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"Learning and Teaching" pieces Arrangements for helping aspiring musicians learn to play from sheet music.

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Old 02-02-2018, 11:31 PM
rrayner rrayner is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 713
Default Bolero Duet

"Bolero" was written by Maurice Ravel in 1928. This orchestral work is one of my all-time favorites.

Well, this is a very ambitious project. For starters, trying to reduce this
monumental piece to just two voices is a challenge. But, my Queen Cynthia) loves the melodies, and therefore, the Court Musician (me) must do his best to please his Queen. Again, I had to break one of my rules, as this score is a full three pages long. As we play from the printed score, Cynthia had to fashion a big piece of cardboard (using clothespins) to go on the music stand to support all three pages.

This is, by necessity, a much-condensed version. In this arrangement, the concert key is D Major (originally C Major - changed to accommodate instrument range), and although there is no key signature change throughout, the tonality shifts frequently from D Major to G Minor and back again, as Ravel switches back and forth between the Major and Minor themes. There is not enough space in this condensed version to do all of Ravel's shifting. The more startling tonality change happens in measure 40, where it shifts to F# Major. Ravel also uses parts of a whole tone scale throughout, such as F#, E, D, C, Bb, etc. I have also included many of Ravel's accents and phrasing. There are a few confusing accents, like dash (tenuto) and dot (short) on the same notes. I assume Ravel's intention was to emphasize the attack on these notes.

I have tried my best to retain the character of the piece, using the Alto part to play the ostinato in the beginning. It can be a little boring to play, but it really sets the tone. Hopefully, your minds will carry that feeling into the two-part harmony that follows. Also, the ostinato in the Alto make it extremely difficult for the Soprano player to concentrate.

There is no question - this is a very advanced piece. It is complex, and there are a lot of sixteenth notes, but the tempo is slow, so the sixteenth notes aren't too terrible and there are a lot of it is scalar phrases. We do hope you love this piece as much as we do. The extra effort needed to master this piece is well worth the time. I think we will have to play the Soprano part in unison for quite a while to help to solidify the part.

Ralph Rayner
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