On Writing “Las Flores del Encino”

On Writing “Las Flores del Encino”

electra--street-performing-las-flores

The conceptualization of “Las Flores del Encino” was a mix of artistic experimentation and my personal life. I was going through some hard times after a break-up and my mother recited “Si por haber estado enamorado” by Argentinian poet Francisco Ruiz Bernárdez to me. The impact was such that I still know the poem by heart and I wanted pay tribute to Bernárdez’s words.

electra-street-cristobal-and-teacherThe aesthetic choices, both in terms of harmonics and in terms of the score, came from artistic experimentation motivated by Dimitris Andrikopolous (my teacher and coach at the time). I had a limited amount of time to write the piece and I needed something simple but effective. Instead of imposing a rhythm and melody extracted by the words in the poetry, which would be the usual thing to do, I divided the poem into eight fragments and then came up with eight chords. Each chord would belong to one of the eight fragments of the poem, and the players, including the singers, would be free to choose which note of the chord to play and how to play it in each event. The conductor would freely choose when to move from event one to event two and so forth. Because there was no melody to the piece, it was important to look for something that would make the chords in each section more interesting in terms of “timbre color.” My teacher suggested that I experiment with harmonics, which produce very light, pure sounds. I followed his recommendation and included that element in the piece.

To drive the piece forward to a climax, I used dynamics and created a very basic arch that builds on a continuous crescendo to an apex and then slowly goes down to a resolution. Rather than trying to control all aspects of the piece, I provided the musicians with the necessary elements and allowed the piece to develop organically in performance.

As I reflect on it now, the piece was about letting go more than anything else. I had to let go of rhythm, harmony and melody, which are elements that I usually employ to impose my ideas into the music, and relinquish control over aspects of the piece. The piece became a lesson on how love should be treated: we can’t control its development or impose ourselves on it but must allow it to develop organically as well.

 

A recording of “Las Flores del Encino:”

 

“Las Flores del Encino” is the third piece of three-piece set titled “Three Miniatures of Love” or “Tres miniaturas de amor” in Spanish. The other two pieces will be recorded next year.

Cristóbal Martínez Yanes is a junior at NYU Abu Dhabi.

[Photos: Top: performing “Las Flores del Encino”; bottom: Cristobal and Dimitris Andrikopolous.]

MultiMex: Manifestations of Mexico

MultiMex: Manifestations of Mexico

PHOTO ESSAY

This photo essay explores the various manifestations of my Mexican identity. There are many stereotypes and assumptions that people have about Mexico, and my project attempts to visualize these stereotypes. The assumptions about Mexico that people have create masks through which others see me; in this project I wanted to transform and “fit” the masks that might be placed on me by others.

Mexico’s involvement in the drug war has made drug-related crime a widely spoken topic in the media. Sometimes, when I say I come from Mexico, people ask me about the drug situation, and I have to explain that the entire country is not drowning in violence and crime. Even though I don’t have a personal connection to the drug war, many people in my world do have a connection, a theme I portray in photo seven.

People also know Mexico because of the immigration problems that Mexico has with the United States. But not all Mexicans are immigrants. I portrayed myself as an immigrant to explore another image that might mask my identity, and that affects how people look at me, whether I like it or not (photos 2 & 3).

Other images in this series are not related to precise stereotypes but play with Mexican folk traditions and artwork. For example, the “calaca” or “catrina,” shown in photos 4 & 5, is a folk representation of death in Mexico used in celebrations like “Día de los Muertos” (“Day of the Dead.”) The artwork in photo 6 is typical of Mexican homes, created by a group of indigenous Mexican people, the Otomí. These are things, along with my family, seen in photo 1, that I associate not only with Mexican culture but also with personal memories of Mexico.

This photo essay is meant to show the way that I, as a Mexican, embody not only my own memories, but also the memories and experiences of my country.

1
I am Mexican because of my memories and my nuclear family in Mexico.

I am Mexican because of my memories and my nuclear family in Mexico.
2 & 3
The stories of Mexican immigrants to the United States, whether they directly affect me or not, form part of my Mexican identity.

The stories of Mexican immigrants to the United States, whether they directly affect me or not, ...

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4 & 5
I embody a “catrina” or “la calaca”. Even though foreigners think the “calaca” might be scary, it can be found in many Mexican homes, representing something that is actually a joyful celebration.

... it can be found in many Mexican homes, representing something that is actually a joyful celebration.

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6
An Otomí piece of artwork. The Otomís are indigenous people from the center of Mexico.

06-otomi
7
I am recreating a drug-related crime. Frequently, victims show signs of torture, and have a sign with some sort of message stabbed to their bodies. The sign in the photo says, “So you learn your lesson motherfuckers.”

07-drugs
8
In this picture my reflection is not my face but another face, with darker skin. This picture represents the assumption that all Mexicans have dark skin when, in fact, there are Mexicans with dark skin, and there are Mexicans with fair skin.

08-color

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