This composition appears in Debussy´s first book of preludes. The beginning of the piece presents two important marks that may be studied. The first one suggests “quasi guitarra” (almost like a guitar). This way of playing imitates the common oscillation of two fingers attacking the string of the guitar.
A very similar texture may be found in several passages of Nights in the Spanish Gardens. However, Falla does not specify that he is, in fact, imitating a guitar player. Hence, it might be played aiming to that sonority.
The clearest example of this technique appears in bar 172 of Danza Lejana (score example 10), where Falla uses the same texture than Debusssy. However, at the third bar, the composer starts to add octaves in order to improve the crescendo effect. Despite it, the guitar inspiration is highly evident.
The second indication of La Sérénade Interrumpue expresses “comme en preludant”, (like a prelude). This is a very common way to start a song in cante jondo. The guitar starts with a rubato tempo that creates the ambient and sonority to the singer; then, he/she pronounce two or three notes that are used to warm up and feel the tonality. It is usually performed crying “Ay”. After it, the singer starts the lyrics of the song. An example of it may be listen in audio example 7.
Thus, after guitar introduction, in bar 32 of La Sérénade Interrumpue the style of cante jondo is again represented using a semitone motive. As it was said, this would usually be sung mellismatically, crying “Ay”.
The same concept is undoubtedly used by Manuel de Falla at the beginning of Nights in the Spanish Gardens (score example 1 from cante jondo chapter). In order to understand it, it is important to read a letter written by Falla in 1916 to the conductor Ernest Ansermet. On it, the composer gives some advices to accomplish the performance of the piece. Talking about the beginning of the piece, he states: