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Whose National Music?

Identity, Mestizaje, and Migration in Ecuador

Ketty Wong

Publication Year: 2012

Musical genres, musical instruments, and even songs can often capture the essence of a country's national character. In Whose National Music?, the first book-length study of Ecuadorian popular music, Ketty Wong explores Ecuadorians' views of their national identity in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through an examination of the music labels they use. Wong deftly addresses the notion of música nacional, an umbrella term for Ecuadorian popular songs often defined by the socio-economic, ethnic, racial, and generational background of people discussing the music.

Wong shows how the inclusion or exclusion of elite and working-class musics within the scope of música nacional articulate different social, ethnic, and racial configurations of the nation for white, mestizo, indigenous, and Afro-Ecuadorian populations.

Presenting a macropicture of what música nacional is—or should be—Whose National Music? provides a lively historical trajectory of a country's diverse musical scene.

Published by: Temple University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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List of Multimedia Examples

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pp. vii-x

A selection of enhanced media examples (still images, audio, or video recordings) associated with this book can be accessed on the Ethnomusicology Multimedia website, www.ethnomultimedia.org. Keyed to specific passages, each example listed below has a unique persistent uniform resource identifier...

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pp. xi-xvi

This book would not have been possible without the collaboration of many Ecuadorian people I have met on the streets, in the buses, and at numerous concert venues, parks, and music stores...

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pp. 1-16

People often believe that a musical phenomenon, such as a particular genre, musical instrument, or song repertoire, captures the essence of a country’s national character. Think of the Paraguayan harp, the Trinidadian steelband, the Brazilian samba...

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1. The Nation in Bloom: A Search for “Ecuadorianness”

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pp. 17-37

My arrival in Ecuador in October 2001 coincided with two important events that reminded Ecuadorians of their nationality and civic duties: the presidential elections on October 17 and the Fifth Population and Housing Census released on November 7...

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2. La Música Nacional: An Anthology of Songs

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pp. 38-65

I attended countless concerts of Ecuadorian popular music (EPM) during my stay in Quito between November 2001 and September 2004. Some were organized in the Coliseo Julio César Hidalgo (CJCH), a sports arena located near a food market and a bus transit center...

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3. The Pasillo: Rise and Decline of the National Song

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pp. 66-94

Like many middle-class children in Guayaquil, I grew up listening to música nacional at home, in my neighborhood, and at school. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was a common feature to hear serenades of romantic boleros and pasillos devoted to a mother or a woman...

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4. Rocolera Music: New Urban Sounds in the City

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pp. 95-129

The 1970s was a period of profound social, economic, and political transformations in Ecuador. The discovery of petroleum in the Amazonian region changed the country’s economic structure, which until then had primarily been based on agricultural exports...

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5. Chichera Music: The “Tropicalization” of Música Nacional

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pp. 130-162

The 1970s was not only a period of “rocolization” of the Ecuadorian pasillo but also one of “tropicalization” of música nacional. By “tropicalization” I mean the fusion...

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6. The Tecnocumbia Boom in Ecuador: “A Letter with My Kisses Sent with Love by Internet"

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pp. 163-191

It seems that almost every Ecuadorian has a close relative, friend, or acquaintance who has left the country in the aftermath of the economic crisis at the turn of the twenty-first century, as I learned in myriad conversations with taxi drivers, street vendors, domestic servants...

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7. The Translocation of Ecuadorian Popular Music

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pp. 192-210

While rural-to-urban migration has been a common occurrence in Ecuador throughout the twentieth century, emigration to the United States and Europe was rare before the 1970s (Jokisch 2001)...

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Epilogue: Whose National Music?

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pp. 211-223

This book has explored different repertoires of Ecuadorian and non- Ecuadorian music which at some point have been considered (or labeled) música nacional. In analyzing the ideology of mestizaje as a nation-building discourse in Ecuador...


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pp. 225-228


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pp. 229-234

Glossary of Ethnic and Musical Terms

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pp. 235-236


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pp. 237-246


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pp. 247-253

About the Author

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p. 255-255

E-ISBN-13: 9781439900598
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439900574

Page Count: 268
Illustrations: 20
Publication Year: 2012