Carlos Chavez and Silvestre Revueltas are two Mexican composers who wrote music at the same time around the Mexican Revolution. Revueltas was known for his movie scores and symphonies. Chavez was also known for his symphonies but stylistically, is more modern and experimental than Revueltas. This blog is to compare and contrast the two using some sort of example. I chose to use the two choral pieces Arbolucu by Chavez and Frente a Frente by Revueltas (previously discussed). We will specifically look at their motives and their use of voice.
Frente a Frente is by Revueltas and is a unison piece in a major (happy sounding) key that is accompanied with brass. The piece was meant to be sung all together by a crowd of people and to express that the people were down with dictatorship and in favor of communism. This piece was used to get a point across by using very articulate words that could be heard for miles, it even includes shouting at the end.
Arbolucu on the other hand, was a story about the tree of sorrow. It is unaccompanied and in a minor key. (Sad sounding) It’s very slow and somber with lots of dissonance that requires one to feel the pain of the notes being so close together but never one. To some, it sounds as if it’s wrong but once you know what the composer is doing, it adds flavor to the piece. There are moments in the piece where you hear the higher voices doing some sort of sighing on an “ah”. From my perspective, it sounds as if it’s sad but once reading the translation, it can be interpreted at reminiscent. I encourage the idea, however, that it is a sad memory. It’s a sort of longing for better times.
*There is a link where you can listen to the piece.
After you listen to the pieces, reading the lyrics, and researching the composer; here is what I found. Chavez and Revueltas use the voices to word paint in such a way that even without the words, we can more or less get the feeling of the song. At least for this time in their lives, they are taking the revolution with different feelings. It’s as if Revueltas is more involved with the people and getting them to move and be active. Chavez, on the other hand, uses his music to get his feelings across. He uses it to let people know what he, and the people of Mexico, are feeling.
“Arbolucu, te sequeste – Tree of Sorrow.” YouTube. January 20, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRREiNhI10k.
“Carlos Chávez.” The Musical Times 119, no. 1628 (1978): 884. http://0-www.jstor.org.lib.utep.edu/stable/957831.
New York Public Library Catalog. http://catalog.nypl.org/search~S1/?searchtype=c&searcharg=job+84-11&searchscope=1&sortdropdown=-&SORT=D&extended=1&SUBMIT=Search&searchlimits=&searchorigarg=cjob+84-11. Accessed 3/20/17.
“Chávez, Carlos.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 21, 2017, http://0-www.oxfordmusiconline.com.lib.utep.edu/subscriber/article/grove/music/05495..