How did popular music come to mean música popular?

Laura F. Jordán González, Douglas Kristopher Smith


The field of popular music studies has grown to include participation from many different parts of the world, comprised of cultural-linguistic spaces that view popular music in a dissimilar and sometimes contradictory light. That said, there have been situations where two or more very different definitions of popular music exist side by side, further complicating the coherence of the field. Focusing on Spanish-speaking Latin America, we set out to examine what popular music and música popular have meant in some of their respective sociolinguistic spaces, and argue that disparities of legitimacy between institutions that are engaged in the study have contributed to a terminological confusion that must be further engaged with if it is to be overcome.


Popular music; música popular; translation; terminology; disparity

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