Stravinsky at the end of the intro builds

Stravinsky began writing for the Rite of Spring in 1910, when he was composing The Firebird for the impresario Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. The work subverted tradition, so people began a riot at the incendiary nature of the music. However, it was not just the shock of hearing the insurgent music or Nijinsky’s exotic choreography that prompted the riot that ensued in the theatre. The contemporary and avant-garde music uses an unusually large orchestration and Lithuanian folk melodies made of short motifs that were repeated and varied, contrasted against a dissonant harmony.In the introduction it is in free rhythm with, at the climax of the intro, polyrhythms, however – contrasting to this – there is sections of homorhythms such as figure 43 where all parts play together. At figure 15 there is an example of straight forward 2 against 3 cross-rhythms where the triplet quavers work against the pairs of quavers in string chords. Unusual time signatures such as 5/8, 2/8 and 4/8 are used near the end of the Ritual of Abduction. Syncopation is key and an example of this is in the Horn 4 and Contrabassoon figure 31. This is similar to Prokoviev’s Romeo and Juliet Montagu vs Capulet where the sweeping violin movement is characterized by its syncopations.Stravinsky uses impressionist ideas such as dissonance and the immobility of the harmonic progression. These can be seen in various composesrs before Stravinsky’s time. For example Debussy’s Et la Lune Descend Sur le Temple Qui Fut’ (1907) as being both discordant and harmonically static. Stravinsky uses a combination of multiple conflicting tonal elements, for example at figure 11 where the height of chaos at the end of the intro builds to a C7 broken chord motif in the violas with a Bassoon line contrasting with both E minor and E major harmonies. There is also a chromatic scale in the upper woodwind giving an atonal effect, even though most is produced by tonal means. However, Stravinsky also used many conventional chords in the Rite. More contrasting is used in the ‘les augures printaniers’ where and Eb7 chord (in the upper strings) is played simultaneously with an Fb major in the cello and basses. However by figure 14 the bassoons add an E minor chord to emphasize a sense of tonal confusion, while the cor anglais continues to outline the Eb7 while the cello changes to Fb – now noted as E. The folk music elements all contain modal opening bassoon melodies in an Aeolian (A to A) style.A number of the melodies were derived from Russian and other Eastern European folk song. The opening bassoon melody is from a piece in an anthology of Lithuanian folk songs, (the bassoon solo is like the one paired with the clarinet in Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet’s intro too). These melodies have a characterization of being used to sing at most occasions, namely work songs that would lead Lithuanians through daily tasks. Lithuanian folk songs are full of diminutives. Some songs are multipart and known as Sutartin?s. Hereunder is an example of Sutartin?, typically sung by four women in two pairs. Most songs would use meaningless words to create rhythm. Using this idea, Stravinsky bases this composition around a 4 note ostinato that is derived from a Lithuanian folk song. This embeds a structure into the musicwhilst also adding to its overall tone quality in keeping with its nationalistic qualities that 20th century Russian composers stereotypically embody. Stravinsky employs this by using such themes to outline his piece in characterizing it as a pounding pagan dance. For example the repeated down bows in the strings at figure 13 on double stopped chords symbolize a pagan ritual.In conclusion Stravinsky characterizes his piece by the traditional Lithuanian folk songs, whilst using their complex rhythm to help structure his music. He also used the new directional harmony to move away from tradition.

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