Echos from Granada: Setting to music Lorca guitar-related poetry by revisiting Falla’s Homenaje
Revisiting the past in search of inspiration is nowadays common practice among artists. In many cases, this leads to appropriation of work from the past in the form of quotation, parody and pastiche. This talk recounts how revisiting Manuel de Falla’s Homenaje – his only piece for guitar and one of the first guitar compositions of the twentieth century by a non-guitarist composer – gave rise to Le tombeau de Falla (2012), a piece by the author for medium voice and guitar that sets to music four poems by Federico García Lorca on, or featuring, the guitar.
In 1920, Falla, who had repeatedly been asked by guitarist Miquel Llobet to compose for guitar, was requested to contribute with an article to a special volume of La Revue Musicale dedicated to the memory of Debussy. The volume was to include a musical supplement, entitled Le Tombeau de Debussy, with pieces especially written for it (in music, a tombeau is a composition written in honour of a departed colleague or master – a tradition that goes back to the lutenists of the 17th century). This triggered the writing of Homenaje: pièce de Guitare écrite pour “Le Tombeau de Debussy”, the revision of which took place with Llobet at the house of the García Lorca family in Granada. The revisitation of Homenaje originated most harmonic fields of Le tombeau de Falla, as well as some of its motives and rhythmic patterns. The construction of the harmonic fields consisted either in quotation from the piece’s Debussy quotation, or in combining the central pitches of the piece and those that are gradually introduced along the piece.
The compositional process was also influenced by some of the characteristics of deep song (cante jondo). These include the voice’s restricted melodic line, rarely exceeding the compass of a sixth, and its reiterative well-nigh obsessive use of a single note. Falla was a great enthusiast of the preservation of deep song and was the soul of the famous Deep Song Contest (1922), to which Lorca contributed with a lecture partially based on Falla’s musicological surveys. The influence of Lorca’s poems can be found in one of the songs, in which word painting can be found in both voice and guitar. The result is a five-minute piece in which two somber songs are preceded by a fleeting introduction and followed by music of a more optimistic tone.
GIMC — CESEM, Nova University, Portugal
Is currently a researcher at the CESEM of the NOVA-FCSH. She was previously a researcher at CESEM’s branch at the University of Évora, at the CITAR of the UCP, and, as guest, at the Institute of Musicology and Music Informatics (IMWI) of the Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe. She holds a PhD in Science and Technology of the Arts from the UCP, as well as degrees in Chemical Engineering, Guitar, Musicology/Music Informatics and Composition. Her work as a researcher and as a composer has been presented worldwide in events such as international festivals and conferences and is currently centred on guitar multiphonics.