original music

SMALL CHAMBER ENSEMBLES

O CURUPIRA

O CURUPIRA (2006)
For Percussion Quartet c. 10 mins.
Commissioned by the ETHOS PERCUSSION GROUP
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program notes:

Originated by native Brazilian Indians in the Amazon forest during the 16th century, the Curupira is one of Brazil’s most well-known folk tales. This legend narrates the story of Curupira: a spiritual entity who looks like a wild boy with pointed ears, red fiery eyes and hair. His most peculiar feature is that his feet are pointing backwards.  Curupira’s mission is to protect the forest from invaders, hunters or anyone with the intention of destroying it in any way. To accomplish this, he produces high pitched sounds to evoke fear among the predatory humans. He also has the power to create visual illusions by moving his body extremely fast, as well as use his feet to create fake footprints which prevent enemies to find their way out of the forest.

Commissioned by the ETHOS percussion group, this programmatic work “O Curupira,” narrates events that happen throughout a day in this creature’s life.  It is divided in four main titled sections: introduction (Awakening); exposition (Journey Through The Forest); development (Approach of The Enemies/Chasing Scene) and recapitulation (Curupira’s Triumph). Thematic and motivic material, as well as the overall harmonic design, are loosely based on native Brazilian rhythms including rich in intervals such as perfect fourths and fifths.

The introduction represents the awakening of the forest and all its creatures. Free of meter, this section presents bits of motivic and thematic materials that will unfold later on in the piece.  Very energetic in feel, the exposition reveals the main theme for the first time and it portrays Curupira’s journey through the forest, to make sure that all is in perfect harmony. The exposition ends in the moment when the creature realizes that enemies and danger lie ahead. It is also, when the development section begins.

According to the legend, Curupira watches his victims for a long time, before chasing them. The first part of the development section is slow in tempo and darker in mood. The approach of enemies is cleared marked by the sound of a siren call. Still in the development section, the chasing scene is rich in irregular rhythmic patterns and is completely free of melodic and harmonic material to create tension and a sensation of instability.  This section segues into the recapitulation Curupira’s Triumph where the main theme is reinstated; but this time, in a more dramatic way. This work is dedicated to the ETHOS percussion group, whose musicality and virtuosity deeply inspired me.