Musical Cycles:

Círculo, op. 91 by Joaquín Turina

Recommended for grades 1 through 4

Guiding Question: 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 cyclical form.

Warm-Up Activities:
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.”

Conclusion/Reflection: 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.

Return to top

Folk meets Classical:

Piano Trio No. 1, op. 35 by Joaquín TurinaRecommended for grades 4 through 8

Guiding Question: 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.

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 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.

Conclusion/Reflection: 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.

Return to top

What makes Spanish Music Spanish?

(expanded version of “Folk meets Classical” for older students)
Recommended for grades 7 through 12

Guiding Question: How do composers express national identity through music?

Background: Spanish composers have utilized a variety of means to express their national identity through music. We illustrate three approaches with musical examples:
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 gitanas.”
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

Main Activities:
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.

Return to top

Christians, Moslems, and Jews in Medieval Andalusía: The Musical Legacy of Peaceful Co-Existence

Recommended for grades 7 through 12

Guiding Question: What are the musical fruits of eight centuries of (mostly) peaceful coexistence between Arabs, Christians, and Jews in southern Spain?

Background: Various 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.

Activities:
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 material.
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?

Return to top


updated: 8/11/2011