Guernica is dedicated to the victims of the massacre in Guernica and all the Spanish civil war. Each movement is based off a character of Pablo Picasso's famous, "Guernica" painting. The first movement, The Bull, is a depiction of the Spanish people. While the 17/8 pattern (divided into a 7/8 and a 10/8 here) is drawn from traditional Indian rhythms, it fits perfectly as a feeling of excitement while also giving it a feeling of unsettledness. The Indian rhythm, or Iqa'at, used here is known as Khūsh Rank.
The second movement, A Mother Mourns Her Child, uses several effects throughout the quartet in order to portray the sheer emotional pain of a mother holding her dead child in her arms. The sounds at the beginning of the piece in the violins represent the child's last screams. At the end of the movement, the cello sinks to its lowest register, while the violin ascends to its highest register to represent the child being torn from its mother as its soul rises towards heaven.
The third movement, The War Horse, represents war itself and its ugliness. The powerful rhythms and forward pushing momentum are like a machine of war that does not stop for anything in its path. The final chord is played repeatedly as it forces itself to be heard by the audience.
The final movement, The Fallen Soldier, represents the figure being trampled by the horse in Picasso's painting. It is intended to be a direct response to The War Horse and leaves the listener with a feeling of remorse toward the cruelty of war.
Guernica - Score and Parts (Hard Copy)
Score: 8.5 X 11
Parts: 10 X 13