Theory of the deep song

Before the official opening of the registration of contestants on May 7, 1922, Manuel de Falla published in the Urania Printing House, although unsigned, a booklet entitled The Deep Song (Primitive Andalusian Songs) where he exposes his theory about the atavistic origin of the deep song and justifies the celebration of the contest. The composer dates it back to other secular traditions coming from the East, especially the Hindu.

Cover of Manuel de Falla's lecture on the Deep Song contest.
Cover of Manuel de Falla’s lecture on the Deep Song contest.

Primitivism and Orientalism were the cultural currents on which Falla based his theory of the “deep”. In the booklet, the musician acknowledges the supposed influence of the “music of our people” on contemporary composers from other nations such as Russia (Rimsky-Korsakov, Aleksandr Borodin, Mili Balákirev and, of course, Mikhail Glinka, who visited Granada and other Spanish cities between 1845 and 1847) or France, with Claude Debussy as the standard-bearer. The visit to Spain of Diaghilev’s and Massine’s Ballets Russes expanded and qualified this hypothesis.

In the case of Falla, the influence of deep song began from Bewitched Love (1914-1915) and continued in his later works, such as the Concerto, the Baetic Fantasy (1919) or Master Peter’s Puppet Show.

Inside cover of Manuel de Falla's lecture on the Deep Song contest.
Inside cover of Manuel de Falla’s lecture on the Deep Song contest.