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Carlos Chávez

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Xochipilli (An Imagined Aztec Music)
EMI Music Inc
Band/Wind/Brass Ensemble
Sub Category
Concert Band
6 Minutes
Programme Note
Carlos Chávez Xochipilli (An Imagined Aztec Music)
There is no certainty of the style or aesthetic nature of the music of pre-Columbian civilizations. We deal with hypotheses, though these can be based on somewhat sensible considerations. At least two main genres can be distinguished: music for sacred festivities and that which accompanied poetical expressions of a deep lyrical or religious character. The latter were sung and must have corresponded to the same poetic expression of the lyrics, which fortunately have been transmitted to us, and which we admire for their deep poetic content. Being vocal music, we must surmise that it corresponded to a continuous melodic line more or less varied, although undoubtedly based on the repetition of simply musical phrases. In contrast to this lyrical expression, the music of the great sacred festivities was preponderantly rhythmical and active, meant to accompany enormous ensembles of dancers. It must have been rather tremendous music, implacable in its rhythm, strong and obstinate.

In the first and last parts of this three-part work, percussion and flutes suggest the great sacred festivities in the large squares of the teocalli, full of fervor and dread. The middle part could very well confirm the melodies of inner concentration which parallel the deep lyrical poetry.

Authentic musical quotes being impossible, Xochipilli is the result of my thoughts on topics of Mexican antiquity and of my unlimited admiration for pre-Cortesian sculpture and painting. Although referring to different arts, there is a common denominator in the various expressions of a given culture so that it is not impossible to derive from plastic arts a sensitivity that can be transcribed to music. Also, many times during my childhood I heard in the country Indian ensembles deeply rooted in the old traditions, something that is now lost, which made it possible for me to delve in the aesthetics of those cultures: sobriety, conciseness, purity and vigor.

--Carlos Chavez

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