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Carlos Vega, the melody collector

We tell you about the life of the father of Argentine musicology.

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carlos vega

Mounted in cars, backpacks, mules or horses, with mechanical phonographs, electric drums, and in recent years magnetophonic tape recorders, Carlos Vega made seventy trips in Argentina and its neighbouring countries between 1931 and 1965. He looked for melodies in the memories and in the living voices of the territory. Born in Cañuelas, in the province of Buenos Aires, on April 14, 1898, the Argentine poet and composer is considered the father of Argentine musicology. On February 10, 2019, 53 years of his departure, in 1966.

Ethnomusicologist Isabel Aretz, pianist Silvia Eisenstein and researcher Lauro Ayestaran were his main collaborators. Along with them, Vega toured hidden geographies of the Argentine provinces, recording in that walk the popular songs of the Baqueanos. He compiled 1700 records recorded on different media, such as paraffinated cardboard, acetate, celluloid and magnetophonic tapes. These sound documents are accompanied by an abundant photographic record and tokens and notebooks where Vega pointed out day, place, genre and composer.

Motivated to know where Argentine music came from, 20-year-old Carlos Vega started workingad honoremin the archeology and ethnography section of the Argentinian Museum of Natural Sciences “Bernardino Rivadavia”. Years later, in 1930, his focus on the subject led him to create the Andean musicology area of the museum, and his great project of compilation of Argentine traditional music began to walk.

 Ricardo Rojas was an important influence in his research. He introduced it into the world of folklore and led him to dialogue research perspectives under the imprint of “eurindic” thinking, which proposes the fusion of European cultural values with those of pre-Hispanic Native Americans.

Vega spent her days between worlds that she intertwined: organizing her trips to collect traditional oral music and studying medieval codices, shaping her theory of transcription, in modern notation, of the hundreds of melodies she collected in her works field.

His studies on the origins of dances, the history of vocal and instrumental music, or the variety of musical instruments, were not theorized by Carlos Vega in the context of performance in which these musical experiences were developed, but focused on sound objects and products. For this reason, most field records were the product of sessions organized outside the everyday context.

Thanks to the photographs and notebooks of the field, where he drew a map, the clothes of the dancers, or pointed out some characteristics of the homes of each village, today you can know some references about the daily life of those elders who shared their memories and melodies.

Source: Cultura.gob.ar 

Publication Date: 16/04/2019

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