Círculo, op. 91 by
Recommended for grades 1 through 4
How does Turina depict different times of the day in Círculo?
Background: Joaquín Turina (1882-1949) was
one of the most important composers of the Spanish nationalist movement.
Most of Turina’s music reflects the sounds and images of Andalusia,
his native region of Spain. Círculo is the last of his three
trios for piano, violin, and cello. The three-movement work depicts
the progress of a single day, starting with “Amanecer”
(dawn), continuing with “Mediodía” (noon), and
concluding with “Crepúsculo” (twilight). The Damocles
Trio’s presentation introduces young students to the evocative
powers of music, and teaches such concepts as tempo, dynamics, and
1) We ask students to visualize images and activities associated with
dawn. We play Turina’s “Amanecer” and ask students
to list musical techniques used to evoke this time of day (soft to
loud, slow to fast, low to high, etc.).
2) Similar procedure for dusk (Turina’s “Crepúsculo”).
Main Activity: Students
learn to sing and clap the principal theme of “Mediodía”
(noon) with words. Students are asked to recreate melody in a “twilight
mood,” drawing upon musical ideas presented during warm-up.
The Damocles Trio plays Turina’s transformation of the “Mediodía”
tune in “Crepúsculo.”
The Damocles Trio performs the complete Círculo (ca. 10 min.).
Students are led to define the concept of “cycles” through
the musical illustrations they have experienced.
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Folk meets Classical:
Piano Trio No. 1, op. 35
by Joaquín TurinaRecommended for grades 4 through 8
How do composers express their national identity through music?
Background: We investigate
how Spanish composer Joaquín Turina uses folk materials in
the second movement of his Piano Trio No. 1, op. 35. In this “Thème
et variations,” each variation reflects the rhythms and melodic
characteristics of a folk song or dance from a particular region of
Spain. We use recorded examples of indigenous music to highlight Turina’s
use of these resources.
We ask the students to think of ways to express their geographic identity
in music, recording their ideas in an open journal (black board, overhead
projector...). These ideas might include sounds found in the environment
(car horns, subway noises, bird songs, street musicians, etc.), music
historically connected to their country or city, and various types
of popular music.
Main Activity: Using
a map of Spain as a backdrop, we present recordings of folk music
from different regions and follow each example with a variation from
the second movement of Turina’s Piano Trio No. 1.
We start with a muiñeira from Galicia, asking for the students’
reaction to basic attributes of the dance, including rhythm, instrumentation,
and use of drones. We delve into details by learning how to clap a
hemiola, a rhythm common to the muiñeira as well as to many
other Spanish dances. The Damocles Trio then plays Turina’s
adaptation of a muiñeira (variation I) and invites students
to compare it to the folk version.
We proceed in similar fashion to the Basque zortziko, the Aragonese
jota, and the Andalusian cante jondo, as the composer provides a “picture
postcard” tour of the Peninsula.
The Damocles Trio plays the second movement in its entirety, asking
students to raise their hands (quietly) whenever they recognize that
Turina has journeyed from one region of Spain to another.
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What makes Spanish Music Spanish?
(expanded version of “Folk meets Classical”
for older students)
Recommended for grades 7 through 12
How do composers express national identity through music?
composers have utilized a variety of means to express their national
identity through music. We illustrate three approaches with musical
1) The use of folk materials in the 2nd movement of Joaquín
Turina’s Piano Trio No. 1, op. 35.
2) Allusions to Spain’s literary heritage in Xavier Montsalvatge’s
”Balada a Dulcinea.”
3) The use of Spanish cliches in Enrique F. Arbós’ “Seguidillas
Warm-Up Activity: We ask the students to think of ways to express
their geographic identity in music, recording their ideas in an open
journal (black board, overhead projector...). These ideas might include
sounds found in the environment (car horns, subway noises, bird songs,
street musicians, etc.), music historically connected to the nation
or city, and various types of popular music
1) Using a map of Spain as a backdrop, we present recordings of folk
music from different regions and follow each example with a variation
from the second movement of Turina’s Piano Trio No. 1. Students
experience Turina’s use of the Galician muiñeira and
the Basque zortziko as the composer provides a “picture postcard”
tour of the Peninsula. They clap out basic rhythms and learn about
common folk instruments, becoming acquainted with such musical terms
as hemiola and drones. (see “Folks meets Classical”)
2) We introduce the ”Balada a Dulcinea” movement of Xavier
Montsalvatge’s piano trio with a brief discussion of Cervantes’
Don Quixote. After performing the piece, we ask students to describe
how the composer evokes Don Quixote’s “dream woman.”
We discuss with them how Montsalvatge achieves a dreamy, unreal quality
and eery mood through dissonant harmonies, “mirror form,”
string harmonics, and muting.
3) We perform Arbós’ “Seguidillas gitanas”
for piano trio and ask the students to comment on stereotypically
Spanish elements in the music.
Conclusion/Reflection: Finally, we ask the students how they think
people from other countries might characterize America and how, as
American composers, we might use those perceptions to express our
culture in music.
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Christians, Moslems, and Jews in Medieval Andalusía:
The Musical Legacy of Peaceful Co-Existence
Recommended for grades 7 through 12
What are the musical fruits of eight centuries of (mostly) peaceful
coexistence between Arabs, Christians, and Jews in southern Spain?
Arabic kingdoms ruled much of the Iberian peninsula from 711 to 1492
A.D. From a military perspective, these centuries were characterized
by ongoing territorial struggles with Christian kingdoms to the north,
which ultimately prevailed in their Reconquista of Spain. From a cultural
angle, however, the period was frequently marked by harmonious relations
between Moslems, Jews, and Christians, resulting in impressive achievements
in the arts, science, and philosophy. While most Medieval Spanish
music was never notated, it has endured in certain respects through
oral transmission and absorption into Andalusian folk idioms. In more
recent times, this legacy has been a source of inspiration to classical
Spanish composers as well.
1) Students react to recorded examples of Arabic music and are encouraged
to describe and define such phenomena as drones, melismas, and variations
through direct participation. The Damocles Trio then offers several
examples of Arab-inspired Spanish music, including excerpts from the
first movement of Granados’ Piano Trio, Op. 50 and Ernesto Halffter’s
Hommage à Adolfo Salazar: Un parfum d’Arabie. Students
comment on these composers’ use of traditional classical instruments
to evoke phenomena of Moorish music.
2) Students listen to a recording of a thirteenth-century Cantiga
de Santa María and view reproductions of the illuminated manuscript,
paying close attention to depictions of Arab and Christian musicians
making music together at the Spanish court. Pianist Adam Kent plays
a portion of Federico Mompou’s Canción y danza no. 10
which quotes the same Cantiga, eliciting comments from students on
the twentieth-century composer’s adaptation of this Medieval
3) Students hear recordings of Mozarabic (Christian) chant and traditional
Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) music and are guided to point out similarities
with Arabic sources. They then hear recorded examples cante jondo,
presented as the orally transmitted heritage of Arabic, Christian,
and Jewish music preserved and enhanced over five centuries by Spanish
gypsies. The Damocles Trio concludes with music inspired by cante
jondo from Joaquín Turina’s Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 35.
4) Students are led to make distinctions between traditional and art
music. They consider recordings, notation, and oral dissemination
as three means of preserving music and consider the unique issues
presented by each approach.
Conclusion/Reflection: Students contemplate cross-pollination between
different musical genres as a parallel to cultural diversity and tolerance.
The present situation is considered as well: what kinds of music will
our times bequeath to history?
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