Thursday, January 12, 2012

Trova, Validation or Evocation? / Yoani Sánchez

Trova, Validation or Evocation? / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

The singer intones one of his old songs on the stage. The public presses
closer, repeats the chorus, is moved to delirium. This week we've
enjoyed one of the many festivals of trova music that have begun, this
time, in Santa Clara province. With themes ranging from the romantic to
the most contentious social issues, the event allows to to hear some
happy new releases and other well-known compositions. Musical creation
that had its golden age in the seventies, but that its now losing ground
to more commercial and fast-paced melodic forms. Most young people don't
want to hear trova ballads with lyrics that speak of complaint or daily
chronicles, they prefer to relax and enjoy themselves, to abandon
reality, if only for one night. They go to the clubs to escape what is
outside, not to be reminded of it. So those ideological tunes — alluding
to the New Man or the society he will inhabit — have been thrown into
the well of forgetfulness.

Despite the loss of popularity, there are still dozens of cultivators of
the trova song tradition in Cuba. They sing for people who prefer to
ponder daily life and its absurdities rather than run away to another
dimension. There are also many of us who still shudder at the lyrics of
Silvio Rodriguez, separated as we are from him by an abyss of political
opinions, a ravine of philosophical positions. When it comes time to
organize our musical — or literary — libraries, we've learned that the
best idea is not to do it by party preference… if we don't want to
suffer the sad loss of numerous authors.

Beyond the quality of the chords and verses, a good part of the public
seeks in trova ballads their ability to evoke past memories: a first
love, a close dance, the difficult years, that day of the first kiss, or
the concert where we met someone very special. They trigger memories,
like Proust's madeleine, but which enter through the ears rather than
the palate. When the singer appears with his guitar in hand, he is, in
reality, engaging us in an act of remembrance: taking us back to those
times when we were so young, when Nueva Trova had not yet been totally
faded by the acid of reality.

January 10 2012

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