Variations on an Afro-Cuban Lullaby (Drume Negrita)
for Imani Winds
(dur. 10 minutes)
World Premiere: January 27, 2012
Atlas PAC - Washington, DC
...its languid melody wanders through the personas of a hoedown and the dry ironies of a 1920s music-hall piece, then settles in the loosely groomed rhythmic clapping and rattle-shaking of an African dance.
- The Washington Post
The variations were more of a dream world than a lullaby, with irregular phrasings and winding dark alleyways.
- The Times Union Albany, NY
One of the most endearing melodies from Cuba, Drume Negrita was written in the 1920's by Cuban composer Eliseo Grenet. Throughout the years it has been arranged for numerous instrumental combinations and is especially popular in an adaptation for guitar by Leo Brouwer. The lullaby's lyric sets the scene of a mother trying too get her restless little girl to sleep. Although the melody is very soothing, the lyrics end on a rather dark tone with the mother threatening "If you don't sleep I will send the boogie-man to spank you". These variations capture the sensation of a constantly morphing state of dreaming. The melody, like a thread in time, gently weaves it's way from the mother's lips to the slumbering child's ear. There, in that half lucid state, it becomes a series of fanatical scenes (variations in this case). Written as one continuous movement, there are moments of joy, anxiousness, warming love and frenetic confusion. The boogie-man is constantly in pursuit, disrupting the placid melody with his cantankerous and impish high jinks. In the end, after a rather frenzied episode, the young child finally surrenders into a calm and blissful sleep, the boogie-man vanquished and the mother's voice trailing softly away...