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The Topos of the Guitar in Late Nineteenth- and Early TwentiethCentury Argentina

Melanie Plesch
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Regarded as the national instrument, the guitar pervades Argentine culture both as musical artifact and cultural emblem. Its image, whether literary, visual, or musical, has been consistently used by Argentine artists and intellectuals to evoke images of argentinidad, or Argentineness. The play of metonymies in which the guitar stands for Argentina, the Pampa, or a woman (who in turn signies the motherland) is a recurrent feature in Argentine literature. No example can be more pertinent than Jorge Luis Borgess celebrated poem La guitarra, in which the instrument is represented as the shelter wherein the Pampa is hidden, and its music the key that enables the author to grasp its immensity.
He mirado la Pampa Desde el traspatio de una casa de Buenos Aires. no la vi. Cuando entre Estaba acurrucada En lo profundo de una brusca guitarra. Solo se revelo Al entreverar la diestra las cuerdas 1 I have looked at the Pampa From the backyard of a house in Buenos Aires. When I arrived I did not see it. It was hidden In the depths of a rustic guitar. It only revealed itself When the right hand sounded the strings.

The image of the guitar is also one of the most signicant topoi of the rhetoric of Argentine musical nationalism, ranging from the relatively direct, iconic evocations of strummed and plucked accompaniments employed by early nationalist composers, such as Alberto n Aguirre, to the more abstract symbolic chord Williams and Julia formed by the sounds of the open strings of the guitar (E A d gbe0 ) that became one of Alberto Ginasteras trademarks.2
doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdp016 92:242 278 Advance Access publication October 6, 2009. # The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

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The use of the words rhetoric and topos requires an explanation. I have proposed elsewhere that Argentine musical nationalism can be analyzed as a rhetorical system in which the references to folk music constitute a topical network.3 The idea of a rhetorical system (a musical rhetoric of argentinidad) immediately brings to mind the image of a persuasive discourse that convinces through an articially constructed eloquence. This perspective enables us to denaturalize the alleged Argentine nature of this music and expose the constructedness of its nationalist appeal. Thus, the main concern is no longer what Argentine music is but rather how its Argentineness was fabricated. Topic theory, a relatively recent development within musicology, which so far has been applied mostly to European music, can prove an invaluable tool for studying the construction of meaning in nationalist idioms and is particularly apt for the Argentine case.4 Argentine musical nationalism persuades us of its own argentinidad through the deliberate use of a series of musical commonplaces or loci topici that, immersed in an unequivocally European idiom, refer the listener to certain worlds of meaning historically sanctioned as representative of the national identity. These topoi were devised (whether intentionally or not) by the rst group of nationalist composers and further expanded by subsequent generations. The topical universe comprises the evocation of folk songs and dances (such as milonga, vidalita, huella, and triste), musical systems ( pentatonicism and the harmonic system of the so-called cancionero ternario colonial ), and folk instruments like the guitar, among others.5 Musical topoi, however, do not exist in a vacuum. The conventional associations with which they have been endowed make sense within a specic historical and social context. Some topoi are also more complex than others. Certain dance rhythms, for instance, can be quite straightforward and unproblematic, whereas other topoi are entangled in dense webs of signication within the culture. Their meaning cannot be apprehended only by the specics of their musical conguration, they require a full cultural study.6 This is the case of the topos of the guitar, which does not refer to an actual guitar but to the idea of the guitar, a larger cultural trope within Argentine culture, intrinsically related to the mythologies of national identity and, as such, connected to wider worlds of meaning. This article traces the beginnings of this topos and explores its manifold manifestations in Argentine literature, visual arts, and music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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Although since its introduction by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century the guitar has played a signicant role in the several musical traditions that subsequently developed in the country, including art music, folk music, and tango, it is the rural guitar (the gaucho guitar) that is regarded as the national musical emblem. Moreover, this emblematic quality of the guitar is a relatively new phenomenon whose historicity does not extend beyond the late nineteenth century. Previous references to the gaucho guitar, as found in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century sources, tend to be highly derogatory.7 For instance, Concolorcorvo de la Vandera], in his Lazarillo de ciegos caminantes (1773), [Alonso Carrio n: remarked on the gauchos of the northern province of Tucuma
. . . al son de la mal encordada y destemplada guitarrilla cantan y echan unos a s parecen pullas. . . . Los principios de sus cantos son otros sus coplas, que ma rbaro y grosero, porque regularmente concertados, respecto de su modo ba n tunante llevan sus coplas estudiadas y fabricadas en la cabeza de algu chusco. 8 [. . . to the accompaniment of the badly strung and out-of-tune little guitar, they sing and provoke each other with their verses, which are more like gibes. . . . The beginnings of their songs are usually well arranged, considering their barbaric and coarse manner, since they have memorized their verses, and (those were) made up in the head of some droll truant.]

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These images of guitars of poor quality and barbaric songs recur throughout the literature on the gaucho during the rst half of the nineteenth century. For instance, in 1826 the British traveler John Miers remarked about a gaucho in Mercedes, in the province of Buenos Aires, he was seated on a log near the door of the hut and played nearly all the day, and all the evening, some wild notes on an old guitar, occasionally singing through his nose a melancholy barbarous Saracenic air.9 This situation would only change with the approach of the 1880s. Then, the badly strung and out-of-tune guitar metamorphosed into the national instrument and became the embodiment of Argentine singing. Two poems by Rafael Obligado illustrate this remarkable change. The rst is Las quintas de mi tiempo of 1884, where the guitar is called the national lyre.10
Torna ahora los ojos, Fabio, mira l grupo de un Aque arbol a la sombra sped por mullida alfombra Que tiene el ce Y la guitarra nacional por lira. 11 Turn your eyes now, Fabio, and look at That group under the shade of a tree The grass is their soft carpet And the national guitar their lyre.

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The second example is the arresting passage that heralds the death of Santos Vega in Obligados La muerte del payador (1885), where the guitar is described as the melodious instrument of the Argentine songs.12 In fact, in this passage the guitar can be read as a metonymy for the voice of the payador, or gaucho minstrel, (who is asleep), and the silence of his instrument as a symbol of his impending death.
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En los ramajes vecinos Ha colgado, silenciosa, La guitarra melodiosa De los cantos argentinos. 13

From the near branches Hangs, silent, The melodious guitar Of the Argentine songs.

This dramatic transformation in the representation of the instrument is embedded in a broader transformation, i.e., the redenition of the role of the gaucho in Argentinas construction of cultural identity that took place during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As an unavoidable attribute of the gaucho, the guitar has shared his fate in Argentine imagination, reecting the changing ways in which he has been perceived, constructed, and depicted. Stigmatized by its relationship with the gaucho during the rst half of the century, it was precisely because of this association that, toward the end of the century, the guitar was promoted to the status of national instrument. In early nineteenth-century Argentina, the gaucho was the Other par excellence, his alterity only surpassed by that of the Indian.14 Regarded as the site of barbarism, he symbolized the very entity against which the dominant culture dened its sense of self and even its idea of what Argentina was or should be.15 However, toward the 1880s when, due to profound changes operating in Argentine society at the time, he had nearly vanished, the gaucho became the mythical incarnation of the national character, and his customs, idiosyncratic speech, and musical traditions (including his ubiquitous guitar) were proclaimed the quintessence of all things Argentine. This apparent contradiction is closely related to the active process of nation building that took place during the second half of the nineteenth century and the concomitant rise of Argentine cultural nationalism. In order to understand this process and its relevance to the history of the topos of the guitar we need to review briey a few concepts from current theories of nationalism and the symbolic construction of a nation, as well as recent views on the emergence of the Argentine state.

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Argentine historians currently agree that, despite the fact that independence from Spain was gained during the period 1810 16,16 the denite establishment of an institutionalized nation-state was only achieved toward the end of the century, as a result of a deliberate process of construction initiated after the nal reunication of the country in 1861.17 Constructing a nation involves a considerable amount of political and ideological manipulation, which often includes what Eric Hobsbawm calls elements of artefact, invention and social engineering.18 Essential to this process is the creation of symbolic values to support and represent the nation and its identity. Symbols reinforce feelings of belonging (and even create them where they do not exist), help internalize a collective identity, and contribute to integrate the sometimes contradictory forces that coexist within a modern nation-state. The symbolic construction of a nation is usually closely related to the emergence of a cultural nationalist movement. In his now classic analysis of nations and nationalism, Ernest Gellner identies certain recurring features in the attitude of nationalisms toward popular culture, which, taken together, offer a meaningful theoretical framework for the Argentine case.19 Nationalism, says Gellner, extracts its symbolism from an idealized and essentialized people, the Volk, which it usually claims to be defending, protecting, reviving, or rescuing. Drawing shreds and patches from pre-existing low cultures, usually orally reproduced, nationalism invents a high culture, homogeneous, literate, and transmitted by specialists. The elements of the old folk culture undergo a process of selection and stylization and are subsequently heavily modied, if not radically transformed.20 The rise of Argentine nationalism was marked by two factors: the unforeseen consequences of the mass-immigration policy, an outstanding experiment in social engineering that completely changed the ethnic and cultural makeup of the country,21 and the negative effects of the rapid modernization that converted Buenos Aires from the gran aldea, or big town, into the so-called Paris of South America. Immigration and modernization brought with them a new prosperity but also the ills of modernity: the anonymity and alienation characteristic of modern urban life and the increase in crime rate and prostitution.22 The massive presence of foreigners disrupted the previous social order and elicited perceptions of cultural incoherence and internal dissolution. These ills were then deposited on a new Other, the immigrant, who was then constructed as the new site of barbarism, just as the gaucho had once been. He was made responsible for the perceived fragmentation of the culture, debasement of the language, and loss of traditional values.23

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An apocalyptic feeling pervades the writings of this period: the country dissolves in a sea of foreigners who corrupt the language, are ignorant of the names of the Independence heroes, and are unmoved by the sight of the ag or the strains of the national anthem.24 The following passage from a speech given at the National Parliament by congressman Estanislao Zeballos in 1887 is particularly illustrative: We are losing the sense of nationality with the assimilation of the foreign element . . . one day we will nd that we have become a nation without language, traditions, character, or ag.25 This context gave rise to an important debate about the question of national identity, which was deemed endangered. Intellectuals and artists engaged in a deliberate effort to construct symbolic representations of argentinidad.26 Thus, in a nearly textbook example of Gellners theory, they resorted to an essentialized and romanticized Volk, the gaucho, from whose cultural world they borrowed select elements, which they stylized, homogenized, and reorganized into new networks of meaning such as the literatura gauchesca, or gaucho genre, in literature. In consonance with these concerns about the denition of a national cultural identity, towards the end of the nineteenth century Argentine composers embarked upon the construction of a distinctive Argentine musical idiom. Predictably, they drew isolated elements from the musical culture of the gaucho (dance and song rhythms, characteristic harmonic progressions, melodic turns of phrase, idiosyncratic accompanimental patterns) and rearticulated them in the context of their typically European, post-Romantic styles. Their efforts resulted in what is usually referred to as nacionalismo musical, the rst musical canon of modern Argentina. The creation of the mythical gaucho involved a signicant degree of idealization and fantasy, as is usual in the construction of national types. However, the gaucho presents the particularity of having been drawn as an inverted image of the demonized immigrant, most of his idealized features standing in opposition to the alleged aws of the foreign element.27 Therefore, the immigrants indifference to the country was contrasted with the gauchos patriotism as active participant (now hero) of the independence wars and the campaigns against the Indians; the foreigners social aspirations and labor activism were compared to the gauchos contentment with his lot and his unfailing loyalty to his patron, or master. Finally, the immigrants rapacity was measured against the gauchos bohemianism and disinterest in money, i.e., what in the past had been regarded as his proverbial laziness and lack of industry. Playing the guitar, for example, which had previously

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been seen as an indicator of his idleness, was now interpreted as an expression of his soul:
Todos los gauchos tocan la guitarra y cantan con una incalculable fuerza de habituada a retratar lo que siente . . . 28 n porque su alma esta pasio [All the gauchos play the guitar and sing with an immeasurable and passionate force, for their soul is used to portray its sentiments . . .]
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Three concepts are crucial to understanding the place of gaucho culture within Argentine cultural nationalism: uso (use), nostalgia, and distancing. Uso, as coined by Josena Ludmer in her pathbreaking El nero gauchesco,29 establishes a meaningful connection between the use ge of the physical body of the gaucho by hegemonic powers and the use of his voice (his oral register) by the learned culture, extending the serviceable quality of the gaucho to the symbolic domain.30 Not only was he conscripted for the independence wars and the campaigns against the Indians but his poetry and his music were also drafted for the construction of the national literature andwe may addmusic. Uso, then, denes the act of cultural appropriation that is at the core of the nationalist movement, as well as the ethics (or lack thereof ) behind the program. Nostalgia refers to a set of dispositives that articulate in the aesthetic sphere the longing for a vanished past. While some are direct and explicit in voicing the yearning for a lost world and forgotten values, most of them operate at a more abstract level, through representations of landscape, situations, characters, and emotions that convey an intense melancholy pathos. This nostalgia not only relates to the alienation typical of modern urban life and the sudden realization of the unexpected dark side of modernity but also voices issues of class and xenophobia that were triggered by the mass-immigration process. There is a clear longing for an old order (associated with the image of the gaucho) in which the lower classes knew their place and did not question their betters, and where ideals and spiritual achievements were more important than material gain. ns Alma nativa, The following excerpt, from Martiniano Leguizamo is a clear illustration of such sentiments. It includes modernist nostalgia (note the use of expressions such as razes everything and feverish modern life), longing for a mythical past, idealization of the gaucho (the ancient lord of the plains of proverbial integrity), regret for his disappearance (he is no longer), and romanticization of the gauchos music making, including, of course, the guitar:

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pidamente arrasa ndolo todo . . . . . Es ley de esta febril n avanza ra La civilizacio s. Lo pasado pisado, parece decir la desden osa vida moderna no mirar atra divisa, y que el hacha disperse los horcones del rancho primitivo; . . . sus ocuo, sin pantes son gentes llegadas de otras regiones, de tipo hosco y hablar extran s pasio n de arrancar toda su savia n que el ma avido afa a la tierra fecunda. El al indio aborigen or de la tierra, su primer obrero, el que desalojo antiguo sen por el hierro y el fuego, mezclando su sangre ardorosa para modelar ese tipo incomparable de nuestros campos, ya no existe . . . . Todo se ha transformado o pervertido: las antiguas costumbres, la llaneza, la obsequiosa hospitalidad, la fe a innecesaria la escritura pu blica . . . aquella ada que hac en la palabra empen . . . . Ya no se nobleza proverbial del paisano . . . nada de eso se encuentra alla ven . . . aquellos alegres bailecitos a la luz de las estrellas sobre el patio de la estancia, donde las lindas paisanitas de pollera de zaraza y pesadas trenzas de azabache escuchaban con el alma asomada a los ojos, los trinos de la guitarra del payador que derramaba ores en su homenaje con trovas ingenuas pero n nativa. 31 henchidas de pasio [Civilization razes everything in its rapid advance. It is a law of this feverish modern life not to look backwards. The disdainful motto seems to say the past has passed and let the axe disperse the foundations of the primitive rancho . . . they are now occupied by people from other regions, of dull countenance and strange talking, whose only passion is to extract all the lifeblood from the fertile earth. The ancient lord of the plains, its rst worker, he who expelled the aboriginal Indian by re and iron, mixing his ardent blood to produce that unique type of our countryside, he is no longer . . . . Everything has been transformed and perverted: the old customs, the candidness, the cordial hospitality, the truth of the committed word, which made documents unnecessary, that proverbial integrity of the countryman . . . none of all those things can be found there . . . . No longer can you see those cheerful dances under the stars at the patio of the estancia, where pretty countrywomen with owered skirts and long ebony braids listened with their souls showing in their eyes to the trills of the guitar of that payador who paid tribute to them, pouring owers in the form of verses, simple but full of native passion.]

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Lastly, distancing alludes to the detached and sanitized relationship Argentine nationalism established with the gaucho culture. It is important to keep in mind that the voice that speaks or sings in the work of the nationalists is not that of the rural, illiterate gaucho, but that of the enlightened, urban upper classes. Elements taken from the gaucho culture have been expurgated of all unseemly crudeness and have gone through a process of stylization and renement, resulting in what Adolfo Prietotalking about gauchesca literaturecalls an articially devised reality.32 Art historian Diana Wechsler, on the other hand,

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describes nationalist paintings as set in an homogeneous and empty time, where nostalgia appears to be the only common trait, a perverse nostalgia of a past rendered mythical and a present that is no longer.33 An idealized and romanticized gaucho became the main character of novels, poems, plays, paintings, and operas produced during this n Fierro, Santos Vega, Juan Moreira, Calandria, Hormiga period. Mart Negra, and Juan Cuello are some of the most conspicuous examples to be found in Argentine literature, visual arts, and music.34 The association between the gaucho and the guitar is prominent in the portrayal of these characters. Undoubtedly the best-known instance is found in Herna ndezs Mart n Fierro: the opening lines of Jose
me pongo a cantar Aqu s de la vihuela, Al compa Que el hombre que lo desvela Una pena estrordinaria, Como la ave solitaria Con el cantar se consuela. 35 Here I come to sing To the beat of my guitar: Because the man who is kept from sleep By an uncommon sorrow Comforts himself with singing Like a solitary bird.

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n Fierro, who is supposed to sing his more Thus the image of Mart than two thousand lines to the beat of his guitar, is inextricably linked to this instrument. Since the rst edition in 1872, book covers have n Fierro with a guitar. Figure 1 shows the conventionally portrayed Mart cover of the fourteenth edition (1894), where we can see him sitting on a (general store-cum-pub) playing the guitar the counter at a pulper while another gaucho listens intently. The legendary gure of Santos Vega, which has been the subject of several poems, novels, and plays, is another archetypal example. The character is a payador who is believed invincible until he is defeated in a singing contest by the devil and subsequently dies. According to the legend, his ghost haunts the Pampa and can be seen on cloudy nights, wrapped in his poncho with his guitar on his back. As in the case of n Fierro, visual representations of Santos Vega seldom fail to Mart include a guitar.36 Argentine composer Alberto Williams evokes these characters in n Fierro en la pulper a (Mart n Fierro at two pieces for piano, Mart a), op. 63, no. 10 (1912) and Santos Vega junto al sauce the pulper n (Santos Vega under the weeping willow), op. 64, no. 7 (1913). lloro In both works he clearly alludes to the guitar by using one of the facets of the topos, i.e., the imitation of plucked accompaniment patterns. The romanticization and idealization of the gure of the gaucho nds its counterpart in the idealization of his guitar and musical abilities. The gaucho guitar is no longer dirty, cracked, or out of tune, nor is the

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Herna ndezs Mart Figure 1. Book cover of the fourteenth edition of Jose n Fierro (1894). Courtesy of the Library of the Academia Argentina de Letras.

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music it produces discordant, tedious, or barbaric. The following excerpt rrezs Una amistad hasta la muerte 37 is a clear illusfrom Eduardo Gutie a, and his music moves the tration. Santos Vega is singing at a pulper hearts of the peasants. His performance is described in hyperbolic terms: he does not simply sing well, he has a majestic voice, which he emits in a purest weaving, his playing on the guitar is not just skillful but magnicent, and he makes the instrument sound with superhuman expression.
s alegre que fuera el estilo que Santos Vega tocara, hab a una cadencia Por ma lica en su pulsacio n magn ca y un acento tan sentido y tierno en tan melanco n de los paisanos se conmov a siguiendo las las frases de su canto, que el corazo simas de aquella voz majestuosa . . . . Era un corazo n que se ondulaciones pur a, exhalando sus quejidos por medio de melod as arrobadoras, que hac an romp n sobrehumana. 38 vibrar las cuerdas de la guitarra con una expresio [No matter how cheerful an estilo Santos Vega played, there was such a melancholic cadence in his magnicent playing and such tender and touching accents in the phrases of his singing that his countrymens hearts were moved, following the purest weaving of that majestic voice . . . . It was a breaking heart that sighed and moaned through captivating melodies that made the strings of the guitar vibrate with a superhuman expression.]

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This change in the perceptions of the gaucho and his music-making s de los matreros. nds another example in Fray Mochos Un viaje al pa The author describes a scene at a rancho,39 where a young gaucho is playing the guitar. However, the boy is not idly tinkling the instrument, he is studying, and his music does not consist of discordant strumming but of harmonious airs, which he might use for courting:
a . . . estudiaba en la guitarra los aires armoniosos y sentimentales con que hab do de alguna moza vecina. 40 de deleitar, llegado el caso, el o [. . . studied on the guitar the harmonious and sentimental airs with which he would charm, eventually, the ear of some girl of the vicinity.]

The association between the guitar and gaucho courtship insinu ated in this passage is signicant in the history of the topic. Jose ndez states in Mart n Fierro: Herna
Y todo gaucho es dotor Si pa cantarle al amor Tiene que templar las cuerdas. 41 And any gauchos a scholar When hes singing to his love If its done by tuning the strings.

ndez introduces an additional Further along in the poem, Herna association between music making, love, and war: the gaucho makes

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Figure 2. Alonso, Idilio campero. Caras y Caretas 299, 25 June 1904.

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love with songs, as he does war (el amor como la guerra/lo hace el criollo con canciones).42 Romanticized images of payadores singing verses to their womenfolk are also frequently found in iconographic sources. Figure 2, a drawing published in the magazine Caras y Caretas in 1904 entitled Idilio campero (Rural idyll), is a case in point. The image portrays a bucolic scene of gaucho courtship: sitting on a tree stump, a woman dressed in a rather fancy version of criollo attire is turned toward a standing gaucho who sings to the accompaniment of his ribboned guitar. The scene is set against a stereotyped landscape including the ,43 a rancho, and the at horizon characteristic of emblematic ombu 44 the Pampa. The titles of some of Williamss milongas from his series Aires de la trenzas para Pampa, op. 63, suggest elements of courting, as in Que pialar payadores! (no. 9), which is a irtatious comment (What braids to lasso payadores!), and in Arrastrando el ala (no. 5), which means Dragging the wing, an Argentine colloquialism for wooing that makes reference to chicken courting ritual (the rooster drags his wing on the ground while circling the hen). The musical image of the guitar is a strong presence in both. In Arrastrando el ala Williams uses a similar n Fierro en la pulper a, while in Que gure to that found in Mart trenzas para pialar payadores! he resorts to an arpeggio pattern analon. gous to the one in Santos Vega junto al sauce lloro The association of the guitar with the melancholy pathos of the gaucho is, perhaps, the most pervasive characteristic of the topos. Sadness and melancholy are recurrent attributes in the representation of the gaucho, who is often depicted as a lonely and sorrowful individual whose life has been wrecked by some unfortunate episode in a nebulous ndez memorably put it, he is aficted by una pena past. As Herna estrordinaria, an extraordinary sorrow. The image of the guitar is intrinsically related to this trope since, as already mentioned, the gaucho sings out his troubles to comfort himself: con el cantar se consuela. Thus, the most obvious examples are those in which a gaucho sings melancholy songs to the accompaniment of his guitar. In the passage from Una amistad hasta la muerte quoted above, however, we were told that Santos Vegas singing was melancholic even when he was singing a cheerful estilo. This was reinforced by the image of the breaking heart and references to sighing and moaning. In some examples, the guitar is endowed with the power to make people cry. Rafael Obligado provides one such instance in the second part of his Santos Vega, La prenda del payador, where the mythical gaucho sings to his beloved:

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sica vaga Yo soy la mu Que en los connes se escucha, a que lucha Esa armon Con el silencio, y se apaga; El aire tibio que halaga Con su incesante volar, vacilar Que del ombu Hace la copa bizarra; Y la doliente guitarra Que suele hacerte llorar! 45

I am the vague music That can be heard in the connes, The harmony that ghts With silence and then dies, The warm air that atters With its unending ight And makes the brave crown hesitate, Of the ombu And [I am] the grieving guitar That often makes you cry!

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The guitar itself is sometimes portrayed as the carrier of melancholy and sadness. A typical illustration can be found in Ricardo rrezs La bra salvaje: Gutie
del infernal hast o que su abatido corazo n desgarra, pulsa una melY libre as lica guitarra que sola all desamparada hallo : triste preludio, fu nebre preluanco dio arranca de la cuerda estremecida, y con voz sollozante y conmovida entona sima cancio n: . . . . 46 esta trist [And thus free of the infernal boredom that tears apart his despondent heart, he plays a melancholy guitar that he there found forlorn and neglected: a sad prelude, a funereal prelude, he draws out from the shivering string, and with a voice full of weeping and emotion (he) sings this saddest song: . . .]

This aspect of the topic appears most evidently (one could say iconically) in the repertoire of art song. The imaginary subject of these songs is often a gaucho singing a saddest song to the accompaniment of his melancholy guitar, which, of course, is not present but imitated by the piano. A paradigmatic example is Alberto Williamss Vidalita, op. 45, no. 3 (1909), which alludes to the folk song of the same name. In the poem, also written by Williams, a gaucho laments the departure of his (female) companion who, we assume, has abandoned him.47 The guitar is evoked in the introduction of the song by a characteristic arpeggio pattern in the left hand, which continues throughout section A, supporting the lyrical theme (a literal quotation of the melody of the folk song).
a En el alma m No brilla el sol Desde que te fuiste Desde que te fuiste No brilla el sol a 48 En el alma m In this soul of mine The sun does not shine anymore Since you left Since you left The sun does not shine anymore In this soul of mine

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The symbolic association of the guitar with sadness, melancholy, and nostalgia is most notably present in instrumental music. Two landmarks in the history of the topos should be mentioned here: Alberto n Aguirres Triste Williamss El rancho abandonado (1890)49 and Julia no. 3 (1898),50 which present two types of guitar evocation, strumming and plucking, respectively. Traditionally regarded as cornerstones in the history of Argentine musical nationalism, both works were extremely popular in their time and have achieved canonical status within the repertoire of Argentine art music. We shall return to them later. Images of guitars crying, weeping, sobbing, and moaning are a persistent presence in literature. For instance, the words gime (moans) and llora (cries) are used consistently to describe the music produced by the ndezs Mart n instrument. One of the most popular passages of Herna Fierro provides a clear example:
Con la guitarra en la mano Ni las moscas se me arriman; Naides me pone el pie encima, Y, cuando el pecho se entona, Hago gemir a la prima Y llorar a la bordona. 51 With the guitar in my hand Even ies dont come near me; No one sets his foot on me, And when I sing full from my heart; I make the high string moan And the low string cry.

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A moving instance can be found in the rst part of Obligados Santos Vega, El alma del payador, which recalls a legend in which the shadow (ghost) of Santos Vega embraces a guitar that has been left alone at night, making the strings vibrate as if played by drops of tears:
Dicen que, en noche nublada n mozo Si su guitarra algu En el crucero del pozo Deja de intento colgada, Llega la sombra callada Y, al envolverla en su manto Suena el preludio de un canto Entre las cuerdas dormidas, Cuerdas que vibran heridas Como por gotas de llanto. 52 They say that, on cloudy nights, If a young man intentionally leaves His guitar hanging From a wellhead, The shadow silently arrives And, as he enfolds it in his cloak, The prelude of a song can be heard From the sleeping strings, Strings that vibrate as if played By drop of tears.

rrezs Una amistad hasta la muerte, the guitar is Similarly, in Gutie depicted as moaning under Santos Vegas ngers.53 There is an important sentimental dimension in these images, which can be related to the prosopopoeia in which the instrument is invariably personied as a woman. The guitar is depicted as the gauchos faithful (female) friend and sole companion, and often as his lover.

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Accordingly, gauchos display a strong emotional attachment to, and possessiveness toward, their guitars. There are, no doubt, certain grounds for this gendering of the instrument, such as the fact that the word guitarra is feminine, Spanish nouns being gender specic, not to mention the obvious iconic resemblance of the gure-eight shape of the guitar to the female form. Santos Vegas relationship with his guitar, as portrayed by rrez, provides a clear example. At the beginning of Una amistad Gutie hasta la muerte he declares that his only earthly possessions and family are his horse, his guitar, and the few clothes he carries (Toda mi fortuna n, mi guitarra y las cuatro pilchas y mi familia en este mundo eran mi alaza 54 a mi apero). In another passage he calls his locas de que se compon guitar his only friend:
s amigos que mi guitarra a rodar por el mundo sin ma Desde entonces me eche en que desahogo mis penas 55 [From then on I began to wander with my guitar as my only friend, onto which I pour my sorrows.]

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Further along he makes an analogy between the guitar and a woman by declaring that he never abandons his guitar, which he calls prenda querida, or dear possession, an expression also used to refer to ones beloved.56 However, the most conspicuous scene in this respect is the episode in which the character of Diablo (the devil, referred to as the black) tries to draw him into a ght with snide remarks and other provocations. Santos Vega is determined to avoid the confrontation until Diablo threatens to slash the strings of his guitar. This is the only strategy that arouses his anger, and a long and fateful ght ensues:
entonces sobre El negro salto el [Santos Vega] levantando el cuchillo con la n de cortarle las cuerdas. Eso s que nogrito Santos Vega marcada intencio entregando la guitarra a Carmona Conmigo todo lo que se quiera, pero Dios libre ndose el negro lanza al que toque mi guitarra! Pues la he de tocar yocontesto el paso, tre mulo y amenazador. 57 sobre Carmona. Pero Santos Vega le cerro [The black sprang toward him (Santos Vega) wielding the knife with the evident intention of cutting his (guitars) strings. I shall not allow that yelled Santos Vega, giving the guitar to Carmona. Do with me what you will, but God save him who touches my guitar. Well, I shall touch it retorted the black jumping over Carmona. But Santos Vega blocked his way, trembling and threatening.]

Judging by Santos Vegas reaction, slashing the strings of someones guitar could be read as a metaphor for molesting his woman or

258 The Musical Quarterly

challenging his manhood. A similar instance, which reinforces this n Fierro, where the gaucho Cruz interpretation, can be found in Mart cuts the strings of the guitar of another gaucho who had been provoking him by singing satirical remarks about the unfaithfulness of his wife (in a previous section we learned that she had an affair with a commander) and his abilities with ladies:
n A bailar un perico , Con una moza sal Y cuanto me vido all Sin duda me conocio Y estas coplitas canto irse de mi Como pa ra Las mujeres son todas Como las mulas; Yo no digo que todas, Pero hay algunas Que a las aves que vuelan Les sacan plumas Hay gauchos que presumen De tener damas: No digo que presumen, Pero se alaban, Y a lo mejor los dejan Tocando tablas Se secretiaron las hembras ; Y yo ya me encocore la anca y le grite : Volie de cantar . . . chicharra Deja Y de un tajo a la guitarra . 58 Tuitas las cuerdas corte I took a girl out n, To dance a perico And as soon as he saw me there He recognized me, no doubt, And he sang his little rhyme Trying to make a fool of me. Women are, all of them, Just like mules, Not quite all, Id say But some of them Pull the feathers from Birds who y away Some gauchos think they know How to keep a lady, I wont say they think they can But thats what they boast about And then most likely Theyll nd theyre left down and out The women started whispering And Id got my temper up. I swung round and shouted at him Stop your chirping, grasshopper And with one slash I cut through All the strings of his guitar.
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As in the case of Santos Vega, a knife ght developed out of this exchange. The idea of the gaucho interrupting his playing to engage in a ght can also be found in iconographic sources and is ez published in exemplied by Figure 3, an illustration by Juan Pela 59 the cover of the magazine El Hogar in 1920. Titled Arreglando cuentas (Settling scores), it portrays two gauchos about to start a knife ght; on the ground next to them, as if just abandoned, lies a guitar. The association of the guitar with the gauchos voice is one of the most suggestive images found in the literature and illustrates the symbolic force of this instrument in the imagining of the gaucho. We

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ez, Arreglando cuentas. El Hogar, 27 February 1920. Figure 3. Juan Pela

have mentioned already how in some instances a silent guitar can signify the silencing of the gauchos voice, and even his death. Breaking the guitar is another frequently used allegory, and one of powerful effect. For example, in Una amistad hasta la muerte, Diablo (the devil), after having been defeated in a payada, raised his guitar with his Herculean arm and smashed it down to the oor breaking it in a thousand pieces.60 Similarly, at the memorable end of the rst

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Figure 4.
1906.

Advertisement for Hormiguicida Argentino. Caras y Caretas 379, 6 January

n Fierro the protagonist breaks his guitar before announpart of Mart cing that he will not sing again:
En este punto el cantor un porro n pa consuelo. Busco un trago como un cielo, Echo Dando n a su argumento, Y de un golpe al istrumento Lo hizo astillas contra el suelo. Ruempo,-dijo-,la guitarra, Pa no volverme a tentar Ninguno la ha de tocar, nganlo ; Por seguro te Pues naides ha de cantar Cuando este gaucho canto. 61 At this point, the singer Reached for a bottle to comfort him. He took a drink deep as the sky And brought his story to an end And with one blow, he smashed his Guitar into splinters on the oor. Ive broken it, he said, So it never tempts me again. No one else will play on it You can be sure of that Because no one else is going to sing Once this gaucho here has sung.

On a comparatively lighter note, commercial publicity provided an unexpected channel through which the topos permeated the domestic sphere. Images of gauchos with their inevitable guitars can be found in a number of advertisements of the time. Figure 4 is a promotion for an ant killer called Hormiguicida Argentino, announced as the only one that never fails, published in the popular magazine Caras y Caretas in 1906. It includes a photograph of a gaucho playing the guitar, with a dog lying peacefully next to him. The image evidently draws upon the new ideas of delity and loyalty associated

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with the stereotype of the noble gaucho, reinforced by the presence of the dog, a time-honored symbol of faithfulness. The connection between national identity and the gaucho with his emblematic instrument is made explicit through the brand name of this product: Argentino.62 We have mentioned in passing that the symbolic association between guitars, gauchos, and Argentine identity was not only exploited in literature and visual arts but also extended to art music. In this section, we shall explore the musical manifestation of the topos as it was established toward the end of the nineteenth century in the output of the rst generation of Argentine nationalist composers. This moment is crucial in the history of the topos (and of Argentine nationalist music in general); it is the equivalent in music to the stage that Josena Ludmer has labelled the emergence of the literary system of the gauchesco genre, i.e., the invention of the written gaucho. This is the stage at which musical conventions were established and the stylistic competence of the audience was constructed.63 Urban perceptions of folk music were shaped by a number of elements, among them the activities of the so-called centros criollos (a type of folk club), which disseminated and promoted stylized versions of folk music and customs for the consumption of the urban public.64 Of similar importance were the re-creations of folk dances and songs incorporated into popular forms of entertainment such as the circo criollo, or creole circus, an idiosyncratic mixture of acrobatics and pantomime where adaptations of plays like Juan Moreira were performed, and the sainete criollo, a short theater play that could include some musical numbers. Another inuential element was the sheet-music boom of the late nineteenth century, which made available to the public inexpensive arrangements of folk dances and songs for piano and guitar. Instrumental in the establishment and dissemination of urban stereotypes of folk music within the upper middle class and the intellectual elite (to which most composers belonged), was Ventura R. Lynchs n de la cuestio n capital de la La provincia de Buenos Aires hasta la denicio blica (1883), which includes the earliest known transcriptions of Repu folk dances and songs from the province of Buenos Aires, most of them with their guitar accompaniment.65 Undoubtedly a signicant moment in the development of the topos is its appearance in Alberto Williamss El rancho abandonado (The abandoned hut) (1890), and as such it deserves to be treated in

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extenso. This work has traditionally been regarded as the starting point of Argentine musical nationalism ever since the author pronounced it himself in a remarkable essay entitled Origins of Argentine Musical Art. Both his words and the composition are striking examples of the ideological agenda of Argentine musical nationalism:
s de esas excursiones por las estancias del sur Al volver a Buenos Aires, despue el propo sito de dar a mis composiciones musicales, de nuestra Pampa, conceb sica y roma ntica, en cuya rica un sello que las diferenciara de la cultura cla a bebido las ensen anzas sabias de mis gloriosos y venerados maesfuente hab an envueltas en los tros. Mis cotidianas improvisaciones de ese tiempo parec banas [sic] repliegues de lejanas brumas de amaneceres y de ocasos en las sa pampeanas y remedaban ecos de misteriosas voces de las soledades. Y de esas , en aque l mismo an o de 1890 mi obra El rancho abanimprovisaciones surgio donado que puede considerarse como la piedra fundamental del arte musical s popular que he escrito, bajo el nacio , pues, la composicio n ma argentino. As rez, y ban sfera de las pampeanas ada por la atmo ala de los payadores de Jua as . . . . Esos son los or genes del arte musical argentino: la te cnica nos la lejan rez. 66 n, los payadores de Jua dio Francia, y la inspiracio [On my return to Buenos Aires, after my travels through the estates south of our Pampa, I conceived the idea of giving my compositions a mark that would differentiate them from Classic and Romantic culture, that rich fountain from which I had drunk the teachings of my glorious and venerated maestros. My improvisations of those days seemed to be immersed in the distant mist of the dawns and sunsets in the plains of the Pampa and imitated echoes of mysterious voices from solitary places. And from those improvisations emerged, in that very year of 1890, my work El rancho abandonado, which can be considered the foundation stone of Argentine musical art. Thus was born the most popular compo rez sition I have ever written, under the wing of the payadores from Jua and bathed in the atmosphere of the Pampean faraway ( places). Those are the origins of Argentine musical art: the technique was given to us rez.] by France, the inspiration by the payadores from Jua
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In this mythical account of the creation of El rancho abandonado, Williams acknowledges his deliberate intention to nd a distinctive element that would help differentiate his work from that of European composers (to whom he nevertheless dutifully pays tribute); this he nds in the music of the gauchos. His recollection of the Pampa is permeated by nostalgia, evidenced in his use of suggestive words and expressions such as brumas (mist), soledades (solitary places), and the as (faraway places in the Pampa). However, in his poetic pampeanas lejan prescriptive nal line, the music of the payadores is only given the status

The Topos of the Guitar in Argentina 263

n) for the composer, whose technique of initial stimulus (la inspiracio he reminds uswas inherited from France. The inuence of Williams and his dictum was enormous: he expressed the formula for Argentine music, put it into practice through his prolic output, and eventually became the musical patriarch of Argentina. Consistent with the above ideas, in El rancho abandonado Williams does not attempt to recreate any folk song or dance. On the contrary, he seems to have deliberately avoided it. He restricted the mark that would make this work the foundation stone of Argentine musical art to two elements: the world of associations implied in the title and a nine-bar unit interpolated at the end of the second section imitating the strummed accompaniment of the folk dance and song known as hueya.67 Combining nineteenth-century Romantic idiom with some elements of impressionism, El rancho abandonado can only be described as eclectic.68 The work is structured in ternary form, ABA0 . Section A, of a strong nostalgic character, summons the images of solitude, distance, and desolation suggested by the title through the use of a natural-minor scale, ostensibly avoiding the leading tone, the concealment of tonal functions behind a modal-like harmony, and the fragmentation of the discourse in short units. The section is organized around the interaction of two two-bar modules (mm. 1 2 and 5 6), which are alternately juxtaposed and transposed (Ex. 1).

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Example 1.

Alberto Williams, El rancho abandonado, mm. 16.

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Example 2. Williams, El rancho abandonado, mm. 21 28.

Section B presents an unsettled, agitated mood with a strong forward impulse, conveyed by the interaction of several parameters: a rhythmic ostinato in the left hand, the use of hemiolas, a decidedly functional harmony, and a long melody with an extended range (a compound fourth), which is twice transposed to the higher octave and amplied by doubling until its climax in m. 47 (Ex. 2). Up to this point, the piece complies unproblematically with the stylistic expectations of the time and could easily be taken as the work of a European composer. It is only here, nearly two-thirds into the piece, that Williams interpolates the reference to the guitar, imitating characteristic folk strumming through an insistent repercussion of full, dense chords in closed position, playing the characteristic chord progression of the hueya (I, at VI, at III, V, I) (Ex. 3). This decentering of the topos is a strategy that Williams will often exploit in other works, for instance in his Primera Sonata Argentina for piano, which includes an allusion to the strummed guitar in the coda of the last movement.

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Example 3.

Williams, El rancho abandonado, mm. 5159.

It is worth mentioning that the rhythm of this passage is identical to that of the ostinato in section B, whose topical signicance (hueya strumming) is therefore retrospectively made clear.69 This highly idiosyncratic chord progression, one of the most distinctive harmonic features within the Pampean repertory, was widespread at this time as the hueya was resurrected simultaneously in different milieux (the criollo circus, the popular theater and the centros criollos, where it would be sung by urban payadores). Inseparably linked to the idea of guitar strumming, it soon became a favorite marker among art-music composers and would be easily recognized by audiences as a signier of Argentineness. The type of strumming evoked by Williams in El rancho abandonado is that which ethnomusicologist Isabel Aretz called rasguido con mano tiesa, or rigid-hand strumming. It consists of an energetic up-and-down movement of the hand, thumb, and ngers held together in a xed position (Ex. 4a).70 This image of the strummed guitar, with its associated vigorous, pulsating rhythms, would be systematically employed by composers thereafter and appears prominently in other

266 The Musical Quarterly

Example 4a. Rigid-hand strumming.

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n Aguirre, Huella, op. 49, mm. 916. Example 4b. Julia

Example 4c. Soft-hand strumming.

Example 4d. Aguirre, Triste no. 5, mm. 14.

paradigmatic works of Argentine nationalism, such as Williamss Primera Sonata Argentina and the rst section of Aguirres celebrated Huella, op. 49 (Ex. 4b). Later on, in the twentieth century, it became one of Alberto Ginasteras trademarks, indelibly linked to the idea of masculine vigor ever since his Danza del gaucho matrero.

The Topos of the Guitar in Argentina 267

Nationalist composers also used the evocation of a more gentle type of folk strumming that may be related to the performing technique that Aretz calls rasguido con mano blanda, or soft-hand strumming, where the thumb plays the lower strings and the ngers play the higher strings (Ex. 4c).71 In the piano music of nationalist composers, this effect is achieved through a particular disposition of the chord tones, alternating the lower and upper regions of the keyboard. A typical illustration of this strategy can be found Aguirres Triste no. 5 (Ex. 4d). Other signicant occurrences are his Zamba, op. 40, Williamss Hueya, op. 33, no. 3, and A la hueya, hueya, op. 70, no. 10. While the image of strumming might have been the rst ofcial manifestation of the topos of the guitar, the allusion to plucked accompaniments has possibly been the most persistent and the one with the most evocative power. Closely intertwined with the image of melancholy songs such as triste, vidalita, estilo, and milonga, it expresses nostalgia at a double level, combining the nostalgia associated with the guitar and the pathos of the songs. Traditional arpeggio patterns, compound intervals (connected to the typical open disposition of some chords on the guitar), and second inversions are some of the strategies used by composers to evoke the plucked guitar and conjure up its concomitant worlds of meaning. A frequent occurrence is the broken-chord pattern traditionally associated with the accompaniment of the milonga (51 3 5) (Ex. 5a). In

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Example 5a.

Typical milonga pattern.

Example 5b.

Aguirre, Aires criollos no. 1, mm. 15.

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Example 5c. Williams, Arrastrando el ala, mm. 1 7.

Example 5d. Variant of milonga pattern.

works written for piano this device is usuallyand predictably entrusted to the left hand. It is used extensively by Williams in his n Fierro en la pulper a, op. 63, no. 10; series of milongas, such as Mart a de jinetear, op. 72, no. 5; n, op. 64, no. 2; La alegr Junto al fogo Bailarina sandunguera, op. 63, no. 1; and Milonga popular, op. 113, no. 8. Another paradigmatic example is found in Aguirres Aires criollos no. 1 (Ex. 5b). In Arrastrando el ala Williams uses a slight variation of this pattern, doubling the lowest note of the pattern in the upper octave (see Ex. 5c). A characteristic variant of this conguration reverses the direction of the upper notes, thus producing a highly idiomatic sawtooth prole (51 5 3 5) (Ex. 5d). It is found in Williamss Santos Vega bajo n, A la sombra de un ombu , and Requiebros un sauce lloro campechanos (Ex. 5e). Another variant of this arpeggio formula, doubling the lowest note of the arpeggio in the upper octave, can be found in Williamss Que rnagas en las redecillas de mi trenzas para pialar payadores!, Lucie china, op. 72, no. 7, and La milonga del volatinero, op. 72, no. 6. Aguirre, in his Triste no. 3, digresses further from this pattern, introducing an appoggiatura on the upper note of the arpeggio (Ex. 6).

The Topos of the Guitar in Argentina 269

Example 5e.

Williams, Requiebros campechanos, mm. 1 5.

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Example 6.

Aguirre, Triste no. 3, mm 1 11.

This is possibly the most memorable appearance of this facet of the topos and one of the better-known ones, a fact probably related to the canonical status of the work within Argentine music.72 While this arpeggio pattern can be related to that of milonga accompaniments, the absence of the characteristic rhythm of this song and dance distances the allusion from any idea of milonga, giving prominence to the guitar reference. The dramatic opening section of this work is part of another complex topos, which I have provisionally called triste/estilo, since it combines elements from both folk songs.73 This passage alludes to a characteristic feature of the slow section of both triste and estilo. Of grave mood and improvisatory character, such sections are usually sung in a rhapsodic manner, with guitar chords punctuating the phrase endings in an almost recitative style. Of special interest is the melodic gesture at

270 The Musical Quarterly

Example 7. Characteristic cadential gure of the triste/estilo.


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the end, with its stepwise descent and double auxiliary note followed by a sustained dominant chord that eventually resolves to the tonic (Ex. 6). This distinctive turn of phrasewhich recurs throughout the Triste no. 3was extensively used by Aguirre not only in the ve Tristes but also in the second series of Aires nacionales argentinos (individually titled n, or song, but still strongly connected to the semantic world of Cancio the triste/estilo) and became a marker of Pampean melody in the work of subsequent nationalist composers.74 It participates in the topos of the guitar by its reference to this instrument in the guitarlike chords that support the nal cadence. A reduction can be seen in Example 7. As we have seen, the topos of the guitar is complex and comprises a number of musical gures. Nationalist composers incorporated the image of the guitar into their musical idiom through an ingenious manipulation of different musical elements that evoke the various plucking and strumming patterns typical of the instrument in the rural milieu. While this is not a comprehensive list of all the appearances that can be detected in the early nationalist repertoire (which would only result in a tedious and forever incomplete catalogue), we have surveyed here the main occurrences, chosen for their musical and historical signicance. Even though most of its musical attributes were set out at this inaugural moment, the topos did not remain static throughout its history. During the twentieth century, it incorporated other elements, among them the suggestive evocations of estilo accompaniments that are a trademark of Carlos Guastavino, and the already mentioned symbolic chord of Ginastera. Finally, a word of caution should be included here: not all chords in closed position are allusions to strumming nor are all arpeggios references to plucked accompaniments. Identifying nationalist topoi in music is a complex process of decoding that requires a nuanced knowledge of the folk traditions involved. As Monelle warns us, the perception of the musical topos depends on critical judgement, not on mechanical connections.75 Sometimes an arpeggio is just an arpeggio.

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The musical topos of the guitar is not an isolated occurrence within Argentine music; it is embedded in the larger world of the idea of the guitar in Argentine culture, especially literature and visual arts, and resonates with numerous metaphorical connections. While a mechanical correlation between specic musical traits and poetic devices cannot be drawn, we can attempt to relate some aspects of the musical dimension of the topos to its literary and visual counterparts. Its two main facets, strumming and plucking, evidently possess different expressive values. The strumming subtopos, particularly the rigid hand variant, conveys ideas of energy and strength and can be associated with the images of the gaucho as a ghter and warrior. This is the gaucho who makes war with songs, puts his guitar aside to engage in a knife ght, or, in a t of rage, slashes the strings of the guitar of his adversary or shatters his own in pieces. The attributes of this guitar are masculinity, strength, aggressiveness, and even violence.76 The plucked subtopos, on the other hand, communicates an intense melancholy and sadness and can be connected with the recurring images of sadness and nostalgia that permeate the representation of the music making of the gaucho. The plucked guitar is the one that cries and moans, the sorrowful instrument whose sound can move people to tears, the sweet, gentle, and faithful companion of the gaucho. Its attributes are femininity, nostalgia, and melancholy. Just as is found in other repertoires, multiple topical references coexist within a work. Nationalist topoi interact with one another and can occur simultaneously. Since most of its appearances are related to the accompanying role, the topos of the guitar is sometimes inextricably related to other topoi, most notably (in the period analyzed here) those of hueya, milonga, vidalita, and triste/estilo.77 It is not until Ginasteras symbolic chord that we nd a reference to the guitar completely dissociated from a reference to a dance or song. The placement and role of the topos of the guitar within the discourse of Argentine nationalist music, its dispositio, as it were, is in itself revealing. There is no evident relationship between the topos and a specic formal function or a xed syntactical role. Occurrences can be found at the beginning of works (as in Aguirres Hueya), at the end (Williamss Primera Sonata Argentina), in middle sections (Williamss rnagas en la redecillas de mi china), and even as a decentered Lucie interpolation before a da capo (Williamss El rancho abandonado). What is particularly striking is that, despite the ubiquitous presence of the topos in Argentine musical nationalism, its function is always subordinate. We shall look in vain for a celebration of the guitar as a musical lude to his Chants instrument comparable to that in Isaac Albenizs Pre

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dEspagne.78 Even though a tradition of virtuoso solo playing exists within the world of the gaucho guitar, it did not nd its way into Argentine musical nationalism.79 Even when not accompanying anything (as in El rancho abandonado), the guitar is always recalled in a peripheral position, never the main protagonist of a composition. This situation is revealing of the ideological agenda of Argentine nationalism and a clear example of the concept of uso: the gaucho might be the soul of the nation, but his role is still subaltern. Notes
Melanie Plesch is an Argentine musicologist currently based at the University of Melbourne (Australia), where she obtained her PhD in 1998. She has received numerous research grants and scholarships both in Argentina and Australia, among n Antorchas, them doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships from CONICET, Fundacio FONCYT, and the prestigious Endeavour Fellowship, from the Commonwealth of Australia. She taught for fteen years at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. Her work focuses on the intersections of music, politics, and society, with particular emphasis on the relationship between music and the construction of national identity in Argentina during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Email: mplesch@unimelb.edu.au 1. Jorge Luis Borges, La guitarra, in Poemas (Buenos Aires, 1934). I am indebted to the late Gerardo Huseby for this translation. 2. The denomination symbolic chord was coined by Gilbert Chase in his Alberto Ginastera: Argentine Composer, Musical Quarterly 4 (1957): 450. n de la identidad cultural argentina, sica en la construccio 3. Melanie Plesch, La mu gica sonora de la generacio n del Revista Argentina de Musicolog a 1 (1996): 57 68; La lo n a la reto rica del nacionalismo musical argentino, in Los ochenta: Una aproximacio sicaEuropa y Argentina (Jujuy, Argentina: Universidad Nacional de caminos de la mu Jujuy, 2008), 55 10. 4. The starting point of musicological topic theory is Leonard Ratners Classic Music: Expression, Form, and Style (New York: Schirmer Books, 1980). The eld was further expanded by the work of Ko Agawu, Wye J. Allanbrook, Robert Hatten, and Raymond Monelle, among others. For a recent evaluation of the past and future of topic theory as well as a comprehensive bibliographical list, see Ko Agawu, Topic rich 2007: Fu nf Theory: Achievement, Critique, Prospects, in Passagen/IMS Congress Zu ge, ed. Laurenz Lu Hauptvortra tteken and Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen (Zurich: renreiter, 2008), 38 70. Ba 5. This is not an exhaustive list. Dening a topical universe is a thorny issue even for well-studied repertoires such as classical music, and scholars admit that the topical universe expands with research. In an under-studied eld like Argentine music, the situation is even more challenging. A preliminary and tentative universe is bound to be subject to constant revisions and additions. See Melanie Plesch, La gica sonora and Topic Theory and Musical Nationalism: Applications, lo Challenges and Some Dilemmas ( paper presented at the Thirty-rst National

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Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia, Melbourne, 4 7 December 2008). 6. Raymond Monelle, The Sense of Music: Semiotic Essays (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 33. An eloquentand inspiringexample of this type of endeavor is Monelles The Musical Topic: Hunt, Military and Pastoral, Musical Meaning and Interpretation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006). 7. For an analysis on the early representation of the guitar in the discourse on the gaucho prior to the late nineteenth century, see Melanie Plesch, La silenciosa guitarra n del Otro en la cultura argentina del siglo de la barbarie: Aspectos de la representacio sica e Investigacio n 4 (1999): 57 80, and The Guitar in Nineteenth-Century XIX, Mu Buenos Aires: Towards a Cultural History of an Argentine Musical Emblem (PhD diss., University of Melbourne, 1998), 50 71. de la Vandera], El Lazarillo de Ciegos Caminantes 8. Concolorcorvo [Alonso Carrio desde Buenos Aires hasta Lima (1773; repr. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Argentinas Solar, 1942), 170 71. Unless otherwise indicated, translations are my own. 9. John Miers, Travels in Chile and La Plata: Including accounts respecting the geography, geology, statistics, government, nances, agriculture, manners, and customs, . . . collected during a residence of several years in these countries, 2 vols. (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826), 45. 10. Obligado often used the word lira in his works to refer to the guitar, a poetic device that brings forth the prestigious image of the classical world. 11. Rafael Obligado, Las quintas de mi tiempo, in Poes as completas (Buenos Aires: Sopen a, 1963), 70. 12. The theme of Santos Vega has been treated by several authors, among them Mitre, Hilario Ascasubi, Rafael Obligado, and Eduardo Gutie rrez. An Bartolome exhaustive study can be found in Roberto Lehmann-Nitsche, Folklore Argentino: rdoba [Repu blica Santos Vega, Bolet n de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias en Co Argentina] 22 (1917): 1 434. 13. Obligado, Poes as completas, 115. 14. See Ricardo Rodr guez Molass classic study Historia Social del Gaucho (Buenos , 1968). An introduction to the problem (in English) can be found in Aires: Maru Richard W. Slatta, Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983). In recent years there has been a signicant increase in the literature on the gaucho question that is leading toward a reevaluation of his agency in Argentine society during the late colonial and early independent periods. See, for instance, Juan Carlos Garavaglia, Les hommes de la Pampa: Une histoire agraire de la Campagne de ditions de lEcole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Buenos Aires, 17001830 (Paris: E Sociales, 2000) and Ricardo Salvatore, Wandering Paysanos: State Order and Subaltern Experience in Buenos Aires During the Rosas Era (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003). 15. The trope of the gaucho as synonymous of barbarism was established in Domingo n i barbarie, Vida de Juan Facundo F. Sarmientos Facundo, rst published as Civilizacio Quiroga (Santiago de Chile, 1845). For an authoritative English translation, see Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism: The First Complete English Translation, trans. Kathleen Ross (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

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16. The process began with the Revolution of 25 May 1810, but formal independence from Spain was only declared six years later, on 9 July 1816. C. Chiaramonte, Formas de identidad en el R 17. Especially in Jose o de la Plata luego de 1810, Bolet n del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana (1989): 71 92; El mito de los or genes en la historiograf a latinoamericana (Buenos Aires: Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana, Dr. Emilio Ravignani, Facultad de Filosof a y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires, 1993); Ciudades, provincias, estados: Origenes de la nacion , 2007), and Oscar Oszlak, La formacio n del estado Argentina (Buenos Aires: Emece n nacional (Buenos Aires: Ariel, 2004). argentino: Orden, progreso y organizacio 18. Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 10. 19. Ernest Gellner, What is a Nation? chap. 5 in Nations and Nationalism (London: Basil Blackwell, 1983), 5362. 20. Gellner, What is a Nation? passim. 21. The population increased from 1,736,923 in 1869 (rst national census) to 3,954,911 in 1895 (second national census) and 7,885,237 in 1914 (third national s Conde, The Growth of the Argentine Economy, census). Quoted in Roberto Corte c. 18701914, in The Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 5 : 335. 22. Carl Solberg, Immigration and Nationalism: Argentina and Chile, 18901914 (Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas Press, 1970), 93, 96. 23. By 1914, with the foreign-born percent of the population at 29.9 percent, Argentina had become the country with the highest proportion of immigrants in the poca de transicio n (Buenos Aires: world. Gino Germani, Pol tica y sociedad en una e s, 1962), 197. Paido 24. The image of Babel must have been reinforced by the extreme visibility of the immigrants, who constituted the majority of the active population. For instance, in 1914, four out of ve males aged twenty and over in Buenos Aires were foreign born. Intellectuals were especially vocal regarding their concern over the alleged corruption of the language at the hands of the foreigners. See Ernesto Quesada, El problema del idioma nacional (Buenos Aires: Revista Nacional, 1900) and El criollismo en la literatura argentina (Buenos Aires: Coni, 1902). n del ele25. nosotros vamos perdiendo el sentimiento de la nacionalidad con la asimilacio ni n que no tendra mento extranjero . . . nos hallaremos un d a transformados en una nacio cter, ni bandera. Estanislao Zeballos, in Congreso de la lengua, ni tradiciones, ni cara n, Ca mara de Diputados, Diario de Sesiones, 21 October 1887, quoted in Lilia Nacio roes, estatuas y estas patrias, Bolet A. Bertoni, Construir la nacionalidad: he n del Instituto de Historia Argentina y Americana Dr. Emilio Ravignani, 3rd Ser. 5 (1992): 9293. 26. Lilia Ana Bertoni has eloquently demonstrated the importance of the concept of identidad nacional for the generation of 1880 in her Patriotas, cosmopolitas y nacionalistas: La construccion de la nacionalidad argentina a nes del siglo XIX (Buenos Aires: Fondo de mica, 2001). Cultura Econo

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27. This reversal of the gures of the gaucho and the immigrant has been analyzed from different perspectives, among them economics, literary criticism, and social history. See, for instance, Jeane Delaney, Making Sense of Modernity: Changing Attitudes toward the Immigrant and the Gaucho in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina, Comparative Studies in Society and History 38, no. 3 (1996): 434 59; Evelyn Fishburn, The Portrayal of Immigration in Nineteenth-Century Argentine Fiction (18451902) (Berlin: Colloquium Verlag, 1981), 92 15; Solberg, Immigration; and Slatta, Gauchos. rrez, Una amistad hasta la muerte (n.d. [1886?]; repr., Buenos Aires: 28. Eduardo Gutie Lumen Editorial, 1952), 64. Quotation marks in the original. nero gauchesco: un tratado sobre la patria (Buenos Aires: 29. Josena Ludmer, El ge Sudamericana, 1988). An English version is available as The Gaucho Genre: A Treatise on the Motherland (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002). I am citing from the latter. 30. Ludmer, The Gaucho Genre, 8. n, De mi tierra, in Alma nativa (Buenos Aires: A. Moen, 31. Martiniano Leguizamo 1906), 163 64, emphasis added. 32. Adolfo Prieto, El discurso criollista en la formacion de la Argentina moderna (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1988), 172. n Nacional de Bellas Artes, promotor de vocaciones nacio33. Diana Wechsler, Salo n del discurso escrito con la produccio n art nalistas, in Articulacio stica en Argentina y rica, siglos XIX-XX (Buenos Aires: CAIA-Contrapunto, 1990), 96. Latinoame 34. References to mythical gauchos in art music include Arturo Beruttis opera Pampa rrezs play Juan Moreira, Honorio Siccardis Tres Poemas sobre (1897), based on Gutie Castros cantata Mart pez Martin Fierro (1925), Juan Jose n Fierro (1944), Carlos Lo Buchardos unnished lyric legend Santos Vega, and Alberto Williamss milongas mentioned further in the text, among others. Herna ndez, Mart 35. Jose n Fierro, bilingual edition. English version by C. E. Ward, annotated and rev. Frank G. Carrino and Alberto J. Carlos (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1967), 2. 36. See, for instance, Lehman Nitsches thorough survey in his Folklore Argentino: Santos Vega, which includes a number of illustrations found in the different literary works inspired on the theme of Santos Vega. 37. Sequel [1886?] to his Santos Vega of 1880. rrez, Una amistad, 63 64. 38. Gutie 39. In Argentinean Spanish, rancho refers to a humble hut or dwelling, usually with a thatched roof. It ought not to be confused with a small farm, for which the word granja is used, nor a large estate, for which the word estancia is reserved. See Diccionario de la Lengua Espan ola, 2001), s.v. rancho, par. 4. ola (Madrid: Real Academia Espan S. Alvarez), Un viaje al pa 40. Fray Mocho (Jose s de los matreros (1897; repr. Buenos Aires: La cultura argentina, 1920), 76. ndez, Mart 41. Herna n Fierro, 134. ndez, Mart 42. Herna n Fierro, lines 2263 64, 174.
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es, plural of ombu (Phytolacca dioica L), emblematic tree (or plant, its actual 43. Ombu status is contested) of the Pampean region, belonging to the Phytolaccaceae family. It has a wide canopy (from twelve to fteen meters) and can reach a height of twelve meters. Samuel J. Record and Robert W. Hess, Timbers of the New World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1943), 425. 44. Pampa is, in fact, a Quechua word meaning at land. See Diccionario de la Lengua, s.v. pampa. 45. Obligado, Poes as completas, 109. rrez, La bra salvaje (1860; repr. Buenos Aires: La cultura argentina, 46. Ricardo Gutie 1915), 68. 47. This theme recurs in the repertoire, and is the subject of at least another song of pez Buchardos Cancio n del carcanonical status within Argentine art music: Carlos Lo retero, from Seis canciones al estilo popular (1924). 48. Even though Williams has kept the hexasyllabic verse lines typical of the vidalita, , he departs from the folk tradition by not including the characteristic refrain vidalita which gives the folk song its unique character. See Carlos Vega, Las canciones folk ricas argentinas. La Vidalita, Folklore 13 (15 February 1962): n.p. lo 49. Fourth number of his piano series En la sierra, op. 32 (1890). 50. Third number of his Aires nacionales argentinos, op. 17 (1898). ndez, Mart 51. Herna n Fierro, 6. 52. Obligado, Poes as completas, 105106. rrez, Una amistad, 56. 53. la guitarra que gem a entre los dedos de Santos. Gutie rrez, Una amistad, 11. 54. Gutie rrez, Una amistad, 42. 55. Gutie rrez, Una amistad, 66. The denition of prenda as what is intensely loved, 56. Gutie such as sons, wife and friends appears as sixth meaning in the 1869 edition of the Diccionario de la lengua castellana. However, according to Agenor Pacheco, in gaucho parlance the term denotes primarily the wife, the woman beloved; also a loved object. Cf. his Diccionario gaucho: Refranes, modismos y vocablos criollos rioplatenses, suren os y pampas (Montevideo: n.p., 1972), s.v. prenda. rrez, Una amistad, 78. 57. Gutie ndez, Mart 58. Herna n Fierro, 152. n semanal argentina 17, no. 542 (27 February 1920). I am 59. El Hogar. Ilustracio indebted to Silvina Mansilla for this reference. la guitarra con su brazo de He rcules y la estrello contra el suelo hacie ndola mil 60. levanto rrez, Una amistad, 73. pedazos. Gutie ndez, Mart 61. Herna n Fierro, 174. 62. Caras y Caretas 379, 6 January 1906. 63. At this stage, when the initial topical network was being constructed, there must have existed a tension between what composers wanted to express and what their
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audience was able to interpret (the success and failure of some nationalist works might be related to this fact). 64. Prieto, El discurso criollista, 172. 65. Later published as Cancionero bonaerense (Buenos Aires: Imprenta de la Universidad, 1925) and also as Folklore bonaerense (Buenos Aires: Lajouane, 1953). The cima, estilo, triunfo, marote, huella (or songs and dances discussed in the book are gato, de n, prado, rmeza, milonga, cifra, cielo, and aires. hueya), perico 66. Alberto Williams, Or genes del arte musical argentino, in Obras completas (Buenos Aires: La Quena, 1951), 4 : 19. 67. The hueya may have been known in urban circles through Lynchs transcription of 1883. Vega mentions that Juan Alaiss version for guitar ( published sometime before 1896) might have circulated among acionados as early as 1888. See Carlos Vega, Las danzas populares argentinas (1952, repr. Buenos Aires: Instituto Nacional de Musicolog a, 1986), 279. A critical examination of the history of the huella in Argentine music can be found in Melanie Plesch and R. Legaspi, La huella: manifesta sica argentina (paper presented at the third ciones de una especie tradicional en la mu n Argentina de Musicolog Conferencia Anual de la Asociacio a, Buenos Aires, 68 n September 1989) and Melanie Plesch, Folklore para armar: la huella y la construccio de un topos musical argentino ( paper presented at the II Congreso Internacional Literatura y Cr tica Cultural, Buenos Aires, 14 18 November 1994. On the problem of dating Alaiss works see Plesch, The Guitar in Nineteenth-Century Buenos Aires, 275. 68. A more detailed analysis of this work and its relationship with Williamss dictum can be found in Melanie Plesch, El rancho abandonado: Algunas reexiones en torno a los comienzos del nacionalismo musical en la Argentina, in Actas de las IV Jornadas de Teor a e Historia de las Artes (Buenos Aires: Universidad de Buenos Aires-CAIA, 1992), 196 202. 69. This constructive device is often used by Williams in his presentation of nationalist topoi. 70. Isabel Aretz, El folklore musical argentino (Buenos Aires: Ricordi Americana, 1952), 57. 71. Aretz, El folklore musical argentine, 57. 72. Aguirres rst series of Aires nacionales argentinos, a set of ve tristes, has effectively created a musical image of this folk song (whose name literally means sad) in the Argentine imagination. While retaining elements of the triste proper, they combine stylistic traits of various other folk songs and dances, among them estilo, milonga, zamba, and vidalita. gica sonora, 97101. 73. Plesch, La lo pez Buchardos Campera, a 74. A clear example is that of the main theme of Carlos Lo pastoral-like melody none of whose features could be distinguished as particularly Argentine were it not for the presence of this gesture. The topos gives retrospectively new meaning to the entire passage: we realize now that this is not any pastoral world, but the Pampa. 75. Monelle, The Sense of Music, 65.
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76. This aspect of the topos will develop further in the future, notably in Ginasteras works. gica sonora, 109. 77. Plesch, La lo niz: Portrait of a Romantic (Oxford: Oxford 78. Walter Aaron Clark, Isaac Albe University Press, 1999), 97. The work also appears in the rst Suite espan ola as Leyenda: Asturias, and it is often referred to by that title. 79. Another interesting fact is that during the rst thirty years of the nationalist movement, none of the nationalist composers wrote for the guitar, in spite of the fact that Buenos Aires had at the time a considerable number of guitar virtuosi. Plesch, The Guitar in Nineteenth-Century Buenos Aires, 245314.
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