SATB chorus | 3 mins.
setting of a text by Eduardo Galeano
First performed by La Cantoria de la Merced, 5 August 2011, Puerto Madryn, Argentina
Eduardo Galeano has made an evocative encapsulation of a story from Kadiweu mythology about the origin of the colors of birds. This particular story is full of talking animals and the blood of a martyred child, yet I am drawn to the magical realism of myths like this one. From our vantage point in an age of science, I am in awe of the thousands of stories which sought to explain the mysteries of our world.
The music enhances the mystery, wandering without a true key center for the entire piece. It is a consonant world full of fourths and fifths, and the harmony often finds a pocket of tonality before skating off again, searching elsewhere. The piece finally comes to rest on E-flat, but even then there are extra notes, casting shadows. Nothing truly resolved, nothing truly explained.
Eran blancas las plumas de los párajos y blanca la piel de los animales.
Azules son, ahora, los que bañaron en un lago donde no desembocaba ningún río, ni ningún río nacía. Rojos, los que se sumergieron en el lago de la sangre derramada por un niño de la tribu kadiueu. Tienen el color de la tierra los que se revolcaron en el barro, y el de la ceniza los que buscaron calor en los fogones apagados. Verdes son los que frotaron sus cuerpos en el follaje y blancos los que se quedaron quietos.
White were once the feathers of birds, and white the skin of animals.
Blue now are those that bathed in a lake into which no river emptied and from which none was born. Red, those that dipped in the lake of blood shed by a child of the Kadiueu tribe. Earthen, those that rolled in the mud, and ashen those that sought warmth in extinguished campfires. Green, those that rubbed their bodies in the foliage. White, those that stayed still.
Words excerpted from MEMORY OF FIRE: GENESIS by Eduardo Galeano. Copyright © 1982 by Eduardo Galeano. Translation copyright © 1985 by Cedric Belfrage. Published by Nation Books, and in Spanish by Siglo XXI Editores, México. By permission of Susan Bergholz Literary Services, New York, NY and Lamy, NM. All rights reserved.