Works > Tzolkin


Mayan Calendar
Written in:
percussion (1 player: 5 temple bells (G,Bb, F#,A,C), triangle, wind chimes (metal or glass), 5 temple blocks, bongos, 2 different size cuspended cymbals, 2 different sized tam-tams, log drum, 2 congas, 2 low drums, bass drum)
Commisioned by

Commissioned by the Richard Attenborough Centre and by Alonso Mendoza, to whom it is dedicated.


Premiered in March 2003 at the Richard Attenborough Centre in Leicester by Alonso Mendoza.

Programme Note

TZOLKIN was conceived mostly as a ritualistic piece. It was written as a response to Alonso Mendoza request of writing a piece for a concert that would have a theme about All Saints Day and the day of the Death in Mexico.

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It consists mostly of two large sections: the opening has a meditative character that leads onto a ritualistic section.

TZOLKIN was written based on different time cycles from different cultures. Firstly, the beginning of the piece is based on rhythmic cycles of 13 beats, which repeat before beginning a process of transformation. This corresponds to the way the Mayas of ancient Mexico used to measure time. The title of the piece makes reference to this ritualistic calendar of 260 days, comprising 13 numbers and 20 different names represented in glyphs. On the other hand the number 13 is also part of the fibonacci series, which structures the transition that leads on to the second section of the piece. This is built mostly on rhythmic cycles, which cadential impulse is based on ideas inspired on the music of Northern India.