The Colorin

This piece has such an interesting feel and style which can be heard through its orchestration and its 20th century harmonies. It opens with a roll of the drums followed by a percussive short melody on xylophone, preceded by the disjunct movement and some harmonic blares of the woodwinds as well as the brass. When first hearing this Revueltas piece I thought maybe Stravinsky himself had actually written it, with the use of brass and its fanfares brought me to this conclusion, however the size of the intended ensemble lead me otherwise. It was not till much later that I realized there were even strings in this ensemble. The pieces meter changes and the use of the woodwinds and brass melodies supported by a steady yet syncopated beat in the slow middle section is what first made me think of the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. Revueltas uses many syncopated rhythms and melodies as well as using a very thick texture. In the middle of the piece he slows the feel of the piece slightly and lightens the texture, with the bassoons holding down the bass line and the brass and woodwinds holding the melody. This section ends with the woodwinds winding down in diminuendo, before the ending section of the piece. In the ending section he uses a primitive steady beat under the more melodic phrases coming from the woodwinds and brass, some of which are quite sing-able. The ending to this piece is rather abrupt and lacks the feel of a true ending.


There is still so much to be discovered about this piece, many musicologist can’t even seem to agree upon the year that it was written which ranges from 1930-1933. Colorin is a type of tree also called Tzompāmitl. It is said the score is to reflect a rich color and represent women and children playing. I do not hear this. Yes, I hear the deep rich color of the red tree but the “red” could also stand for something else such as the blood that was spilled during the Mexican revolution and the piece’s parallels to Stranvinsky’s Rite of Spring. This may not be the main intention of Colorines as Revueltas intended but the disjunct rhythms and melodies could in a way portray this to others as it portrays itself to me. He incorporates a slight ABA feel to the piece which makes it seem less chaotic as some of his other pieces, and allows it to be listened to as something as more than just noise. The truth is we may not be able to know for sure what Revueltas intended this piece to portray but with his background, use of 20th century techniques and styles, but we can safely assume that Colorines is more than just a piece about a tree.



John Guevara


Mayer-Serra, Otto. 1941. “Silvestre Revueltas and Musical Nationalism in Mexico”. Musical Quarterly 27, no. 2 (April)

Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1945. Music in Latin America. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell

Stevenson, Robert. Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey (Vail-Ballou Press, Inc., 1952)

Revueltas, Silvestre, Colorines. Conducted by Gisele Ben-Dor. English Chamber Orchestra. 2016. Acc. February 4, 2017.


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