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Sinfonía Índia

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Carlos Chávez

Carlos Chávez (arr. Frank Erickson)

Subtitle: Symphony No. 2

General Info

Year: 1935 / 1971
Duration: c. 11:50
Difficulty: IV+ (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: G. Schirmer
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $150.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00

For further availability information, see tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo I-II
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion (4 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Claves
  • Guiro
  • Indian Drum
  • Maracas
  • Rasping Stick
  • Rattle, metal
  • Rattle, soft
  • Rattling String
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tenor Drum
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The indigenous music of Mexico is a reality of contemporary life. It is not, as might be thought, a relic to satisfy mere curiosity on the part of intellectuals, or to supply more or less important data for ethnography. The indigenous art of Mexico is, in our day, the only living manifestations of the race which makes up approximately four-fifths of the country's racial stock.

The essential characteristics of this indigenous music have been able to resist four centuries of contact with European musical expressions. That is, while it is certain that contact with European art has produced in Mexico a mestizo (mixed) art in constant evolution, this has not meant the disappearance of pure indigenous art. This fact is an index to its strength.

The force of indigenous art is rooted in a series of essential conditions. It obeys a natural creative impulse of the individual toward an expression at once legitimate and free of affectation. In musical terms, the great expressive strength of indigenous art is rooted in its intrinsic variety, in the freedom and amplitude of its modes and scales, in the richness of its instrumental and sound elements, in the simplicity and purity of its instrumental and sound elements, and in the simplicity and purity of its melodies.

There is never, in this music, a morbid or degenerate feeling, never a negative attitude toward other men or nature as a whole. The music of America's immediate ancestors is the strong music of a man who constantly struggles and tries to dominate his surroundings. Imported manifestations opposed to the feeling of the music have been unable to destroy it because they have not succeeded in changing the ethical conditions of individuals.

- Program Note by composer

Sinfonía india is Carlos Chávez's Symphony No. 2, composed in 1935–36. In a single movement, its sections nevertheless follow the traditional pattern for a three-movement symphony. The title signifies the fact that the thematic material consists of three melodies originating from Native American tribes of northern Mexico. The symphony is Chávez's most popular composition.

The symphony is based on three Indian melodies (hence the title), which supply the ideas for what are in effect three movements, though they are played without a break. The composer regarded this as a condensation of the traditional three-movement variety of the symphony, in which a third theme takes on the function of a slow movement. This slow, third theme is supported by an austere succession of chords built from fourths. The three main themes are melodies from the Huicholes (or Cora) of Nayarit (the principal theme), the Yaquis of Sonora (the second and third themes), and the Seris of Tiburón Island in Baja California (theme of the finale), supplemented by secondary themes, some of which are also quoted from folklore.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Originally composed for orchestra, Sinfonía índia was masterfully transcribed for wind band by Frank Erickson. Both versions feature instruments that reflect Aztec heritage, such as high-pitched flutes and a large percussion section. Chávez includes a large number of indigenous Mexican instruments, for example the jícara de agua (half of a gourd inverted and partly submerged in a basin of water, struck with sticks), güiro, cascabeles (a pellet rattle), tenabari (a string of butterfly cocoons), a pair of teponaxiles, tlapanhnéhueil and grutian (string of deer hooves).

- Program Note from Kent Wind Ensemble concert program, 22 February 2018


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State Ratings

  • Louisiana: V
  • Tennessee: VI


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Works for Winds by This Composer