The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

Latin America: A Tale of Five Continents

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

Andrew Killick [+-]
University of Sheffield
Andrew Killick has been teaching and writing about the world’s music professionally since 1998. His passion for all forms of music has led him literally around the world, including studies at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington, periods of fieldwork in India and Korea, and teaching at Illinois State University and Florida State University before taking up his current position at the University of Sheffield in 2003. Originally trained as a classical pianist, he also plays the Korean gayageum zither and an English bagpipe, the Northumbrian smallpipes. His academic publications include two books on Korean music topics, about twenty refereed journal articles and book chapters, and substantial contributions to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. In his spare time he likes to compose “rounds” in a wide variety of musical styles.


A flamenco-like approach to rhythm (essentially, a 12-beat bar divided up in constantly changing ways, or in different ways simultaneously) is found again in the various former Spanish colonies of the New World, often in combination with polyrhythmic elements deriving from Africa; for Latin America had its slave trade too. To a greater extent than in North America, indigenous peoples also became part of the cultural mix, for instance developing their own distinctive versions of old Spanish traditions and maintaining them in remote regions of the Andes long after they were forgotten in Spain itself. We first sample the music of the Spanish colonial heritage, including its retentions of Spain’s own Middle Eastern influences. Then we see how Spanish and indigenous elements were combined in the Andean ensembles that have become so popular internationally. We then turn to Brazil, historically a Portuguese colony whose slaves came from Portugal’s African possession Angola, bringing with them a musical culture related to, but subtly different from, the West African culture of North America’s slaves. One result was the development of samba, originally a carvinal procession music, which in the 1950s was combined with North American jazz to create bossa nova, or “new beat” music. This in turn became popular in the USA, leading to a transformation of American popular music through the adoption of the samba-based “Latin beat” in a wide range of otherwise dissimilar genres. Slower in tempo than earlier rock and roll but with the fastest notes dividing the beat into four instead of two, the Latin beat remains prevalent in many forms of popular music. Thus Latin America is revealed as another important root of the music tree, one that itself branches out to Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America as well as indigenous South American cultures.

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Killick, Andrew. Latin America: A Tale of Five Continents. The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2024. ISBN 9781781793411. Date accessed: 06 Dec 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27326. Sep 2024

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