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Lasala, Ángel: Preludios americanos (1955)

This work is a collec­tion of six short pie­ces with rhythms and sty­les cha­rac­te­ris­tic of dif­fe­rent pla­ces of Latin Ame­ri­ca. The com­po­ser did not attempt a sys­te­ma­tic trip through the dif­fe­rent coun­tries, but he uti­li­zed the sty­les that ins­pi­red him. Of the six pie­ces, three are of Argen­ti­ne sty­le (Pam­peano, Nor­te­ño, Serrano), whi­le the other three are from other coun­tries (Bra­si­le­ño, Mexi­cano, Incai­co).

No. 1 – Pampeano

The first num­ber of Pre­lu­dios ame­ri­ca­nos is in the sty­le of the Argen­ti­nean pampas. Pam­peano com­bi­nes three dif­fe­rent folk gen­res: the pre­lu­dio, the cie­li­to and the vida­li­ta, and, as a who­le, fun­ctions as the pre­lu­de to the suite.

Exam­ple 1 – Pam­peano, 1st system

The intro­duc­tion is a pre­lu­dio crio­llo with no time sig­na­tu­re. The gau­cho used to sing, or play with his gui­tar, this kind of pre­lu­de (exam­ple 1). The tonal cen­ter is A, but without a clear esta­blishing of a major or minor mode.

Exam­ple 2 – Pam­peano, cie­li­to sec­tion

This intro­duc­tion goes into a cie­li­to (expres­sion mar­king is Movi­do, with move­ment, exam­ple 2), and now the key is clearly A major. The cie­li­to has the cha­rac­te­ris­tic jux­ta­po­si­tion of 6/8 for the melody and 3/4 for the bass, pre­sent in many Argen­ti­nean dan­ces. This sec­tion lasts for seven mea­su­res and goes into the third sec­tion, a vida­li­ta (Len­to, 3/4). Vida­li­tas have very few variants in melody and rhyth­mic pat­tern (exam­ple 3), and they all are very simi­lar to this:

Exam­ple 3 – Tra­di­tio­nal vida­li­ta

In Lasala’s vida­li­ta, both rhythm and melody suf­fer some sty­li­za­tion (exam­ple 4):

Exam­ple 4 – Pam­peano, vida­li­ta sec­tion

The gene­ral form of the move­ment is: pre­lu­dio – cie­li­to  – vida­li­ta – cie­li­to – vida­li­ta – pre­lu­dio – coda (vida­li­ta), or ABCBCA©.

No. 2 – Brasileño

Rhythm, espe­cially syn­co­pa­tion, is what pre­do­mi­na­tes in the second num­ber of the Pre­lu­dios ame­ri­ca­nos. The time sig­na­tu­re is 4/4 and from the begin­ning a syn­co­pa­ted pat­tern is esta­blished, to be main­tai­ned throughout the move­ment (exam­ple 5):

Exam­ple 5 – Bra­si­le­ño, m. 1 – syn­co­pa­tion pattern

This move­ment con­tains more advan­ced har­mo­nies, but they are not far from what a popu­lar musi­cian would use. The main the­me appears in mea­su­re 11 (sen­ti­do, exam­ple 6) and is in the Dorian mode. An osti­na­to bass, four mea­su­res long, accom­pa­nies this the­me (exam­ple 7). The osti­na­to con­ti­nues the rhyth­mic cell of the introduction.

Exam­ple 6 – Bra­si­le­ño, m. 11–17 – main theme

Exam­ple 7 – Bra­si­le­ño, m. 10–11 – osti­na­to bass

      The the­me and the bass evol­ve into a short deve­lop­ment (m. 25–35). Then the the­me is pre­sen­ted again, follo­wed by a repe­ti­tion of the intro­duc­tion. The move­ment ends with the first three notes of the the­me repea­ted and fragmented.

No. 3 – Norteño

As Gilardi’s second move­ment of his Serie Argen­ti­na, this move­ment is ins­pi­red in the vida­la (see the chap­ter on Gilar­do Gilar­di). The word Nor­te­ño is used in Argen­ti­na to refer to the North­wes­tern peo­ple of the country. The rhythm of the vida­la (3/4 °  ± |°  ± | ) is pre­sen­ted from the very begin­ning. The key is E minor, through the use of the Dorian mode (exam­ple 8.)

Exam­ple 8 – Nor­te­ño, m. 1 – Vida­la rhythm

The movement’s main sub­ject is also pre­sen­ted in the first measures:

Exam­ple 9 – Nor­te­ño, m. 1–8

This is alter­na­ted with more or less free sec­tions, and the form is ABCA1DA2A. The the­me under­goes some trans­for­ma­tions in its second and third appea­ran­ces (exam­ple 9), whi­le the last is as the first, although trans­for­med into a coda.

Exam­ple 10 – Nor­te­ño, m. 35–38 and 61–64 – trans­for­ma­tions of the theme

No. 4 – Mexicano

Manuel Pon­ce was one of the pio­neers of natio­na­lism in Mexi­co, and he favo­red Indian and mes­ti­zo forms. This move­ment is the sty­le of Manuel Ponce’s com­po­si­tions. The can­ción haba­ne­ra is one of the mes­ti­zo forms of Mexi­co. Can­cio­nes were not inten­ded to be dan­ced, and they requi­re an exten­si­ve use of ruba­to, a fea­tu­re that cha­rac­te­ri­zes the can­ción from other Mexi­can styles.

This haba­ne­ra is in D major, and the cha­rac­te­ris­tic haba­ne­ra rhythm is pre­sen­ted in the very first mea­su­re (exam­ple 11).

Exam­ple 11 – Mexi­cano, m. 1 – haba­ne­ra rhythm

The form is sim­ple, A (mea­su­res 1–10, exam­ple 1) A (11–19) B (19–28) A (29–38), and a short coda (38–42). Both melody and har­mony con­tain fre­quent chro­ma­ti­cisms, in a highly roman­tic style.

Exam­ple 12 – Mexi­cano, m. 2–6 – main A theme

No. 5 – Serrano

Serrano means from the sie­rra, low moun­tains, and in Argen­ti­na is usually used to refer to the cen­tral region of Cór­do­ba. This Serrano is a bai­le­ci­to, a dan­ce from Boli­via and the North of Argen­ti­na, which is also known in Cór­do­ba. It is one of the dan­ces with fixed form and cho­reo­graphy, fea­tu­ring zapa­teo (foot-stam­ping), hand­ker­chief-waving and other cir­cu­lar move­ments.  Com­po­si­tions that resem­ble the bai­le­ci­to but do not follow its exact form are called aire de bai­le­ci­to, and this is the case for this movement.

The form is Intro A B A B Coda (see table 1.) The Serrano starts with a slow intro­duc­tion (Tran­qui­lo), a com­mon fea­tu­re in bai­le­ci­tos. Then the bai­le­ci­to pro­per begins (sec­tion A), in the key of A minor. Bai­le­ci­tos can have a pen­ta­to­nic melody or they can use the bimo­dal sca­le. In this case the Dorian mode is used, which is rela­ted to the bimo­dal sca­le. The B sec­tion is in A major.

Intro A
aa bb a b
cc dd codetta
aa bb

Table 1 – Serrano - form

Exam­ple 13- Serrano, m. 1 – Introduction

Exam­ple 14 – Serrano, m. 8–13 – sec­tion A, the­me a

Exam­ple 15 – Serrano, m. 35–38 – sec­tion B, the­me c

No. 6 – Incaico

The Incas were the most deve­lo­ped nati­ve cul­tu­re in South Ame­ri­ca and had a strong impact in the who­le region. The Argen­ti­nean North­west did not esca­pe from this influen­ce. The Incas left more than ruins the­re, and their cul­tu­re is still felt, espe­cially in the music. Howe­ver, we do not know exactly how the music from the Incas soun­ded, becau­se after colo­ni­za­tion none of it has sur­vi­ved in its pure form, and this is also true for the Aztec and Maya cul­tu­res. Natio­na­lis­tic Latin Ame­ri­can com­po­sers from the 20th cen­tury have always fan­ta­si­zed about this, and have tried to ima­gi­ne how the music of nati­ve Ame­ri­cas was befo­re the con­quest. This is true for the music of com­po­sers like the Mexi­can Car­los Chá­vez, and was pro­bably what Lasa­la had in mind when he wro­te Incai­co.

This last move­ment, Incai­co (from the Incas), has some fea­tu­res com­mon to the music of Boli­via, Peru, and the Argen­ti­nean North­west. The move­ment a sty­li­zed taki­ra­ri, a dan­ce in 2/4.

Incai­co starts with a 10-mea­su­re intro­duc­tion deve­lo­ped from the tuning of the gui­tar. The first and last six notes in this intro­duc­tion are the open strings of the gui­tar, pla­yed sequen­tially at the begin­ning and as a chord at the end. A series of quar­tal chords, deri­ved, com­ple­te the intro­duc­tion (exam­ple 16).

Exam­ple 16 – Incai­co, mm. 1–10 – introduction

      After the intro­duc­tion, almost all the notes are deri­ved from the pen­ta­to­nic major or minor sca­les, with occa­sio­nal use of the Dorian mode. In the first sec­tion, the tex­tu­re is in two voi­ces for the most part, with the high voi­ce pro­cee­ding by quar­ter notes and eighth notes and the bass in six­teenth notes (exam­ple 17). The Dorian sca­le appears for the first time in mea­su­re 23 (F# in the high voi­ce, exam­ple 18), as part of a two-mea­su­re phra­se, which is repea­ted in mea­su­res 25–26. The pen­ta­to­nic sca­le con­ti­nues to pre­do­mi­na­te with occa­sio­nal appea­ran­ces of the Dorian mode. The open strings of the intro­duc­tion are embed­ded into the end of the first sec­tion to reach the first cli­max of the work, at mea­su­res 47–48.

Exam­ple 17 – Incai­co, m. 11 – Sec­tion A

Exam­ple 18 – Incai­co, mm. 23–24 – Dorian mode

The next sec­tion starts as the first, but soon departs to a monopho­nic tex­tu­re. Then this melo­dic line is joi­ned by the open 6th and 5th strings, which give the effect of a drum. The drum effect first appears every two mea­su­res, but it is soon pla­yed on every beat, with the melody in con­ti­nuous six­teenth notes (exam­ple 19). This ser­ves as an intro­duc­tion to the next sec­tion, whe­re the sca­le is sud­denly E pen­ta­to­nic major (exam­ple 20). The tex­tu­re remains more or less the same as in the pre­vious sec­tion, the high voi­ce in six­teenth notes and the bass—now not just a drum effect—in quar­ter notes. Even though the pen­ta­to­nic sono­rity pre­do­mi­na­tes, all seven notes of the E major sca­le and a bit of fun­ctio­nal har­mony are employed.

Exam­ple 19 – Incai­co, mm. 69–71 – drum effect

Exam­ple 20 – Incai­co, mm. 76–78

The major sec­tion ends, and the A sec­tion is pre­sen­ted again, now an octa­ve higher, but soon departs from the lite­ral repe­ti­tion, and from here until the end all notes come from the A pen­ta­to­nic minor sca­le. The sec­tion ends with a re-ela­bo­ra­tion of the intro­duc­tion, now inclu­ding har­mo­nics on open strings (exam­ple 21). The coda starts as a repeat of sec­tion A, ending with a fast run of six­teenth notes.

Exam­ple 21 – Incai­co, mm. 129–134 – har­mo­nics and re-ela­bo­ra­tion of the introduction


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______. “Bai­le­ci­to [bai­le­ci­to de tie­rra].” Stan­ley Sadie, edi­tor.  New Gro­ve Dic­tio­nary of Music and Musi­cians, second edi­tion.  New York: Gro­ve’s Dic­tio­na­ries, 2000.

Aha­ro­nián, Coriún. “Uru­guay. Tra­di­tio­nal and Popu­lar Music.”  Stan­ley Sadie, edi­tor.  New Gro­ve Dic­tio­nary of Music and Musi­cians, second edi­tion.  New York: Gro­ve’s Dic­tio­na­ries, 2000.

Béha­gue, Gerard and Irma Ruiz. “Argen­ti­na.”  Stan­ley Sadie, edi­tor.  New Gro­ve Dic­tio­nary of Music and Musi­cians, second edi­tion.  New York: Gro­ve’s Dic­tio­na­ries, 2000.

Stan­ford, E. Tho­mas. “Mexi­co, Uni­ted Sta­tes of (Sp. Esta­dos Uni­dos Mexi­ca­nos); II. Tra­di­tio­nal music; 2. Mes­ti­zo forms.” Stan­ley Sadie, edi­tor.  New Gro­ve Dic­tio­nary of Music and Musi­cians, second edi­tion.  New York: Gro­ve’s Dic­tio­na­ries, 2000.



Lasa­la, Ángel. Home­na­jes. Bue­nos Aires: Ricor­di Ame­ri­ca­na, 1955. Cata­log num­ber: 11160.