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The illustration by Gustavo Brigante depicts two bulls, two large roses and a woman dressed in traditional Flamenco clothes.

How a divided society comes together with the help of music

Behind the Scenes of "Redefining Spanishness: music that fuses genres with tradition."

Kahlil Gibran is quoted to have once said: “Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.” Looking at society today, and the world at large, it is difficult not to see some truth in this. Not only has the global pandemic affected our planet in distressing ways, the political situation world over seems to be creating bigger shifts in us, the people.

I am excited to introduce the next article on Unbias the News: Redefining Spanishness: music that fuses genres with tradition. Written by Jimena Garrido dCastro, translated by Ava Ayala Rosenbaum, and illustrated by Gustavo Brigante. By now you may have noticed a certain theme or thread weaving through our articles on Unbias the News which highlights inequality or divisions. This piece, however, looks at how a divided society comes together with the help of music.

This piece takes a look at Spain and how music is helping the young generation reconnect with what it means to be Spanish. Like other countries, Spain also struggles with the questions of nationalism, identity and tradition. The young generation is used to associating their national pride with a conservative Spain and right-wing politics.

However, artists such as Rosalia and C. Tangana and are giving new meaning to Spanish tradition and pride through their music, which is now internationally recognized. With the help of their producers and musical collaborators, the two artists have brought traditional sounds to the forefront again by fusing and blending genres that appeal to the younger generations.

I relate this a great deal to even the musical landscape in my own country, Pakistan, where a pop song from the 80s called ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’, which literally translated to ‘heart, heart, Pakistan’, became an unofficial national anthem in the country. This song is common amongst many generations in Pakistan as it was a catchy, modern, pop take on a song about the country and its people at the time. Seemingly the song never lost its relevance because even now it is a classic played at schools and social events around the time of Pakistan’s independence day. It is interesting to note here that this song came out during one of Pakistan’s worst military regimes, yet even now, the song is etched in the memories of both old and young.

Similarly, in Denmark, another musical outfit and their sound changed the way listeners thought or felt about identity. From the mid-90s until 2017, a Hip Hop trio named Outlandish redefined music to a certain extent in Denmark with their socio-political themed music. What was unique about this band was that the members were of Moroccan, Pakistani and Latin American descent, and fused their Danish lyrics with words from Arabic, Spanish and Urdu as well. Not only did this music help the diaspora identify differently with Denmark, it brought these cultures together and allowed the youth in Denmark who may have roots in another part of the world, connect with their identity in new ways.

To know more about the impact of music on identity and relating to one’s homeland and a feeling of national belonging, read our latest piece now.

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