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Sounding Latin Music, Hearing the Americas

How is Latin American music heard, by whom, and why?

Many in the United States believe Latin American musicians make “Latin music”—which carries with it a whole host of assumptions, definitions, and contradictions. In their own countries, these expatriate musicians might generate immense national pride or trigger suspicions of “national betrayals.” The making, sounding, and hearing of “Latin music” brings into being the complex array of concepts that constitute “Latin Americanism”—its fissures and paradoxes, but also its universal aspirations. Taking as its center musicians from or with declared roots in Latin America, Jairo Moreno presents us with an innovative analysis of how and why music emerges as a necessary but insufficient shorthand for defining and understanding Latin American, Latinx, and American experiences of modernity.
This close look at the growth of music-making by Latin American and Spanish-speaking musicians in the United States at the turn of the twenty-first century reveals diverging understandings of music’s social and political possibilities for participation and belonging. Through the stories of musicians—Rubén Blades, Shakira, Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and Miguel Zenón—Sounding Latin Music, Hearing the Americas traces how artists use music to produce worlds and senses of the world at the ever-transforming conjunction of Latin America and the United States.

376 pages | 16 line drawings, 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2023

Big Issues in Music

Latin American Studies

Music: Ethnomusicology, General Music


“Original and insightful, Sounding Latin Music, Hearing the Americas is carefully researched in terms of historical framework, painstakingly structured and argued, and well written. Though the author's expertise is primarily musicological, his erudition spans several fields, and allows him to cover theoretical, historical, and disciplinary terrain that most scholars would be well advised not to attempt. In short, no one else could have written this tour de force.”

Jason R. Borge, University of Texas at Austin

“This is a powerful, insightful, and enlightening book by a major thinker in his field with an impressive command of the literature and musical repertoire of Latin America as well as Latinos in the United States. Moreno writes consciously as an intellectual ‘migrant’ at the crossroads of music studies, Latin American studies, cultural studies, and American studies. The theoretical contributions of this book are palpable, and it is humanized by the author being so conversant in popular music for mass audiences.”

Timothy Brennan, University of Minnesota

Table of Contents

1 Reckoning with Letters: “Pedro Navaja” and Aural Equality
2 Crossing Under (and Beyond)
3 Shakira’s Cosmopolitanisms
4 Histories and Economies of Afro-Latin Jazz
5 Act, Event, and Tradition: Miguel Zenón and the Aurality of the Unthinkable

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