Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bolero of Life

Bolero is pretty much Maurice Ravel's most famous and infamous piece. It's in 3, starts with a simple "1...5, 1...5" in the pizzicato bass, triplet patterns in the snare soon to follow. An innocent, long-phrased melody emerges, obviously one of the first lessons you learn about life. Clarinet repeats it, it's true. The harp embellishes the pizzicato backgrounds. We're here for you.

The bassoon provides an alternative viewpoint. It's true what they said before. But there's another reason it's true. Confused, we hear the clarinet in its upper octave. Yes, the bassoon was right. You just weren't ready to hear it before. Horns join the snare.

The oboe states the beginning theme. Remember this truth. Flute and trumpet take the second paragraph. It is the one truth. Trumpet, once the vessel of truth, joins the snare again.

Next is the alto sax, siding with the bassoon. Don't you forget the truth.

Yes, yes, we've heard this all before. Here comes the alto sax again with that same stupid melody...what? A piccolo above, harmonizing in perfect fourths? Flute in the middle...I see that we are now ready to embellish even more that one simple lesson from the beginning. Trombone enters with that second idea like a king, the king of your consciousness. Woodwinds agree as a chorus. They are loyal to their king. Don't you ever forget the words of your king.

Strings finally have something to say. It's what we've been thinking the entire time. They've tired of only serving as background to the ideas. It's time for their statement. And it only takes one phrase to deliver it embellished with harmony. In the distance, the trumpet agrees with that same contrasting view. The king sits in his throne and lets the court take over. A melody to live by.

The first true forte emerges. Percussion and brass abound. The king steps up and speaks to his loyal subjects. The world has never felt so right, but then my consciousness changes key and all is chaos.

I think when I die, Bolero will be in the background of my life's montage. I'm not sure what my single truth is, but it seems to keep coming back in different forms, fancier and louder each time.

1 comment:

Nonny Arie said...

I love this. I love the perspective you bring to this. And even though I'm not a music major it's like I can reach out and touch it, and almost understand. Beautiful! :D Now I'll have to go listen to it.