Voices of Americas-The sound of the Radio Programs about Folk Music in Brazil and USA under the Pan American policy (1936-1945)

Rafael Velloso
Fulbright Visiting Scholar, University of MD, College Park

The aim of this paper is to present the initial results of my doctoral research, which focuses on the relationship between the trajectories of Radamés Gnattali and Alan Lomax and on their interests in the folk and popular music of Brazil and the US, respectively. From an ethnomusicological perspective, this study concentrates on the analysis of documents from private and public archives related to folk music radio programs, which helped construct national identities in Brazil and the US against the backdrop of the Pan-American politics in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

The main goal of this presentation is to discuss how these radio programs, in which musicologists and musical educators interacted with composers and radio producers to combine rich text and original music, became an important part of the political negotiation between these countries before and during World War II. With the samples of two programs, one from the series Wellspring of Music, written and produced by Lomax that was part of the project American School of the Air, and one from the series Aquarelas do Brasil [Wellspring of Brazil], produced by Radamés Gnattali and sponsored by Pan American World Airlines, this presentation will discuss how the radio technology had an important role in the transmission of sounds and texts and how these soundtracks became a symbol of the national identity in these countries.