Music Mondays: El Grito

Contentious Centrist writes:

In the art of poetry, silence is usually a fraction of a void, an emptiness, a pause, between words that sound and resound. And for some poets, the silence can only be contrasted by a great scream of emotion or anguish or joy.

Lorca was such a poet.

None understand better the meaning of the cry (“el grito”) — the scream, the howl, that is punctuated by short, stylized silences — than the Spaniards, with their Flamenco, their duende, and the immensity of feeling they funnel through their poetry and music.

“Not unlike the guitar, in fact, the voice of the cantator is considered an instrument of the cry, the cry that dares to break the silence, just as the hands are an instrument to break the stillness, and the feet. ”

The Cry

The ellipse of a cry
echoes from mountain
to mountain.

From the olive trees
a black rainbow
veils the blue night.

Ay!

Like the bow of a viola
the cry vibrates long strings
of wind.

(Translated by Ralph Angel)

There are two different choral settings of El Grito, one by Argentinian composer Maria de los Angeles cuca Esteves (here) and one by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara (below). To be honest, I don’t much like either one. Although they do use silence and are powerfully unsettling, they lack duende. Would you agree?

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