ABSTRACT

Alberto Ginastera’s charming ‘Pequena danza’ is the third musical number of Scene 1 of his ballet Estancia Op. 8. Its music is heard once more, under the title ‘Danza final’, in Scene 5, preceding the dazzling ‘Malambo’ that closes the ballet. The composer also made an arrangement for solo piano that has become a regular part of that instrument’s repertoire. ‘Pequena danza’, like many works of Latin American art music that incorporate vernacular topics, confronts us with one of the challenges of topical analysis: how to disambiguate between potential topics in cases where their main characteristics have been highly abstracted. Art musics produced outside the European metropolis or the mainstream tradition are often referred to as “nationalisms”. In Latin American art music, a musical figure is identified as a vernacular topic when it exhibits a combination of typical features such as metre, characteristic rhythmic patterns, melodic profiles, phrasing, harmonic sequences, texture, dynamics, and/or patterns of accompaniment, among others.