Musicians in Transit

Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 20 illustrations Published: January 2017

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Southern Cone, Music > Popular Music

In Musicians in Transit Matthew B. Karush examines the transnational careers of seven of the most influential Argentine musicians of the twentieth century: Afro-Argentine swing guitarist Oscar Alemán, jazz saxophonist Gato Barbieri, composer Lalo Schifrin, tango innovator Astor Piazzolla, balada singer Sandro, folksinger Mercedes Sosa, and rock musician Gustavo Santaolalla. As active participants in the globalized music business, these artists interacted with musicians and audiences in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and contended with genre distinctions, marketing conventions, and ethnic stereotypes. By responding creatively to these constraints, they made innovative music that provided Argentines with new ways of understanding their nation’s place in the world. Eventually, these musicians produced expressions of Latin identity that reverberated beyond Argentina, including a novel form of pop ballad; an anti-imperialist, revolutionary folk genre; and a style of rock built on a pastiche of Latin American and global genres. A website with links to recordings by each musician accompanies the book.


"Thanks to his command of cultural, social, and historical contexts and deftness in illuminating and interpreting the dialectic between musicians and the forces of transnationalism and globalization, [Karush] succeeds in presenting a nuanced, sweeping view of Argentinian music history that also reads as an engaging narrative. . . . Highly recommended." — G. R. Innes, Choice

“... Karush ultimately presents a very interesting interpretation of Argentine popular musicians in a transnational context and offers a compelling depiction of the intricacies and complexities involved in the construction of any national identity.” — Vera Wolkowicz, Music and Letters

"Karush tells a story of artistic individual agency and transnational influences that avoids simplistic conclusions about cultural imperialism and authenticity. . . . This is an ambitious work that successfully explores uncharted territory in Argentine history." — Natalia Milanesio, American Historical Review

"Expertly crafted. . . . [Musicians in Transit] deserves to be read by anyone interested in the development of Latin American identity in the twentieth century." — Brian Bockelman, The Americas

“It is impossible to do justice to this complex book in a brief review. Musicians in Transit is an ambitious exploration of globalization, national identity, and ethnicity viewed through the multidimensional lens of these seven musicians….The book will have broad cross-disciplinary appeal and, like its subject, transnational relevance and impact.” — Deborah Jakubs, Hispanic American Historical Review

Musicians in Transit constitutes an excellent addition that will surely establish itself as a reference for the study of twentieth-century Argentine popular music and its relationship with nation-ness.” — Ignacio Aguiló, Journal of Latin American Studies

"Skillfully positions the musicians among the political and class positions of taste communities in that country. . . . The musical, spatial, and temporal range of Musicians in Transit could be overwhelming, but Karush brings continuity to disparate geographies and histories. . . . A fascinating recounting of twentieth-century Latin American lives in the popular music industries." — Daniel Gough, Notes

"This book commands attention both for its creativeness and daring. . . . This book will be read with profit and enthusiasm not only by popular music specialists and students of Latin American musical culture, but anyone interested in cultural industries broadly conceived." — Sean Bellaviti, Bulletin of Latin American Research

"A lucid and carefully articulated contribution. . . . The book resonates with recent musicological scholarship that is particularly concerned with the roles that media and mediators play in the articulation of local musical identities in South America. . . . This is a book rich with detail and lucid insight, and is essential reading for scholars of Argentine popular music." — Michael S. O’Brien, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“Karush looks through these seven musical experiences that are different but all of them are analyzed from the relationship between Latin America and Europe and the United States: Karush is thus able to carry out the tricky task of accounting for the history of local musics in a global dimension.”

— Juliana Guerrero, Popular Music

Musicians in Transit is an important contribution to both the history of Argentine popular music and to the study of the transnational logic of cultural industries, which Karush had brilliantly explored in his previous book on the influence of radio, cinema, and tango on the birth of Peronism.” — Esteban Buch, Latin American Research Review

"From an exploration of early jazz in the 1920s to contemporary rock en español, Matthew B. Karush maps out the shifting topography of Argentine musicianship as no one has before. Musicians in Transit expertly traverses the racial politics and cosmopolitan yearnings that characterized musicians' efforts to define themselves in relationship with the world beyond Argentina. Karush reveals the individual footpaths and transnational bridges essential for decoding the relationship between music, capital, and nation." — Eric Zolov, author of Refried Elvis: The Rise of the Mexican Counterculture

"Matthew B. Karush presents a rich and compelling analysis of these major artists, revealing the importance of international influences on their music while highlighting their role in shaping musical trends across the globe. In the process, Karush provides a fascinating panorama of Argentine popular music." — Bryan McCann, author of Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Matthew B. Karush is Professor of History at George Mason University. He is the author of Culture of Class: Radio and Cinema in the Making of a Divided Argentina, 1920–1946 and coeditor of The New Cultural History of Peronism: Power and Identity in Mid-Twentieth-Century Argentina, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Note about Online Resources  xi

Introduction  1

1. Black in Buenos Aires: Oscar Alemán and the Transnational History of Swing  15

2. Argentines into Latins: The Jazz Histories of Lalo Schifrin and Gato Barbieri  39

3. Cosmopolitan Tango: Astor Piazzolla at Home and Abroad  70

4. The Sound of Latin America: Sandro and the Invention of Balada  108

5. Indigenous Argentina and Revolutionary Latin America: Mercedes Sosa and the Multiple Meanings of Folk Music  142

6. The Music of Globalization: Gustavo Santaollalo and the Production of Rock Latino  179

Conclusion  216

Notes  221

Bibliography  249

Index  263
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Co-Winner of the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Book Award

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6236-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6216-6
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