ORFEU (1956-1983): The Politics and aesthetics of popular music production and consumption in modern Portugal
Salwa Castelo-Branco (PI)
Rui Cidra (co-PI)
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)
January 1st, 2018 to December 31st, 2021
Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco | Rui Cidra | António Tilly | Pedro Nunes | Luís Trindade | Nuno Miguel Domingos | Timothy Dean Taylor | Jocelyne Guibault | Manuel Deniz | Leonor Losa | José Manuel Bártolo
This project will focus on the recording industry in Portugal between 1956 and 1983. This is the period of activity of the Company Orfeu, founded by Arnaldo Trindade, which constitutes the main case study. This period witnessed major political, social and economic changes in Portugal: the transition from the totalitarian regime that was in power from in 1933 up to the establishment of democracy as the result of the 25th of April revolution in 1974; industrialization; the colonial war (1961 - 1974); attempts to integrate the European Union that culminated in Portugal's integration in 1986; the formalization of democratic institutions in the post revolutionary period; and the development of capitalism. Departing from a biography of the company and its owner, the project will attempt to contribute to the historiography of Portugal during this period by providing insight into the production of popular culture, especially music, and the dynamics of music production and consumption. Orfeu modernized the music production system in Portugal through the adoption of imported commercial models and through the diversification of commercial activities (the company also sold household appliances in Oporto). The project will explore the ways in which these transformations in the production system created conditions for the emergence of new popular music styles and the dissemination of musicians who until then were absent from the recording industry. Within the context of censorship and social repression, Orfeu was responsible for publishing musicians who created music that was diametrically opposed to the styles that were supported by the state and that were disseminated through radio, television and other record companies. The musicians recorded by Orfeu were ideologically opposed to the regime, expressing their opposition by creating a hybrid musical style that highlighted words and that was inspired in rural musics, African music, French song and the Chilean "nueva canción" (examples include José Afonso, Adriano Correia de Oliveira, Luís Cilia among others). The project will attempt to provide an understanding of how these new song styles were a means for disseminating democratic values and ideologies and a veiled platform for the debate of ideas using metaphor, poetic and musical intertextuality and other counter-discursive strategies within the context of censorship. Our analysis will also focus on the publisher as an "enthusiast" and on the understanding of the local market, questioning the relationship between the recording industry, esthetics, politics and social transformation.
The project outputs are targeted at the scientific community as well as the general public. Scholarly publications, including 3 books and 25 articles and book chapters as well as conference presentations are directed towards academics form the fields of ethnomusicology, history, cultural studies, design studies, media studies and sociology. Project results will also be made available to the genral public through the online open access data base, an itinerant exhibition featuring Orfeu's record production, as well as presentations in the European Researchers Night and Ciência Viva activities. Project seminars and international colloquia will provide a privileged context for debating research results both among team members, the larger scholarly community, students and interested members of the general public. The project will also provide a framework for seminars on the masters and doctoral levels in the Musicology Department of FCSH as well as the development of, at least, one doctoral dissertation. On of the main tasks is the development of a database in order to store, organize and cross-check the materials gathered by the research team (written documents, iconography, interviews, photographs, audio documents). Processing of data according to its documentary nature, and in the case of audio documents in conjunction with guidelines defined by IASA; A platform for public access to data that, in line with an ethical commitment, can be made available. This platform will be thought of as a long-term output existing beyond the project's life. The database will be produced in collaboration with the project's interlocutors.
Music and Capitalism; Popular Culture; Modernity; Music and Democracy in Portugal