september 2010

Music and Genre

Stories about women’s social achievements were told through the successes and achievements of the political, social, and the improvement of areas where the participation of women is outstanding.

Walter Sánchez C.
Instituto de Investigaciones

Stories about social conquest by women have been told throughout history, beginning with women who have fought for both political and social conditions, as well as through the recovery of stories emphasizing women’s participation. These stories highlight the struggles women have faced to gain a position within an oppressive society (colonial or republican) or while facing patriarchal power. While these stories may explain certain situations, ironically, they silence the action of hundreds of women who, from different backgrounds have influenced the declaration of women within Bolivian society – many times without an explicit purpose.

Such is the case with Copleras Cochabambinas (Women singers from Cochabamba). Since the 1960s, Quechua speaking peasant women, mothers, wives, workers, tradeswomen and farmers flooded local radio stations and strengthened the presence of women in Bolivian music through their voices.

While there are many discussions that demonize the presence of cultural industry within the campesino world, the musical “boom” among women – reaching further than just the valleys – cannot be understood unless we begin to understand how powerful the presence of the phonographic industry was. One example of an “anonymous” Coplera of the valleys of Cochabamba, is Encarnación Lazarte, born March 27, 1938; not only was she discovered by José Ferrufino (Artistic Director of Lauro & Cia.), while singing at the Santa Vera Cruz festival, but she was very popular and had a very strong influence on national music due to the phonographic industry.

It is important to highlight the link between cultural industry and peasant or indigenous music. Industrias Méndez was the first record company in Bolivia, who although they focused on promoting popular urban music, they were also the company that promoted indigenous music. Lauro & Cia., founded in 1959, was another record company that promoted indigenous music through editing 33 r.p.m. records made specifically for the indigenous market as well as through the Festival “Lauro de la Canción”. This is the annual festival where artists and groups from all over the country participated, and then moved on to recording companies such as “Artistas Exclusivos”. In fact, famous soloists, duos, trios and groups who succeeded in Bolivia during the 1960s – artists such as Los Jairas, Zulma Yugar, Luz Mila Carpio, among others – all passed through this festival and recorded under their label.

It is here, where music and cultural industry began to mix. The “Cholita Coplera” Encarnación Lazarte won the Festival “Lauro de la Canción” in 1966, and shortly after released her first record to the public. Laureano Rojas, the owner of Lauro & Cia., points out that her success was so huge that “the records almost melted because of public demand. We did not have time to let the records cool down or place them in slips”. With this “boom” there was a succession of música campesina in Cochabamba inspired by female artists. New singers with extraordinary voices began to surface, such as Braulia Jaldín, Dora Romero, Arminda Vocal, Ricarda Galindo, Benita López, Máxima Fernández, Margarita Andia, Leonarda Montaño, María Veizaga, Olga Zenteno, Dominga González, Julia Rosas, Las Hermanas Velasco, Marta Soto.

All of the recordings during this time were released on EP records (Extended Play), opening a new market for record players among the campesino population, mainly battery operated pick-ups. A recount of music genres recorded between 1976 and 1978, under the Lauro & Cia. label showed there was a tendency to record wayñus, cuecas, and songs primarily linked to religious festivities throughout the valleys of Cochabamba, festivities such as Todos Santos (All Saints Day), Santa Vera Cruz, Carnival and Easter.

A prominent fact of this phenomenon is the relationship between the recordings and the annual agricultural, festival or rituals calendar. In effect, recordings at Lauro & Cia. followed a music festival calendar (for Carnival, Easter, Santa Vera Cruz, San Juan, All Saints, San Andrés). However, there were artists, such as Marta Soto, who did not follow these calendars, and perused more rhythmic dance style music.

As part of the same process, singers from Northern Potosí begin to appear in the 1970s. In 1969, Luz Mila Carpio sings at the Festival “Lauro de la Canción” playing a charango and singing songs from Potosí. She’s crowned Ñusta del Festival (Queen of the Festival). Soon after, other prominent singers begin to emerge. La Pocoateña, immortalizes two famous wayñus, Siway Azucena and Orgullosa Linda Pocoateña. Afterwards, the unforgettable Ruperta Condori with the wayñu Basta Corazón, No Llores”, a song which, somehow, marks the peak of female influence in the history of recording, and bring male musicians to a decline.

Carlos Espinoza stated this new presence begins with the famous Laiku-Laiku wayñu from Urien Vázquez, recorded during the late 1960s, although it would not be until the 80s that more artists from Potosí appear, such as Boni Alberto Terán and Alberto Arteaga. These artists introduced new tempos with charangos (kinsa tempo, toro tempo, piano tempo, etc.) and new ways of singing. During the 1990s, artists such as Mario Anagua and Alberto Vela were recognized for making the music of North Potosí reach every corner of the country. Throughout this entire process and linked undoubtedly by the presence of female artists in Bolivian music, we can only underline what French philosopher Comelius Castroriadis stated, that the most important revolution of the 20th century was that which began by women.

Calendario Septiembre 2010

Ciclo de cine "Sueños de juventud"
1 de septiembre
Una casa de locos

2 de septiembre
Madre" (La tête de maman)

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