from the Aztec Ceremonial Calendar
Click on "play" on each of the players above to hear to hear two different parts of from the Aztec Ceremonial Calendar as performed by tenor John Goodman.
Instrumentation: tenor voice, alto flute, piano, 2 percussion
Year Composed: 1988
Duration: 20 minutes
Pages (score): 57
How to get it: Contact David Heuser directly
chimes, marimba, 2 timpani, bass drum, 2 sets of 4 tom-toms, timbales, bongos, tam-tam, 4 brake drums, suspended cymbal, 4 triangles, 5 temple blocks, maracas, glass wind chimes, metal wind chimes
From the Aztec Ceremonial Calendar was written between April and November 1988 for the tenor Jon Goodman. When I first came across the poem in the Summer of 1987, I was immediately attracted to its ritualistic and primordial characteristics. The poem relates the ceremonial aspects of each of the eighteen months of the Aztec Calendar, and then concludes with a list of lesser, movable feats which also occurred each year. In the course of writing this piece, I have used the monthly divisions of the text to make small formal divisions, and then groupings of months to make larger formal divisions. In all, the piece is a bit longer than twenty minutes.
Percussion instruments were, I felt, natural to this kind of ritualistic music (particularly in the locale the text originates from). I was not concerned with imitating ancient Aztec music (or perceptions of what that might be), but I still wished to invoke it, and often I used percussion to achieve this. The piano is mostly used as a tuned percussion instrument (which, of course, it is). The alto flute (chosen to be a bit closer to the tenor) is sometimes used percussively, but its main function is as the "other" melodic instrument, secondary, of course, to the tenor itself.
The text is originally from Book II of the Florentine Codex (used courtesy of the School of American Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico). The adaptation is from William Brandon, The Magic Word, © 1971.