You are on page 1of 3

Matthew Rosenthal Manuel de Falla: Two Works of the Great Spanish Composer

Manuel de Falla, born in 1876, was one of the great contemporary composers of the 20th century. Hailing from Spain, de Falla is considered by many the “Spanish Debussy”; in his music can be heard the heavenly chord movements and dissonant tones that Debussy loved so much. There are so many wonderful pieces written by Manuel de Falla, but the purpose of this analysis, we will take a look at two of his works, “Homenaje pour Le Tombeau de Debussy,” and his great orchestral work, “Nights in the Gardens of Spain.” “Homenaje pour Le Tombeau de Debussy” is probably one of de Falla’s most enigmatic works, as well as a very artistically demanding piece. The translation of the title is “Homage for the Grave of Debussy,” and the piece unquestionably sounds the part. The piece was commissioned in 1920, two years after the great composer Claude Debussy died. Manuel de Falla worked on the piece originally for piano, but he worked with renowned guitarist Miguel Llobet to create a version for the guitar. The piece very much lends itself to the guitar’s Spanish sound. “Homenaje” opens with a minor 6th, to a perfect 5th ,and then back to a minor 6th: fa, mi, fa, which is a very heavy melody. One of the first things we notice is how many musical indications there are on the page. The first pick-up chord is piano and slurred into the first measure chord, which is arpeggiated from the bottom and is played forte. (Ex 1)

from the bottom up.Ex 1 The “X” over the two chords at the end of this first measure is an indication that de Falla wrote: “Le sons marques du signe x doivent etre accentues. d’apres les nuances.” which translated means that the chords with “x’s” above them should be played heavy. Ex 2 . et tres legerement retenus. the chord in the second measure is. The piece uses very Spanish sounding melodies and chords. a chord that is used a lot in Flamenco style playing. E-A-F-A-B-E. like the one in example 2. accentuated yet held back. For example. De Falla also uses a lot of minor second melodic lines.

however. sixteenth. “La. also masterfully crafted his triplet lines to incorporate the Habanera rhythm as well. like artificial harmonics. La Mi” outlines the triplet “version” of the Habanera rhythm. Sometimes we see the Habanera rhythm is a more traditional dotted eigth. and arpeggios. eight.“Homenaje” has a lot of idiomatic guitar techniques. Finally. This twisted use of the Habanera gives a lot of incite into Maneul de Falla’s idea of death. such as in the previous example 1. such as in example 3. piece. the use of the Habanera in such a heavy. string slurs. eight. we will look at the quote at the end of “Homenaje” from Debussy’s “Estampes: La Soiree de Granade. Ex 3 The bass melody. notation.” or “The Evening in Granada. fun. The Habanera is usually associated with joy.” . not death. his unwillingness to accept the loss of a great contemporary (Debussy). Another thing to notice is the “Habanera” rhythm that is present throughout the whole piece. Fa. Del Falla. and maybe even denial of death itself. life. solemn. It is quite interesting.