Sones de México is a Chicago-based ensemble that is inspired by traditional Mexican and Mayan rhythms and percussion instruments, along with serialism and progressive rock. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to recording, performing, and teaching Mexico’s traditional music culture. Nearly reaching two decades, Sones de México has done a wide-range of things which include covering songs by Woody Guthrie and Led Zeppelin using traditional Mexican instruments among other things. Part of their trajectory includes working with Chinese artists as part of Yoyo Ma’s Silk Road Project, joining Garrison Keilor on A Prairie Home Companion, and teaching algebra to public school children through a clever method that uses traditional Mexican music composition.
The new single by Sones de México, “13 B’ak’tun,” revolves around the idea that December 21, 2012, widely known to be a potential doomsday, is not the end of the world but instead marks the beginning of a new era. The date marks the end of one of the cycles of the Mayan calendar or a b’ak’tun, which is approximately 394 solar years. Apart from sparking lots of celebrations in the Mayan communities across the Americas, this turning point is the inspiration for this composition by Sones de México. It uses Mayan instruments and Mexican traditional melodies, but puts them together using innovative techniques such as the groups exploration of using robotic lighting, black lights, haze, fluorescence and other stage effects to accent the transitional, eerie, yet joyful vibe of this watershed moment.
The single, composed by co-founder Juan Dies, begins with 13 counts of silence to honor zero and the creation. It also revolves around 13 notes of which the distance from the highest and lowest note, are 13 degrees apart on the music scale. Dies describes the theme as being “13 by 13.” The theme is divided into three motifs, which are used throughout the song. Along with that, the piece is divided in 14 parts, one for each b’ak’tun and one to honor zero. For a more in depth explanation of the math involved behind Sones de México’s new single “13 B’ak’tun,“ watch the following video Dies made where he talks about the piece’s unique and intricate structure.
The single will be released Dec. 21. For more information visit their website online at www.sonesdemexico.com.