Essay: Music &amp Politics: The Argentine

Pages: 8 (2485 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Different cultures will adopt the tango style in a way that pays homage to the original culture, but that also incorporates aspects of the local style and local cultural in the expression of tango. The dance is melodramatic and expresses such complex and subtle emotions such as irony, nostalgia, and pessimism. The dance moves require steps that glide across floors at various speeds, that include twirls, spins, and dips. Tango is an expression of tension. There is no tension quite like sexual tension and sexual tension is a tension that translates with great accuracy across time and place. This is one aspect of the tango culture that makes it accessible to many cultures for their own adaptation and use. Savigliano continues:

Tango, as popular culture originated in the periphery, has been immersed in debates about correct/incorrect (i.e. "civilized"/"barbarian") kinds of male-female relation-ships and has responded to and challenged the modern bourgeois constructs of gender identity that were being imported from Europe. In early tango times, class, ethnic, and race conflicts were clearly displayed in a gendered code that dramatized complex social conflicts in sexual terms. Argentina's incorporation into global capitalism, with its promise of class mobility and erasure of racial conflicts, helped render tango a potent, quasi-universal expression of gender and sexual struggle -- an issue of passion. (Whiny Ruffians and Rebellious Broads, 1995)

Normalcy cannot exist without abnormality, though what is normal is relative to every culture. Tango is a culture established on the periphery; there are people in every culture than can relate to feeling as an outsider to the mainstream, by choice or not. Every culture can agree that the relationships between partners of a sexual nature is deep and in of itself an epic drama. Savigliano continues writing about the expressive and political capacity of tango music and dance:

Tango helped to cultivate these disharmonious encounters and, at the same time, expressed their occurrence…Ethnic, racial, class, gender, and sexual disencounters were played, sung, and danced. The tango mood, a combination of bitter resentment, ironic pessimism, sensual nostalgia, and melodramatic anger conveys the social tensions present at the time of tango's birth. (Whiny Ruffians and Rebellious Broads, 1995)

Tango music is a politically multifaceted expression of many simultaneous political and social conditions existing in Argentina. Tango is an expression of longing and sexual tension by man men for women, as the Argentine population has seen great disparity between the disproportionate numbers of men to women. Tango expresses frustration with the instability of Argentine political system and government with regard to sporadic urbanization and inconsistent economic growth. Tango reflects the social consequences of political strife between a rising oligarchy and the rising radicalism of the early 20th century that left many Argentines feeling nostalgic for a time that formerly existed and has yet to exist in the national imagination and identity for nearly 150 years. It expresses the tension of social movements, labor unions, and other struggles of the proletariat over the entire 2-th century and into the 21st. It is an expression of the change and resistance to normative and conservative perspectives in the realms of art and literature. There is a direct link between music and politics and as with the case of the tango, sometimes the very experience of the music is political.

The influence of the Argentine tango music is felt all over the world. There are annual tango festivals in countries such as Turkey, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cuba, Canada, and certainly Argentina. There are tango music festivals throughout the year in cities such as New York City, Rome, and Reykjavik. The national annual Tango festival and world championship takes place in Buenos Aires, the home of the tango, usually during the summertime. People are able to connect to a musical tradition sincerely, even if there are not indigenous of the culture or country from which the form originates:

…tango as a complicated, contradictory practice that has been produced and continues to be reproduced through multiple processes of exoticization…the very complex lives the tango has led in Argentina and in the cultural capitals of London, Paris, and Tokyo. As a symbol of the passionate Other and of exotic culture in a global capitalist economy, [demonstrates] the many ways in which the tango has been commodified for "imperial consumption"…the tango has become the object of a process of "auto-exoticization" by the colonized themselves…the tango did not have a clear-cut class or race identity, and its erotic character was displayed as a process of controlled seduction, not instinctive or wild sexuality. Tango, in short, was highly malleable… (Reed, The Politics and Poetics of Dance, 1998)

Thus explains the compelling nature of the tango from Argentina. People around the world are drawn to it, connect with it, and adapt it to express elements of their own culture while paying homage to the original. Consider the example of hip hop music again. Its popularity follows a similar or parallel trajectory.

References:

Bockelman, B. (2011) Between the Gaucho and the Tango: Popular Songs and the Shifting Landscape of Modern Argentine Identity, 1895 -- 1915. The American Historical Review, 116(3), 577 -- 601.

Luker, M.J. (2007) Tango Renovacion: On the Uses of Music History in Post-Crisis Argentina. Latin American Music Review/Revista de Musica Latinoamericana, 28(1), 68 -- 93.

Neustadt, R. Music as Memory and Torture: Sounds of Repression and Protest in Chile and Argentina. Chasqui, 33(1), 128 -- 137.

Reed, S.A. (1998) The Politics and Poetics of Dance. Annual Review of Anthropology, 27, 503 -- 532.

Savigliano, M.E. (1995) Whiny Ruffians and Rebellious Broads: Tango as Spectacle of Eroticized Social Tension. Theatre Journal, 47(1), 83 -- 104.

Taylor, J. (1987) Tango. Cultural Anthropology, 2(4), 481 -- 493.

Walter, R.J. (1981) Argentina: 1862: Present. The History Teacher -- Special Issue on Teaching Latin American History, 14(3), 313 -- 326.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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