An Introduction To The Rite Of Spring

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An Introduction To The Rite Of Spring By Igor Stravinsky Essay, Research Paper An introduction to ‘The Rite of Spring’, by Igor Stravinsky The part I of the Rite of Spring starts with an “introduction”. The texture at the very beginning is extremely thin, and the only instrument in use is the bassoon, in an unusually high tessatura. The bassoon is soon joined by the Horn, and later, a pair of clarinets. This little wind ensemble creates an eerie feeling, and the fact that tempo rubato is employed makes the whole start very unstable, as if the ‘grand work’ has just had a bad kick-off. However, this cold start doesn’t last for long. Before soon as more instruments join in, more or less at random, the texture gets thicker and thicker. Each instrument has its own

theme, and they seem to come in regardless of each other, similar to the bird-songs that are heard too many times at dawn and shortly after. The strings do not join in until figure 4, and do not play a major part in the introduction. As the morning progresses, the orchestra gets busier and busier with ever twining melodies. At figure 9 the flutes flourish, but at figure 10 Stravinsky introduces 6 solo Double Basses and a Solo cello. This is where the strings start playing a major part in this movement. Though they could not be heard, when this is performed as an orchestral work the effects can be clearly seen. At figure 11 the orchestra has finished its initial eruption and almost all instruments have come in for the first time. The strange effect of glissando harmonics is

applied to the viola. However, none of these minute-details can in fact be heard, and the overall effect resembles that of the ‘Representation of Chaos’ from the Creation, though Haydn did not sacrifice the beauty of music when it is used to represent chaos. As the orchestra draws to a ‘climax’ just before figure 12, it sounds as if the sound is cut-off, and the eerie feeling returns as the bassoon takes its initial theme again, with the orchestra silenced. The difference, of course, is that this time the orchestra does not erupt and after a string bridge-passage the next movement greets us. Movement number 2 is known more commonly as the ‘Dance of the Young Girls’ because in a stage production literally 50 or more young girls will come on stage and dance to this

rather bizarre chugging noise. The core of the orchestration in this movement lies with the strings and the Horns: The initial chord being a polytonal superimposition of Eb 7 and F minor. The strings play with all down bows to create a heavy, plodding sound and the Horns do not play at the expected times. There are accented off beats everywhere. At figure 14 and various other points in this movement, the thick homophonic strings stop and our ear is taken by a sudden surge in bassoons and pizzicato cellos. Needless to say, they were all playing in different keys, too, with C major and E minor arpeggios all following each other. This thin sound lasts for four bars exactly before we are yet again plunged into the peasant-like loud chords. Typical of Stravinsky, as he liked quick

transposition between episodes so one never knows quite what one is expecting. At figure 15, a fanfare-like figure is introduced on the trumpets and it is passed around the full spectrum of the orchestra. The theme in the Cor Anglais consisting of an ostinato of quavers persists though to figure 18. While the Cor Anglais is playing, various instruments join in, creating almost a dialogue-like effect between the flutes and the rest of the orchestra, again with textures alternating between thin flute ensemble to the full orchestra with horns and brass. At figure 18, everything stops (like it usually does in Stravinsky) and the block-chords in the string section returns. The block chords now persist for a little longer and there are no thin-bassoon solos. Instead of having a break