Missa Criola Inspiration: The Genesis of ‘Madness Rules’ (Part II)


Composer: Ariel Ramírez

With a few hours to myself today in Washington DC, and leading up to the release of the eighth audio demo (‘Madness Rules’) in about 10 days time, I thought I would share the inspiration for the last section of this song (which is in two parts).

A lot of early inspiration for how to make the song work came from Victor showing me a YouTube video of Ariel Ramírez’s stunning Missa Criola in performance.  I subsequently decided to use a small section of the text of the ‘Kyrie’ (Señor, ten piedad de nosotros: Lord Have Mercy) in a new musical setting for our Musical.  Actually, this was not all that easy, as Ramírez’s setting is highly evocative – and now you know why composers don’t like listening to other composers’ music a lot of the time!

Also, for those of you who know ‘The Mapmaker’s Opera’ novel well, this is one of only a handful of occasions where we have deviated from the original source material for the show’s particular dramatic needs, i.e., there is no direct reference to the henequen field-workers singing in any such Catholic mass setting in Béa Gonzalez’s narrative.

Originally, I was going to put this moment at the start of the scene but, as always happens in writing Musicals, over the period of developing ideas and the revision of those ideas, ‘bits’ get moved around.  In the final washup, the ‘Kyrie’ actually got used as an Epilogue to Nelson’s quasi-pop-operatic aria.  But without having set the ‘Kyrie’ first, I wouldn’t have known that it needed to come at the end of the scene.  More importantly still, it showed me where I needed to arrive at, and consequently gave me ideas on where and how to start the scence from a music vantage.

So, Ariel Ramírez’s Missa Criola has been very important to this project!  You can view a live performance of Ramírez’s setting here on YouTube as performed by Los Fronterizos.

‘Madness Rules’ due for release on 28 May.  Check back then to the Audio page on this web site.  We’ll also post it on Facebook when it is up.


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