Los murmullitos - a miniature was created for a specific performance that occurred halfway through the composition process of Los murmullos (the full version). It remains available for performance for both practical and aesthetic reasons. The full version is quite difficult, loud, and a bit overwhelming! Los murmullitos is certainly challenging to perform, but at least it’s short. Plus it's nice to have a 4 min or so piano piece out there.
Aside from the length, the details about both pieces are the same. They are based on a highly influential yet little known (at least in the US) novel from the 1950s: Pedro Páramo, by the Mexican author Juan Rulfo. It is the surreal tale of a man’s return to the town in which his parents lived, long after that town has fallen into decay. Comala is now more heavily populated by the dead than the living, and exists in a blurred twilight realm in which such distinctions are meaningless. The descriptions of the environment are exceptionally vivid, often invoking the four elements to transition between the past and the present, and between the living and the dead. Sound is particularly important to the narrative. The original title of the novel was in fact Los murmullos, a reflection of the murmuring and whispering of the dead heard at various points throughout. Contrary to the gentle implications of the word, it is the intensity of these murmurs that overwhelms and suffocates the protagonist just over half way through the narrative.
My composition, for piano and electronics, shifts between four recurring material types, each inspired by one of the above-mentioned elements as described in the book. The electronics were generated using physical modeling software (IRCAM's Modalys). Keith, for whom the piece was written, had asked for something with a bit of noise – hopefully this does the trick.