MS 201 - The Music of Spain: Diversity, Functionality and the Construction of Cultural Identity

Most people who live outside of Spain identify flamenco as the musical genre that fully represents the people and culture of this country. This picture could not be more incorrect: Spain hosts an incredibly rich variety of musical traditions, musical instruments, and dance forms. The musical diversity of Spain is a product of the country’s complex history and its cultural and geographical diversity. In recent years, nonetheless, a notable effort has been made by different cultural groups all around the country to emphasize divergent elements between the different musical genres. Many of these tendencies become the “sound banner” of trends such as “Celtism” or “Mediterranism” that have been used to justify cultural and even genetic differences in Spain.

The purpose of this class is not only to familiarize the students with the different musical genres of Spain and to encourage them to develop sensitivity to the diversity of forms and functions but also to encourage them to develop critical listening skills through the analysis of how genres are used as cultural identifiers. This will lead to a discussion about how music can function both as a keeper of tradition or as political and cultural propaganda associated with new nationalistic trends.

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