The New Song Movement

The Nueva Canción (New Song) movement is perhaps one of South American music’s best examples of freedom fighting through music. It formed in the late 1950s as a cultural resistance to political dictatorships through subversive messaging. Its epicenter was Chile where musicians like Victor Jara and Violeta Parra masterfully blended traditional folk music (using flutes and charangos) with activism. They sang about peace and social justice and railed against poverty in their own country, against repressive regimes, but also against what they saw as U.S. intervention in their country’s politics. In the 1970s, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet clamped down on nueva canción by outlawing Andean instruments like the pan flute. In 1973, Victor Jara was tortured and shot dead by Pinochet’s goons and today is regarded as a martyr.

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