Maurice Ravel's Music Analysis

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Maurice Ravel alludes to music of the past and utilizes specific compositions as models for his own creations, however, this is not an aberrant undertaking; compositional borrowing is a practice as old as recorded music itself. Moreover, while the substance of Ravel’s references changes as according to his needs, he often links the models with his compositions through a reliance on original rhythmic patterns. Ultimately, the purpose of Ravel’s allusions are to reforge the older compositions in his contemporary style. Ravel utilizes Franz Schubert’s Valses nobles and Valses sentimentales as models for the composition Valses nobles et sentimentales, drawing heavily upon the rhythmic divisions within the original works. Clearly, despite strong…show more content…
Again, it is no coincidence that Ravel uses the same meter (6/8) as Couperin. By relying on this meter, Ravel was able to allude to one key rhythmic pattern which permeates his whole piece. Originally, the pattern appears in Couperin’s work on the second beat of measure 2 until the downbeat of measure 3 (eighth, dotted-eighth, sixteenth, eighth, quarter). In contrast, Ravel’s composition from the second beat of measure 4 to the downbeat of measure 5 extends the value of the final note, but otherwise the pattern remains the same. Nicholas Curry notes the importance of a smaller section within the identified rhythmic division (dotted-eighth, sixteenth, eighth figure) which he symbolizes as “β.” To be fair, this rhythmic combination clearly appears as early as the first measure in Ravel’s work and at multiple points outside of the excerpted section. Furthermore, Curry’s claim of β acting as an “anacrusis towards stronger beats” is not outside the realm of reason. Rhythm is an extremely important element to identify, nevertheless, the five-note fragment is an important connection which musically borrowed qualities extend beyond its rhythmic…show more content…
Couperin’s Forlane is a rondo; the first four measure phrase is repeated twice, creating the eight bar thematic material which returns intermittently in its original form throughout the work. Likewise, Ravel borrows this structure from Couperin. Within the first eight measures of Ravel’s Forlane, which can be split into two phrases of four, is the returning thematic material of his rondo. As such, to directly integrate Couperin’s original rhythm in a new composition, that which functionally was and continues to be a part of the main thematic area, Ravel establishes a deep-rooted connection between the two

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