The title of this work comes from the Nahuatl (ancient aztec) word literally meaning “water that burns”. The maracas material throughout the piece is drawn from rhythmic patterns found in most Latin-American traditional music, namely those from the Caribbean, Mexico, Cuba, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela.
The composer envisioned a piece where the player could master short patterns and combine them with great virtuosity to construct larger and complex rhythmic structures. These could then be juxtaposed and set against analogous passages on tape, thus creating an intricate polyrhythmic web that would eventually disintegrate in smithereens, clearing the way for a traditional accompaniment style, immersed in a sound world reminiscent of the maracas’ habitual environment.
The piece was composed for Luis Julio Toro, who first performed it at the EMAS series in London in January 1984.
– Rubén Eduardo Bañuelos Preciado