Archive for the Ethnomusicology Category

” THE MUSICAL PRACTICE OF THE BLACK POPULATION IN PERU by Chalena Vasquez (English version)

Posted in Books, Ethnomusicology, Music Negra, Peru, Peru Negro, Peru Treasures, Preserving Culture, South America on August 28, 2010 by Listen Recovery

Chalena Rosa Elena Rodriguez Vasquez is one of the most renowned musicologists in Peru. His text “Musical Practice of the Black Population in Peru” was published in 1982 and won the prestigious House of Musicology of the Americas Cuban organization reports, investigates, promotes, recognizes and publishes the work of scholars of literature and arts.

Chalena interest lies in the study of Afro-Peruvian holiday traditions found in El Carmen and other nearby areas in the provinces of Cañete and Chincha, areas where the black population has a significant percentage in our country. These traditions are studied from field surveys and documented with historical and sociological analysis that supports the first part of the book. In its first pages the author also reflects on the impact it has had on these artistic process of cultural commodification and corporate image.

The introduction of the book shows the clear line that she draws between the spontaneous and commercial:

“… We encounter many difficulties to see that we had left a false hypothesis. The intense activity of many folk music groups of so-called black, Negro or Afro, Black … as Peru had made us think that this music scenario was also presented in a spontaneous and intense practice at the grassroots level … From the first interviews we could see that at spontaneous, this practice rarely performed musical. Understanding spontaneity as an activity outside the framework of official parastatal or commercial. But the musical practice we found it was mostly within that framework: the commercial.
Then … we headed south, Cañete and Chincha, where the percentage of black population is higher … toured villages and farms, whose residents highlighted that “it hardly makes the music”, “that was old days” or “no money for holidays.” However, we note that extinction is not total, but the musical practice is so sporadic that it is necessary to stay and the place of many months at least … While in this search, we found in El Carmen, Chincha near town and in other towns in the same area … a demonstration that has great effect that is made for Christmas time: the Dance of Negritos (pack of Negritos) “(p. 9-10)

The first part of the book shows a brief history of African slavery with demographic data, we highlight that Peru is not ethnically African populations became established (different cultures) and therefore have brought musical expertise of various kinds. It shows how the Spanish banned the musical practices of African and regrettable that means having only purely literary data without a reference to the “sound phenomenon” of this music, it then would enter a stage of near disappearance.

The text that we detailed the nineteenth century, dance and music were often a tool to achieve social advancement and recognition, because sometimes people of African descent came to be masters of dance of the ruling class. However, the musical practice was separate parties: the ruling class dance in the “grand salon”, the waltz, mazurka, Jack, minuet, etc.., While dancing classes in villages and alleyways, musical forms such as zamacueca, INGA, the panalivios, the gannet, etc. (p. 24) concludes this section stating that black musical forms in Peru, are the product resulting from a social practice in which a battle being waged between social classes. Notes also emerges years later the so-called criollismo, new cultural product that would not be entirely black groups, but the lower classes of the Peruvian coast.

Chalena also discusses the current state of music, since 1956, when it appears the Company PANCHO FIERRO (first organized group to present a show of black music) and in which there was no difference between the “afro” and “native”, since in the social practice of the twentieth century there is no difference between black and Creole, and mentioned that the music called “Negro” was not only of blacks but of the lower classes of society. The author then shows how to use the term born “Afro” in the 1960s.

Chalena After we made notes as the professionalization of black folklore, where it notes that participants in the groups of “black art” learning to dance in them, in the trials, which shows little or no musical practice with spontaneously. “The same applies to people coming from south of Lima (Cañete, Chincha). Many of the groups that make up Lima, are people in those places … We emphasize this because we consider important to note the lack of spontaneous social practice of music-of the people, even those with high percentage of black population. ” (P. 43)

The author describes a general way of structuring music shows “black”:

- First is the need for the product is “folk”, present to some extent “the most authentic black folk” of those events that oral tradition and continuity did not reach total extinction as is the case of native stomping practiced in various communities of Chincha and Cañete, as well as others that were not intense practice at the grassroots level: alcatraz, Inga, bull kills, etc.

- On the other hand is the reconstruction of some dances that apparently were already obsolete and Land or Zamacueca. Another dance that was in disuse is the celebration, which originated in the part of the choreography is known today is credited to Don Porfirio Vasquez.

- A third aspect to consider would be innovation, aesthetic value is achieved by market needs. Chalena emphasizes “the performance of a pseudo rituals in which one notes the influence of the ballets of Senegal, Guinea and Cuba, that although he recognizes an undeniable aesthetic value, are quite questionable, because at present as folk are completely distorting reality and spreading a false image of the black in Peru “(p. 46)

- Finally, there is a type of recreation, innovating the instrumentalization or incorporating instruments fell into disuse. Such is the case of the reco-reco, according to Carlos Hayre instrument was brought to Brazil by Nicomedes Santa Cruz.

The second part of the book is devoted to a thorough musicological study of dance in their little black pack of butt shapes, such as spontaneous practice of that population.

Within the population cañetana interviewed for this book, we mention Angel Donayre (son), Guillermo Donayre, Carlos Donayre, RA Manzo, Francisco Timor, David Fernandez, Toribio Sánchez, Flora Ruiz, Adel Chumpitaz, Pancho Benavente, Benavente Augusta, Alberto Ruiz, Gregory Cubas, Jose Fernandez, Isabel Bravo, José Centeno and Cesareo Zegarra.

Eduardo Campos Yataco
lalitocy

(Spanish version from Cañeteartenegro blogspot)

http://caneteartenegro.blogspot.com/

UCLA LIVE and LISTEN RECOVERY present: OMARA PORTUONDO

Posted in ETHNO, Ethnomusicology, L.A Events, Latin Sounds, Listen Recovery, Music Negra, Revolutionary/Revolucionario, UCLA LIVE show on October 17, 2009 by Listen Recovery

Omara Portuondo

http://www.uclalive.org/

http://www.omaraportuondo.com/

ANDRES LANDERO, thesis and story by Bardo Martinez, Listen Recovery

Posted in Andres Landero Music, Colombia, Cumbias, Ethnomusicology, Listen Recovery, video archives on August 20, 2009 by Listen Recovery

landero

Bardo Martinez

Cal State LA, Latin American Studies. 10/15/09

Andres Landero and Resistance to the commercialization of Colombian Music

CONTEXT
Colombia is a land of diverse regions, split up into various depts. that are generally categorized within the Pacific Coast, the Amazon, the Interior, and the Atlantic Coast. Because of Colombia’s history as a colony of Spain and the practice of slavery as its premier source of economic wealth, its population holds a complex mixture of people whom originated from West Africa, Spain, and its native population . Due to geopolitical factors the Atlantic and Pacific coasts became slave centers and now hold most of the Black population in Colombia, while the interior and southern regions are characterized as primarily European and indigenous. Despite these general racial characterizations of certain regions, economic and political processes spurred the rapid movement and growth of the Colombian population that has made Colombia a heterogeneous society. However such racial heterogeneity is framed in such a way as to highlight the superiority of whiteness appropriated by elites who heavily influence the status quo.

Because of such factors social political and economic relations in Colombia are heavily weighted on race and region. In observing the history of musical forms in Colombia, which are framed by the history of race and region as described above, many scholars have described them as the result of a tripartite tradition, i.e. the African, the Indigenous, and the European.  Cumbia, a musical form originating from the Atlantic Coast (la costa) in the department of Bolivar, is the principal style of which this tripartite theory of race is attached to. According to List, the roots of cumbia are primarily African and Indigenous, a conclusion based on his comparative study of musical instruments, language, ritual, etc…

In the town of Evitar, Bolivar. However, the origins of El Vallenato (which List describes as similar to those of cumbia have been manipulated to politically benefit members of the elite in the town of Valledupar as well as to suit the commercialization of this music in the late 20th century.
This commercialization, due to the nationalization and internationalization of costeño music, has effectively marginalized cultural traditions from other regions of Colombia and la costa. In many ways, this process has stripped costeño music of its sociopolitical and cultural context. Despite this, marginalized musical forms, i.e. traditional cumbia, continued to persist within la costa as evidenced by the artistic expression of musicians from San Jacinto, Bolivar: a primarily rural town composed of campesinos.

ABSTRACT: Andres Landero (1931-2000), exemplified the continuity of the cultural traditions of his pueblo, San Jacinto, both musically and thematically as the son of a gaitero.  In a town whose cultural traditions revolved around the cumbia, bullerengue, fandango, etc., Landero crafted his conjunto in this vein. As a campesino within the context of a campesino culture, the themes in his music pride the essential values that the campesino necessarily attached to the land and his/her crops. In resistance to the commercialization of costeno music and “El Vallenato6” as well as national racial projects that upheld whiteness as superior in every way, Landero vigorously championed the cultural traditions of San Jacinto and its afro-indigenous roots through a variety of contexts.

The success that Landero enjoyed in la costa, Latin America, particularly Mexico, and Europe as indicated by his touring these places in the 1970’s, 80’s, demonstrates the vigor and passion in which he represented his culture in the face of commercialization and discrimination.

Andres Landero

Toño Fernandez, Juan Lara, Salvador Valencia, Leonor Gonzales Mina, Andres Landero, Beatriz, Madolia de Diego, Erasmo Arieta, Jose Lara, Roque Arieta, Julio Renteria, Delia Zapata y Lorenzo Miranda.  Photo “Manizales” (Periodico La Patria, 1953)

CUMBIA AND LANDERO
Musically speaking, Landero’s cumbia as played by his conjunto is a continuity of its traditional structure in San Jacinto and within the region, i.e. la savanna7. Although the instrumentation of Landero’s conjunto changed with the adaptation of the accordion as the premier melodic instrument instead the fluata de millo or the gaita, the rhythmic foundation stayed the same despite the addition of the upright or electric bass.  Within Landero’s cumbia one can hear the upbeat played by the llamador, the lead rhythm played by the tambor allegre, and the guacharaca (substitute of maracas or guacho, site list). The revuelo, which is characterized by list as the “uproar or commotion”  during the song performed by “virtuosic displays” on the lead drum and or lead melodic instrument as well as “periodic gritos”, also pierces throughout Landero’s cumbia as it does with the traditional musical forms in San Jacinto. Because of Landero’s background as a gaitero, his accordion style of playing is heavily rhythmic, erratic, and dominated by minor melodies, i.e. “mi tierra envidiosa de notas tristes volvio a la gaita (Sabor de Gaita)”.

In fact, Landero was surrounded by gaiteros, the most notable of them being Antonio Fernandez, whose songs he interpreted (Discos Fuentes find date of album). Antonio Fernandez is also cited a few times and is shown in pictures as a representative of a traditional gaita ensemble. Landero was indeed deeply versed and immersed within the cultural and musical traditions of San Jacinto evidenced by these connections, and his lyrics which speak about ritualistic particularities of their cumbia in San jacinto in which “the entire community participates.
For example, the song Muchachas Cumbiamberas contextualizes the cumbia as it states, “ in my land people dance to cumbia with candles and the drum gets happy”.  In Noche de Cumbia he demands the girl to dance the cumbia, because “when Landero sings, it’s so she could turn on the candle”.  The candle is a very important symbol with central significance as it represents the life of the cumbia.  It represents the festiveness of the “rueda (Perdi Las Abarcas)” and the release of sexual energy between men and women.

According to List:
•    The dance known as cumbia takes lace at night. The dancing couples revolve counterclockwise in a circle around the musicians seated in the center. The women occupy the perimiter of the circle, illuminating the proceedings with a packet of lit candles…Their dance is a rapid shuffle of short steps…..The man dances around  his partner in a zigzag pattern.

When Landero sings his revuelos, imploring the people to “turn on the candle!” “Prende la vela”, as he  tells specific people to dance, “Baila cumbia Miguel Romero”…or “Que baila la Niña Nohemi”, one can imagine the cumbia take place with all its ritualistic and symbolic meanings.  Through his revuelos he also states where and when the cumbia would take place, i.e. at the houses of particular people “Cumbia en la india“, in other countries “Lolita La Cumbiambera“, and particular festivals for saints days in Barranquilla, Cartagena, in Febuary and November “Antes Que Me Muera“.

When taken together, Landero’s music that is a continuity of traditional cumbia San Jacintera and its lyrics that describe in detail the festivities taking place while at the same time providing many contexts for the festivity, provide one with a truly existential experience that totally inundate the listener with complex meanings while allowing the him/or her to feel and even participate within the veritable oral/recorded evidence of cumbia in San Jacinto.  Another set of meanings perpetuated by Landero’s music, are the historical roots of it with in a racial context in which Landero prides its African and indigenous content.e

BLACK AND INDIGENOUS ROOTS
Knowing that the status quo in Colombia had barely begun to accept costeño music in the mid forties that which was accepted and adapted form to suit people from the interior, Landero’s music resisted this and notions of white racial superiority that went along with it  (that still pervade the Colombian status quo) by championing the afro-indigenous roots of his town, his people, their ceremonies, etc….

As Wade states “the historiography of cumbia, debating the relative weight of amerindian, african, and european heritage, sees its own reflection in the dance itself, as a dramatic replaying of an original—and in this case subversive—act of mixture.  In fact, Landero enliven and triumphantly amplifies this original act of subversion as he explains the afro-indiginous roots of cumbia in his song El Nascimiento de la cumbia. Here he speaks to the “morena linda mulatta” and asks her what her skin color represents:

Morena Linda mulatta que representa tu color
De nosotros esta’ la gaita y de la Africa el tambor
Y ya se honora tu raza la virtud que dios te dio
.

Landero answers and says that it represents la gaita which is indigenous, and the drum which is African. In this sense, la morena, la mulatta, terms connoting various mixtures of African, indigenous, and European ancestry; represent the birth of cumbia. However the only parts of that tripartite ancestry that are mentioned, are indigenous (gaita) and African (tambor). Landero accentuates this point by stating that her “race is honored by the virtue that God gave her (Nascimiento de la cumbia)”.  In addition, her (conversely that of cumbia itself) Spanish heritage is not mentioned and therefore ignored.

In the song Canto Negro, Landero plainly states that cumbia is the black song. Meaning that it is an expression of black Africans. He states that “Palmoteo was the first” who started the cumbia who brought the “Flauta salia” and the “Gaitas y Chirimias”. Although Landero is certainly giving those listening a historical referent as to the roots of cumbia, I have not found any information substantiating the claims that “Palmoteo” brought these specific instruments or that he was in fact the first to introduce cumbia to San Jacinto, although List certainly affirms the African ancestry of the drum.  However, what is most important here is that Landero is stating that cumbia, the musical form on which the cultural life of San Jacinto is based on, has black African ancestral roots.

.  The racial context in Landero’s music which highlights the black African and indigenous roots of San Jacinto and cumbia, definitely defies popular notions of a mestizaje “understood as progressive whitening”, Far from marginalizing Black and indigenous people, Landero proudly proclaims “La cumbia es un canto negro”, or “De nosotros sta’ la gaita” which self identifies himself and his people as indigenous as the gaita which is attributed to the indigenous peoples of the region, “what we have in San Jacinto is the Faroto Indian.  To further contrast Landero’s discourse to the status quo characterized by a Colombian national identity that champions whiteness; Landero defines himself and his people as a mixture of the black and the indigenous whose identity is primarily local and based on the pueblo as opposed to the nation.

REGIONAL PRIDE
In his book Blackness and Race Mixture, Peter Wade discusses the racial makeup of the various regions in Colombia based on historical analysis. He conversely discusses the importance of race in demarcating regions, their differences, and the translation of such radicalized regionalized projects into political power. As discussed above, Landero definitely characterized his people and his region as afro-indigenous. Along with this racial characterization, Landero rigorously trumpeted his town of origin and the surrounding region (within Bolivar) through a variety of contexts. Landero did this despite the negative attitudes and prejudices that many groups of Colombians had against Costeños, i.e. region, race and class. Such prejudice and conflict existed within the same national region, i.e. La Sabana vs. El Valle (Valledupar, El Cesar).

In this sense Landero’s music is loaded with a regionalism that was not only proud and boisterous in its own right, but was also antagonistic to other regions because of a history social political conflict, i.e. the rise of El Vallenato.  However, the pride exhibited by Landero’s music is mostly a representation of the rich cultural traditions of San Jacinto rooted in its rural essence as a town inhabited by campesinos.

In his song “Cuna de Landero“, he sings about San Jacinto, its natural beauty, geographic characteristics, cultural practices, and economic livelihood (Martinez; 2007). In singing, “land of the hammock”, he is referring to San jacinto’s economic role in producing artesian, i.e. musical instruments, clothing, purses (morales in Mexico), and represented symbolically in this song by the hammock (). He also emphasizes the divine skies and beautiful lands of the Cerro de Maco, the playing of gaitas and dancing of cumbia, and that the visitor to San Jacinto “will be impressed to the point the he/she would never forget it”.

When I visited San Jacinto in September of 2007, my experience completely embodied this song. One of my principal reasons for visiting San Jacinto was to acquire instruments and record traditional cumbia and gaita inspired fundamentally by my love for the music and culture expressed by Andres Landero. San Jacinto was definitely “Landero’s cradle”, as various people would reiterate his importance and stature in that town). We had the good fortune of staying at the house of a well-known gaitero by the name of Juan “Juanchuchita” Fernandez11 who had played with the Gaiteros de San Jacinto. In a very surreal way, Landero’s song “Cuna de Landero” is echoed and finds truth within this testimony of my experience within San Jacinto in which I witnessed the importance of artesian embodied by the hammock, the beauty of El Cerro de Maco and the Montes of Maria, the beauty of its people through their hospitality, as I enjoyed cumbia and gaita along with them. During my experience there, I felt as if I was living through and within Landero’s music and lyrics.

This air of reality that Landero’s music embodies, along with my own testimony that reified it, gives validity to Landero’s lyrics as oral/recorded histories of San Jacinto and the surrounding region. An essential aspect of San Jacinto, is the campesino lifestyle of its people as reflected by Landero through the political and class analyses in his lyrics.

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RURAL CAMPESINO  IDENTITY
San Jacinto is a pueblo primarily based on agricultural production, i.e. name: yucca, maiz  (Martinez 2007). Andres Landero was a campesino himself and learned this craft at a young age:  “ I have crops of guanabano and yucca, I don’t stop planting my crops because my dad taught me the life of the campesino, so now I’m accostumed to I still haven’t forget that (relatos)”.  Because of this, Landero’s lyrics, like his music, reflect the rural lifestyle of campesinos with all their customs, their triumphs, and socio-economic problems.
Landero’s song “Amor y Fe”, Love and Faith, embodies this lifestyle represented by Jose. In the song, Landero tells him: “open your eyes and ask you divine God with love and faith for water for your harvest, because your harvest is the sustenance of your children”.  The essence of this song is the dependence of the campesino on his crops, which are both dependent on nature for their survival.  Landero states that the outcome can be fruitful and positive: “if you harvest banana, yucca, and maiz, tobacco to smoke, name, and sesame seed, then you will live happily on your ranch”. The outcome could also be negative and catastrophic, “if it doesn’t rain your harvest is lost, then you will complain about the campesino lifestyle, and if you lose faith you’ll want to end your life”. This last part of the phrase admonishes the campesino to hold on and to stay strong in the face of adverse conditions.

Within the spoken revuelos in “Amor y Fe”, Landero makes references to crops and tools used to harvest them. He tells the public to plant their yards with yucca, “siembre ese patio de yucca”, and then he says that some (the name is inaudible) person “…eats the yucca!” . He also states that the best friends of the campesino are “ el asadon (hoe) y el machete”.  These revuelos further contextualize the lyrics which provide the listener ample information for him or her to understand, imagine and feel what it is to be a campesino (especially if one is not a campesino) in the Colombian Savanna.

The proliferation of such rural themes by Landero identifies him, his music, and his people to the rural campesino. He also does this by referring to specific events. In “Vida Campesina“, he refers to the year 77’  as a “very bad and dry season, the poor farmer lost his harvest, and now you hear on his lips a lamenting echo” .  This identification with the campesino is also a class identification with a wealth political significance. In terms of national music and politics controlled by groups from the urban centers in Colombia, these lyrics can be seen as testimonies as to the negative effects of urbanization and also a form of empowerment for the campesino against marginalization.
Just as popular conceptions of race in Colombia denigrated and belittled the costeno, the rural campesino was seen as a remnant of the past with little class, Because of such customs narratives like those described above, which encapsulated deep cultural/political roots, the folklore of San Jacinto did not become as commercially viable as more modern musical adaptations of costeño music, i.e. chucuchucu, musica Gallega and El Vallenato and Salsa.

MUSICA SAN JACINTERA COSTEÑO POP AND THE EXPLOSION OF VALLENATO
Since the mid forties costeño music began to appear on the radar of pop music in Colombia starting with the Orchestra of Lucho Bermudez who played stylized Cumbia y Porros.  Because of the hot costeño rhythm and sound introduced by Bermudez and other pioneers, record companies began to court costeño artists and play their music on the air.  However, the music and artists introduced and proliferated by radio and recording companies was based upon a litmus test of race and class that was determined by “the elite and middle classes” from the interior that upheld whiteness and denigrated coastal culture in general.

For example, Lucho Bermudez adapted the cumbia to the drum kit , Cuban percussion, and a jazz horn sections with Orchestral arrangements. As wade states, Lucho Bermudez dressed up costeño music that was perceived as backward and folkloric on its own, in a “tail coat (44)” which made it acceptable. In essence, costeño music was adapted to fit into the dominant racial project popular at a given point in time. A case in point would be the Corraleros de Majagual. Although its members were all obviously costeño, i.e. mulattos and blacks, their music was immensely popular in the 1960’s. In speaking about the lyrical and musical content of the Corraleros, Alvarango Arango vice president of Co Discos stated that they:

•    Were not so regional, not so folkloric as before. Instead, easier songs appeared, songs that the people from the interior could understand easily, some of them were tongue twisters, with sayings, jokes, very happy songs. Also with the way these groups presented costeño music, it was a lot easier to dance to.
As time progressed, blacks and mulattos could be placed in the national limelight because they are fun and happy costeño; however, costeno music had to be tailcoated, i.e. lyrically and musically to fit the status quo.
Contrary to the Corraleros de Majagual Andres Landero was never a hit in Colombia on the national level.  As stated before, Landero’s music is a continuity of traditional cumbia, puya, and merengue from San Jacinto.  To paint a clearer picture, Landero generally played these traditional musical forms with the same instrumentation until his death in 2000 (internet). In terms of lyrical content, Landero could be considered a radical deviant from pop music and a “social revolutionary” to the status quo, as it upheld his rural pueblo in the highest regard and described in detail its origins, its problems, its customs, and its people.  Although he did not achieve fame nationally, he achieved a degree it within La Costa as he won 2nd place in El festival de la leyenda vallenata in Valledupar in 1969 .  However, Landero’s popularity in the coast was diminished by the homogenization of accordion music that created a definitive style that championed musicians from the municipality of Valledupar that became known as El Vallenato.

Vallenato in itself is based on a set of rhythms, i.e. “El Son, El Paseo, La Puya  y El Merengue played by  caja, guacharaca, and accordeon.  The origin of these set of rhythms played by this instrumentation has been said to derive from the municipality of Valledupar in the department of El Cesar. By the 1960’s the term vallenato, this music from this particular region became El Vallenato, subsequently becoming a homogenous entity which cast “accordion music from elsewhere in La Costa… As a derivative or of secondary importance. This phenomenon was created by a process of commercialization and a political project which involved elites, Vallenato musicians and composers from “La Provincia” who succeeded in splitting the dept. of  Magdalena in half by creating the dept. of El Cesar as a way of politically empowering them and that region under President Lleras Restrepo.  This along with the creation of El Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata in 1968 solidified “El Vallenato” as a hegemonic force in la costa which definitely overshadowed other regions and their traditions, especially as “El Vallenato” became commercialized into a nationally recognized genre.

In an interview with Rito Llerena Villalobos, Adolfo Pacheco describes the hegemony of “El Vallenato” in la costa and the music business. Being a musical icon from San Jacinto he also describes the ways in which its cultural traditions have been denigrated by this process.
Pacheco begins by stating that the rhythms which characterized “El vallenato” had not existed since time immemorial as posited by the Vallenato ideologues (footnote), but were rhythms that went through a process of evolution. In addition he states that:
“The accordion came to everybody. Here the son: the paseo, the merengue, are played totally different. The names….the merengue was called on etype of rhythm which is more like a pasaje, or a fandango, I still know many songs like that. The vallenatos call our type of paseo acachacao”.
What Pacheco is saying is that people in San Jacinto played similar vallenato rythms, that were markedly different of course; which is ok, but the Vallenatos looked down upon them in a patronizing way because of such difference, as if their rhythms were more original and more authentic than those from San Jacinto.

Pacheco then states that this hegemony that the Vallenatos pushed in amplifying their style while denigrating others, translated into commercial success for them and the recording companies that backed them. He states that, “the Vallenatos were in style because of the recording companies who logically triumphed, they sold more discs, they were better businessmen with the Vallenatos then with us. In describing why Pacheco’s fame had diminished, he states that his records, which contained “cumbias, porros, paseos”, were not selling, “at least that what they were telling me”.
Through out Pacheco’s testimony one could observe this distrust of the recording companies and the “vallenato ideologues” whom he names as Consuelo Araujonguera and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In describing the ways in which these “ideologues” have created a historical project which upholds the Vallenatos from Valledupar as the most originators of costeño music, he states that “instead of educating the public they have lied to them from their tribunals.

In this way, Pacheco very clearly defined the hegemony of “El Vallenato” pushed by its intellectuals, and its marginalizing effects on San Jacinto and their musical culture as represented by the depreciation of his commercial success. However, throughout the testimony he reaffirms the fact that the “folclor” of San Jacinto is just as good and “pure” as that of Valledupar, and that he resented being called a “Vallenato” or its secondary pejorative, “Vallenato Sabanero”. All this  is densely packed in one of his most famous songs “La Hamaca Grande“, of which Landero interpreted and created the musical arrangements to. Here Pacheco describes the meaning of this song:

•    What we have in San Jacinto is the Faroto Indian who played the gaita, who is just like their Francisco El Hombre and that I was gonna take them our folklore in a huge hammock, bigger then the biggest thing in San Jacinto, the Cerro de Maco. I was saying this in a literary manner, that I was going to take our folklore to make the Vallenatos sing, to sway them  musically on a huge hammock, that was being rocked by Andres Landero, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, and myself”

As Pacheco states, this song was a response to the Vallenato Festival and the hegemony which it imposed (shotguns, nafer). What Pacheco represents is the allegiance which musicians from San Jacinto, like Landero, held to their traditional cultural forms in resistance to the overbearing allegory of El Vallenato and commercialization. Pacheco’s testimony also places Landero’s music and lyrics in a historical context that illuminate their subversive character in their pride regional rural campesino roots and traditions. Pacheco also illuminates important explanations for Landero’s lack of success in Colombia, while in contrast describing a substantial degree of success throughout Latin America.

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LANDERO POR EL MUNDO AND HIS LASTING LEGACY
Despite Landero’s lack of success in Colombia, he was crowned “Rey de la Cumbia” in Mexico and had traveled to the Dominican Republic and Europe (Cuando Landero Se Va). In fact many of his songs reflect this period of his life with themes dealing with leaving and returning home, as well as the many women he encountered while away.

In his song, “Cuando Landero Se Va”, he tells his women “Rosa”, “Mayo”, and “Negra” to cry because he’s leaving to Europe, but that he’ll be back soon because he doesn’t forget his land. Landero makes many references to his trips and experiences in Mexico.  For example the song Ven Ven states: “When I was in Mexico, in that pretty city, I found myself a beautiful Mexican woman, her beautiful name is Lupita”. In his revuelo he tells Lucho, “let’s go to Acapulco”, then Lucho responds, “lets go lets go Andres”. In the same song he also states that in Guadalajara he found another woman whom he thought was more precious. By the end of the song, just as in “Cuando Landero Se Va”, he speaks of his return home, “Cuando de Mexico parti, para mi tierra Colombiana”.  In the song “Lolita la Cumbiambera”, he places “Lolita la mexicana” within the cumbia, as he describes the  “rhythm in her hips in her steps” as the “drums bounce”.  Indeed it must be said that within these songs dealing with his travels, Landero expresses a very sensual and sexual aspect of costeño culture that is loaded with male promiscuity.  In the last verse of the song he states that “in mexican lands there is a grand enthusiasm, they die for the cumbiamba, hear it Lolita Fernandez”.
In fact, cumbia was and continues to be extremely popular, evidenced by Wade who states that it had influenced “Mexican ensembles led by  Mike Laure and Carmen Rivero (who) had best-selling hits with adaptations of Colombian Cumbia in the mid 1960’s. Wade also delves into the cumbia’s “internationalization—which also reached into Argentina, Chile, and particularly Central America. Landero’s revuelos are also evidence to his popularity and success in Mexico as he gives shot outs to Mexico and its people in songs not dealing with his travels but with usual themes, i.e. “que baile la mexicana!”, “Pa que se bailen en las tierras mexicanas!” Landero himself states, “then came the trips to Mexico, the best period in my career! With what I got over there I bought the house (relatos).

Landero’s music undoubtedly made an impact on Latin America and the world that can be heard, seen, and felt to this day.  This impact can be heard throughout various musical manifestations within recent decades. Within the music of Super Grupo Colombia (Peerless 1993), one could hear a direct reference to Landero’s song La Pava Congona26 in the song Pajaro Cinzontle, “por toda la costa de mi tierra sabanera, canta en el monte “La Pava Congona”. This song also has revuelos similar to those in Landero’s recordings, i.e. “Oye con ese tambor!”.  Indeed, many Mexican cumbias deal with themes of a rural costeño and campesino nature within a Colombian context (the name of this band itself directly defines this). Such a connection would seem fitting due to the congruence of rural people in both countries.
Sonideros and dj soundsytems, which are widely popular in urban centers such as Mexico city, Monterrey, and Los Angeles, New York (pacini), are modern manifestations cumbia’s influence. Many of these Sonideros uphold Landero as an icon, as they call him  “El maestro” and “El Rey”.  In fact, one can find djs in Argentina spinning altered versions of Landero’s music.  Joe Strummer was also a huge fan of Landero.  In a documentary about Strummer, one can see and hear Strummer dancing around a campfire to Landero’s Martha Cecilia as he praises him by calling him “El rey del accordeon”.  One can also feel a growing buzz around Colombian music in the Los Angeles music/club scene evidenced by djs like Renz De Madrugada, Rich Spirit, Dj Fresko, Mochilla Djs, Todd Simon, Mas Exitos Djs and many more, who spin Landero’s records, while bands like Very Be Careful and  Buyepongo sing his lyrics, at events like Descarga, Anda, Sonido, Mas Exitos, Listen Recovery Events and others that dedicate themselves to “tropical’ music of which cumbia has a predominating presence.

This short synopsis of Landero’s influence does not do him justice and obviously sets the context for future research as kids all over Mexico pick up the accordion, as young adults fill music halls to dance cumbia, and countless subcultures continue to bubble over the endless layers of meaning from which Landero’s immense sound emanates.

Indeed Landero continues to spread his “message of cumbia”, and the passion that we should all have for our cultural roots.  Andres Landero simply yet vigorously pronounces his identity and those of his people, and in so doing illuminates their history, their mundane existence, particular events, cultural idiosyncrasies, philosophies, ideologies, social political realities, etc… Andres Landero is a hero, a social revolutionary, for all those who consider culture and artistic expression essential manifestations of the human condition.

Works Cited

List, George. 1983. Music and Poetry in a Colombian Village: A Tri Cultural Heritage. Indiana University Press, Bloomington,

 

Morales, Guillermo Abadia. 1994. Fondo De Promocio Del Banco Popular.

 

Marre, Peter. 1982. Shotguns And Accordions. Shanashie Film.

 

Martinez, Bardo Quintero, 2007. Trip to Colombia.

 

Martinez, Bardo Quintero, 2009. Recordings of Andres Landero.

 

Wade, Peter. 1993. Blackness and Race Mixture:The Dynamics of Racial identity in Colombia. The Johns Hopkins University Press.

 

Wade, Peter. 2000. Music, Race, and Nation: Musica Tropical in Colombia. The University of Chicago Press.

 

Villalobos, Rito Llerena. 1985. Centro de investigaciones facultad de ciencias humans U de A.

 

Otero, Ciro Quiroz. 1982. Memoria Cultural En El Vallenato. Icaro Editores Limitada

UCLA Jazz & Reggae Fest. music by Listen Recovery Crew sponsor by Listen Clothing. 2009

Posted in Ethnomusicology, L.A Events, Listen Clothing, Listen Recovery on May 3, 2009 by Listen Recovery

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