Music Now Talk with Marysol Quevedo

Monday, September 20, 2021


Guest scholar Marysol Quevedo presents the talk “Postmodern Water Music: Liquid Sonority in Cuban Composition in the Early 1980s.” Music Now is an informal forum series for Brown’s community of composers and music scholars. These talks are free and open to the public.

Zoom Registration Link:

About This Talk

In 1981, Robert Boudreau conducted the American Wind Symphony Orchestra’s premier of Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s Canción de Gesta (Epopeya del Granma, la nave llena de Futuro; Epic poem of Granma, the ship loaded with Future). Throughout the work, Brouwer draws musical connections to water and the program itself—Pablo Neruda’s poem about Fidel Castro’s voyage aboard the Granma yacht from Mexico to Cuba—begged for an exploration of an aqueous sonority. The work is the only composition in Brouwer’s output (best known for his guitar pieces) to have become a standard in the US Wind Band repertory. Once the enfant terrible of Cuban art music, with experimental works such as La tradición se rompe (1969) and Exaedros III (1970), by the 1980s Brouwer’s compositional voice had evolved from an extremely experimental style to a more accessible one.

That same year, Carlos Fariñas completed his electroacoustic work Aguas territoriales (Territorial Waters, 1981) for magnetic tape, where Fariñas gradually transforms the sound of a recording of a drop of water. Fariñas was also inspired by Luis Martínez Pedro’s painting series titled Aguas Territoriales (1963-1973) and Ojos y desnudos del mar (1970) and dedicated his electroacoustic composition to the Cuban painter. The work represents a culmination in Fariñas’s electroacoustic output and was included in the LP Carlos Fariñas. Aguas Territoriales. Música Electroacústica, his first solo and electroacoustic music album.

In this presentation I explore the reception of these works and their specific connections to postmodern musical aesthetics. Borrowing Cuban musicologist Ileana Güenche’s term “liquid sonority,” I argue that these (and other) Cuban composers employed compositional techniques and styles that evoked or drew inspiration from water, consequently making their works accessible, idiosyncratically Cuban, and ultimately postmodern. I examine these works within the political and economic context of 1980s Cuba, a time of drastic changes in US-Cuban and Soviet-Cuban relations marked by the return of Cuban exiles, the Mariel Boatlift, and the rise of tourism.

About Marysol Quevedo

Marysol Quevedo is assistant professor of musicology at the University of Miami. Her research focuses on art music in Cuba before and after the 1959 Revolution. She also works on cultural diplomacy during the Cold War and art music networks during and after the Second World War. Quevedo holds a PhD in Musicology from Indiana University. With a minor in ethnomusicology, she favors an interdisciplinary approach that combines the methods of both historical musicology and ethnographic fieldwork. Quevedo has presented her research at academic conferences around the world and is an active member of the American Musicological Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Society for American Music. Her current book project, Cuban Music Counterpoints, examines the classical music scene of Cuba from 1940 to 1989, tracing the complex networks that composers, musicians, and state officials navigated during times of political upheaval. For more information visit