This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the love of Music...

So, honestly I was inspired for the post by a fellow blogger, Dave Adams, and his recent post 'Adagio for Mayonnaise'. Dave's post made me think about just how much music affects the way we view a situation. In class,we saw how a telenovela love scene can go from intense, spontaneous and passionate to awkward and choregraphed when it is void of a soundtrack.

As I come from a family with a musical background, I have grown up with a love and appreciation of music. My mother plays the harp, flute, and piano, my step dad is an opera singer, and my little sister is a musical theater major. Unfortunately, while the musical gene skipped over me, I still love the way music has the power to impact our daily lives. Strange, isn't it? How the right combination of notes and keys has the ability to lead us to sleep... leave us laughing...or bring about a tear?

Music is also a time machine. It is able to bring us back to different parts of our past. For example, when I was young my mom would sing me to sleep with The Beatles' 'Black Bird'. Still, now, every time I hear that song I remember what it was like to be small. I remember that feeling of peace I felt being in that rocking chair with my mom. I remember feeling warm...I remember feeling safe. And now--no matter where I am when I hear that song playing, and no matter what is currently happening in my life..for that moment I'm transported back to a time when I felt safe and unhurried, and loved and protected.

The telenovela recognizes the power that music holds over us. I have noticed that there are very few scenes that are void of any kind of music. When characters enter the scene they are more often than not accompied by music. Right away, the music sets a tone for the scene...which keeps us alert and ready to see what happens next. The telenovela has such a way of intertwining the music, the emotion, and the action that often times its hard to seperate one from the other. In class, we all witnessed what happens when you do try to seperate them...awkward love scenes.

Examples of just how powerful music in regard to our emotions can be found everywhere in our day to day lives. For instance, I am sure you have all seen the Animal Cruelty commercial accompanied by Sarah Mclachlan's 'In the Arms of The Angels'. As if one-eyed puppies, and sick kittens werent sad enough on their own...having the commercial set to this song takes the footage from sad to heart-wrenching. Curse the genuises who thought up this deadly, tear-jerking combination. Alas, I have found two ways to outsmart them... A-changing the channel..or B-closing my eyes and humming loudly for the duration of the commercial---2 options thay my fellow TV watchers tolerate but are not always supportive of.

I've posted the commercial for your viewing pleasure (torture??)

On the flipside of things, and since it's always good to show both sides of the equation ( but mostly because I need to leave you all with a happy thought after watching that video)...let's talk about an example of the way music can be uplifting. I have found that no matter how sad one is impossible to frown while listening to the following song.

Told you so....


  1. I too have a love for music, and it has a HUGE effect on my feelings. Whether I'm watching a movie or just listening to music in my room, music has the power to inspire my emotions. Something that stood out to me while were learning about the music in telenovelas is the difference between the types of music that different cultures respond to. I felt very distant from the music in Corazón Salvaje, because it sounded so cheesy and dramatic to me. Even some of the songs we listened to in class from more recent telenovelas were not really doing anything for me (although some I felt I connected with). I think once again it is somewhat of a culture thing. We are used to certain themes and incidentals, and in other places they are used to and respond to different-sounding music.

  2. What a great post! This was something that I had a conversation about just the other day with some folks. Your example of the love scene going from romantic to awkward without music describes perfectly the power that music has over a situation. Nowadays, with ipods, mp3s and the like, music is becoming even more and more a part of our lives. Many people can't even walk between classes without their own personal soundtrack playing in their ears from their ipod.

  3. Music is definitely one of the most powerful forms of expression. In Latin-American culture, music has played a significant role in serving as an outlet for oppressed populations. Some of the most popular forms of Latin American music (rumba, tango, bachata) have originated within the marginalized populations of society. Music has served as a tool to inform people, to organize people, and to empower them. An example of this is hip-hop music in Cuba. In recent years, the Cuban economy has suffered immensely. In response to this economic downfall, there has been a resurgence of blatant racism and racial inequality. Black Cuban youth have used hip-hop music as a way to mobilize support and voice their frustrations , all while using creative forms of self-expression!