Los murmullos
(alternate version: Los murmullitos)

For piano and electronics



Performed by Keith Kirchoff

Los murmullos is 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 (Modalys). Keith, for whom the piece was written, had asked for something with a bit of noise – hopefully this does the trick.

The shorter version, Los murmullitos, was created for a specific performance that occurred halfway through the composition process. However it remains available for performance due to the technical difficulty of the full version of the piece. Los murmullitos is certainly challenging to perform, but at least it’s short!

Los murmullos was commissioned by Keith Kirchoff.