Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music
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.
The Music of Globalization: Gustavo Santaolalla and the Production of Rock Latino
The final chapter explores the advent of the innovative genre of rock latino in the 1990s by examining the career of its most influential producer, Gustavo Santaolalla. In the 1970s, Santaolalla’s band, Arco Iris, crafted a hybrid form of rock by incorporating elements from Argentine folk music. In 1978, Santaolalla moved to Los Angeles, where he was exposed to punk, new wave, ska, and Chicano rock. His experiences in the United States transformed his musical approach. Although he remained interested in rock music as a vehicle for the expression of identity, he left behind the folkloric concept of authenticity that had motivated his earlier experiments. He now embraced a broader, Latin American musical identity built from a wide range of commercial genres. Santaolalla emerged as a key mediator between the multinational record companies’ quest for a Latin product and Latin American fans’ desire for an authentic rock music of their own. Together with his musical partners and protégés, he created rock music that appealed both to North American critics enamored with world music and to record companies looking for a Latin product. But the new style was also useful to Latin American musicians and fans engaged in projects of self-invention. Within Argentina, rock latino promoted unprecedented identity formations and even contributed to new forms of social protest.