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Singing and street cries from eighteenth-century naranjera to twentieth-century violetera: aural paradigms of gender, poverty and affect

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Multiple, intersecting commentaries, songs, texts and images attest to eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century perceptions of the emotionally charged and stimulative character of street crying’s sonic signaling in cities such as Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. Crying by female hawkers of goods such as fruit, lottery tickets or flowers was freighted with implications intensifying its particular emotional force for listeners. In tonadillas and sainetes, melodías and canciones, and early twentieth-century song sheets and recordings, interpretations of flower sellers in particular harnessed the affective implications of their presences in public spaces to the social implications of direct physical approach. The tonalities and rhythms of many pregones incited nineteenth- and early twentieth-century listeners to intellectual and emotional cognition around sadness, melancholy and suffering. Beyond the materiality of the acoustic connection between crier and hearer, flower (and other street) sellers’ work in urban spaces sounded out rhetorical strategies of debasement, humility and pleading in close physical proximity to potential buyers. An examination of Raquel Meller’s recordings of “La billetera” (1917) and “La violetera” (1921) in the context of publicity promotions reveals what viewers and listeners knew collectively and cross-generationally: that suffering, humility and poverty were inextricable from aural paradigms for women’s street crying.
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Keywords: Women; affect; sound; space; street cries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Publication date: July 3, 2019

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