Reinterpretations of the Son: Versions of Guillén's Motivos de son by Grenet, García Caturla, and Roldán

This paper analyzes and compares the reinterpretations of the Cuban son by Nicolás Guillén in Motivos de son and their settings by Eliseo and Emilio Grenet, Alejandro García Caturla, and Amadeo Roldán. Their distinct interpretations reflect the composers' divergent conceptions of the Afrocubanismo movement of the 1920s and 30s. For the Grenets, Afrocubanismo was an exotic style to be incorporated into popular songs for the theater and the salon; their catchy melodies in Cuban rhythms camouflage the bitterness of Guillén's text. For Caturla, Afrocubanismo was a blend of modernism and respect for Afrocuban folklore; his "Bito Manué" features vocal patterns and rhythms more in keeping with the music of santería than the son, along with text setting and harmonies that defied conventions. Roldán set texts naturally and mixed modern harmonies with the form, texture, and polyrhythms of the son, thereby paying homage to this genre.