- Nova Cançó, La
- La Nova Cançó, or New Song, is the name given to the movement, dating from the second half of the 1950s, which re-established popular musical forms in the Catalan-speaking parts of Spain. The seeds of what was to be an enormously influential musical and social movement were sown in 1956, when Jaume Armengol, Lluís Serrahima and Miquel Porter formed a group which sang songs in Catalan. These early songs were performed during the intervals at the Teatre Viu (Living Theatre), an experimental theatre group headed by Porter and Ricard Salvat. A key moment in the early development of the Nova Cançó was the formation in 1959 of Els Setze Jutges (the Sixteen Judges, a name which derives from a well-known Catalan tongue-twister). The original members of this group were Remei Margarit and Josep M. Espinàs, and they were soon joined by Delfí Abella and one of the best-known exponents of Nova Cançó, Francesc Pi de la Serra. Most of the famous figures of La Nova Cançó were, at one time or another, members of Els Setze Jutges. Apart from Pi de la Serra, they include Raimon, Guillermina Motta, Maria del Mar Bonet, Lluís Llach and Joan-Manuel Serrat.It was during the 1960s and early 1970s that the Nova Cançó developed into a nationally and even internationally recognized movement. In 1963 Salomé (Maria Rosa Marco i Poquet) and the Valencian Ramon Pelegero i Sanchis (Raimon) obtained the Grand Prix at the FifthMediterranean Song Festival. In the previous year, the song which perhaps really popularized the Nova Cançó phenomenon appeared: Raimon's Al vent (To the Wind). The rise of La Nova Cançó coincides with a period in which principally young Catalans (and young people all over Spain) strove to recover their popular traditions and festivals, which had been stifled by Francoism. As the movement developed, so it diversified. Its more "purist" strains were counterbalanced by the growth of protest songs. With its emphasis on music as social and political protest, on the recovery of popular music forms and on the central role of the singer-songwriter, or cantautor, the Nova Cançó owed much to the American folkpop movement of the 1960s. The most influential American singers were Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Catalans developed a particular regard for the latter who, significantly, was invited to sing at the concert which was held in Barcelona in 1992 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Raimon's Al vent.The attraction between the Nova Cançó singers and Seeger was mutual. He felt a particular affection for Spain, and was responsible for the diffusion of Civil War Republican songs like ¡Viva la Quince Brigada! (Long Live the Fifteenth Brigade) outside their native country. He identified with the anti-Franco cause, reminding us that the social protest song movement of the 1960s had a particular resonance in Spain, where artistic and political censorship were very real, and in Catalonia, where to these problems was added the language question. Indeed, La Nova Cançó survived and thrived despite the severe restrictions placed on performers. Like the Catalan performance groups Els Joglars and Els Comediants, the cantautors, as well as their audiences, displayed considerable bravery and ingenuity in defying repression. Franco's police frequently intervened in concerts, which often took on the character of political events. The singers sang exclusively in Catalan in the early years, but later Spanish was used as well. The best-known bilingual exponent of Nova Cançó is Joan-Manuel Serrat, one of its most enduring and popular figures both inside Catalonia and throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Serrat has sold many recordings of his own songs in both Catalan and Spanish, but one of his most famous records is his musical version of four twentiethcentury Spanish poets which appeared in 1978. Serrat's venture into poetry is paralleled by Raimon's musical settings of medieval Valencian poetry and of the twentieth-century Catalan poets Salvat-Papasseit and Espriu, and is illustrative of the broad cultural diversification of the Nova Cançó. Performers from all the regions of the països Catalans (Catalan Lands) are included in the movement. The Valencian region is represented by Ovidi Montllor, as well as by Raimon. Maria del Mar Bonet is as celebrated for her arrangements of Mallorcan folk music as she is for her own compositions. Her music has expanded to include the Mediterranean area in general, as in her 1982 LP Cançons de la nostra Mediterrània (Songs of our Mediterranean). There is a marked influence of North African sounds in some of the records both she and Lluis Llach have made in recent years.DAVID GEORGE
Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.