Nana – Musical analysis, meaning, and lyrics

Last updated Aug 31, 2020 | Published on Dec 14, 2015

Winner of a fellowship at the Bayreuther Festspiele, Mr. Griglio’s conducting has been praised for his “energy” and “fine details”. Mr. Griglio took part in the first world recording of music by composer Irwin Bazelon and conducted several world premieres like "The song of Eddie", by Harold Farberman, a candidate for the Pulitzer Prize. Principal Conductor of International Opera Theater Philadelphia for four years, Mr.Griglio is also active as a composer. His first opera, Camille Claudel, debuted in 2013 to a great success of audience and critics. Mr. Griglio is presently working on an opera on Caravaggio and Music Director of Opera Odyssey.

Nana – an Andalusian lullaby

And then came Nana, one of the most beautiful lullabies ever written. Heard from the composer by his own mother when he was a child, Nana is an Andalusian song, as tender and soothing in the words as it is sad in the melody.

The piano sets of the cradling movement intertwining the rhythms between left and right hand:

Nana ex.1
Harmonically, the interesting thing here is use of the phrygian dominant scale…
E phrygian dominant
…alternated with the A minor natural scale throughout the piece. This shifting between the two scales creates a constant sense of unsettledness, accentuating the wandering movement of the cradle and, consequently, the piece does not end resolving on A minor, but floats in the air with a B natural and an E in the bass, the open fifth of the E scale.
Nana ex.2
The voice line adds melismas at the end of each phrase, thus stressing the Spanish musical idiom. Notice how the composer writes ‘mormorato’ for the voice: a whisper, to which a few bars later a diminuendo is added. The song begins pianissimo (pp) and ends even more piano (ppp), in a very linear A-A1 structure. Only the second time around there’s a small crescendo to a mf, but it is toned down immediately, gradually soothing the child into sleep and leaving the mother carrying the weight of her own fears.

Here’s the link to Conchita Supervia’s performance.


Duérmete, niño, duerme,
Duerme mi alma,
Duérmete, lucerito
De la mañana.
Nanintu nana

Sleep, child, sleep,
Sleep, my soul,
Sleep, little ray
Of morning light.
Lulla, lullaby

Here you can find all the articles related to the Siete canciones populares españolas:


Cover image by Lucas Craig from Pexels

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Gianmaria Griglio is an intelligent, exceptional musician. There is no question about his conducting abilities: he has exceptionally clear baton technique that allows him to articulate whatever decisions he has made about the music.

Harold Farberman

  1. Sam Keen

    This is probably my favorite of the seven second. Nice analysis too. Short but to the point

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