“Singing, Soundscape, and the (Re)construction of History in the Western Pyrénées, 1789-1860"

Event Info

A Musicology Colloquium Talk by Mari Jo Velasco.


Musical scholarship on the French Revolution and Restoration eras has long focused on Paris, leaving much to explore about the continual resistance and alternative soundscapes from France’s other regions. My research explores the impact of the French Revolution on the popular song and devotional cultures of the Basque and Bearnese populations in southwestern France and traces the ways in which lay spiritual and musical practices were rebuilt by local communities in the nineteenth century. Musical practices mobilized an emerging, multifaceted political culture in this southwest border region, at a time when centralizing, revolutionary-era pressures posed grave challenges to everyday life. As national interest in folk traditions grew in the nineteenth century, local Bearnese and Basques used and collected songs to retell their own histories, and to valorize and preserve their customs and languages.

Free and open to all. Reception to follow. 

About the Artist:

Mari Jo Velasco is currently a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Princeton University and teaches in the Music Department. Her research lies at the border between music history and ethnomusicology, studying the musical and devotional practices of lesser-known regions of France, such as the Basque country. Her critical and research interests include minority languages and cultures within France, oral histories and folk traditions, trans-border identity and exchange, popular devotional music, and musical resistance in times of Revolution. She is also continuing work on the regional soundscapes of France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, exploring the emergence of folk tradition narratives in France and Spain.