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Book: ¡Maldito Coronavirus!

Chapter: Music and Sound in the Pandemic Moment

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.43035


The coronavirus moment is a global crisis experienced, interpreted and confronted in locally- contingent, idiosyncratic, and often virtual ways. The covid pandemic necessitated a mass reduction in human movement and direct interaction, but a diverse cultural life nevertheless has flourished in new ways, many of them presented and experienced online. The inspired, tremendous outpouring of musical responses to the Coronavirus pandemic from Latin American artists addresses similar themes through distinct cultural lenses informed by local histories, affects, and artistic conventions. This introduction considers the challenges and opportunities of the singular covid music moment for Latin American musicians in different regional contexts. It connects the book’s overall study of the region’s musical response with other new research into covid-era individual and community music making, social media technologies, and an array of other new scholarship on the impact of the coronavirus on music, musicians, listeners, and the soundscape.

The introduction spatially and culturally maps over 1,600 musical responses to coronavirus from across Latin America collected by the authors, noting points of similarity as well as divergence among the examples and building a conceptual framework for their analysis built around theories of music and wellbeing, diasporic music, Do-it-Yourself (DIY) archiving, ethnopoetics, locality and musical mobility, and sustainable regional music cultures. The introduction presents and contextualizes stylistic, lyrical, and productional diversity of these responses. It explains the thematic connections and interdisciplinary framing of each of book’s chapters, each of which is oriented around a specific theme built on regional music case studies.

The introduction concludes with a description of fieldwork and digital ethnography in the time of social distancing and considers ethics, privacy, and ownership in contemporary digital research. Building on the raft of studies of virtual and hybrid ethnography over the past two decades, this book argues that the unprecedented ubiquity and penetration of social media in daily life during the pandemic necessitates a renewed understanding of what it means to make and listen to music as an inescapable aspect of digitally-mediated life. The chapter concludes with a discussion of YouTube, the primary site of the initial research in this project, as a platform that is designed to be simultaneously participatory and stratified and which has emerged as a critical, participatory, DIY archive of regional musical life across Latin America during the pandemic.

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