Canto de una muchacha negra

Revueltas set the poem Song folhr a dark girl by Langston Hughes in Spanish, with an interesting 20th century musical interpretation. This piece is for solo voice and piano and seems to be from the perspective of an African American girl whose lover has been killed unjustly. This piece was hard to translate because unfortunately I was not able to find the direct translation of the Langston Hughes poem Song for a dark girl from English to Spanish, and I am unsure if it was a direct translation or just a different interpretation of the poem. As far as I can tell, it does seem to be a complete setting of the text in Spanish. which i find very interesting because of certain words not being able to be directly translated between the languages. This piece can be interpreted in the piece as Revueltas seems to be creating a dreary image with the opening; it has heavy dissonant chords in the opening measures before the vocalists’ entrance. Then the haunting melody enters above the chords, the melody, along with the words seem to be recalling an event that might have happened in the young girls life most likely the pain that her and possibly her family and loved ones have gone through. The vocal melody lilts in and out of tonal Harmony without a clear climax or end. Based on the words the listener can definitely hear the pain and angst in the melody, and we hear the pain that Revueltas is trying to portray. From the Langston Hughes original poem, we can ask; is the girl pleading to the Lord? Why her lover died in such a horrible way? Why did she pray to no avail? And why did he break her heart? Revueltas seems that he could be depicting this imagery to make the universal awareness around the world of the treatment of African Americans in the south of the United States at the time. Having been a constant traveler to the United States it is just in saying that he had seen the treatment of African Americans and how horrible they were being treated.

Although there is not much information on the direct interpretation of this piece many inferences can be made about it and where Revueltas stood on the grounds of civil rights in the 1930’s.


-John Guevara



Hughes, Langston “Song for a Dark Girl”, Mesa Community College, (n.d.)

León, Eugenia –“Canto de una muchacha negra” Homenaje a Silvestre Revueltas en Washington DC.

Stevenson, Robert. “Revueltas, Silvestre.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press,

Stevenson, Robert. Music in Mexico, a historical survey. New York: Crowell, 1971.



2 thoughts on “Canto de una muchacha negra

  1. jlbrewster says:

    I was also unable to find a translation for the piece I chose. But isn’t it interesting that just by listening to the piece you are able to actually feel the emotion?


  2. hannyjvb says:

    It is strange for me assimilate that he was felling such deep emotions when he wrote this piece since I know he was kind sarcastic and cold


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