Songs and Places: Mexico
General Catalog Course Title:
Special Topics in Visual Studies: Word and Image
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Spring 2013
Course Thread: 
Visible Language
Instructor: 
Dubovsky, Anthony

What are the connections between song and place—visual, musical, and beyond? How can we
describe these connections—give them form--through paintings, drawings and related works involving the hand?
Music and place have long been intertwined—and the particulars of place have given rise to some of our most
memorable songs. In the fall semester course we explore this question through the American roots song tradition.
In this NEW spring semester course we continue the exploration, concentrating now on the folksongs of Mexico (el
cancionero mexicano, the classical corrido/ranchera/bolero tradition) including songs recorded by Chavela Vargas,
Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Elvira Ríos, Agustín Lara, Guty Cárdenas, La Toña Negra, José Alfredo Jiménez,
Davíd Zaizar, Las Jilguerillas, Cuco Sánchez, Lola Beltrán, Dueto Caleta, Los Alegres de Terán, Mono Blanco and
more. We'll look closely at (and listen to) this material with an eye to the visual sources for the songs--and the ways
in which they stem from--and reflect--Mexican culture. La Canción del Alma y el Alma de la Canción. The lyrics are
all in Spanish, of course--and Spanish comprehension will be important for students in the class. A sub-theme will
be the ways in which individuals today reflect (represent) this past--especially young people of Mexican ancestry "a
este lado de la frontera." A persistent question might be: who were "los abuelitos de tus abuelitos..." and what
would it mean to picture them? Place? Region? Family? Home? Caras y caretas...? We'll explore these themes in
visual terms (by making paintings and drawings)--and by listening to--and singing--some of the songs... Readings
will include Octavio Paz, El Laberinto de la Soldedad, and selections from Yolando Moreno Rivas, amond others. A
second sub-theme: how do Mexican folk traditions persisit today? All with a passing look, as time permits--and by
way of comparison--at something of the beautiful folclore tradition "del campo de Argentina" (for example,
Atahualpa Yupanqui's "Viene Clareando" or Jorge Cafrune's "Zamba de Mi Esperanza"), among others.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.