Mompou Seminar Fall 2011: Music as a Cultural Weapon

24 September 2011: The Foundation for Iberian Music and the Mompou Chair present the 2011 Fall Seminar “Music as a Cultural Weapon: Fighting for Ethnic Identities in Spain from Cançó to Rock and Rap (1960-2010).”  Professor Sílvia Martínez from la Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (la ESMUC) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona will lead an interactive seminar with discussions, lecture, and listening examples.

September 24, 2011
10 am – 4 pm
Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY  10016
Room 3491

Free and open to the public

Breakfast and lunch provided

The seminar examines the relationship between popular music and ethnic identity through the historical example of Catalonians in Spain.  By comparing two historical moments – the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1990s – the seminar aims to highlight the ways groups use musical expression as a way of transmitting a sense of belonging.  Particular to this example, the Catalan language is an important element for the Catalonian identity and is central to the seminar’s discussion of the sociopolitical movements of the time.

This case presents a model for studying the relationship between musical expressions, socio-economic conditions of a musical scene, and the potential of consolidation of an ethnic identity, which can be compared with other American and international cases.

Some topics to be covered in the seminar:

• Many musical bands share stages and audiences although their messages are inconsistent and incompatible with each other

• The songs’ language (Catalan, Spanish or English) is a more defining element for genre than strict musical features

• Although radical musical genres (heavy metal, rap) exist, bands refuse to be constrained by genre definitions

• There is a certain lack of lyric-based song genres (rap, ballads, flamenco song)


Cohen, Sara. “Sounding out  the City: Music and the Sensuous Production of Place.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 20/4 (1995), 434-446.

Eriksen, Thomas. “Ethnicity versus Nationalism.” Journal of Peace Research 28/3 (1991), 263-278.

Fouce, Héctor. “Emociones en lugar de soluciones. Música popular, intelectuales y cambio político en la España de la Transición .” TRANS 12 (2008).

Van Lew, Maria. “The Scent of Catalan Rock: Els Pets’ Ideology and the Rock and Roll Industry.” Popular Music. 12/3 (1993), 245-261.

For reservations to the seminar: