In the 1920s, Mexican composer Julián Carrillo (1875-1965) developed a microtonal system he metaphorically called El Sonido 13 (The 13th Sound). Although his pioneering role as one of the first proponents of microtonality within the Western art music tradition allowed him to achieve a cult figure status among European avant-garde circles in the 1960s and 1970s, his music and legacy have remained largely ignored by scholars and music critics. Most of what we know today about him or his ideas comes directly from Carrillo’s own propagandistic writings or the vitriolic or petty disparagement from his critics. In this book, Madrid takes a critical stance to both of these representations and explores the composer’s ideas not only in relation to the historical moments of their inception but also in relation to the various cultural projects that kept them alive and re-signified them through the beginning of the twenty-first century. This project emphasizes a dialogue between Sonido 13 as the expression of an imaginary future for Carrillo and his followers and Sonido 13 as imaginary past for artists and musicians to validate a variety of alternative cultural projects throughout the twentieth century. The author argues that by establishing a critical conversation between the composer’s rhetoric, an analysis of his music scores, a serious assessment of how and why the Mexican musical mainstream has neglected his ideas, and the use of these ideas by contemporary alternative cultural projects, one can better appreciate the profound cultural meaning of Julián Carrillo and Sonido 13.
This monograph is professor Madrid’s eighth book, following award-winning monographs about dance culture in Mexico and Cuba, avant-garde and modernist music in Mexico, electronic dance music from the US-Mexico border, and a textbook about music in Mexico, as well as edited volumes about transnational and postnational musical experiences in Latin America and the US-Mexico border. Madrid is Associate Professor of Musicology and a member of the graduate fields of Music as well as Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University.