Any attempt to theorize about Latin American composition will necessarily involve a prejudgment of which composers to consider. In addition the context of a colonial system of cultural transmission should not be ignored. This context makes it important to evaluate a composer's significance in terms of his or her distinctiveness in the light of metropolitan composers and compositions. A number of characteristic trends can be seen in the works of composers who meet these criteria, including a distinctive sense of time; use of nondiscursive, reiterative processes; austerity; violence; the breach of technological and cultural boundaries; and an interest in cultural identity.

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Author notes

This article was previously published in World New Music Magazine, No. 4 (Cologne, October 1994) pp. 47-52. It is based on several sources: a paper read at a panel on new techniques in Latin American music creation during the VI Encontro Anual da ANPPOM (Rio de Janeiro, 1993), published in Pauta, No. 46, (Mexico City, April-June 1993), and on two previous texts approaching the same subject: a lecture at the I SimpÓsio Internacional de Compositores, São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, 1977 (published in Oesterreichische Musik Zeitschrift 37, No. 8 [Vienna, February 1982]), and a second lecture at the First Encontro Internacional de Música Nova, Curitíba, Brazil, 1992. Translated by Graciela Paraskevaídis.