable to placed in a moral hierarchyof
power and racial identification.Nevertheless,blackness was oftenpresent.
Costefiomusic
From the 1930s, Cuban, Mexican and Argentinianmusic - via the international
recordingindustrywhich was beginningto diversifyinto nationallyowned businesses in Latin American countries- had a major impact in Colombia. Although
much of thismusic was initiallyfrownedupon as vulgar and plebian by the elites,
ensconced in theirsocial clubs, it soon gained theiracceptance, at least among the
younger generationand especially when played by large dance orchestras- 'jazz
bands' - in the North American fashion. This was partlybecause some of the
record and communicationsindustrywere run, and sometimes owned, by the
growingand risingmiddle classes, who tended to be less exclusive in theirtastes.
From the late 1930s, dance band leaders in the Caribbean coastal region- la
costa,as itis generallyknown - who were playinga mixtureofCuban, Argentinian,
Mexican and North American music, began to orchestratestyles said to derive
fromthe local wind band and peasant repertoires- porro,fandango,cumbia,gaitaand which did indeed retain certainof theircharacteristicelements, particularly
in the rhythmicstructureand the percussion section. This music was, as usual,
initiallydespised by local elites in the coastal citiesof Cartagena and Barranquilla,
but soon made its way into theirclubs. By the mid-1940s,the orchestraof Lucho
Bermuidez,one of the most famousband leaders playingthistypeofmusicacostefia,
was playing in elite venues in the interiorof the countryand his success was
emulated by otherCostefiocomposers, bandleaders and musicians such as Pacho
Galin, Antonio Maria Pefialoza and Jose Barros. At about the same time, the
Colombian recordingindustrystartedup in Cartagena and Barranquilla,shifting
in the early 1950s to Medellin, the major industrialcentreof the country.Costefio
music flourishedin Colombia and to some extentabroad as well and by the 1950s
it had become the major national popular musical style (although, of course, foreign stylescontinued to be as or more popular). Bambuco had lost its popularity
although it still retained some status as the 'original' musicacolombiana.A major
shifthad taken place: Colombia was no longer represented either at home or
abroad by a style associated with the Andean interior,centre of power, wealth
and 'civilisation';it was now representedby tropicalmusic fromthe Caribbean
coastal region,seen as poor, backward, 'hot' (climatically,sexuallyand musically)
and 'black' (at least by association, even if many of the musicians in the dance
bands, even the Costefio ones, were whites or light-colouredmestizos).
The contextfor the emergence and rise of this music was, in broad terms,
the rapid social change and process of internationalisationthat was going on in
Colombia and elsewhere.9 Economically,Colombia was expanding internallyas

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PeterWade

intensive colonisation took place fromcentralinto more peripheral areas; coffee


was becoming a major exportand industrywas beginningto develop on the basis
of the profitsderived fromthat and frommining. The Caribbean coastal region,
while economicallyperipheralin many respects,was in certainways and particuof thisprocess: the capitalisationof agriculture
larlyon its coastlineat the forefront
and stockraisingwas pioneered there,for example. The port cityof Barranquilla
also laid claim to being the most modern cityin the countryat the time.Its position
on the Caribbean, with relativelygood communicationswith the USA and across
the Atlantic,meant it had privilegedaccess to the trappingsof urban modernity
and it was also fullof immigrantsfromCuba, Spain, Italy,Germanyand the USA.
Many of these were influentialfiguresin the economic modernisationof the city.
They or theirsons also set up the firstradio stationsin the city.The firstrecording
company, Discos Fuentes, was actuallystartedin Cartagena in 1934 by a Colombian, Antonio Fuentes, but he had been educated in Philadelphia. The second
company, Discos Tropical,was startedin Barranquillain about 1945 by the son of
a Frenchimmigrant.
Immigrantswere also very importantmusically in the region: in the late
nineteenthcentury,they not infrequentlystartedthe provincialbrass bands that
were flourishingall over Colombia and theytrainedthe musicians in them. These
were often part of the formativemilieu for the leaders of the subsequent 'jazz
bands' - the big dance orchestras- that sprang up in the late 1920s and early
1930s. Centralartistsin the rise of Costefiomusic such as Lucho Bermtidez,Pacho
Galin and Antonio Maria Pefialoza were all formedpartlyin provincialtown brass
bands, but were also influencedor trainedformallyby music teacherssuch as the
Italian immigrantPedro Biava, born in Rome in 1902, who directedthe the Police
Band in Barranquillain the late 1930s, founded the city'sphilharmonicorchestra
and opera company in the 1940s and taughtmusic in the local School of Fine Arts.
The details of this historyare, of course, complex.10The point is that the
coastal region, or more preciselyits main cities,were linked verydirectlyinto the
bubblingmusical cauldron of the Caribbean and Atlanticworlds - via immigrants,
radio broadcasts and visitingartists- and thus were host to musical innovation
seen as modern and fashionably up to the minute. Local musicians in dance
orchestrassuch as the Emisora Atlintico Jazz Band, the Jazz Band Barranquilla
and the Orquesta Sosa played NorthAmericanfoxtrots,Cuban guarachas, rumbas
and boleros, Brazilian maxixes and Argentiniantangos - not to mention pasillos
and marchas- withan instrumentalline-upcommon all over the Americas." Some
among them wanted to put theirown mark on the musical scene and so orchestratedlocal styles.
This music, generallyunder the label of porro,was received in the interiorof
the countryin ways mediated by perceptionsof national identity.Its impact came
at a time that was importantfornationalistsentiment,even though this did not
constitutea 'hyperbolicnationalism' (Bushnell 1993, p. viii). In the 1930s, a series
of liberal and modernisingreformsunder PresidentAlfonso L6pez Pumarejo endeavoured to open up the education systemand incorporatethe rural and urban
workingclass more fullyinto state structures:'the nationalframebecame a point
of politicalreferenceforthe "oligarchies" as well as the popular strata' (Palacios
1986, pp. 138-9). Intellectualsalso pondered over the possibilityof a national art:
the firstcongress of music was held in 1936 which aimed to 'promote musical
culture in Colombia, recognisingits great importancefornationalism' (Zamudio

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1978, p. 398); there were also discussions about national values in art (Medina
1978, p. 185).
In cities such as Bogota and Medellin, Costefio music was played in elite
clubs and hotels, but also broadcast on record and live by radio stations.It could
be heard on record in bars, brothelsand cafes, and live at Sunday performances
in public parks where middle-class familiesstrolledin the mornings,but maids
and manual workerstook over in the afternoon.But its presence excited a good
deal of comment,some of it reactionary.
Daniel Zamudio, speaker at the 1936 conferenceon music, lamentedthat'the
rumba and its derivatives, porros, sons, boleros, are displacing our traditional
autochthonousairs, takinga favouredplace in social dances and salons' and added
that 'although this is not of greatimportancefromthe artisticand aestheticpoint
of view, it is none the less certainthat a process of purificationis taking place
since "fashion" may ruin
which, if it is too late, will give rise to a new confusion,
the littletrulygenuine thatwe have'. He links porro, the Costef~ostyle,to Cuban
styles, thus implicitlylabelling it as foreignand also black. He clearly sees the
music as a threatto national identityand thisis doubtless due to his general views
on black music. Rumba belongs, in his view, 'to black music and is a faithful
translationof the sentimentalprimitivismof Africanblacks' - 'this music, which
does not deserve the title,is simian'. Hope lies, forhim, in a process of purification
and as far as black Colombians are concerned 'culturallyspeaking, there is the
possibilityof desrumbarlos
[de-rumba-isingthem] despite theiratavism' since, as
North American negro spirituals demonstrated, 'the black race has valuable
musical representativesat the level of higher sentiments'(Zamudio 1961, Part I,
p. 1; Part IV, p. 77).
A 1944 edition of the national daily, El Tiempo,carried an articleentitled,
'Civilisationof colour' by JoseGers who commentedthat'modernismo
requiresthis:
that we should dance like blacks in order to be in fashion and in line with the
tastes of the latest people'; the culturebest received 'is that which has the acrid
smell of jungle and sex'. Accordingto him:
theblackshave decidedto avengethemselves
ofthebitter
fatetheybearon theirshoulders
[i.e., slavery][ . .. I and theattackis advancingagainstwhatthepreviousmastersheld
mostdear- againsttheirart.[ . .. I Pairsofblondsmustdancewitheffusive
movements
ofthebelly,jerks,contortions,
leaps and savage shouts.The Versalleswaltzis dead. The
dancerand his partnermustjump,swiveltheireyeswhileraisingone leg,movetheirhips
in lewd gyrations,
crosstheireyes and spread theirlegs like frogs... Meanwhile,the
drumsbeat, the gentlemenof the orchestrascreechwitha tragicfury,as if theywere
seasoninga joyfulpicnicofsome 'mister'[i.e., a whiteboss] in a junglein Oceania.12
This piece was illustratedwith a small cartoon of two young women in short
skirts,dancing with 'effusivemovements' - it looks like a pre-figuredversion of
the twistto my eye - which was actuallynot the way Costeftomusic was usually
danced: generally,male-female couples danced together.As before, foreigness
and blackness are linked to threat,confusion, lack of moderation- and sexual
licence. Interestingly,
modernismis connected to blacks and this seems to reverse
the common tendencyto associate blackness with primitivism.In fact,it is more
complex: European modernismas an avant-gardeartisticand literarymovement
had, at this time,taken a primitivistturnand this had influencedLatin American
intellectualcircles(Franco 1967). Modernismis thus seen by Gers as an avant-garde
and disturbingtrend.He also linksit to a liberated- to him,threatening- sexuality

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and thus to a supposedly primitiveblack licentiousness.13Thus primitiveness


becomes modern - trulya sign of confusingtimes!
Not many Costefio musicians playing in the orchestraswere black or even
mulatto;but the occasional presence of a dark-skinnedperson simplyreinforced
the image of the Caribbean coastal regionas a black place compared to the Andean
interior(even though areas of the interior- including Medellin - had theirown
significantmeasure of blackness). The music was seen as sexually licentious,but
thiswas more a resultofits overallassociationwithblackness and racymodernism
than a directresult of, say, the lyrics.Much of the music was instrumental,but
lyricsgenerallycelebratedpartyingand having fun,or perhaps glorifiedthe beauty
of particular places, many of them Costefio locations. Not infrequentlythey
referredto rural themes, forexample to animals - cows, chickens,frogs,rabbits,
etc. - and this was seen as rusticand vulgar by many.14
These commentarieson Costefiomusic - and I have cited only a couple here
forillustrativepurposes - can easily be seen as part of a nationalist(indeed, racist)
projectof culturalhomogenisation:blackness is labelled as foreignand threatening
to the 'real' Colombia; the Caribbean coastal regionis peripheralisedin the nation.
There is unquestionablya strongelement of homogenisationin these views, but
as I have argued, diversityis not simplyerased here - it is hierarchisedin order
to give value to whiteness and the interiorregion of the country.Also, even these
ideas about Costefio music move in that ambivalentspace between homogeneity
and heterogeneity.Inevitablyand despite themselves,theydocumentthe diversity
and varietythatexistwithinthe nation: theycannot entirelyexclude eitherblackness or the Caribbean coastal region;theyact as a racistethnographyof the diversityof contemporaryculture.
Other commentarieson Costefio music took a more tolerantview and, in
these, diversitywas an even more integralpart of discourse about the nation.
There were Costefio defenders of their own culture, although these were not
numerous in print. One person was Antonio Bruges Carmona."1For him, porro
was so successful because it captured a varietyof influences,while being at the
same timedefinitivelyColombian. Sexually speaking, it was 'the song of the liberated Costefioman who shows to anyone who observes him a boastfuldemonstration of dionysian joy in the face of life'. Porro 'exalts happiness [and] laughs at
those who do not know how to enjoy themselves' (Bruges Carmona 1943). This
defence remained within essentialistrepresentationsof black, or more generally
Costefio, sexualityand it purveyed the classic image of Costefio music as alegre
(happy, joyful),opposed to the supposedly dour and reserved inhabitantsof the
altiplanos of the Andean interior.It also celebrated diversityand reaffirmedthe
place of the Caribbean coastal region in the nation.
Later commentators along these lines included novelist Gabriel Garcia
Marquez, himselfa Costefio. In the late 1940s and 1950s, his Barranquillanewspaper column carried several pieces about Costefio music in which he defended
its integrity.He wrote mostly about a differentstyle, vallenatoaccordion music,
seen as more traditional,although it was also being commercialisedat the time.
In one 1948 piece he wrote: 'The true, legitimateaccordion is that which has
become a national citizenamong us, in the valley of the Magdalena [a riverin the
region]. It has been incorporatedinto the elementsof national folklore. . . alongside the tiples[treble guitars] of Boyaci, Tolima and Antioquia [regions of the
interior]'(Garcia M~rquez 1981, p. 66). The rightof Costefio culture to national
citizenshipwas reaffirmed(see also Gilard 1986, 1994).

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More interestingforthe purposes of my argument,however, are otherwritings by non-Costefioson Costefio music - the stuffby the Costefios themselves
can too easily be seen as 'resistance' to nationalisthomogenisation(although this
simple readingis belied by the factthatthese Costefiossaw themselvesas defining
a unifiednational culture).A prominentpiece on Costefiomusic in a non-Costefio
forumwas a 1949 issue of the weekly magazine Semana(the equivalent of Timeor
Newsweek)on the cover of which the Costefio band leader Lucho Bermudez took
pride of place. A long articlededicated mainly to Bermudez explained aspects of
Costefio music to its readers, noting that porro was 'currentlythe most popular
of the festiveairs of Colombia', but that'many people in the interiormaintainthat
it is the noisiest, and some that it is the most vulgar'; none, however, denied its
alegrfa(happiness, joyfulness).It ended with the hope that 'the characteristicairs
of the differentregions of Colombia may achieve in the not too distant future
something like a musical synthesis ... a certain artisticunity'. Certain musical
styles needed to be 'nationalised' in order to be widely accepted.16This portrays
a view of Colombian cultureas moving fromtraditionaldiversityto modern unity
througha process of nationalisationand synthesis- the classic image of cultural
mixturewhich harmoniseswith ideas of racial mixture.But it also representsColombia as a varied, diverse nation: it again acts - this time somewhat more neutrally- as an ethnographyof contemporaryColombia; its very existenceinscribes
diversityat the same time as it envisages unity. It slides between preciselythe
enunciatorypositions thatBhabha describes,seeing the nation as a modernwhole
on the one hand and as a 'symptom of an ethnographyof the "contemporary"
withinmodern culture' (Bhabha 1994, p. 147).
Semana also published an article on JulioTorres, the leader of a vallenato
group - ironicallyfromthe interiorregion- which had had a recenthit. According
to this, music was 'one of the means by which national sentimentis expressed'.
Moreover: 'to despise the importanceof popular music . . . is a criticalabsurdity.
To exalt so called classical music as suitableforthe people and culturedminorities,
is another sociological error.Artmusic does not have to forciblyexclude popular
music, nor vice versa'.17 This gets into a differenthigh-browversus low-brow
debate, but the point is that vallenato accordion music - of a particularregional
origin- is accepted as a legitimaterepresentativeofnational sentiment,even while
that sentimentis assumed to be unitaryin some sense.
Ideas about traditionand modernitywere fundamentalto differentviews
about Costefiomusic and theyrelatedto homogeneityand hetoerogeneityin complex ways. Traditionis necessaryto any nation, since it definesa singularidentity
in a global world of nations: historyis one side of the Janus face of nationalism.
In this case, traditionwas seen as the distantpast when African,American and
European elements co-existedbut were not mixed; mixturewas in this view part
of the progresstowards a unifiedmodern nation. Thus traditioncould be invoked
to explain currentdiversity.From one point of view this was mixturenot yet far
enough on, the elementswere stillnot fused, the continuingpresence ofblackness
and indianness, forexample, was an embarrassment.From another,this was the
lived realityof contemporaryculturaldiversity- each region had its 'traditions'
and these were a valued part of the nation.
Now, Costefiomusic worked between traditionand modernityin ambivalent
ways - largelybecause traditionand modernitythemselvesforma verypowerful
but also ambivalentdiscursivepair. Because of its regionalroots, the music could

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PeterWade

be seen as traditionaland 'bad' - primitive,irrational,undisciplined (and 'black'),


a symbol of differenceand otherness;or traditionaland 'good' - givinga sense of
rootedness of singular identity,of sameness. On the other hand, because of its
association with 'jazz bands', modern technologyand cosmopolitanism,Costefio
music could be seen as modern where, again, modernityhad a double edge:
modern and 'good' - forward-looking,connecting with desirable foreignness,
breakingout of old regimes,liberating(connoted partlythroughsexual liberation)
and unifying;or modern and 'bad' - conducive to the breakdown of morality,the
loss of identity,the decompositionof establishednorms and social fragmentation.
In this way, Costeftomusic could be read as always slipping between sameness
and difference,traditionand modernity,regionalityand nationality.Although the
reasons forits success are complex, I thinkthe possibilityof reading it in these
multipleways was one cause of its popularity:it could, ifheard and read a certain
way, promise modernitywithoutthe loss of identity;it held up tradition,without
the threatof backwardness; it celebrated the lived varietyof the ethnographyof
the contemporarynation,withoutjeopardisingthe possibilityof a unifiedidentity.
The 1990s
Since the 1940s and 1950s, the popular music scene in Colombia has changed
greatly.The Costefio music of the dance bands went throughprocesses of:
(1) Scalingdown- smaller,moreelectrified
line-upstookover.
- morenationalrecordcompaniesemerged,placingmore
(2) Increasingcommercialisation
bands ontothemarket.
- in the1960scumbiatookoverfromporroand becamea bigsuccess
(3) Internationalisation
in variousLatinAmericancountries,
especiallyMexico.
Purists saw all this as a process of degeneration, a loss of authenticity;record
companies saw it as a success.
A slightlydifferent
process occurredwithvallenato. A ratherperipheralstyle
until the late 1960s, oftenseen as folkloriceven though it had been a commercial
style since the 1940s, it underwenta boom of commercialisationin the 1970s and
1980s, scaling up fromthe small conjuntos(groups) of fourof fivemusicians, playing accordion, scraper, hand drum and bass, to much bigger line-ups with timbales, congas, and backingsingersand sometimeskeyboardsand electricguitars."8
Again, this was seen as a bastardisationby purists,but as 'giving people what
they wanted' by the record companies. Meanwhile, fromthe 1960s, rock,ballads
and salsa have made major inroads into the national market, followed more
recentlyby merengue.
In the 1990s, there has been a sudden revival of older Costefio music. This
includes the playing,and occasional re-release,of old porrosfromthe 1960s. There
is also the coveringin 'tropicalpop' styleof old numbers fromthatera or beforebands involved in this trendinclude Cafe Moreno, a foursomeof young attractive
actors and models. The main impact, however, has been with older vallenato in
the hands of Carlos Vives and his team. A Costefio actor who had a couple of
little-knownalbums of ballads to his name, Vives played the lead role in a
dramatisedserialof the lifeofRafaelEscalona, a famouscomposer ofclassic vallenato songs of the 1940s and 1950s. Vives released with Sony an album of covers of

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Escalona's material- with unforeseen success. Another similaralbum followed,


but all this was nothing compared to Vives' next album, Cldsicosde la Provincia
(Sonolux 01013901937,1993), made witha Colombian recordcompany, comprising
re-arrangementsof classic vallenato tunes, featuringa well-knownrock guitarist
and jazz bassist, and mixing in musical motifsfromreggae, Africanmusic and
lightballad-rock.This album was spectacularlysuccessful:itbrokeall sales records
in Colombia and most significantly
it sold vallenato to the young middle class who
had formerlygenerallydespised it as plebian and tacky- the music of maids and
taxi-drivers,the exponents of which had a predilectionforgarishclothes.19It also
had some success abroad - something the record companies had been striving
afterwith vallenato but had not reallyachieved.
Now, the success of Vives' music,20and indeed the revivalof Costefiomusic
in general, fitsinto ideas about post-modernculturalformations:the past is plundered as a culturalcommodity,nostalgia- arguablyalways presentin modernitybecomes an increasinglysaleable item, time is flattenedso that past and present
are a collage, and thereis a celebrationof culturaldiversity(Harvey 1990, Turner
1990). Perhaps not coincidentally,Colombia adopted a new constitutionin 1991
thatformallyrecognised the countryas a pluriethnicand multiculturalnation and
that gave special rightsto indian and black communities(Wade 1995). This again
seems to fitinto a post-moderncelebrationof diversity.But, I argue, ifwe look at
how diversityhas always been in tension with sameness, even withinnationalist
- while it does make a
discourse, then this formaladoption of multiculturality
difference
in
terms
of
the
accorded
to minorities- can also
significant
legal rights
be seen as a less radical break with the past than it firstappears; less a switch
away froma monolithic,repressivediscourse of homogenisation,than a new slant
on the constant sliding between homogeneityand heterogeneity,between tradition and modernity.
Likewise, if we look at Vives' music, there are parallels with the readings
made of the Costefio music of a previous era. Vives consciously mixes tradition
and modernity.Musically, he combines the traditionalaccordion with musical
motifsfromotherstyles.Visually,he and most of the band sportlong hair,leather
and denim and are staged alongside accordionistEgidio Cuadrado who has impeccable 'folkloric'credentials as a recent competitionwinner in that self-declared
guardian of authenticity,the Festival of the Vallenato Legend and is oftendressed
in a symbol of 'traditional'garb - a typical Costefio sombrero. Vives' music is
clearly seen as a regional style - vallenato comes from the Caribbean coastal
region - but it is also often spoken of as a national phenomenon, something
made to appeal to all Colombians, unifyingColombia and representingthe nation
abroad. For example, a recent newspaper reporton the returnof Vives and his
band La Provincia froman internationaltour commented: 'It will be two months
of Vives . . . Forty-eightdays in which Carlos Vives and La Provincia will step
onto the stages of theirColombia para cantarlesus ritmos'(to sing to it [the nation]
its/their
rhythms).The phrase sus ritmoscan be translatedas her, his, its or their
rhythms,so that the musicians are both singing theirrhythmsto the nation and
singingthe nation's rhythmsback to the nation: Vives' and Colombia's musics are
conflated(El Tiempo,28 October 1995). In short, although nowadays there is no
racistdenigrationof the music, the same switchingbetween traditionand modernityand between homogeneityand diversitywithinthe nation can be seen.

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Conclusion
My argumentin thisarticleis not plus?a change... Of course, it is partofmy point
thatthereare real continutiesin the discourse on Colombian nationhood fromthe
late nineteenthcenturyto the 1990s. I thinkthis in itselfis an importantpoint for
assessing the change thatthenew 1991constitutioncan be said to represent.But the
argument I am really tryingto make is about how we conceptualise music and
national identity.It is importantto grasp processes of conflictand of resistancein
understandingthe culturalpoliticsofmusic, but I want to get away froma position
which implicitlysets up homogenising elites against diversifyingsubalternsand
which sees music as simple representationsof these social positionings.I thinkthe
Colombian materialshows how such a view, while tempting,is also too simple.
Diversityis encompassed withinnation-buildingdiscourse,perhaps frequentlysubject to strategiesof control,but also as part of an inherentparadox in 'thinkingthe
nationfromwithin',as itwere. How such diversityis read and what is made ofitare
contestedprocesses, but the contestitselfis not over sameness versus difference.
Seeing music as constitutiveof, as well as representing,social positionings
is importanttoo. If music is seen as a means of imagining communities- and
in graspingitsrepresentatherebyconstitutingthem- thenthisopens up flexibility
tional role. It makes it easier to see how a given style of music can be seen as a
national unity and a diversity.What music can represent is more contextual,
depending on whose imaginingsare operatingand in what ways. Costefiomusic
can constitutethe nation as an imagined communitywhen people dancing and
listeningto it imagine othersdoing so all over the country;it representsthe nation
because nationals have imagined themselves as such by listeningto it. Alternatively, it can constitutethe Costefios as a regional group, whetherin theirregion
or as a networkof migrantsin Bogota or Medellin. The process ofimaginingworks
between unity and diversity.This is not to say that the process of imagining
communities,national or otherwise,is a random process. Imaginingsare part and
parcel of the social relationsone lives and are as structuredas theyare. The point
is thatmusic can be a process of imaginingand thus livingdifferentsets of social
relations,ratherthan just representingthem.

Endnotes
1. For Latin America, Rowe and Schelling
(1991, pp. 38-42, 99-101, 151-72) give various cases of nationalist projects, especially
in the context of populist attempts to construct 'the people' as a national body; for
most of these, there is an emphasis on the
imposition of homogeneity by the state or
populist intellectuals. They note, however,
that Octavio Paz's El laberintode la soledad
'offers both immobile archetypes [drawn
from ancient indigenous history] and the
unstable masks of a modern society [drawn
from the Mexican migrant]' (Rowe and
Schelling 1991, p. 163).
2. Middleton's treatmentis complex and these
are his broad criticismsof 'culturalism'as an
approach. Many of the actual studies he looks
at - particularlythe BirminghamCentre for
Cultural Studies approach, exemplified in

Hall and Jefferson(1976) - clearly address


these problemsat some level (see Stokes 1994,
p. 19), even if not entirelyto Middleton's
satisfaction.
3. Much of the followingmaterialis taken from
data collected during fieldworkin Colombia
between 1994-95, funded by a grantfromthe
LeverhulmeTrust.
4. For literatureon Colombian folk music, see
Abadia Morales (1973, 1983), Behague (1985),
Davidson (1970), List (1980, 1983), Ocampo
L6pez (1984). Bambuco is generally played
withguitars,tiples(trebleguitars)and bandolas
(mandolins); a tambourineis sometimesused
(List 1980, p. 577; Abadia Morales 1983, p.
157). It is a dance song in 3/4 or 6/8 metre
in moderate quick tempo with a syncopated
rhythm;the vocal partinvolves a duet of male
voices singingin parallel thirds(Durin 1950,

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history

5.

6.
7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.
13.

17

tive" (instinctuallyliberating)and "modern"


p. 34; List 1980, p. 578; Ocampo L6pez 1984,
(nervous, mechanical)'.
p. 99; Behague 1985, p. 9).
See Restrepo Duque (1991) for biographical 14. There were some doubleentendres,however.
informationon these musicians. See entries
For example, 'No como conejo', by the Orqueunder the artists' names in Spottswood
sta Emisora Fuentes with CarmencitaPernett
on vocals (Discos Fuentes 0037), translatesas
(1990).
See Urry(1990) fora similarargumentabout
'I don't eat rabbit' and, as in English, rabbit
the prefiguringin tourism of elements of
can mean a woman's sexual organs.
15. He was a lawyer, journalist and politician
post-modernity.
All cited in Perdomo Escobar (1963, pp. 311fromthe Caribbean coastal regionwho wrote
a series of articles in El Tiempoand Sdbado
13). See also Abadia Morales (1983, pp. 154which were somewhatwhimsicaldescriptions
56), Afiez (1951), Ocampo L6pez (1984, p. 98).
List says the harmonic organisationof bamof characters,musical stylesand events from
buco is European, but that the 'disjunct relaLa Costa (see also Gilard 1986).
tionship of melody and accompaniment 16. Semana6(115), pp. 24-7, 1 January1949, also
seems to indicate Africaninfluence'(1980, p.
reproduced in Semana 626, pp. 72-6, 3 May
1994.
579).
See Zamudio (1978). This materialwas origin- 17. Semana,30 December 1950.
ally published in 1961 in the Boletinde pro- 18. The history of vallenato is contested. See
Nacional, based on
gramasde la Radiodifusora
Arauijode Molina (1973) fora traditionalveran original speech given at the firstnational
sion, arguing for a long-standing peasant
rural traditionof vallenato music; see Gilard
congress of music in Colombia in 1936 (see
Zamudio 1961).
(1987a, 1987b) fora revisionistview, arguing
There are strong parallels in the historyof
that vallenato only really emerged as a style
Costefio music with that of the Dominican
in the 1940s with the emergenceof radio and
the record industry.The 'traditional'line-up
Republic (Pacini 1991; Duany 1994; Davis
forvallenato is just accordion,scraperand caja
1994), Haiti (Averill 1989), Jamaica (Witmer
1987) and other areas of the Caribbean
(small hand drum held between the knees),
with the vocalist doubling on accordion; this
(Manuel 1995).
is the permittedline-up in the annual Festival
I am currentlywritinga book in collaboration
with Colombian musicologist, Egberto
de la Leyenda Vallenata (Festival of the Vallenato Legend), begun in 1968. However,
Bermidez, which includes more detail on
these artistsand the historyofCosteiXomusic.
even 1940s recordingsof vallenato music had
The Emisora Atlantico Jazz Band, for
a bass playerand it is by no means clear that,
example, played their first gig in Barranprior to that time, a continuous, wellestablished 'tradition' of vallenato music
quilla in 1940 with a line-up consisting of
trombone, three saxes, trumpet, double
existed, as opposed to a dispersed collection
of accordionistswho played a varied reperbass, drum-kitand piano. Such orchestras
often also included other percussion instrutoire
with
different instrumental
ments such as scrapers and maracas (which
accompaniments.
were native to the coastal region) and conga 19. There are some parallels here with the impact
and bongo drums, derived from Cuban
of Juan Luis Guerra on bachata(Pacini 1989,
line-ups.
1992).
In the Bogota weekly, Sdbado,3 June1944,p. 20. It is not reallyaccurateto call it 'Vives' music'
13.
since he has a whole team of producers and
Cf. Middleton (1990, p. 266) who takes a difarrangerswho influencethe sound as much
ferentline by arguing that early jazz in the
or more than he does.
USA could be seen by whites 'as both "primi-

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