Session I: Music and United States Inter-American Diplomacy
“Shaping Perceptions: Early Experiments in Musical Diplomacy and Inter-American Relations,” Jennifer L. Campbell, Central Michigan University
When State Department officials inaugurated a program of cultural diplomacy in the 1930s, their actions stimulated a surge of government-sponsored activity in music. One of the most effective proponents of this initiative was the Music Committee of the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA), whose membership included Carleton Sprague Smith and Aaron Copland. This committee focused on furthering musical exchange with Latin America. They decided which U.S. musicians would receive funding for South American tours, as well as encouraged musical reciprocity by commissioning and performing South American music, and, when possible, bringing composers and ensembles north.
In this paper, I examine how the decisions and actions of OIAA Music Committee played a role in the way music of the United States was represented in South America and vice versa. In many ways, this committee served as a gatekeeper for cultural exchange with Latin America. Only those U.S. musicians, ensembles, and musical works that met with the committee’s approval were financially supported. In turn, the information gathered by the leaders and participants in these tours influenced which South American musicians and composers the committee advocated to bring to the United States. Two case studies, the 1941 Yale Glee Club tour of South America and the visit of Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone to the U.S. in 1942, serve as examples, offering insight into how the committee members and, more broadly, U.S. government officials evaluated the success of these cultural exchanges and measured the perceived and potentially lasting impact of these new initiatives.
“The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin American Music during the Cold War: Meeting Points of Music, Policy, and Philanthropy,” Eduardo Herrera, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
In the beginning of the 1960s the Rockefeller Foundation gave two grants for the study of Latin American music. Their aim was to help the creation of institutions that would provide a “sustaining environment in which cultural work may flourish.” The first grant was for the Centro de Altos Estudios Musicales at the Torcuato Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which under the leadership of Alberto Ginastera offered advanced training in musical composition. The second grant was given to Indiana University, Bloomington, “to establish the first center in the United States for the study and performance of Latin American music”1 under the direction of Juan Orrego-Salas. Major emphasis was to be put on the cooperation between both centers. Behind these two projects was John P. Harrison, Assistant Director for Humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation. Studies on public and private support for the arts, often called the ‘economics of the arts,’ frequently fail to recognize the personal connections between the people formulating foreign policy, pushing forward specific corporate interests, and deploying resources through grants, endowments and donations. By looking at the Rockefeller Foundation’s project to create the CLAEM in Buenos Aires, and the LAMC in Indiana University, I show the crucial role of Harrison, and the way particular individuals reshaped with their actions both foreign aid and development funds for the arts.
“Inter-American Musical Encounters During the Cold War: Festival of Spain and the Americas, Madrid, 1964,” Alyson Payne, University of California, Riverside
The renewal of the Pact of Madrid in 1963 brought the United States and Spain into a closer rapport as well as strengthened Spain’s connection to the Organization of American States (OAS). No longer politically isolated, Spain began to host inter-American exhibits of music and art to promote more amicable relations with the American republics. One such event, the Festival of Music of the Americas and Spain, held in Madrid in 1964 and sponsored by the OAS and the Institute for Hispanic Culture, showcased the latest avant-garde music of the U.S., Latin America, and Spain. In addition to promoting new music, this display of compositions by Aaron Copland, Juan Orrego Salas, Roque Cordero, Aurelio de la Vega and others aided the political relations among the countries involved. Since the start of the Cold War, the U.S. had tried to strengthen its inter-American relations, while at the same time, deterring Communism in the region. Avant-garde music, in stark contrast to Soviet musical policies, could unite the Americas in a cosmopolitan embrace. Spain, eager to rehabilitate its international reputation, also promoted its own avant-garde compositions in addition to those from the Americas. This demonstration of musical goodwill also helped Spain to secure needed economic assistance from the U.S. and Latin America. This paper examines the cooperation of the U.S. and Latin America with Spain on this festival in order to explore the myriad political uses of music, from promoting democracy to dictatorship.
Session II: Latin American Music Libraries and Collections in the USA
“El Dorado in Philly: Latin American Symphonic Music in the Fleisher Collection,” Gary Galván, La Salle University, Free Library of Philadelphia
While la Muisca may have fostered the legend, it is la musica that makes the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia the El Dorado of Latin American symphonic music. Believing that no collection of orchestral music could be considered complete without the inclusion of the works of South and Central American composers, Philadelphia music philanthropist Edwin Fleisher began working directly with the United States Government in the 1940s to establish and cement cultural relations and personally commissioned Nicolas Slonimsky to visit Latin America in 1941-1942 in order to secure Pan American orchestral works so that they might be copied for the Fleisher Collection. Fleisher also attracted enthusiastic support from valuable resources such as Walter Burle Marx, Francisco Curt Lange, the Pan American Union, and the Library of Congress to mark the Federal Music Copying Project’s enlarged entrance into the field of producing full performance sets of unpublished contemporary South and Central American orchestral music. Ultimately, Fleisher amassed the largest collection of orchestral performance sets of Latin American orchestral music in the world. Through my research into this collection, I have recently uncovered over 70 uncatalogued Latin American works on microfilm which lack complete materials for performance. This presentation examines the history of the copying project through primary source documents, addresses the collection’s inestimable value to researchers and performers worldwide, and postulates a plan for moving this hidden treasure from the page to the stage.
“Music in the Bernardo Mendel Collection,” Bernard Gordillo
In late January of 1969, musicologist Robert M. Stevenson visited the Lilly Library at Indiana University, where he requested permission to study three Latin American manuscripts—Ramírez del Aguila’s Noticias politicasand two others simply labeled “Peru” and “Guatemala.” His visit, the first of several undertaken over a period of many years, was most likely due to an open invitation extended by the library just months before. The manuscripts that Stevenson studied, and fromwhich he would later refer to in his writings,were all part of the Mendel Collection—a unique and extensive archive focused on the Spanish Empire in Latin America and the Philippines—whose foundation wasthe personal library of Austrian businessman Bernardo Mendel. Now containingapproximately 40,000 printed items and 26,000 manuscripts, which embracethe Age of Discovery through the early 20th Century, the collection has been at the library for five decades, in which time its reputation as one of the largest in the United States has not only grown, butattracted much interest from many a scholar.Of particular consideration is the music contained within the collection. And while modest in comparison to other areas, it is nonetheless significant for a handful of items, including the Guatemalan manuscript which attracted Stevenson.In this paper I explore music prints and manuscriptsin the collection with a brief survey the contents, acquisition history, and known influence and dissemination.Music-related sources, such as villancico text booklets, are also examined.
Session III: Recent Musical Interaction between Cuba and USA
“Radio Dialogues: U.S. Musical Influences on Cuban Alternative Music,” Susan Thomas, University of Georgia
U.S. accounts of post-revolutionary Cuban music history tend to focus on the island’s isolation, constructing a narrative that explains more about our own isolation from Cuba than Cuba’s isolation from the rest of the world. This paper works against such narratives by examining contemporary Cuban musicians’ pervasive and tactical engagement with U.S. music in the 1980s and 1990s.
The generation that created the eclectic and experimental genre now known as Cuban Alternative Music (Borges-Triana, 2010) was born roughly two decades into Cuba’s socialist experiment. Coming of age during the revolution’s greatest prosperity and optimism, they experienced the economic crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. There may not been an open market for “imperialist” culture in Cuba, but young people actively sought out U.S. and British popular music by listening to Miami radio broadcasts and acquiring recordings via relatives who worked as merchant marines or diplomats, or who traveled abroad for educational or military purposes. Michael Jackson; the Jackson Five; Earth, Wind, & Fire; and Cool and the Gang are routinely cited as major influences along with Argentine rock and Brazilian jazz and bossa nova. This paper examines the role of recordings as well as direct Cuban-U.S. collaborations in shaping contemporary Cuban music. Such musical engagement should not be viewed as another example of U.S. hegemony. Rather, it was willful and selective; Cuban musicians sought out artists and genres that fulfilled certain aesthetic criteria or that offered innovative solutions to issues of rhythm, harmony, arrangement, or production.
“Cuban Pan-Americanism: Cuban Music Exchanges with the US and Latin America before and after the 1959 Revolution,” Marysol Quevedo, Indiana University
This paper traces Cuban Pan-Americanism before and after the 1959 revolution, when the lively music interactions between Cuba and the US were interrupted by the US embargo and Cuba turned towards other Latin American countries to foster Pan-American exchanges. The wellspring of Pan-Americanist good will on the part of the US toward Cuba dried up quickly after the 1959 revolution. Prior to the revolution exchanges between Cuban and US composers were vigorous; however, the events following the revolution not only changed economic and political relations between Cuba and the US, but also negatively impacted the ability of composers and musicians from the two countries to maintain ties. This paper explores the pre-revolutionary exchanges between Cuba and the US through Henry Cowell’s New Music Society and its related publications (which included Amadeo Roldan’s Rítmicas), the Pan-American Association of Composers, as well as Cuban composers who studied in the US (including Gisela Hernández and Julian Orbón). The decrease in exchanges between the two countries is most noticeable in the absence of Cubans from US concert series and festivals, such as the Inter-American Music Festival (IAMF), demonstrating the embargo’s effect on cultural matters. A quick survey of the programs of the IAMF reveals that after their first festival in 1958, the only Cuban composers included in performances were those exiled in the US. The dearth of Cuban works in the IAMF and the scarcity of scholarship about Cuban art music form this period suggest lack of compositional activity in Cuba. In reality, however, art music in Cuba flourished. Cultural interactions with other Latin American countries continued and even increased with the establishment of Cuban institutions intended to cultivate Pan-American exchanges, most notably the Casa de las Americas. Thus, in spite of the US embargo, Cuba actively fostered musical Pan-Americanism, albeit a different kind from that promoted by the US.
“Somos Iguales: Cuban Hip-Hop in the Age of Social Networks,” Alyssa Pereira, Tish School of the Arts, New York University and Society of Ethnomusicology
Through occupation and trade during the last ten years, the United States and Cuba have absorbed facets of each other’s cultural profile. Two products of recent exchange in Cuba as a result of its relationship with the United States are the emergence of online social networks and the growth of Cuban hip-hop.
In the US, social networking (through vehicles such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter) is used as a method of communication and a marketing tool. Many small record labels primarily rely on this type of grassroots marketing to appeal to their web-savvy target audience. While rap musicians in Cuba do not always have the capability to commercially sell professionally mixed albums due to a dependence on government allocated musician’s funds and materials, and submissiveness to government’s jurisdiction over what music is publicly released, the accessibility of the internet and social networks make possible a release of music at an underground level. As a result, complete censorship becomes an impossible feat and these musicians are able to release their music nationally and internationally through this medium.
In this paper, I explore the expansion in the use of new social media networks in Cuba and their role in burgeoning the commercialization of Cuban rappers and their music. I note the differences in social media’s influence for Cuban underground rappers versus commercial rappers and the resulting success, both culturally and financially. Finally, I discuss the transnational impact of music dispersed through social media in Cuba and compare it to an earlier model of government-mandated distribution.
“Awkward and Uneven Musical Flows: The Politics of Increased U.S.-Cuban Musical Interaction,” Tim Storhoff, Florida State University
Since his inauguration, President Obama has relaxed the musical embargo of Cuba following a long period when musical exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba were few and far between. This has made high-profile Cuban performances possible for U.S. musicians like Kool and the Gang, Colombian-American rocker Juanes, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. This period has also seen more Cuban musicians performing in the U.S. because the State Department has resumed issuing cultural exchange visas to Cubans, and the Cuban government is allowing more musicians to travel abroad. While these exchanges can be seen as a part of President Obama’s call for a “new beginning” in the U.S.-Cuban relationship, he also cautioned against overestimating the political impact these exchanges could have.
In the same way that contemporary global economic processes create dense interconnections along with areas of exclusion and immobility, recent musical flows between the U.S. and Cuba are also awkward, uneven and discontinuous. While performers distance themselves from any overtly political stance, the disparities between who may participate in these transnational performances, when and where they take place, and the various controversies and reactions they inspire expose a range of attitudes and realities about the U.S.-Cuban relationship and its future. By analyzing the awkward and uneven nature of these performances in both the U.S. and Cuba, this paper explores the potential function of musical exchanges as bellwethers for future engagement between these two nations even when reforms in the U.S.- Cuban relationship appear to be stalling.
Keynote address I: “Singing Blackness across Borders. Capeyuye and Mascogo Identity in Northern Mexico.” Alejandro L. Madrid, University of Illinois, Chicago
This paper takes capeyuye [spiritual singing] as a point of departure to study the Mascogos’ continuous struggle to define themselves as binational people, as Afro-Seminoles living in Coahuila, Mexico. By reflecting on the intersections of race, nationality, and the body within the specificities of Mascogo border culture and history, the paper problematizes Anne Anlin Cheng’s notion of “racial melancholia,” suggesting that self rejection might be a more strategic move than she acknowledges to be. In the end,
the author coins the term “dialectical soundings” and propose that the singing of spirituals among the Mascogos in fact renders Blackness visible in the context of the Mexican border essentialist racial discourses.
Session IV: Latin American Music and US Film and Media
“Olin Downes and the Reception of Latin American Composers in the United States,” Luiz Fernando Lopes, Indiana University
Olin Downes, influential music critic of the New York Times from 1924 until his death in 1955, was an indefatigable supporter of contemporary music and his interest extended to Latin American composers such as Carlos Chávez, Alberto Ginastera, Camargo Guarnieri, and Heitor Villa-Lobos. Downes’s reviews and newspaper pieces in relation to the New York World’s Fair from 1939 were especially instrumental in consolidating the reputation of Villa-Lobos in the United States. Downes thought highly of Chávez not only as a composer but also as a conductor, whom he compared in favorable terms to Arturo Toscanini’s tenure with the New York Philharmonic. Downes established a particularly enthusiastic relationship with Villa-Lobos and his music, about which he wrote more often than that of any other composer from Latin America. The Brazilian composer reciprocated in kind by dedicating to Downes his Symphony No. 8 from 1950.
This paper examines Downes’s music criticism in the New York Times, especially his reviews of Latin American music performances, as well as his papers and unpublished correspondence, which mostly survive at the University of Georgia in Athens. Although it is clear that Olin Downes’s support of Latin American music was indefatigable and genuine, this paper reveals that is was not entirely disinterested and that the renowned critic also worked in tandem with the State Department in Washington, D.C., and its Good Neighbor Policy for the arts.
“Sinfonia Amazônica: Amazing and Barely Known,” Irineu Guerrini Jr., Faculdade Cásper Líbero
In 1953, a young Brazilian film maker, Anelio Latini Filho, launched what would be the first Brazilian full length animation film: Sinfonia Amazônica, with stories based on Amazon legends. Greatly inspired by the Disney style, and especially by Fantasia, Latini made his film almost on his own. It took him five years and about 500,000 drawings to get it finished. It was a near-incredible feat considering the conditions of Brazilian cinema at that time.
The music of Sinfonia Amazônica is of two kinds: there is a lot of standard classical music (source music) in the manner of Fantasia and even a sequence that resembles very much one of those of Walt Disney’s production. But unlike Disney`s films, Latini used already existing records. Opening the film, there is a making of that shows how he worked with those discs and also with music scores to get the images synchronized with the music.
Latini hired a small orchestra to play the original music of the film, composed by Latini’s brother, Hélio Latini, in a style that resembles the American animation film music style of the time, complete with some “mickeymousing.” Maybe the most interesting music sequence is that of a jabuti (a kind of turtle) that plays a chorinho on its flute, performed in the soundtrack by Altamiro Carrilho, a leading Brazilian flute player.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the music of Sinfonia Amazônica, its American inspiration and to contextualize its production in the Brazilian scene of that time.
“Walt Disney and Diplomacy: The Musical Impact of Aquarela do Brasil”, Charles Morris and Elizabeth Berndt Morris
In a diplomatic attempt to create cultural exchange between Latin American countries and the United States, Disney Pictures created the film Saludos Amigos in 1942. The film Saludos Amigos was a combination of four independently conceived cartoon shorts regarding Latin America. This paper will concentrate on the final of the four cartoon shorts, Aquarela do Brasil.
Aquarela do Brasil was created with the specific cultural function of improving relations with Brazil before entering World War II as requested and funded by the United States Government. The strategy of Franklin Roosevelt’s Latin American policy was cultural sharing with the goal of demonstrating how both cultures are similar and to strengthen cultural ties.
In 1941, to accomplish the task of creating Saludos Amigos, Disney and a crew of writers, artists, and one musician, explored first-hand a variety of Latin American cultures. Disney and his crew chose to spend the majority of their time in Rio de Janeiro, using it as headquarters for their time in South America. As a result, the cartoon short Aquarela do Brasil, based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is much more detailed and accurate.
The cultural impact of Aquarela do Brasil’s music was significant and played a large role in the popularization of the samba in North America during the 1940s and 50s. Furthermore, the international popularity of the samba, Brazil, which premiered to American audiences in Aquarela do Brasil, helped samba to be perceived as the “national sound” of Brazil.
Session V: Latin American Music as Agent of Educational and Cultural Change in the USA
“Save the Children or Save the Music: Venezuela’s El Sistema as Syncretic Aesthetic and Pedagogical Export,” Ludim Rebeca Pedroza, Texas State University
El Sistema defines itself as a “Venezuelan government social institution for the systematization of instruction and collective practice of orchestral and choral music as instruments of social organization and community development.” The program trains mostly poor children throughout their elementary and secondary education. Some will ultimately join the famous Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, and a handful, such as conductor Gustavo Dudamel, might become world-renown musicians. Founder José Antonio Abreu emphasizes the social objectives of the program and exhibits a keen consciousness of the versatile nature of Latin America’s modernity and the program’s adaptability and mutability. On the other hand, Abreu’s belief in the “unique” power of music to “transform” echoes Romantic ideologies specifically exemplified in Lisztian philosophy. In short, the program’s history, documentaries, and performances, reflect an aesthetic negotiation between European musical mythology and Venezuelan socio-artistic identity; the resulting entity both nurtures the “classical” canon and challenges it through the inclusion of Latin-American composers and adapted popular dances. Foreign musicians and media, nevertheless, appear to understate the social and musical syncretic potential of the El Sistema phenomenon, emphasizing instead the program as “the future of classical music.” Upon this dualistic foundation, Mark Churchill (of the New England Conservatory) now attempts to build El Sistema USA. This paper will scrutinize the complex aesthetics of El Sistema and its transplantation as a pedagogical model to the U.S. Such scrutiny affords us an opportunity to explore current mythologies of “classical music” and El Sistema’s potential to preserve them or mutate them.
“How does a Latin American Music Initiative impact an American Charter School Community? Observations from El Sistema Boston,” Katherine L. Campe, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Brian L. Kaufman, Conservatory Lab Charter School
Rooted in Venezuela, El Sistema is a visionary global movement that has transformed the lives of youth through music since 1975. The Conservatory Lab Charter School reinvented and invigorated it’s curriculum with the El Sistema music program in September 2010. The pedagogical focus of El Sistema is the orchestra, a model for an ideal community that advances the social and performance skills of students empowering their personal and musical development. Our project aimed to assess the impact of El Sistema, a Latin American education initiative, on an American urban charter school. Self-regulation, motivation, peer-respect and responsibility are the skills and behaviors that were of interest and markers for cognitive, emotional and social development beyond academic achievement. We observed and collected perceptions of social and behavioral changes in Conservatory Lab students and assessed the potential positive musical influence of El Sistema through a qualitative and quantitative music literacy test. In our observations, the El Sistema curriculum has been perceived as a positive influence on the students’ social and behavioral development. Participating in the program provides students with valuable social interactions, enabling them to engage in collaborative learning, as well as propel their musical knowledge, which aligns with the results from the music literacy tests. Further assessment will determine the El Sistema curriculum’s impact outside of the music classroom. Through further observation of El Sistema programs throughout the U.S., we can observe and acknowledge the large scale impact of this Latin American music initiative in our country.
“Increasing Cultural Awareness through Choral Music,” Kimberly Meisten, Vocal Essence
This paper examines the impact of a unique community engagement program called ¡Cantaré!, which places Mexican composers in Minnesota classrooms to serve as composers-in-residence. Since 2008, the Minnesota-based chorus VocalEssence has connected eight different Mexican composers with more than 20 school, college and community choruses. Urban, suburban and rural communities have participated. The composers work directly with the singers and write new choral works specifically for each group. Through the VocalEssence !Cantaré! program, more than 5000 people have heard 35 new choral works, commissioned and premiered in community concerts throughout the state.
The paper will clarify the effects of the program on audiences, composers and performers by reviewing evaluation results and exploring the cross-cultural influences of the compositions. Data has been collected from student, teacher and composer surveys; teacher and student focus groups; classroom observations; Cultural Advisory Committee meeting notes; audience and budget statistics; and related ¡Cantaré! educational resources developed for music teachers and conductors.
Key findings reinforce the profound impact of the arts (in this case, contemporary choral music) in the assimilation process of immigrant populations. As the public face of the immigrant group, the arts can enhance understanding and tolerance, easing the incorporation of present and future immigrants. It is our hope that this paper will demonstrate the program’s positive social and musical impact, thus motivating others to replicate the program nationally.
“Music schools and musical activity in 17th Century New Mexico Missions,” Tomas Lozano, Museo de la Música Luis Delgado
Before borders were established between Mexico and the US as we know it today, a great section of the latter was previously part of New Spain. This paper will present a part of musical history that to this day remains dimly recognized. By taking Franciscan documents from the 17th Century, I will demonstrate that by 1630 there proved to be large amounts of musical activity, including orchestras, performed by natives from La Provincia de la Nuevo Méjico—what today is New Mexico. They played musical instruments including chirimías, bajones, trumpets, and organs, and sang Gregorian and polyphonic chants, following the same pattern and structure of all other missions in New Spain. Among other activities, the missions assumed the role of teaching both how to read and write music. I will even say that the craft of musical instrument making also took place at the missions of La Provincia de la Nuevo Méjico. The musical activity that transpired in these missions during the 17th century will perhaps always retain an air of mystery, but enough documentation exists to offer a window into the past. All this activity occurred more than one hundred years before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) in which Mexico ceded its lands to the US Government. New Mexico became then a US Territory but was not a member of the Union until 1912. This music schools from La Provincia de la Nuevo Méjico were the first music schools of what today is the United States.
Session VI: On Art Music Composers
“Roque Cordero (1917–2008) in the United States,” Marie Labonville, Illinois State University
Roque Cordero is universally acknowledged as Panama’s finest composer. Like many Latin American musicians of his generation, he was an energetic, visionary man of multiple talents that included composing, writing, conducting, and teaching. During his long career he was honored with numerous national and international commissions, awards, and recognitions. Most of his compositions are based on the twelve-tone technique, which he used with some freedom. He imparted Panamanian flavor to many of these works by his use of folk rhythms and his careful choice of pitch materials.
Cordero was largely self-taught as a composer until, in 1943, he began seven years of musical study in the United States. In 1950 he returned to Panama, eager to improve music education in his country and create a truly professional symphony orchestra. During the next sixteen years, however, he faced a series of political and economic obstacles that were mitigated only slightly in 1957 when he gained international recognition as a composer. In 1966, frustrated and disappointed, he left Panama to accept a three-year post at Indiana University as assistant director of the Latin American Music Center and teacher of composition. After that he found other professional opportunities in the United States, where he spent the rest of his life. Nevertheless he remained loyal to his homeland, retaining his Panamanian citizenship and proudly signing his correspondence “Roque Cordero, Panamanian Composer.”
This paper explores Cordero’s education, career, and reception, as well as the documentation of his work, in Panama and the United States.
“Exotic birds, awkwardly scattered and generally spluttering: Silvestre Revueltas vis-a-vis US Pan-Americanism,” Roberto Kolb, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
According to reception theory, change of context adds as much meaning to a work of art as it may take away. This is all the more so in the case of music, since, as opposed to that of figurative expression, its meaning is naturally elusive and multiple, and hence marvelously pliable when captured by the pen of historians and critics or verbalized by audiences after a concert. A composer may consequently disregard the issue of meaning reception entirely, assuming and accepting that his authorial purport cannot and will not be grasped. Then again, he/she may go out of his way to prepare his listeners by verbally or otherwise establishing a context, leading them in a specific semantic direction. Or, recognizing that reception follows needs of its own in a specific cultural realm, he/she may choose to capitalize on such needs by means of a strategy that can, but need not be related to compositional intent. US Pan Americanism during the thirties looked south of the border aiming to find not only the usual exotic difference, but also a modern likeness that would justify its brotherly goal. Mexican writers such as Tablada, painters such as Rivera, and composers such as Chávez en Revueltas, where aware of such political and cultural strivings and made strategic use of such expectations. The present paper examines in this light the reception of Revueltas’s early avant-gardist musical constructs among US audiences, critics and composers.
Session VII: Copland and His Impact on Latin American Music
“Ginastera in Washington: Correspondence with Copland and Spivacke at the Library of Congress,” Deborah Schwartz-Kates, University of Miami
The city of Washington held a special place in the creative life of Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). It was there that the Argentine composer achieved some of his distinguished successes, beginning with the premiere of his Second Sring Quartet (1958), which was commissioned by the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation and performed in the Library of Congress. Given these achievements, it is no surprise that Ginastera considered Washington his lucky city. Yet, the U.S. capital also proves providential for researchers, since many of the sources that document the composer’s U.S. activities reside in the Library of Congress
This paper explores the highlights of the Ginastera correspondence that is housed at the LC—a resource that yields fresh perspectives into the composer’s transnational connections with music and musicians in the United States. Ginastera’s letters to Aaron Copland offer a fascinating window into the relationship that the composer shared with a valued teacher, mentor, and friend. His two-way correspondence with Harold Spivacke, the former Chief of the Music Division at the LC, played a formative role in shaping his career. As a whole, the correspondence reveals the way that the Argentine musician upheld the Library of Congress as a model for Latin American nations. He drew deeply on the resources of the LC for a variety of purposes that exemplify his association with the iconic Washington institution.
“Revisiting Copland’s Mexico,” Leonora , University of California, Riverside
Aaron Copland’s love for Mexico, epitomized by his orchestral piece Salon Mexico, is well known. Salon Mexico bears the name of a dancing club that Copland visited and in which he was able to grasp a moment in the life of the average Mexican. His composition is full of Mexican folk tunes that speak of Copland’s enchantment with the country, the people and the popular music. Copland, however, was also exposed to and equally marked by Mexico’s ebullient art music scene. Indeed Copland’s assimilation of the Mexican folkloric was mediated by the work that Mexican composers were doing as they aimed to construct musical signifiers of the post-revolutionary Mexican. Unlike his visits to other Latin American countries, prompted by the American good neighbor policy during the Cold War, Copland visited Mexico in a decade where he, his Mexican counterparts, and Mexico’s cultural and educational institutions toyed with the idea of socialism and of an art for the people. This paper will look at Copland’s activities in Mexico, the concerts he attended, and the music he might have known. It will examine the reception of the many compositions by Copland that were performed, even premiered, in Mexico City, and the response—as Copland may have experienced it— that audiences gave Mexican compositions intended to represent the Mexican people. Finally, the paper will show the indebtedness not only of Copland’s Mexican style but also of his American style, and the ideology behind it, to the work and political ideas of Mexican composers.
Keynote address II: “Music and Pan Americanism: New Directions in Historiography?” Carol Hess, Michigan State University
What do we in the United States know about Latin American art music and how do we know it? For several decades now, our understanding of this repertory has been informed by constructions of difference, often sustained by exoticist, nationalist, or essentialist rhetoric. One scholar, for example, proposes that Latin American music is filled with “irresistible, exotic color” whereas another proffers unelaborated references to “national effect” and “national character.” As for essentialism, adjectives such as “distinctive” or “characteristic” abound, ensuring that Latin American art music is perceived as “particular and thus oppositional,” to quote Ruth A. Solie’s pioneering study of musicology and difference. Indeed, as recently as 2005 one US scholar argued that Aaron Copland was attracted to Latin American music for its “potential for transgression.”
Yet things were not always this way. From the 1920s through the early 1950s, any number of US critics, scholars, composers, and performers considered Latin American music in terms of what Kofi Agawu has called “embracing sameness.” Instead of situating some tantalizing Other in a “colorful” South-of-the-border locale, these historical actors embraced universalism, sometimes waxing poetic on Latin American composers’ “sublimation” of nationalist impulses. Were they influenced by the explosion of Pan Americanist sentiment during the Roosevelt administration’s Good Neighbor policy? Are such discursive shifts purely arbitrary? This paper explores the epistemological chasm between the two outlooks just described. Drawing both on the discourse of Pan Americanism and on recent models of cosmopolitanism, I argue that representational practices that take difference as axiomatic be retired. Rather, exploring constructions of difference with historical processes can reshape the historiography of Latin American music and, by extension, of “American” music in the broad sense of the term.
Session VIII: On Art Music Composers
“Musical Analysis of 16 Poesilúdios for Piano, by Almeida Prado, According to Analytical Techniques Developed by American Theorists,” Adriana Lopes Moreira, Universidade de São Paulo
This work presents a musical analysis of structural and pertaining to surface aspects in the 16 Poesilúdios for piano, by the Brazilian composer Almeida Prado (1943-2010). It focuses on aspects of study, analysis and promote of contemporary Brazilian music, as a contribution for its bibliography. The methodology unites a brief biography of the composer; the division of his work into four phases; the presentation of excerpts by a compact disc with the pieces played by the researcher that presents this work, as well as photos of the paintings that have suggested the composition of some Poesilúdios; interviews with some artists to whom some pieces are dedicated, and an interview with the composer with his consideration about his own compositions are also included. It also explores aspects in relation to tempo, dynamics, timbre, texture and structure, with special emphasis on set theory, and proposes an association between musical analysis techniques developed during the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries, presented by authors like Felix Salzer (1982) and Joseph Straus (2005). Therefore, it defends the approach of a work conceived by one of the most relevant Brazilian composers after Heitor Villa-Lobos, which work is analyzed according to techniques developed by American theorists and analysts. The conclusion verifies possible interactions between all these aspects, identifying the elements of unity and considerations about the structure of the Poesilúdios.
“Turn-of-the-Century Buenos Aires Viewed from New York: Astor’s Piazzolla’s setting of Borges’s El hombre de la esquina rosada,” John Turci-Escobar, Washington University of St. Louis
Astor Piazzolla, whose music came to define the modern metropolis of Buenos Aires, spent most of his childhood on the lower east side of Manhattan. Growing up in New York in the 1920s and 30s, Piazzolla was exposed to a wide variety of musics. This experience, critics have argued, influenced Piazzolla’s development as a composer, especially, his penchant for crossing generic and stylistic boundaries. Piazzolla returned to New York in the late 1950s. Critical discussions of this period have focused on his financial hardships and artistic concessions and, almost unanimously, have dismissed his efforts to fuse jazz and tango. More recently, Fischermann and Gilbert have called for a reconsideration of Piazzolla’s “jazz-tango,” in particular, his choice of ensemble. The New York quintet, they argue, was the crucial link between the Octeto Buenos Aires of the 1950s and emblematic Quinteto Nuevo Tango of the 1960s. My paper concerns another significant project from Piazzolla’s New York sojourn: the music he composed for a choreography based on El hombre de la esquina rosada, a celebrated story by Argentina’s greatest modern writer, Jorge Luis Borges. Set for reciter, voice, and twelve instruments, this substantial work goes further than any of Piazzolla’s previous “classical” works in mixing genres and styles, and thus, foreshadows his later works for the concert stage. Most importantly, to compose the music for a story set in turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires, Piazzolla—who always looked forward—had to look backwards, and thus, view himself and his music from a broader historical perspective.
“Camelia’s truths in Únicamente la verdad: Narrative, History, and Musical Gesture,” Erick Carballo, Indiana University
Gabriela Ortiz’s opera Únicamente la verdad (2008) was inspired by historical figures and events surrounding the narcocorrido “Contrabando y Traición” by Los Tigres del Norte. In reality as in the opera, the causal relationship between history and art is reversed; traditionally, the narcocorrido narrates and also possibly editorializes about events that have already occurred in the drug trade between the United States and Mexico. Ortiz’s opera instead presents a series of multiple and contradictory real-life events and characters that were generated by the fictional narrative in the narcocorrido.
These widely varying “truths”—in the midst of an opera whose title implies that we expect only one truth—underscore the social complexity of the drug trafficking problem, and open the conversation to include many truths in a broader narrative. My presentation uncovers the plurality of truths in terms of history, narrative, and musical styles—all with atypically flexible boundaries—in Únicamente la verdad.
“Brief overview of the musical dialogue between Bolivia and United States,” Isaac Terceros, Universidade de São Paulo
This paper presents a results overview of the musical relationship between Bolivia and United States in the few last years. In this context, composers like José Velasco Maidana (c. 1899-1989) and Jaime Mendoza Nava (1925-2005) lived in the United States, opening in this way the doors for certain American influence in Bolivia, a country characterized by an appreciation and defense of its original culture. Thus, we show that a meaningful compositional dialogue has been established. One outcome of this dialogue took shape with the Orquesta Experimental de Instrumentos Nativos (OEIN), whose innovative aesthetic positioning, has stimulated an intercultural reflection integrating musical traditions of the Aymara and Western musical language. In the performance field, intercultural projects have been developed from the exchange of musicians and conductors – as the renowned violinist Jaime Laredo (b. 1941), the guitarist Piraí Vaca, or conductor Kenneth Sarch – resulting, for example, the foundation of the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (OSJ). In the academic area, Bolivian composers have benefited from initiatives such as the Centro Latinoamericado de Altos Estudios Musicales del Instituto Torcuado Di Tella in Buenos Aires, where received instruction Alberto Villalpando (b. 1940), responsible for the formation of two generations of composers in Bolivia. Thus, technical and aesthetic aspects of musical composition in works resultings from the interdisciplinary dialogue above, were identified and will be presented in this paper.
“Alejandro Monestel and his Rhapsodies for Military Band: San José and New York,” Tania Camacho Azofeifa, Butler School of Music, The University of Texas at Austin
The music for military band by composer Alejandro Monestel (1865-1950) was often performed in San José, capital of Costa Rica, according to various scholarly sources. The Rapsodia Costarricense (1935) and Rapsodias Guanacastecas Nº1 and Nº2 (1936, 37) were among the most popular works for military band by the composer. Although Monestel is known as one of the most published Central American composers, these works were never published before. The Rhapsodies were included in the programs offered by the Military Band of San José in the traditional recreos and retretas performed in the Parque Central. The United States Navy Band, in concerts organized by the Pan American Union performed the same works. Both scenarios helped to construct an idea of Costa Rica according to their own perspectives. In this paper, I explore both the motivations of Alejandro Monestel to compose the Rhapsodies for military band, and the reception of these works. Given the premiere of the Rhapsodies in San José, and in Washington D.C., I examine primary sources from different archives that preserve letters between Alejandro Monestel and, the National Broadcasting Company, the Unión Panamericana, and Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music. Considering Monestel’s traveling life –Costa Rica (origin), Belgium (school), New York (professional life), Costa Rica (back home)—I propose that in this circular trip, he traveled carrying values, ideas, and music to his three homes.
Session IX: US Influence on the Development of Latin American Musicology
“Robert M. Stevenson’s Inter-American Music Review: Thirty Years of Landmark Publishing,” Walter Aaron Clark, University of California, Riverside
One of the most significant events in the history of Ibero-American musicology is certainly the launching, almost 33 years ago, of Robert M. Stevenson’s journal Inter-American Music Review. Unique in conception as well as execution, it became a major venue for leading research on an impressively wide array of topics, covering all of the Americas and related themes in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Inter-American Music Review was notable precisely because there was nothing else like it. Though its name recalled Béhague’s equally important Latin American Music Review, the scope of Stevenson’s journal was larger. A random sampling of titles illustrates this point: “Pedro de Escobar: Earliest Portuguese Composer in New World Colonial Music Manuscripts,” “Brahms’s Reception in Latin America, Mexico City: 1884-1910,” “Charles Louis Seeger, Jr. (1886-1979): Composer,” “Ignacio Jerusalem (1707-1769): Italian Parvenu in Eighteenth-century Mexico,” “Marianna Martines = Martínez: Pupil of Haydn and Friend of Mozart,” and “Albéniz in Leipzig and Brussels: New Data from Conservatory Records.” Numerous distinguished scholars contributed to this journal, though many of the articles were written by Stevenson himself, as were the reviews. The amount of seminal research IAMR featured over three decades is staggering, research that, in most cases, would not have found any other viable outlet. Indeed, IAMR may constitute Stevenson’s single most important contribution to musicology.
“Gerard Béhague: from Panamericanism to Multiculturalism,” Maria Alice Volpe, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
This paper discusses Gerard Béhague’s scholarly work in the light of the changing ideological and political context, concerning (ethno)musicology’s agenda vis a vis U.S. international relations. Panamericanism was crucial to the shaping of Béhague’s comprehensive knowledge of Latin American music and culture at the early stage of his academic career in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. The legacy of former Latin American, Latin Americanist, and Americanist scholars who endeavoured the
pioneering musicological studies on different countries provided the basis for Béhague’s formative years and further development of his career. In the context of UNESCO’s policy to respond to cultural diversity, the 1980s and 1990s saw a change in U.S. domestic policies and international politics upholding multiculturalism as the new basis on which world democracy must take place. Accordingly, American (ethno) musicology’s ideological and political agenda have changed, and Béhague was
continuously engaged in updating his scholarly proposals. Multiculturalism has brought new ways of placing cultural relativism in (ethno)musicology’s agenda, and Béhague’s keen sense of current critical issues gave a remarkable contribution to the discipline. This paper will examine selected works by Béhague aiming to show that his all comprehensive scholarly work, concerning both historical musicology and ethnomusicology, epitomizes music-research endeavour coined by panamericanism as well as makes the transition to the new ideological and political framework of multiculturalism.
“George List and Colombian Musicology,” Egberto Bermudez, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
George List started his research interest in Colombia in the mid 1960s concentrating basically in the Afro-Colombian tradition of the northern coast. The materials gathered in his field trips led to several important publications and an sizable amount of field recordings now at the Archives of Traditional Music. His work -although not centered at the School of Music- developed simultaneously with the Latin American Music Center and very close to the music porgrams and initiatives oriented from the Music Division of the Organization of American States. In Colombia this was a very convulsive period, characterized by workers and student mobilizations and heated discussions on cultural imperialism, foreign military intervention, debates over armed struggle and the role of religion and academia in a polarized political agenda. Colombian musicology was trying to consolidate at the Conservatory of Music within the National University led by Andres Pardo Tovar and by 1964 was already entangled in the political discussion and the polarized intellectual and social climate that led to the emergence of the armed struggle and covered intelligence and indirect military US intervention. In this climate, after Pardo Tovar left the Conservatory, in the late 1960s major changes in the direction he tried to implement become apparent. This paper aims at assessing the impact that List and his work had in Colombian music research within the context described above.
Session X: Mutual and Diverse Perceptions and Negotiations between the USA and Mexico
“Bordering Spaces and Encounters in Music of Gabriela Ortiz,” Marianne Kielian-Gilbert, Indiana University
The Mexican city of Cuidad Juárez, Chihauhaua, across the river from El Paso, Texas, has become a flashpoint for the complex of values of border relations between the United States and Mexico. Two works of Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz confront ever-present problems of drug trafficking and violent death (the “disappeared women of Cuidad”) in, respectively, her video-opera ¡Únicamente la verdad! (Only the Truth!) (2008-10) and 2009 “requiem” setting Río Bravo for six female voices and crystal cups to text by Mónica Sánchez Escuer.
¡Únicamente la verdad! crosses boundaries of fact and fiction, myth and reality, documentary, opera, and corrido (Mexican ballad). Drawing on specific journalistic reports, it explores border imaginations of Camelia La Tejana, a woman fictionalized in the narcocorrido Contrabando y traición (Smuggling and Betrayal) made popular by the norteño music band Los Tigres del Norte in the 1970s. In multiple musical references (corrido, la música ranchera, cumbia del norte, art/popular music), scene five enacts the journalist César Güemes’s interview of Camelia María, one of the “Camelias” of the opera, and her resistance to his attempt to pin down the “real” Camelia.
Ortiz’s 2009 work, Río Bravo takes a different turn in honoring the “lost “disappeared” women (Desaparecidos) of the Juárez maquiladoras (sweatshops). Their voices, “without echo”, multiply through work’s musical “echoing”, articulating the strangeness of their musical displacements of Escuer’s poem. I consider how private spaces—the interview, the requiem—can have public impact in musically enacting and ritualizing the stark realities of individual experience and loss.
“The Sounds of Mexico: Music in the OCIAA Documentaries,” Jacky Avila, University of California, Riverside
During the early 20th century, U.S. American perceptions of Mexico were shaped by images of violence and social upheaval due in part to the armed struggle of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). These images were perpetuated in silent films in which Mexicans were consistently portrayed as villains and thieves. These negative perceptions began to shift at the beginning of World War II, after Mexico allied itself with the United States and joined the war effort. This shift in perception is evident in the propagandizing film project initiated by the U.S. government’s Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs: a series of documentary films, narrated by Hollywood actors, intended not only to educate U.S. Americans about Mexico but rectify past negative representations of Mexicans and showcase a Mexican culture with both cosmopolitan and folkloric dimensions. Generally speaking, film scoring practice dictates that music deemed traditional to a narrative subject’s geographical backdrop be used to provide the appropriate atmosphere. These documentaries however, present a musical potpourri of re-arranged Mexican canciones and sones; they repeat a sonic reinforcement of general Mexicanness regardless of the regional location and culture depicted. Although attempting to shift from stereotypes, the documentaries—enforced by the compiled underscoring—replace negative representations of Mexico with a romanticized and exoticized version of Mexican culture aimed at U.S. tourists. Through these films and their music, we can see a transnational bridge developing between the United States and Mexico, and an attempt to strengthen diplomatic relations.
“Audioscapes: Interpreting Nationalistic Perspectives Through Transnational Death Metal (Band: Brujeria),” Michael Mena, University of Texas – Panamerican
The California-based Mexican-American “activist” metal band Brujeria, uses a powerful, yet conflicting, blend of nihilism, anarchism, and racism with a dose of hyper-patriotism in its attempt to convey the voice of oppressed Mexicans on both sides of the border. My research on this band has revealed a peculiar concentration of live performances along the U.S.-Mexico border. While it is uncertain whether or not Brujeria is intentionally political, their live performances and song lyrics are highly critical of both the U.S. and Mexico regarding immigration policy, border-crossing, and other issues which have resonated among the binational youth of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico (locally referred to as “border kids”). In this paper I explore the conflicting notions of space, performativity, binationality and U.S. Mexico relations within the context of Brujeria performances in the South Texas Borderlands. As a participant/observer of the South Texas Death Metal scene, I have witnessed the emotional impact that Brujeria has on border kids. This audience is deeply confused about its social identity, and Brujeria appear to have developed a devoted following by tapping into the emotions of such a volatile binational youth audience. While on the surface, it might appear that Brujeria’s primary ambition is to prey on such a young and influential audience, I argue that Brujeria promotes and nurtures a new form of bicultural and biracial pride among the border kids that might be considered in response to a long history of exploitation and oppression of Mexicans in the region.
“Double Meanings in Carlos Chávez’s Horsepower,” Christina Taylor Gibson, The Catholic University of America
Gala crowds braved torrential rain and thunder to see the premiere of Carlos Chávez’s ballet H.P. (Horsepower or Caballos de Vapor) on March 31, 1932. The performance was directed by Leopold Stokowski, choreographed by Catherine Littlefield, and featured sets and costumes by Diego Rivera. It marked the first major performance of Chávez’s music in the U.S. Advance publicity emphasized a utopian Pan-American reading of the scenario; it advertised the composer’s use of son, tango, and zandunga, Rivera’s tropical fruit costumes, and Stokowski’s research trips to Mexico.
A close study of Chávez’s manuscript score indicates, however, that the composer’s public support of a Pan-American reading was contradicted by the quasi-hidden dystopic program evident in the score. There the son and zandunga are overwhelmed by aggressive, dissonant, mechanical “Northern” sounds, closely identified with the U.S. Although Chávez managed to conceal his true program from Stokowski, Littlefield, and U.S. critics—the overt message of American cooperation was far more appealing than the co-optation represented in the score—the existence of the alternate program wrecked havoc on the necessarily collaborative art of ballet production, rendering the H.P. premiere confused and confusing. As a result, reviewers concurred that, “It was more of a sensation before it began than after it was over.” In this paper I will examine evidence for a hidden program in Chávez’s music for H.P., and analyze its affect on the performance and reception of the work.
Keynote address III: “The Danzón and Caribbean Musical Influences on Early Jazz,”Robin Moore, University of Texas at Austin
Music scholars have long lamented the lack of historical data describing the emergence of early jazz repertoire in New Orleans. Not only do no recordings of the music exist prior to 1917, but few written sources from the turn of the twentieth century make any mention of the emergent musical style. As a result, many studies describe jazz as the invention of a few almost mythical figures in isolation, with little reference to earlier performance practice. This paper uses an analysis of the earliest recordings of the Cuban danzón, dating from 1905, as a window into the formative years of jazz. The danzón is especially significant as the first African-American music ever recorded, and a style known to have been performed in New Orleans beginning in the late 1880s. Analysis suggests (1) that many parallels in form, rhythm, and style exist between the danzón and dixieland repertoire, and (2) that instrumentation associated with the final “hot” (partially improvised) sections of the danzón bear striking similarities to the clarinet-trumpet-trombone frontline of dixieland. The danzón may well have contributed directly to the development of jazz; danzón style ties jazz to broader regional developments, and underscores the fact that the histories of Latin American music and music in the United States are fundamentally intertwined.
Session XI: The Interactions of Ragtime and Jazz with Latin American Popular Music Genres
“Alcajazz: Afro-Peruvian Forms of Musical Knowledge and the Shaping of Afro-Peruvian Jazz,” Javier León, Indiana University
This paper is focused on the recent collaboration between local jazz and Afro-Peruvian musicians to develop a new, locally rooted style of jazz that uses Afro-Peruvian musical genres as a departure point. While there have been prior attempts at such musical synthesis can be traced back to the late 1970s, I argue that a shift in perspective among the latest generation of jazz both jazz and Afro-Peruvian musicians has led to more fruitful working relationship. Specifically, I suggest that jazz musicians have increasingly come to acknowledge and value their Afro-Peruvian counterparts for having access to distinct forms of musical and cultural knowledge that are deemed vital to the development of this new jazz idiom. To this end, I will look at the music of Gabriel Alegría and the Afro-Peruvian Sextet, playing particular attention to how stylistic features of Alegría’s music have grown out of an ongoing dialogue among band members with markedly different social, ethnic, and musical backgrounds. I will also explore the broader implications that this new type of collaboration has for rooting Afro-Peruvian jazz among the larger Afro-Peruvian musical community rather than remaining predominantly a middle class and upper middle class activity at the hands of musicians who are not of African descent.
“Brazilian styles and jazz elements: Hybridization in the music of Hermeto Pascoal,” Almir Cortes, Universidade Estadual de Campinas – UNICAMP
Especially after 1960, the Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal (1936) started producing a musical oeuvre that would become a representative part of the repertory of modern Brazilian instrumental music (known internationally as Brazilian jazz). During his non-formal musical training, Pascoal was exposed to and practiced important Brazilian urban genres such as samba, choro, baião, frevo, and bossa nova. In 1969 he moved to the US, where he lived for four years. During this time he became intimately involved with jazz music. Among other activities, he collaborated, played, and recorded with the jazz giant Miles Davis (1926-1991).
This paper intends to show how Brazilian styles and jazz musical elements are articulated in the music of Pascoal. The discussion is based on a definition of hybridization as a social and cultural process in which structures or discrete practices that developed separately are combined in order to generate new structures, objects, and practices (CANCLINI, 2003).
The depth of this cross-cultural process will also be examined, showing the boundaries of Pascoal’s blending. Recordings and transcriptions of important pieces by Pascoal will be analyzed in order to illustrate which elements are hybridized and which are not.
“Ragtime traces in the Brazilian choro Segura ele! [Hold him!] by Pixinguinha: composition and performance hybridization after the trip to Paris in 1922,” Nilton Antônio Moreira Júnior and Fausto Borém, UNIRIO – Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro
Analytical study about Segura ele! (Hold him!) and Um a zero (One by Zero), two choros by Brazilian composer and performer Alfredo da Rocha Vianna, known as Pixinguinha (1897-1973), the leading figure of the genre in the twentieth century. It is well known that after the historical trip of his choro group Oito Batutas (Eight Smarties) to Paris in 1922, where he met American jazz musicians, Pixinguinha introduced some stylistic innovations in the performance practices of choro. It shows traits of ragtime in Segura ele! and features of traditional choro, (a Brazilian popular music genre), in Um a zero, departing from lead sheets (PIXINGUINHA, 1919, 1929), historical recordings (PIXINGUINHA, 1998) and iconographic information. A comparison among formal, harmonic, rhythmic, motivic, instrumentation and iconographic elements reveal that Pixinguinha´s choro style was influenced by the US popular music genre in several levels, in the song Segura ele!. There is, still, a comparison between similar motives from Segura ele! and The Entertainer, composed by Scott Joplin, the most important composer of ragtime. Some considerations by Scott Joplin about how to play the ragtime are observed in the recording of Segura ele!. Finally, it is possible to visualize the difference between Um a zero that was composed in 1919, before the trip, and Segura ele!, composed in 1929, some years after the trip.