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Comments about “Ojos brujos”:

Mis à jour : 18 févr. 2018

Listen to Ojos brujos: https://youtu.be/YHoRG1DCOAU


Here are the lyrics of the original song written for piano and voice by Gonzalo Roig:


Sorcerer eyes:

Desperately, I want to deliver me

Of two eyes I saw yesterday

Two sorcerer eyes

Who were staring at me

To fascinate myself

Always fixed on me

That’s why, when I look at them

My feeling is so strong

As if a sapphire sea

Was tearing off my soul and my heart.


Although the lyrics don’t appear in Brouwer’s guitar version of Ojos Brujos, we will see (and hear) how the emotion of the text is beautifully restored in his arrangement. That’s why, in red letters, quotes from the poem are related with some arranging techniques.

Here is the form of this guitar piece: AAB (measure 1 to 22 in A minor) and A’A’’B (23 to 44 in C minor and then A minor) and the coda on the A melody (45 to 48).


Measure 1 to 16: the A and A main melody desperately, I want to deliver me of two eyes I saw yesterday.

Measure 17 to 22: the B component two sorcerer eyes who were staring at me, to fascinate myself, always fixed on me

Measure 23 to 30: the climax A’ that’s why, when I look at them my feeling is so strong

Measure 31 to 38: A’’ as if a sapphire sea was tearing off my soul and my heart

Measure 39 to 44: B now it sounds like an element of regret after the A’ and A’’.


Now, let’s try to show how Léo Brouwer managed to modernize this Cuban folk song, and explain why this little guitar piece may be considered as a good answer to the main questions about art today: the questions of modernity, tradition, cultural identity, and emotion.

Maybe this section of the website will be boring for those who don’t know much about musical techniques (and finally even for those who know it well!). But there are so many efficient and instructive processes to be described in this piece.


Measures 1 to 16: part A and A

The first part begins immediately by the main melody, there is no introduction such as in the original piece for piano and voice composed by Gonzalo Roig.

If we look at the score, or we can also ear it, we notice that the main melody is divided into two parts of 4 measures (measures 1 to 4 and 5 to 8).


Measures 1 to 4: the antecedent

The melody: In the first measure, the melody begins with an upward A (la) melodic minor scale from A to A in which the F# (fa#) has been removed. As a result, this six notes pattern fits perfectly with the 6/8 ternary time measure.

From measure 2 to 4, the main musical speech stays around the note A (la), which is the tonic, the first degree of the main key A minor. We can also notice that the rhythm is slowing down from measure 2 to 4, so as to make us understand that the first part of the melody is ending.

Desperately, I want to deliver me: We couldn’t end the analysis of measure 1 to 4 without pointing out the great contrary movement between the soprano (melody) and the alto (the intermediate voice) in measure 1: while the melody is moving up the A minor melodic scale, the alto is following a chromatic downward movement from the tonic to the dominant (which could be called a line-cliché in other styles).

The bass: If we look at the bass now, we notice that it is a tonic pedal from measure 1 to 4 (so A, la).

The harmony: On the harmonic level, Brouwer uses several forms of the A (la) minor chord. For example, at measure 4, we can hear A – M6 (la, do, fa#). Note the interesting use of the natural and melodic minor scales in order to approach the A-M6 chord (measure 2, 3 and 4). Moreover, remark how Brouwer both uses the two scales, but also fourth and fifth voicings and a chromatic approach of the tritone of these voicings (measures 2, 3 and 4: fa, si, mi, and fa#, do, sol#)!

This antecedent ends with a one measure breath on the tonic chord of the A minor key.


Measures 5 to 8: the consequent

The melody: In contrast to measure 1, measure 5 is a downward movement. Moreover it uses thirds instead of seconds. From measures 6 to 8, melody stays around the dominant of A minor (E, mi).

The harmony: Unlike the first four measures, there are some “chords changes”: in the middle of measure 5, there is an arpeggio of GM over the A bass that leads to a CM7 chord in measure 6. Remark the use of Bb7 #11 in measure 7 (a substitute of the E7 chord) without its major third, and the FM chord which can play a subdominant role. In measure 8, the first chord may be understood as B-7b5 without the minor third, this chord could be a second degree of the A harmonic minor scale. Of course, this could also just be seen has an incomplete EM, or delayed dominant. At last, there is a short breath on the EM chord (the dominant chord).

The rhythm: measure 6 and 7: there is the same ambiguity as in measure 2 to 4 between a ternary (6/8) or binary (3/4) time. The bass follows a 6/8 measure, whereas the melody is on a 3/4 measure.

Measure 5 to 8: The melody follows the same rhythm as in measure 1 to 4.

Measures 9 to 16 are almost the repetition of measures 1 to 8. The use of the CM (do M) chord measure 12, which is the relative major of A minor, brings a new clearer color.

This consequent ends with a one measure breath on the dominant chord of the A minor key.


Measure 17 to 22: part B:

Two sorcerer eyes who were staring at me, to fascinate myself, always fixed on me

These 6 measures may be related to this part of the poem because of the hypnotic feeling emerging from the music. Looking at the melody, it can be divided in three parts of 2 measures: first measures 17 and 18 and then measures 19 and 20, 21 and 22 (which are based on the same melodic pattern).

Rhythm from measure 17 to 22: measure 17 and 18 may be played as 3/4 measures, whereas measures 19/20 and 20/21 alternate between first 6/8 and then 3/4.

The melody: Notice the use of the two approach notes B, D (si, ré) of the target note C (do), already heard in measure 2 (G#, B or sol#, si) with the target note A (la). The recurrence of this process brings cohesion to the music. During these 6 measures, it may be noted that the melody stays around a medium pitch register (in contrast to the first part). This choice contributes to the hypnotic feeling of this part.

Measures 19 to 22: It can be reduced to a downward melody from the dominant to the tonic, using two times the same pattern (E, D, C and then C, B, A).

The harmony: In measure 17 and 18, the bass plays a tonic pedal. The beautiful downward chromatic motion in measure 1 appears again with a more slowly rhythm. This movement of the intermediate voice from the tonic to the dominant makes us hear the different forms of the A minor chord again.

Measure 19 and 20: The end of measure 18 and the beginning of measure 19 may be in the C major key because of the B° and the CM7 chord. Remark that this time the Bb7#11 chord (already used in measure 7) is brought by a chromatic movement from the B-7b5 chord without third. This B-7b5 chord is brought itself by a stepwise motion from the CM chord. Notice that the Bb7 chord can play a double role: both the seventh degree of C natural minor key and the substitute of E7 in the A minor key(s).


How to explain the harmonic context of measure 20?

Two sorcerer eyes who were staring at me

At this moment, the music almost begins to be scaring. This sounds like a (nice) anomaly and must sound like this! But what is sure is that the first chord of this measure (D°) is both part of the Bb7#11 substitute chord and the E7b9 chord (indeed: ré, fa, lab and sib, ré, fa, lab and mi, sol#, si, ré, fa). But as the “Ab+M7” chord is not brought by a chromatic downward movement from the bass of the A- chord (as usual), maybe that’s why it is heard like an Ab+M7 chord. Moreover, maybe the AbM chord is preparing the C minor key that is coming in measure 23, since it is the sixth degree of the C natural minor key.

Measure 21 and 22: A nice chromatic motion between F#-7b5 (the sixth degree of the A melodic minor key) and F7#11 (the substitute of the dominant of the dominant of the A minor keys). Notice the melodic pedal of C, and remark that those two chords are without third.


Measures 23 to 30: the climax as if a sapphire sea was tearing off my soul and my heart

The main melodic pattern of the first measure is back, but this time it goes from A to G, and follow the C minor scales (first melodic and then natural). What is interesting is that Brouwer chose the C minor key instead of C major (the relative major key of A minor). The sound of C minor adds more dark and tragic feeling. As you can hear or see on the score, the main melody from measure 23 to 26 is not the exact transposition of measure 1 to 4, only the shape of the pattern is similar.

Measure 27 to 28: The melody (and also the intermediate voice in measure 27) is the exact transposition of measure five (but the accompaniment differs in measure 28).

Let’s have a look at the harmony.

Measure 23: In this 6/8 measure there is a G7 chord, dominant of C melodic minor key, and at the end of the measure it changes for a G- chord, fifth degree of the C natural minor key.

Measure 24: In this 3/4 time measure, there are first a GM chord (dominant of C minor) and then a Bb7 chord (seventh degree of C natural minor key). Maybe the last C and Ab (do and lab) of that measure belong to a AbM chord, since a Bb7, AbM and G- chords well-known progression would be formed.

Measures 25 and 26: This is the same remark as between measures 24 and 25, but this time we must hear the GM dominant chord rather than G-, so as to bring the great C natural minor downward motion in measure 27.

Measure 27 to 30:

It has been said that (the beginning) of measure 27 was the exact transposition of measure 5 in C minor. Measure 28: this Db7 chord is a substitute of G7b9, the dominant chord. But, as the first part must be played again in A minor (to keep coherence between a beginning in A minor, and an end in A minor too), this Db7 chord leads to a C7 chord (to have a natural E, mi, instead of C- and Eb, mib).

That’s how, and thanks to a B-7b5 chord at the end of measure 29, appears an E7 chord in measure 30. This one brings the first part again in the main tone A minor. But this time the main melody appears in the bass line!

Measures 30-31: There is a V th to VI th degree well-known and efficient progression that boosts again the interest of the music and the tragic feeling of it.

Measure 32: Note the beautiful E b9b5 chord which mix notes of E7 b9 and Bb7 (the dominant’s substitute). Notice that the natural fifth of E7 (the B, si) is written under the b5 (the Bb, sib) so as to avoid a b9 between Bb and B!


Measure 38 to 44: the B part again Two eyes I saw yesterday

Unlike the first B part, this one appears after the climax, and maybe this time sounds like an element of regret. The interesting and modern rhythmic “anomaly” in measure 42 (E, B, E, E) -which is a 4/4 time measure! - contributes, with the binary and ternary ambiguity of this music, to the tragedy and disintegration, like a hole in the time-space continuum.

After all, modernity in this piece can be compared to the Bela Bartok approach of arranging folk songs. Here it consists in:

Accidental or real chromatism (measure 1, 2, 3, 4, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 27 28, 29, 30)

Unusual uses of chords progressions (24-25, 21-22, 30-31, and the unexpected arpeggio of CM in 34, a tonic chord, which plays a dominant role!)

Incomplete chords (without the third: 6, 7, 8, 19, 21, 22, 28)

Hybrid chords, or mix of chords, or chords with tensions and fourth voicing (2, 3, 4, 7, 19)

Unusual use of chord inversion (measure 24, 25)

Unusual transposition of the main melody (C minor instead of C major, the usual major relative)

Unusual common chords between relative tones.

A change between ternary (6/8) and binary time (3/4): maybe a cultural feature from Cuban dances.

Moreover, there is a variety of types of texture: counterpoint between two voices over a pedal bass (measure 1), chords with a pedal bass (measure 2, 3, 4, 32, 33, 34), or one melody with one bass and an intermediate voice which plays chord notes or approach notes, and sometimes arpeggios (at the end of phrases).

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