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The Blues and Three Composers:

An Analysis of Blues Compositions of Copland, Gershwin and Ravel

by

Elliot Sneider

A Research Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment


of the Requirements for the Degree
Doctor of Musical Arts

Approved November 2013 by the


Graduate Supervisory Committee:

Rodney Rogers, Chair


James DeMars
Glenn Hackbarth
Theodore Solis

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY


December 2013
ABSTRACT

This paper will present analyses of musical compositions by George Gershwin,

Aaron Copland and Maurice Ravel from the 1920s which contain direct and specific

references to the style of music known as the blues: Gershwins Three Preludes for

Piano: Prelude I and Prelude II; Coplands Two Pieces for Violin and Piano:

Nocturne; and Ravels Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano: II Blues. The analyses will

highlight the ways in which these composers used particular aspects of the blues to

advise decisions on form, harmony, melodic content, and rhythm.

To develop a context for the analyses, this paper will define constraints of the

blues as it was understood as an art form in the 1920s, using available recordings, sheet

music, and scholarship from the era. The blues in the 1920s contained highly chromatic

melodic content, emphasized tonal ambiguity and was closely connected to its poetic and

emotional textual foundation. Composers searching for non-Western musical influences

as well as ways to avert traditional tonality found both in the blues, which had a presence

in sheet music, audio recordings, and even scholarly writing by the 1920s.

The analyses show that these composers incorporated different elements of

chromaticism and tonal ambiguities from the blues into their compositions. Gershwin

stayed the most true to blues-form, but used chromatic freedom in inner voices, which

can be seen as a motivation for his harmonic motion. Copland used many elements of the

blues but favored two harmonic sonorities in particular in the Nocturne as well as in

his other blues-influenced works. Ravel also favored particular blues sonorities, but

additionally used a combination of the blues form and the classical sonata form to create

a musical synthesis different from either Gershwin or Copland.

ii
DEDICATION

I dedicate this paper to the endless encouragement from my incredible family.

Unwaveringly supporting me every day has been my wife, Nicole, without whom I could

have never accomplished this goal. Offering all of the motivation I ever needed has been

my daughter, Dylan, who was six weeks old when I began the DMA process and moved to

Arizona from New York City. Mom, Dad, Howie, Gwen, Grandma, Nana, Darlene and

Ann have all understood the difficulties we have assumed in this return to academia and

have believed in this decision every step of the way. Finally, I dedicate this to my

grandfather Harold Red Bryan, who would have been enormously proud of my

accomplishment.

iii
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank my committee members, in particular Dr. Rodney Rogers

for his patient reassurance and detailed guidance through the dissertation process; Dr.

James DeMars for encouraging me as a composer/pianist, giving me the confidence to

write a concerto, and providing insightful feedback on the piece and the research paper;

Dr. Ted Solis for the education on the history and philosophy of ethnomusicology, which

has been indispensible to my current understanding of music; and Dr. Glenn Hackbarth

for his steady, positive feedback and advice.

Additionally I would like to acknowledge the influence of Hankus Netsky, who

taught me a respect for music of all types, and exemplifies the performer/scholar I hope

to become. I have been blessed with a number of additional compositions teachers who

have encouraged me to explore the different facets of my musical personality while also

imbibing me in the tradition of classical composition: Michael Gandolfi, Marc Antonio-

Consoli, Roshanne Etezady; as well as teachers in the jazz idiom that taught me the

constraints and ultimately the great freedom inherent in jazz and blues music: Beth

Seperak, Bevan Manson, Danilo Perez, Paul Bley, and Nanette Natal. I would like to

thank Dr. Kay Norton and Dr. Larry Starr for providing meaningful feedback on my

blues research. I would be remiss to not mention the influence of composer Andrew

Waggoner, who is an inspiration for his dedication to improvisation and its role in

modern classical performance and composition, and who once gave me two cassette

tapes that changed my life, one containing Charlie Parkers combo recordings and one

containing Miles Davis In A Silent Way. Last but not least I would like to acknowledge

the influence of my first piano teacher, Richard Smernoff, who for 10 years successfully

parried my desire to play blues and jazz with encouragement in my interpretations of

Beethoven and Chopin.

iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................... vii

LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................................ viii

PREFACE ............................................................................................................................. x

The Impetus and Purpose of the Study ....................................................... x

Pre-1930s Blues Sources ............................................................................. xi

Three Composers ...................................................................................... xiii

Concerning a Definition of the Blues ......................................................... xv

CHAPTER

1 THE BLUES IN THE 1920s ........................................................................................ 1

Blues Form, The Origins ............................................................................... 1

Separating Blues Harmony and Blues Melody............................................ 4

Blues Conclusion .......................................................................................... 9

2 GERSHWIN'S BLUES ............................................................................................. 10

Gershwin and the Blues ............................................................................. 10

Gershwins Musical Education ................................................................... 11

Gershwins Harmony and the Flat-7 .......................................................... 12

The Three Preludes ..................................................................................... 13

Analysis: Prelude I ...................................................................................... 15

Analysis: Prelude II .....................................................................................18

Gershwin Conclusion .................................................................................. 21

3 COPLAND'S BLUES ................................................................................................ 23

Blue Aaron.................................................................................................. 23

Copland and Jazz ....................................................................................... 25

v
CHAPTER Page

Analysis: Nocturne ..................................................................................... 26

Copland Conclusion ................................................................................... 35

4 RAVEL'S BLUES ...................................................................................................... 38

Ravel, When Jazz? ..................................................................................... 38

Sonata Background .................................................................................... 40

The Blues in Blues .................................................................................... 41

Analysis: II. Blues ...................................................................................... 42

Ravel Conclusion........................................................................................ 55

5 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................... 57

REFERENCES .................................................................................................................... 60

APPENDIX

A TRANSCRIPTION OF AVALON BLUES BY MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT ....... 65

B SURVEY OF SONGS ENDING ON THE CLICHD DOMINANT CHORD ..... 67

C PERMISSION FOR GERSHWIN REPRINTING ................................................. 69

D PERMISSION FOR COPLAND REPRINTING ..................................................... 71

E PERMISSION FOR RAVEL REPRINTING ......................................................... 73

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................................................................................ 76

vi
LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

1. Blues Form Based On Three Lines Of Text ................................................................... 2

2. Description of Flat-7 Resolutions in Early Blues ......................................................... 7

3. Sonata for Violin and Piano II Blues, Chart of Sonata Form ................................. 43

vii
LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

1. The chromatic blues scale in C .................................................................................. 6

2. Secondary-Dominant function .................................................................................... 7

3. Passing or neighbor tone function ............................................................................... 7

4. Ger+6 resolution examples .......................................................................................... 7

5. How Gershwin harmonized flat-7 to avoid the tritone ............................................... 13

6. Prelude I mm. 1-3 .................................................................................................... 15

8. Prelude I mm. 28-30 ................................................................................................ 16

9. Prelude I mm. 60-62. ............................................................................................... 17

11. Prelude II Analysis of m. 1 ...................................................................................... 19

12. Prelude II, Pitches making up chromatic inner-voice motion, mm. 1-14 ............. 19

13. Prelude II Aggregate of mm. 59-60 ........................................................................ 21

14. A major triad with the major triad one half-step below (e.g. C/B) ......................... 28

15. A major triad with the major triad one whole-step above (e.g. D/C) ...................... 28

16. C chromatic blues scale, contains triads C, D, B ...................................................... 28

17. Avalon Blues Transcription, m. 1 (See Appendix A) ................................................ 29

18. Nocturne mm. 1-3 .................................................................................................. 30

19. Nocturne A section, mm. 3-23, harmonic reduction ........................................... 30

20. Ab chromatic blues scale, contains triads Ab, Bb and G .......................................... 31

21. Ab/G to be interpreted as an Ab blues. ..................................................................... 31

22. Nocturne violin part (mm. 5-17) ........................................................................... 32

23. Nocturne mm. 16-19 .............................................................................................. 33

24. Nocturne mm. 24-29 ............................................................................................. 34

25. Nocturne mm. 39-42, call and response ............................................................... 35

viii
27. Sonate pour Violin and Violoncelle, mm. 1-7 .......................................................... 39

28. Sonate pour Violin and Violoncelle, mm. 1-5 rewritten. ........................................ 39

29. Ab chromatic blues scale (contains Ab7 and G7) .................................................... 44

30. II Blues Blues Motive 1, as in m. 8 ........................................................................ 44

31. II Blues mm. 11-14 ................................................................................................. 44

32. II Blues reduction of harmony mm. 12-26, piano only ........................................ 45

33. II Blues mm. 25-27 ................................................................................................ 46

34. II Blues mm. 43-46 ............................................................................................... 46

35. II Blues mm. 51-53 ................................................................................................ 47

36. II Blues m. 53, notes without rhythm, juxtaposition of G and Gb7 ..................... 47

37. II Blues mm. 54-57 ................................................................................................ 48

38. II Blues mm. 64-75, reduction .............................................................................. 48

39. D-Lydian flat-7 ......................................................................................................... 49

40. II Blues 3 Over 4 rhythm, mm. 71-74 ................................................................... 49

41. II Blues m. 78, development of the rhythm from Blues Motive I ......................... 50

42. II Blues mm. 81-93, two superimposed blues ....................................................... 51

43. II Blues mm. 95-106, blues progression in G ....................................................... 52

44. II Blues mm. 106-110, end of development .......................................................... 53

45. II Blues m. 121, combination of Blues Motive 1 and violin pizzicato ................... 54

46. II Blues mm. 137-end ............................................................................................ 55

ix
PREFACE

The Impetus and Purpose of the Study

The 1920s were a singular time in history. Aaron Copland, while in his eighties,

says of those years:

Of course the twenties are famous! No other decade rivals their appeal.
The sheer glamour of the period exerts a magic spell. The word modern
was exciting. The air was charged with talk of new tendencies, and the
password was originalityanything was possible (Copland/Perlis, 55).

American Studies scholar Susan Currell says that no other music has defined a decade

so definitively as jazz in the 1920s (73). Currell points out that jazz was the focal point of

the generation, and represented, as rock-and-roll did in the 1960s, an outlet for the

counter-culture. She notes that jazz represented a conscious and subconscious cultural

front that exposed and reformulated prevailing cultural and social hypocrisy (73).

Coinciding with the rise of jazz was the popularization of the blues. While jazz

expressed a communal exuberance and energy, its musical cousin, the blues, expressed

the sorrow and alienation of the outcast (Currell 72). The blues is a difficult musical

style to define, both inside and outside of academia. One reason for this difficulty is that

the blues as a musical style contains complex ambiguities. For instance, it is both

intimately related to and often described as an element of jazz, but it is also a distinctly

separate style of music with its own iconic performances, performers, and social

expectations. Its poetry and sentiments contain a connection to ideas of poverty and

personal struggle, but has also generated extreme wealth for record companies and some

performers. Musically the blues also thrives on ambiguities, melodically containing an

complex of chromaticism and tonal ambiguity, but harmonically built off of a simple

three-chord structure.

x
It is interesting to consider that the blues was popularized at a time in history

when composers of art music were actively exploring ways to escape from tonality,

abandoning traditional plans and forms, searching for dissonant chord structures and

looking to incorporate exotic external elements. Composers such as Bartok and

Stravinsky looked to folk music to generate melodic and harmonic material, while

simultaneously increasing dissonance in their chord structures. Still others, in particular

French and American composers, began to incorporate rhythms, melodic material, and

harmonic content from jazz music into their works. This action accomplished the goal of

incorporating a non-Western musical style, and also emphasized different formal

structures.

The composers of the Second Viennese School represent the extreme of the

movement away from tonality. Schoenberg wrote that since 1906-8 he had been

writing compositions which led to the abandonment of tonality (437). His students

expanded his ideas and continued on this path. Consider the following quote from

Schoenbergs student Anton Webern, writing in the 1930s: for the last quarter of a

century major and minor have no longer existed! Only most people still do not know

(433). In performances of blues (particularly those with vocals and instruments capable

of playing microtonal increments), major and minor qualities were sometimes

completely obscured. The blues contains references to a mix of major and minor, and the

chromatic implications of such a mix; composers who explored the use of blues elements

in their music found that it provided both a non-European sound as well as a chromatic

and potentially tonally ambiguous foundation for melodic and harmonic material. In this

paper I will discuss many of the complexities and ambiguities of the blues, and will show

that these three composersGershwin, Copland, and Ravelwere each uniquely

influenced by the complexities of the blues to generate their compositions.

xi
Pre-1930s Blues Sources

Many of the authors cited in this paper have written definitions of the blues

which delineate standard harmony, melody and forms of the genre. In order to support

this scholarship without duplicating it, and since the blues has changed radically over

time (both in performance and in conception), I will specifically look at ways the blues

was understood in the 1920s, and will provide a definition of the blues as such. Primary

sources were used whenever possibly for determining this definition. This paper relies

heavily upon W. C. Handys Blues: An Anthology, published in 1926.1 It contains

Handys compositions from as early as 1912, blues sheet music from other composers,

and Handys notation of songs he credits for influencing the development of the blues.

The book also contains an introduction by Abbe Niles, which represents one of the first

scholarly documents tracing the history and development of the blues. Karl Koenigs

Jazz In Print (1856-1929): An Anthology Of Selected Early Readings In Jazz History

has also been a useful compendium of sources for this paper. For aural sources, a wide

variety of recorded blues is available, including recordings of W. C. Handys band, the

great recordings of Bessie Smith and other famous blues singers on the 1920s, as well as

recordings of more obscure blues artists recorded by Alan Lomax and others.2

This study will avoid the extensive research on popular applications of the blues

from the 1930s to the present, including rhythm & blues, rock & roll, and jazz blues.

However, by understanding what the blues represented in the early decades of recorded

sound, applications can be made to these other studies. It is important to note that any

1 Republished as A Treasury of the Blues in 1949.

2 All recordings discussed in this paper are listed in the References.


xii
broad definition of the blues is inherently overlooking variation based on geographical

region. Blues historians will speak of the differences between Chicago blues, New York

blues, and Delta blues to name a few. The music surveyed for this paper represents

artists from all over the continental United States. In addition this study will not discuss

the term or importance of swing in blues. As swing is a performance practice, and this

is a theoretical paper, it is not entirely applicable. In addition, swing can be a divisive

term, praised by its practitioners (it dont mean a thing if it aint got it)3 and demeaned

by its antagonists. Regardless of whether or not it is an integral element of blues, there

are some excellent dissertations and books written on the subject.4

Three Composers

The relevance of Copland, Gershwin and Ravel is threefold. First, they remain

several of the most influential and performed composers of their respective eras. Second,

they specifically engaged the blues, either by naming pieces Blues (Copland and Ravel)

or using Blue in the titles of various pieces (Gershwin). Thirdly, all three wrote blues

inspired pieces between the years 1926-7, providing a convenient boundary for this

study. The constraints of blues in this era will be relevant to each, even though each

composer understandably had his own experience and relationship to the blues. By

looking at the ways these composers used blues complexities and ambiguities in their

music, we can gain insight into techniques for incorporating popular music styles in art

music compositions.

3A reference to the Duke Ellington song It Dont Mean a Thing if it Aint Got That
Swing.

4For example: Kenneth John Morrison, "A Polymetric Interpretation of the Swing
Impulse: Rhythmic Stratification in Jazz" (PhD diss., University of Washington, 1999).

xiii
The pieces analyzed in this paper represent different milestones in the

composers careers. George Gershwin wrote Three Preludes for Piano: Prelude I and

Prelude II in the two years following the success of Rhapsody in Blue, 1925-6.

Gershwin was making a serious attempt at defining an American classical music using

the language of jazz, and continued to write music of this style until his premature death

in 1937. Coplands Two Pieces for Violin and Piano: Nocturne was written in 1926.

Although this piece was one of many written by Copland using a synthesis of jazz and

classical music, he abandoned jazz elements as part of his musical style at the end of the

1920s (albeit revisiting it in a few substantial pieces throughout the rest of his long

career). Ravel published Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano: II Blues in 1927, near the

end of his career, and jazz elements figured heavily into many of his later pieces,

including his two piano concertos composed in the early 1930s.

Concerning George Gershwin, many scholars have done an enormous amount of

research regarding his biography and his use of jazz elements in his music. However,

lacking is a cogent discussion of the blues elements in his music in relation to the blues

of the era. Coming closest is Susan Neimoyer, who discusses the blues influence on

Rhapsody in Blue (1925) in her thorough dissertation, however she focuses on the formal

influence of the blues, does not connect the blues to Gershwins use of chromaticism, nor

does define the blues as it was understood in 1925.5

Regarding Aaron Copland, Leo Philip Fishman in his dissertation Theoretical

Issues and Presumptions in the Early Music of Aaron Copland correctly points out the

lack of scholarship and analysis for Coplands pre-1930s compositions. Fishman

develops some scholarship on the blues influence in Music for the Theater (1925) and

5Susan Ethel Neimoyer, Rhapsody in Blue: A Culmination of George Gershwin's Early


Musical Education. (PhD diss., University of Washington, 2003).
xiv
Symphonic Ode (1929). However, Fishman never connects the chromaticism in the

works to the blues scale, and in effect distances dissonance from the blues.

Although many scholars have written about Ravels use of jazz elements,

particularly in his late pieces of the 1930s, I did not find an in-depth analysis of the

Blues movement of Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano, and did not find any analysis

of the connection to blues dissonance and ambiguities.

Concerning a Definition of the Blues

In order to present a definition of the blues as it was understood in the 1920s,

multiple sources have been considered for this paper, including sheet music, recordings,

and anecdotal evidence created before, during, or soon after this period. Originally an

oral music, practiced before the invention of recording, the first written blues were

published in 1912, including the song The Memphis Blues by W.C. Handy (Davis 1995,

57).6 In 1926, jazz scholar Henry O. Osgood said of Handy: Probably no musician has

ever so genuinely and entirely fathered any single form in music as Handy the blues

(494). Due to the available publications from W.C. Handy, including sheet music,

recordings, and scholarship, I have relied heavily on his documents in forming the

definition of the blues referenced throughout this paper (as mentioned above).

However, Osgood also points out that defining the blues can often end up only

describing what he calls the blue clichs. He specifies the elements he is referring to:

the blue note (flatted third of the scale,) the twelve measure refrain and a harmonic

pattern which is restrictive and monotonous (495). One goal of this paper is look

6According to Francis Davis, the first copyrighted blues was Dallas Blues by Hart
Wand, a white Oklahoma violinist and bandleader, and the second was Baby Seal
Blues, copyrighted by black vaudeville performer Arthur Baby Seals and the ragtime
pianist Arthur Matthews (Davis 1995, 57).
xv
beyond the blue clichs to point out the complexities and ambiguities in the blues.

Simply looking to The Memphis Blues or other documents by W.C. Handy could

potentially lead to a clichd definition. In fact, many blues musicians believe that W.C.

Handys blues do not contain an important element of the blues, that which is linked to

the emotional aspect of the blues. In an interview from 1942, the great blues guitarist T-

Bone Walker takes issue with Handys 1914 composition St. Louis Blues, by all

accounts a landmark piece in the history of the blues:

Now, you take a piece like St. Louis Blues. Thats a pretty tune and it has
kind of a bluesy tone, but thats not the blues. You cant dress up the bluesIm
not saying that St. Louis Blues isnt fine music, you understand. But it just isnt
the blues. (Gayer, 24)

Even record executives in the 1920s tried to define the difference between true blues and

faux blues, demonstrated by an article in Metronome magazine from 1923, discussing

the eagerness of record companies to distinguish recordings from inferior compositions

on the market labeled blues (Quality, 260).

It is relevant then to look at ways poets and musicians have described the

emotional characteristics of the blues. Langston Hughes, in his poem The Weary Blues,

wrote of the blues as a drowsy syncopated tune and a sad raggy tunewith a

melancholy tone. Al Young, Poet Laureate emeritus of California, provides a timeless

definition: Blues truth is wild and menacingdramatically unpredictable, sometimes

torturous and sometimes pleasurablethe blues defy and accommodate all takers and

givers (Young, 2-3). Author Paul Garon writes: The dynamic interrelationship of

projected gratification and actual frustration is the key to the essence of the blues

(Garon, 58)7. A guitarist, talking about the blues in a Clarksdale, Mississippi barbershop

in 1960, sums up the idea that the blues is more than a chord progression, saying: The

7 Garon is known for both his writings on the blues as well as writings on surrealism.
xvi
blueswhen you want to sing them, you caint (sic) sing them; and when you dont want

to sing them, why, you got to sing them (Oliver 1965, 2).

However, it is not only poets and musicians who write about the blues from a

non-musical point of view. Even in music scholarship, writers often begin their

explanation of the blues by discussing the emotional meaning. For instance, Grove Music

Online begins the definition of Blues with: blues refers to a state of minda

condition of melancholy or depressionit is generally understood that a blues performer

sings or plays to rid himself of the blues. Music journalist Ralph Gleason writes: If

jazz is America's classical music, then the blues is the folk music of jazza feeling and a

form. It is singular and plural at will and it is the story of a man and his troubles in life,

his personal story (Gleason 1975, 17). Paul Oliver writes the blues is both a state of

mind and a music which gives voice to itthe wail of the forsakenthe personal emotion

of the individual finding through music a vehicle for self-expression (Oliver 1969, 3).

Jennifer Ryan in her article Beale Street Blues? Tourism, Musical Labor, and the

Fetishization of Poverty in Blues Discourse, argues that although it is often a part of

discussions of the blues, considerations of authenticity can lead to assumptions and

stereotyping. She points to a common belief of Memphis tourists that the blues

musicians playing in the Beale Street bars do not represent authentic blues music,

because they are (among other things) too well paid and clean-cut. Although she

successfully challenges these assumptions, and shows that it is a dangerous academic

pursuit to judge the authenticity of a blues, it is worth exploring the possibility that the

blues of the well-educated W.C. Handy was not the same as that being played by the

outlier in the 1920s.

The case Hart et al. v. Graham provides a relevant anecdote concerning the

difficulty of defining the blues. On October 17th, 1917, New York music publisher Leo

xvii
Feist attempted to get an injunction to keep Chicago music publisher Roger Graham

from publishing the sheet music for Original Dixieland Jazz Bands Livery Stable Blues,

which Feist had published that same year with the title Barnyard Blues. The case

focused on the similarities of the transcriptions, citing many expert witnesses who

unanimously found the songs to be similar (Maskell, 2). However, Graham argued the

song was simply the bands performance of a blues, and was inherently formulaic, and

thus a set of non-protectable ideas (Maskell, 4). Judge Carpenter, needing to

understand the formula being referenced, turned to an expert witness, a ragtime

pianist named Professor James Slap White, and asked Just what are the blues?

White answered matter-of-factly: Blues are blues, thats what the blues are (Blues are

Blues, 121). This answer was evidently clear enough for Judge Carpenter, who

ultimately ruled in favor of Graham, that the blues is not copyrightable.

xviii
CHAPTER 1

THE BLUES IN THE 1920s

Blues Form, The Origins

W. C. Handy related the story that in 1903 he was travelling through Tutwiler,

Mississippi when he heard a growling guitarist who, while playing guitar with the side of

a knife, sang a single line of lyric three times (Niles, 12). Handy claims to have never

heard anything like it before, and credits the sound as the origin of the blues. As he says,

the guitarist sang Goin where the Southern cross the Dog [3 times]accompanying

himself on the guitar with the weirdest music I had ever heard (Oliver 1969, 26). Abby

Niles posits that the blues originated from a person singing the same short line of text

three times, each time with a different emphasis, lending a progressive meaning to the

words despite the exact repetition. His example in his introduction to W.C. Handys

Blues: An Anthology:

Gwine take morphine an die,


Gwine take morphine an die,
Gwine take morphine an die. (2)

Niles says that this form evolved, and soon singers were repeating the first line and then

adding a new third line, as a kind of punch line:

Dont want no man puttin sugar in my tea,


Dont want no man puttin sugar in my tea,
Cause Im evil, fraid he might poison me. (2)

Niles traces this formula to a song called Joe Turner Blues, sung all over the South

about a Tennessee governors brother who was in charge of leading prisoners to the

Nashville penitentiary (32-33):

Dey tell me Joe Turners come an goneO, Lawdy!


Tell me Joe Turners come an goneO, Lawdy!
Got my manangone. (33)

1
Langston Hughes wrote the poem The Weary Blues in 1923, and published it in his first

book of poetry, also called The Weary Blues, in 1926. In the poem, about a piano player

in Harlem, Hughes demonstrates the blues by writing out the lines being sung by a

singer playing an old piano and thumping his foot on the floor:

I got the Weary Blues


And I cant be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And cant be satisfied
I aint happy no mo
And I wish that I had died.8

Without any musical accompaniment, the reader can recognize that the lines are from a

blues, due to the three lines of text where the first line is repeated and the last line is an

answer to the first two lines.

From these three lines of text came the basic blues form, four measures of music

for each line of text, resulting in the twelve measures, or bars, of the 12-bar blues. The

following table demonstrates the simplest version of the blues, diagramed based on the

lines of text:

Table 1. Blues Form Based On Three Lines Of Text


TEXT HARMONY MEASURES
First Line I 1-4
(Got the Weary Blues and cant be satisfied)
Second Line IV-I 5-8
(Got the Weary Blues and cant be satisfied)
Third Line V-I 9-12
(I aint happy no mo, and I wish that I had died)

W. C. Handys most famous blues songs as printed in his collection feature the 12-bar

refrain, including The Memphis Blues (1912), St. Louis Blues (1914), The Jogo

Blues (1913), Yellow Dog Blues (1914), and many others. Although The Long Lost

Blues (1914) by J. Paul Wyer, and Spencer Williams Basin Street Blues (1928) contain

16-bar blues, an overwhelming number of the sheet music in Handys collection contain

8Quotation marks and formatting of this excerpt are as the poem was originally
published.
2
the 12-bar form. Additionally, many (if not most) of the first recorded blues also

contained the 12-bar refrain, such as Crazy Blues (1920) by Bessie Smith and Livery

Stable Blues (1917) as recorded by The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, often credited as

the first-ever jazz recording (Crawford, 567). C. C. & O. Blues by Pink Anderson And

Simmie Dooley, recorded in 1928, is an interesting blues in which the initial line is

repeated three times instead of two, resulting in a 16-bar blues.

Henry Osgood points out in his 1926 review of Handys Blues: An Anthology that

the twelve measure refrain had already become one of the blue clichs, as evidence

from the sheet music and popular blues recordings mentioned above (495). However, in

addition to the blues notated by composers like W. C. Handy and those sung by famous

blues singers like Bessie Smith, blues music existed in a third form, one performed in

bars and corner stores, sung on street corners, played in parlors and on front porches,

unaffected by record company greed or erudite interpretation. Langston Hughes, in his

1926 essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, praises the low-down folks, the

so-called common element, and says: jazz is their child. Listening to available

recordings of artists who recorded minimally (unfettered by the record companies or

entertainment industry) shows it is very likely that early blues musicians stretched

measures, added beats, and extended turnarounds in the same way hillbilly country

singers and untrained folk singers did. The result was a deviation from the typical twelve

bar form. For example, the first line might have five bars of music, the second seven and

a half, and the third nine, resulting in a twenty-one-and-a-half-bar blues. The Bristol

Sessions recordings made by Ralph Peer in 1927 contain examples of this effect. Blues

(Fragment) by Blind Pete & Partner, on Alan Lomaxs Mississippi Blues & Gospel 1934

1942 is a blues with a profusion of uneven measures. Charley Pattons 34 Blues is

another example of this practice. Guitarist Robert Johnson, an itinerant musician who

3
first recorded in 1936, demonstrated dramatic variations on the 12-bar blues in his

recordings, despite keeping the three-line blues poetic form. For instance, in Johnsons

famous Cross Road Blues recorded in 1936, the first verse is stretched to around fifteen

measures.

Listening to the recordings of Mississippi John Hurt, born in 1895 in Teoc,

Mississippi, and known as a songster (Oliver 1969, 22) who played both ballads and

blues, can also give great insight into this technique as applied to blues. Hurt recorded

one album in the 1920s, and did not record again until 1963 (Ratcliffe, 120-73). He

became something of a folk legend when he was rediscovered in the 1960s, and his

musical influence reached countless musicians, including Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and

guitarist John Fahey. Hurts recording Avalon Blues from 1928 demonstrates a blues

that does not conform to the traditional twelve-bars. The blues form in the song contains

three lines of text and hints at the three typical tonal centers, but only contains ten

measures, and some of the measures contain five beats. My transcription of the first

verse can be seen in Appendix A.9 However, even in the blues of Mississippi John Hurt,

Robert Johnson, and others, the idea of three lines of textwith relatively equal numbers

of measures associated to each lineis present. Although blues musicians did not always

play twelve-bar blues, their blues always contain some relationship to three sections,

which are often similar in size.

Separating Blues Harmony And Blues Melody

When analyzing classical music, students of traditional theory are taught to look

at the harmonic material created by the horizontal movement of distinct voices to

9The first two measures are an introduction and should not be included when counting
measures.
4
determine the harmonic analysis. Consider the following statement from a popular

music theory textbook: Melodies and harmonies are totally interdependent. Harmonies

result from several horizontal lines sounding together (Roig-Francoli, 55). However, as

opposed to being developed from vocal polyphony, the blues developed out of field-

hollers and other types of solitary a capella singing.10 The harmonic component of blues

did not develop simultaneously with the melodic component, nor did it develop as a

result of horizontal melodies following counterpoint rules. Instead, the harmony was

added by accompanists, either the singer him/herself or by an additional

instrumentalist. The chords the accompanist played were not created from the melody,

but meant to accompany the poetic form of the text. In this way, the harmony developed

vertically, independent from the melody. Therefore, in order to apply a traditional

theoretical model of analysis, it must be taken into account that the melody and harmony

should be analyzed separately when possible.

Blues Melody And Blue Notes

A musician singing a poetic form with exact repetition in the words needs to find

ways to create contrast. One way in which blues performers played with expectations and

created contrast was by the inclusion of blue notes.11 Abbe Niles points out the

tendency of blues singers to slur or worry the third of the scale, causing an ambiguity

between the major and minor (Niles, 14). For instance, the third might be sung a little

flat of natural on the first line, and then a little sharp of flat on the second line, lending

subtly different meaning to the repeated text. The seventh of the scale is also often said

10 See Titon 1994, 21; others.

11Blue note is a concept used in nearly all scholarly discussions of the blues. For more
information, see the fascinating research by Gerhard Kubik, Paul Oliver and others into
the relationship of blue notes to specific African sources.

5
to be a blue note. A blues singer would sing either the natural seventh or flat seventh or

somewhere between the two interchangeably for emotional effect or affect. Jeff Todd

Titon and others have shown, through numerous transcriptions, how blue notes are

created by vocal inflections and bending to delineate phrases and contrasting sections

(Titon 1994).12

By combining these blue notes on the third and seventh of each tonal center (I-

IV-V) in traditional notation, the result is a heavily chromatic scale containing eleven

pitches. The only scale degree not present is flat-2. To distinguish this scale from other

descriptions of a blues scale, I will call this the chromatic blues scale (see Figure 4).

Figure 1. The chromatic blues scale in C

Supporting the ambiguity of the chromatic blues scale is the fact that blues singers and

instrumentalists use slurring or glissandos to fill in chromatic space between pitches.

The worry of the third and seventh scale-degrees was a result of microtonal pitch

changes, such as singing in-between the well-tempered scale degrees b3 and 3 or b7 and

7. Although early blues singers did not always use all eleven pitches of the chromatic

blues scale or always slur between them, these pitches were fair game, and can be found

throughout melodic content.

Blues Harmony and the Flat-7

The addition of the flat-7 of the scale or chord in any of the three key areas is a

common occurrence in blues sheet music and recordings from the beginning of blues

through present day. Some blues theorists have asserted that this prevalence of the flat-7

12See also: AnneMarie Cordeiro, Geeshie Wiley: An Exploration of Enigmatic


Virtuosity (masters thesis, Arizona State University, 2011).
6
proves that the blues contains the flat-7 as part of the tonic chord, thus making it

distinctly different from European classical music, which would never have a flat-7 as

part of a tonic chord (Ripani, 21). However, by looking at harmony and melody as two

distinct entities, it is clear that in blues prior to 1930, the appearance of the flat-7 in the

accompaniment was in general used to generate harmonic movement. In a majority of

early blues, the harmony would typically begin and proceed triadically, and when a

dominant chord appeared in the harmony, it would generally resolve in one of the

following ways:13

Table 2. Description of Flat-7 Resolutions in Early Blues


Description Example
The flat-7 is introduced a
measure or so before the Figure 2. Secondary-Dominant function
appearance of the IV chord,
resulting in the I chord
becoming a V7/IV, which then
resolves to the IV chord. This
function of the flat-7 is in line
with the way dominant chords W.C. Handy, St. Louis Blues (1914), mm. 52-53. In Blues: An
are used in classical theory, as a Anthology, 74.
secondary-dominant function.

Figure 3. Passing or neighbor tone function


The flat-7 introduced as a
passing or neighbor tone,
resolving down to scale degree 6,
similar to the secondary
dominant function but with
more of a linear identity or
function. W.C. Handy, Yellow Dog Blues (1914), mm. 1-3. In Blues: An
Anthology, 75.

One of the notes of the tritone Figure 4. Ger+6 resolution examples


resolves up one half-step,
functioning in a similar fashion
to a Ger+6 chord, a kind of
blues +6 function. This is most
often found in the movement

13I referenced blues recordings and sheet music in particular from the years 1908 (the
year of publication of W.C. Handys Memphis Blues) through 1927 (the publication of
George Gershwins Three Preludes for Piano).
7
from IV7-I (i.e. in the key of G,
C7-G)

The blues ending where the harmonic instrument ends the song with a dominant

chord built on the tonic challenges the notion of the tonic not containing the flat-7.

However, this endingused indiscriminately in todays blues recordingswas not as

common during the early years of blues recordings. In fact, of the 107 tracks on the

Columbia Records compilation Various Artists Roots 'N' Blues/The Retrospective

1925-1950 only eighteen of the songs end with the flat-7 in the final chord, around 17% of

the tracks.14 Of those songs recorded in the 1920s, only three out of thirty-five, or less

than 8%, end on a dominant chord. Although this ending has become a modern day

blues clich, I did not find evidence that it was such in the era being discussed in this

paper.

That said, it is apparent that the dominant seventh chord built on the tonic was a

potential ending for blues songs and compositions. In fact, despite rarely appearing in

recordings or sheet music, a jazz instructional book from 1927 contains numerous

examples of jazz endings, a majority of which end on the dominant-7th chord (Shefte, 7,

10, 13, 16, etc.). Rather than saying the flat-7 is part of a resolved tonic chord, a better

explanation is to say that it emphasizes the un-resolved, cyclical quality of the blues. It is

a statement that the blues song, rather than being a progression from un-resolved to

resolved, could continue indefinitely. In other words, singing, playing, or writing the

blues isnt about resolving the blue feeling, but about living in it and expressing it. This is

14This conclusion was reached after listening to a large number of blues recordings from
the early twentieth century; see Appendix 2.

8
a different idea from the classical expectation of resolution, and much closer to

Schoenberg and other modernists ideas abandoning tonality.

Blues Conclusion

While the blues in the 1920s included many ambiguous elements, and at its heart

was colloquially attached to a mood or emotional feeling rather than a musical style,

musicians clearly referenced a core idea of the blues whether they were recording,

writing textbooks, or integrating the blues into their own personal styles of music. This

core idea included: a form related to a three-line poetic stanza, which would come to a

conclusion and then repeat again (cyclical motion); melodic content that functioned

independently from the harmonic content and made use of blues notes between the

notes of the equal tempered scales; a resulting eleven-note scale, including the major-

and minor-third, the sharp-four, flat- and natural-six, and both the minor- and major-

seventh of a key; three distinct key areas (I, IV and V); a harmonic tendency toward the

flat-7, or dominant seventh chords, used primarily to lead to the next key center and

rarely serving as a stopping point except foroccasionallyat the end of a piece.

The above guidelines will contribute to a blues analysis of the compositions by

Gershwin, Copland and Ravel. Each composer used the inherent ambiguities in the blues

to develop melodic and harmonic ideas, and engaged the blues form as a template for

experimentation. The composers found ways to incorporate the blues into their own

compositional styles while adhering to various core principals of the blues.

9
CHAPTER 2

GERSHWIN'S BLUES

Gershwin and the Blues

George Gershwin was born in 1898, twenty-five years after W.C. Handy, and one

year before Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin was published. He was born in Brooklyn,

NY, and his family was not especially musical. However, he came of age during the post-

ragtime popularization of blues, and was exactly twenty years old at the end of World

War I, the beginning of the Jazz Age. Although George Gershwins music is most often

discussed in its relation to jazz music, he personally had a complicated relationship with

the word. Although he used the word jazz often to describe his influences and fight for its

legitimacy he also wrote about his dislike of the word jazz, saying: The word has been

used for so many different things that it has ceased to have any definite meaning (July

1926, 13).

Gershwins connection to the blues was far from superficial. He recorded his first

blues song, Oscar Gardiners Chinese Blues, in 1916, very early in the history of

recorded blues (Pollack 2006, 55). Gershwin also had a personal relationship with W.C.

Handy. They knew each other both socially and professionally, with Gershwin even

presenting Handy a signed copy of the solo version of Rhapsody in Blue in 1926 (Pollack

2006, 55). Handys music also directly effected Georges writing, in particular in

Rhapsody in Blue. Henry Levine, who personally had contact with Gershwin, wrote an

article about the influence of W.C. Handys association with Gershwin on Rhapsody In

Blue and provides analysis of certain sections to show the blues influence. With the help

of musical examples, as well as authority from his personal connection to both Gershwin

and Handy, Levine states matter-of-factly that Gershwin intentionally used Handys

10
music, particularly St. Louis Blues, to motivate the themes, rhythms, and melodic

treatment in Rhapsody in Blue (Levine, 12).15

By using the word blue in the title of Rhapsody In Blue where typically it would

be a key (such as Rhapsody in C) Gershwin references the many musical and non-

musical meanings of the word blue. The idea for the title was inspired not by music,

but by visual art. Georges brother Ira suggested it, after viewing paintings by James

Abbott McNeil Whistler at New Yorks Metropolitan Museum of Art (Furia, 44). Ira was

likely inspired by the painting Nocturne: Blue and Silver Chelsea, from a series of

Nocturne paintings by the artist. In suggesting the title Rhapsody in Blue, Ira was

consciously playing with the meaning of the word blue, which at that time1924

implied a color, an emotion, and the blues.

Gershwins Musical Education

Gershwin, still beloved in the world of popular music today, remains a

controversial figure in scholarship. Most articles or dissertations concerning Gershwins

works contain at least some mention of the fact that his music has been derided by both

classical composers and by jazz musicians as being inauthentic.16 Neither the New

Grove Dictionary of Jazz nor the Encyclopedia of the Blues include articles on George

Gershwin, and classical musicians still argue to this day about whether or not he was a

gifted classical composer, or just a talented tunesmith.17 He is inarguably both inexorably

linked and inconspicuously rejected from these musical styles.

15In particular Levine outlines motivic and rhythmic relationships, with one mention of
harmony concerning the chords created by the flat-7.

16 Voelker, Neimoyer, Starr, others.

17 See Bernstein 1955: 293-300.


11
However, Gershwin did have serious training in classical European harmony and

counterpoint. Susan Neimoyers dissertation is perhaps the most in-depth analysis of

Gershwins theory training, incorporating her assertion, supported by ample evidence,

that Gershwin was not the unschooled genius he was often portrayed as (Neimoyer, 4).

She shows that though Gershwin himself helped to perpetuate the myth that he was a

self-taught composer, he actually had years of theory study with Edward Kilenyi, Sr.,

who introduced Gershwin to traditions of classical voice leading and harmonic

principals, including concepts of secondary dominants, tendency tones, and altered

chords. Additionally, Kilenyi was a modernist, and one of the first to attempt an English

translation of Schoenbergs 1914 treatise Harmonielehere. In Kilenyis autobiography he

says that he vigilantly taught Gershwin about Schoenbergs concept of Stufenreichtum

which can be translated as chromaticism, or the richest possible usage of scale

degrees (Neimoyer, 88). After detailing this relationship, Neimoyer goes in depth into

the blues influence on Rhapsody in Blue, however relating Gershwins use of

chromaticism to the Stufenreichtum connection rather than the chromaticism inherent

in the blues (Neimoyer, 87-99).

Gershwins Harmony and the Flat-7

As we have seen, blues musicians generally used the flat-7 or dominant 7th chords

to move between specific key areas. Analysis of Gershwins musical output shows that he

generally used the flat-7 in this manner as well. However, it seems as if Gershwins

conception of the flat-7 developed over time. For instance, the song I'll Build A Stairway

to Paradise (1922) is an oft-mentioned piece when discussing Gershwins bluesiest

music. In the song, Gershwin treats the seventh as a non-dissonance, and as part of the

tonic chord, striking it harmonically and melodically throughout the chorus without

12
resolution. Another song that does not resolve the flat-7 is Sweet and Lowdown (1925).

Interestingly however, in a piano roll version played by Gershwin in 1926, the harmonic

left hand is different from his written arrangement and does not contain the flat-7 until

right before the IV chord18 (Gershwin, 1993). It seems that Gershwins concern with

resolving the flat-7 came as he matured as a composer.

Gershwin personally popularized the treatment of the flat-7 where it is

harmonized with V in the bass, creating a v minor chord or a V7 (#9) chord. For

instance, in the key of Bb, Gershwin would harmonize an Ab melodic pitch as part of an

F-minor7 or F7(#9) chord, thereby avoiding the tritone Ab-D. He also used this

harmonization with the IV in the bass (Figure 5).

Figure 5. How Gershwin harmonized flat-7 to avoid the tritone

This technique can be heard in Rhapsody in Blue, You Dont know The Half Of It Deary

Blues, and Prelude I among others.

The Three Preludes

Gershwin composed what we now know as the Three Preludes for Piano in 1926.

It was a year in which George was particularly interested in the intersection of jazz,

blues, and art music. Following the success of Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, countless

18 Until the final verse, when it is used in a boogie-woogie style.

13
articles were written about how George was writing notable and serious music in the

jazz idiom (VanVechten, 23). A write-up in the New York Times from July 15th 1926 is

titled Gershwin Plans Serious Works, and specifically references the upcoming

premiere of his preludes as the example. George himself was also writing articles at the

time giving hints as to his thought process about jazz and composition. He wrote about

hoping to define a new school of music, a school essentially American (Gershwin 1925,

27). He also indicates his great respect for European compositional traditions:

I realize that jazz expresses something very definite and vital in American life, but
I also realize that it expresses only one element. To express the richness of that
life fully, a composer must employ melody, harmony, and counterpoint as every
great composer of the past has employed them. (Gershwin 1925, 27)

In July 1926, Gershwin wrote an article for Singing magazine, in which he discussed

some of the controversy surrounding jazz, and defended it as an art form worthy of study

and creation. He mentioned that he was working on two or three jazz preludes for an

upcoming concert. Not one of the numberswill be cheap or trashyThey are all of

sound musical value, and worthy of a place on any sober and dignified program (1926,

Does Jazz, 38).

The Three Preludes for Piano were first performed in December 1926 as part of a

concert in which Gershwin accompanied the Peruvian contralto Marguerite DAlvarez in

a series of art songs and Gershwins theater songs (Wyatt, 68-85). Mme. DAlvarez was

one of a handful of classical artists who had come out vocally in support of jazz music,

saying that it is Americas greatest contribution to the musical art (Gershwin 1926,

Does Jazz, 38). George played five preludes at this concert, however the other two were

not published.19

19Wyatts article goes into a detailed historical narrative about the possible other
missing preludes and which might have been played that evening.
14
Analysis: Prelude I

Gershwins Prelude I contains many blues elements, including the juxtaposition

of the major- and minor-third and the extensive use of the flat-7. The song is in Bb-

Major, based on the key signature and the way Gershwin writes the minor third. Instead

of writing the note Db when in a Bb chord, Gershwin writes C#, implying a #2 resolving

to the major third D (see Figure 6).

Figure 6. Prelude I mm. 1-3

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This holds true anytime the #2 is to resolved to the natural 3. When both the major and

minor 3rd are to be played together, Gershwin wrote both b3 and natural 3 (Figure 7).

Figure 7. Prelude I mm. 25-27

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15
This implies that at times the b3 is a leading tone to the natural 3, and at other times it is

meant as a blue-third, creating the ambiguous major-minor sound.

As mentioned above, Gershwin treatment of the flat-7 is as a dissonance

throughout unless it is harmonized with the flat-3 (see Figure 5). For example, in m. 2

the flat-7 (Ab) is introduced on the last beat. This is resolved in the first beat of m. 3,

with the G that has been added to the Bb triad (see Figure 6). Another example can be

seen in Figure 8. The harmony is C major and the flat-7 is introduced in m. 24 (Bb),

which creates a tritone with the E in the left hand. Gershwin delays the resolution for six

measures. In the seventh measure, the implied harmony (C7, Eb7, Gb7) continues to

contain the Bb until the last beat, which introduces the A in the bass for resolution.

Figure 8. Prelude I mm. 28-30

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One more example can be found at the very end of the piece. The harmony resolves to a

Bb chord in m. 56, with an Ab as the melodic resting note. This implies a need to resolve

to a melodic G or harmonic Eb. Gershwin again delays the resolution for 5 measures, and

finally resolves in m. 61, the beginning of an anomalistic figure, an Eb-Mixolydian

passage which leads to a clean Bb triad that ends the piece (Figure 9).

16
Figure 9. Prelude I mm. 60-62.

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Harmonically, Prelude I is driven by the secondary-dominant harmonies

created by the extensive use of the flat-7. Gershwin uses the flat-7 to move the harmony

to standard secondary dominant keys (e.g. Bb7-Eb in mm. 60-61, Figure 9) as well as

chromatic mediant keys related by a third (e.g. C7-A7 in mm. 23-30, Figure 8). In these

cases, one note of the tritone, usually the flat-7, resolves down by a half-step. In a third

resolution of the flat-7 Gershwin uses the flat-7 as an augmented-sixth interval, and it

resolves up. Using this concept, Gershwin modulates from Bb to D without introducing

the A7 in between (Figure 10).

17
Figure 10. Prelude I mm. 40-42

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Rhythmically the piece is written in 2/4, and the measures are typically divided

into 3+3+2 sixteenth notes, or dotted-eighth, dotted-eighth, eighth (see Figure 10). This

rhythm is one found in the blues of W.C. Handy and is a rhythm Gershwin used

previously in Rhapsody in Blue, for which Henry Levine has already documented the

rhythmic association.

Although not a blues in the traditional form, Gershwin uses blues elements to

drive fundamental compositional decisions in Prelude I. In Prelude II, Gershwin

writes in the traditional 12-bar blues form while extending the chromatic concepts of the

blues.

Analysis: Prelude II

The blues influence in Gershwins Prelude II in C-sharp minor is so obvious

that it hardly warrants any justification. Jablonsky writes that Gershwin once called the

piece a blue lullaby, a subtitle now often used in published versions of the piece (137).

Prelude II is written in an AABA form, with each A section being a 12-bar blues. The

tempo is marked Andante con moto e poco rubato (M.M. q=88). The piece opens

18
with an ostinato introduction. The key signature denotes C# minor, which is reinforced

by the opening chord, C# and E. However the second chord is G# and E#, implying C#

major, followed by F# and C#, possibly the IV chord in C# minor but without a third.

This moves back to the G# and E# chord, again implying C# major or possibly the V

chord (G#) with a #13. The opening ostinato contains ambiguity already, which we have

seen is a hallmark of the blues. Due to this ambiguity, capital roman numerals are used

to discuss the key areas, despite some of the chords in the section being minor.

In the first four measures of the 12-bar blues, Gershwin has embedded a

chromatic inner voice, undulating over the split third from scale degrees b3-3-4-3,

similar to chromatic motion such as used in Rhapsody in Blue (see Figure 11).

Figure 11. Prelude II Analysis of m. 1

The chromatic voice continues over the following six measures of the blues,

chromatically containing the pitches between G#3 and C#4. Combined with the

chromatic bass movement in m. 10, this chromatic line contains all pitches between E3

and C#4(Figure 12).

Figure 12. Prelude II, Pitches making up chromatic inner-voice motion, mm. 1-14

Structure

The A sections are structured with the harmony and melody as two distinct units.

The melodic line is completely independent of this inner motion until the very last note

19
of the line, the C#4, which is both the last note of the melody and the penultimate note of

the inner chromatic movement. The melodic line begins with and accentuates minor

thirds, in particular the minor third between scale degree 5 and scale degree flat-7. The

flat-7, or the note B, is struck often, though it never creates a complete dominant-7

chord on the tonic. By looking at the larger harmonic motion, the first four measures are

in the area of I, the next five-and-a-half measure are in the area of IV, and the second

half of measure 10 is in the key area of V. The final two measures are I and IV

respectively. A clear 12-bar blues.

The form repeats in A, with the melody doubled now at the octave. Gershwin also

introduces a contrary motion inner voice in the right hand, beginning E-D#-C#. With the

addition of this voice, the inner voices now saturate the entire chromatic scale with the

exception of the b2 scale degree. In other words, this inner voice movement saturates the

11-note chromatic blues scale (Error! Reference source not found.).

The B section, mm. 31-44, is also a 12-bar blues, now in the key of F#. It is

marked slightly jazzy, and the left hand, or lower voice, takes the melody line, while the

right hand plays two-note chords in unvarying quarter notes. Gershwins melody is more

fluid and melodic than the A section. This time it is the low melody that dramatizes the

ambiguity between the major and minor F# by using both A and A#. However, the

harmony (right hand) is unambiguous, only using the A#, making the key clearly F#

major. The flat-7 (E) is introduced in the fourth measure of the 12-bar blues, appearing

before the move to the IV chord, as a secondary-dominant function. The blues continues

to the IV chord for two measures, followed by a iii-vi-II7-V motion before returning to I.

A two-measure tag in F# (mm. 43-44) ends on a G#4/2 chord, which acts as a pivot

chord (V4/2) back to the C# key area.

20
The final A section is like the initial A section, with the addition of some grace

notes in m. 49 and the octave doubling in mm. 54-55. The two-measure coda resolves the

ambiguity of the key with a C#-major chord with an added 9. However, Gershwin writes

a B, the flat-7, as the second to last note, sustaining with the C#9 chord and the final C#1

note (Figure 13).

Figure 13. Prelude II Aggregate of mm. 59-60

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Gershwin Conclusion

What we see through this analysis is that Gershwins blues conformed heavily to

the blues of W.C. Handy and other practitioners of early blues. The compositional

techniques mentioned above can be found in other blues-influenced compositions in

Gershwins catalog, including Prelude III, Concerto in F, An American in Paris, and

others. Gershwin continued to use blues influence in his compositions throughout his
21
career. These techniques served Gershwin especially in the composition of his opera

Porgy and Bess. His mastery of blues techniques helped him to create the melancholy

tone of Catfish Row, the tenement-like setting for the opera. For example the verse of

Bess, You Is My Woman Now contains both the leading tone and concurrent

treatments of the flat-3 as mentioned above. Additionally Gershwin continued to explore

chromaticism in his music, but never broke from traditional tonality. Instead, he used

chromaticism to emphasize the blues quality in his music, and not to replace the tonal

system that was a foundation for jazz and blues as well as traditional classical music.

22
CHAPTER 3

COPLAND'S BLUES

Blue Aaron

Aaron Copland was born in 1900, one year after George Gershwin. Like

Gershwin, Copland was born in Brooklyn and both of his parents were Russian Jewish

immigrants. Both Copland and Gershwin began piano lessons in their early teen years,

and composition lessons soon afterwards. Also like Gershwin, Copland did not come

from an especially musical family. His father was a merchant, and his mother, apart from

piano lessons as a girl, did not have a musical pedigree to pass on to her son. However,

unlike Gershwin, whose parents had both come straight from Russia to New York,

Coplands mother Sarah grew up in Illinois and Texas, not coming to New York until she

was nineteen years old (Copland/Perlis, 3-4). His mothers lineage might explain

Coplands connection to the American spirit outside of New York City, demonstrated by

his well-known pieces such as Billy the Kid and Appalachian Spring. Although

Copland is best known for this American sentiment, he would not incorporate this style

into his music until well after his twenties, which is the focus of this study. Coplands

work during the twenties is known for his experiments with bi-tonality, chromaticism,

and the incorporation of jazz.

A defining period in Coplands life was his time spent in Paris from 1921-4

(Copland/Perlis, 55). While studying in Paris, Copland recalls hearing jazz in bars and

cafes, and began to consider that jazz rhythms might be the way to make an American-

sounding music (Copland/Perlis, 90). Consider the following exchange, from an

interview with author Studs Terkel in 1961:

Copland: I was very interested in jazz, in the [nineteen] twenties. Mostly


as an easy way, you might say, or an obvious way of using materials which
everyone would recognize as being American in origin. In the twenties

23
several composers, not only myself, had a very strong preoccupation
about the writing of a music that everybody could identify with our
country. I after all was studying in Paris, and I realized that Debussy and
Ravel were very typically French. So one wondered, couldnt we do that
same thing in America. Why couldnt we write a serious music that
perhaps related to jazz, which everyone would immediately recognize as
American? And I think we did. But then, the fact that we did means that
the younger people didnt have to do it anymore. (Terkel 2005)

Darius Milhauds Cration du monde had been well received when it premiered

in 1923 in Paris. The piece combined jazz rhythms and harmony with a chamber music

setting in a way no American composer had yet accomplished. Copland wanted to find a

music that was his own and was also recognizably American within a serious musical

idiom, and took Milhauds success as a challenge (Copland/Perils, 119). Copland said

that the only American piece that came close to the notoriety of Milhauds was

Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue (Copland/Perils, 95). Despite this, Copland denies being

overly influenced by the music of or in competition with Gershwin. In fact, the two

composers hardly crossed paths during their lifetimes, which is a surprise given their

success and similarities. In the 1930s, they once found themselves face to face at a

cocktail party, and according to Copland they found they had nothing to say to each

other (Copland/Perils, 130).

Although Copland was an American and a New Yorker, his development as a

composer was founded upon the three years he spent in Paris as a student of Nadia

Boulanger. Boulanger was a classicist, and demanded her students endure the rigors of a

classical European musical education. To study music, we must learn the rules. To

create music, we must forget them she was fond of saying. However she also demanded

of herself that she not quash the personalities of her students by demanding they

conform to a particular compositional style. My Japanese students. I say to them, Dont

forget you are Japanese. Remain Japanese. Then know that we exist. She was an

24
unabashed supporter of Coplands jazz works dating back to his piece Jazzy, the third

movement of his Three Moods for piano from 1921. Of these early years of Coplands

studies, Boulanger says to let him develop was my great concern. One could tell his

talent immediatelyI hope that I did never disturb him (Copland/Perils, 62).

Copland and Jazz

Coplands relationship to jazz and blues was complicated. On one hand it defined

a large part of his stylistic output, especially in the 1920s. Copland spoke publicly about

jazz as an intriguing element in modern music; he often lectured on jazz, dissecting

rhythms and melodic material for students eager to apply the concepts, and was

consciously searching for a way to identify his music with America. On the other hand he

often spoke unsympathetically about jazz, in particular concerning the complexity of the

rhythmswhich he asserted were not as complex as generally believedor of the severe

limitations of the emotional capacity of jazz (Copland 1941, 88). David Schiff goes as far

as saying that that Coplands 1927 article Jazz Structure and Influence which he

republished in 1941 and then again in 1968, is scandalously inaccurate and occasionally

racist (Schiff, 16). A full survey of quotes from Copland about jazz can leave a reader

confused, suggesting Copland had both a respect and reverence for the style as well as a

distain for the piquant and grotesque qualities of the music (Pollack 2000, 114). His

relationship to jazz can be summed up in a quote from Arthur Berger who writes that

Coplands personality often embraced a multiplicity of points of view, including a

general capacity to reconcile opposites or shift gracefully between extremes (Berger

1953). Virgil Thompson wrote that jazz was Coplands one wild oat (1932), the one style

of music he could experiment with and dissect while always being able to leave it behind

when necessary.

25
In speaking about jazz, Copland wrote in 1941 two moods encompass the whole

gamut of jazz emotion. One of these moods he described as the wild, abandoned,

almost hysterical and grotesque mood so dear to the youth of all ages. The other he

described as the blues mood (Copland 1941, 88). Copland does not define the blues

mood, only says it is well-known, implying that in his view the mood must differ from

the wild mood it is contrasted with. If one were to compose a poetic opposite to

Coplands description of the wild mood above, the result might be: Behaved

Restrained - Calm and Beautiful. There is little in Coplands words to determine his exact

conception of the blues other than that described above. However, David Schiff outlines

a view of the emotional content of Coplands blues:

The distinguishing trait of Coplands jazz-inspired music is its sadness: in


the age of le jazz hot, he composed le jazz triste. As early as Music for the
Theater, we hear the wistful sound of Copland blues, a genre that rarely
follows the harmonic progressions or phrase structure of the blues but
somehow seems bluer than blue in its evocation of loss, loneliness and, at
times, exhaustion. (Schiff 14)

As Schiff notes, the blues runs through a series of Coplands compositions, beginning

with Music for Theater (1925), Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1926), Two Pieces for

violin and piano (1926), Sentimental Melody (Blues No. 1) (1926), Blues No. 4 (1926)

and Symphonic Ode for Orchestra (1929). Howard Pollack describes the elements of the

blues found in these compositions:

These works often adapted such characteristic traits of blues as falling


thirds, call-and-response patterns, flattened thirds and sevenths, major-
minor clashes, bent pitches, syncopation and polyrhythm. Along with
such rhythmic and harmonic ambiguities, Coplandarguably absorbed
from the blues certain emotional ambiguities, involving, quite often, a
kind of irony and whimsy. (Pollack 2000, 71)

Analysis: Nocturne

26
Two Pieces for Violin and Piano was written in 1926, two years after Coplands

return to the United States from Paris and the same year he was commissioned to write a

piano concerto by Serge Koussevitzky. It is a short work containing two movements,

totaling around nine-minutes. The first movement is titled Nocturne and the second

movement is titled Ukelele Serenade. Copland wrote that the first pieceis slow and

in the manner of a bluesthe secondis an allegro vivo. It begins with quarter tones

meant to achieve a blues effect (Pollack 2000, 126). Although both movements contain

blues elements, the Nocturne, written in the manner of the blues, will be analyzed for

this study.

The tempo marking for Nocturne is Lento moderato. The piece is written in

ternary form, ABA, with a short introduction and a slightly longer coda. The A and A

sections are defined by a bi-tonal harmonic ostinato in the piano and four-note violin

melodic fragments. The B section is defined by whole note tertian harmonies in the

piano and five-note melodies in the violin. A minor-third relationship guides both the

harmony as well as the transition back to A. A contains the same harmony and melody

as A except the piano part extends over five octaves and the violin over three. The coda is

an 8-measure return of the content from the B section.

Bi-Chordal Structures

Copland uses two bi-chordal structures extensively in Nocturne: a major triad

with the major triad one half-step below (e.g. C/B) (see Figure 14) and a major triad with

the major triad one whole-step above (e.g. D/C) (see Figure 15).

27
Figure 14. A major triad with the major triad one half-step below (e.g. C/B)

Figure 15. A major triad with the major triad one whole-step above (e.g. D/C)

The structure in Figure 15 is a dissonant tonality, containing three minor seconds, while

the structure in Figure 16 contains three major seconds and implies the Lydian mode.

The addition of a B or Bb in the second chord would define either Lydian or Lydian flat-7

mode, one used often by Ravel and Debussy. However, in looking at the C-blues scale we

can see that all three triads are contained therein:

Figure 16. C chromatic blues scale, contains triads C, D, B

Therefore both chord structures can be analyzed as part of the C chromatic blues mode.

The C/B sonority is not only found in the blues scale, but is also utilized by blues

musicians, however in a more melodic, horizontal fashion. The following excerpt is from

the Avalon Blues transcription discussed in Chapter 1. The piece, in E, contains the half

step motion GG# and A#B in grace notes, or 2/3 of the D# triad.

28
Figure 17. Avalon Blues Transcription, m. 1 (See Appendix A)

Guitarists playing a blues would often slide into a triad from the triad a half-step below.

Coplands two piano blues compositions from 1926 use these sonorities extensively:

Blues #1 published as Sentimental Melody: Slow Dance in 1929, is primarily in the key

of F, and uses F and E triads throughout. It also uses F and G triads at specific structural

points (mm. 6 + 23). Piano Blues No. 4 written in 1926 (but not published until 1949) is

also in the key of F and exploits the F +G relationship in the left hand as an ostinato in

the A sections of the form (mm. 1-10 and 23-32). In Nocturne, Copland uses both of

these sonorities to establish formal sections.

Opening

Copland wrote the piece without a key signature, however the pitches in the

opening imply that the piece begins in the key of Ab. This analysis is strengthened by the

opening two measures, a short melodic fragment containing the minor third C-Eb (see

Figure 20). Copland uses the minor third relationship to define tonal relationships and

melodic relationships in this piece. He has called the opening motif a blues motif, and

it was also the basis for his Symphonic Ode from 1931 (Copland/Perlis, 165).

29
Figure 18. Nocturne mm. 1-3

Two Pieces for Violin and Piano by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1927 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

The downbeats of mm. 3-7 contain either an Ab triad or an Ab6 chord, as seen in Figure

21. Although the left hand descends from Ab-Eb to G-D in mm. 3-10, a pure G-major

triad (without any non-chord tones) is never played. The closest Copland comes is a G+

triad, which could also be interpreted as the V+ of Ab, since Eb+ and G+ are the same

triad with a different root. Figure 19 shows a reduction of the harmonies in mm. 3-23.

Copland has written a blues progression into mm. 19-21 of the A section, IV-V-I in Gb,

which concludes the modulation to Gb/F# in which the B section begins.

Figure 19. Nocturne A section, mm. 3-23, harmonic reduction

The A sections are saturated with the harmonies two major triads one semitone apart,

and two major triads one whole tone apart. Both chords are found in the Ab chromatic

blues scale, so can be described as part of a modal use of the chromatic blues scale.

30
Figure 20. Ab chromatic blues scale, contains triads Ab, Bb and G

Since the chromatic blues scale of Ab contains the major triad G (see Figure 20), but the

chromatic blues scale of G does not contain the major triad Ab, the sonority Ab/G can

only be understood in the key or mode of Ab blues. In other words, any occurrence of the

harmony with two major triads a semitone apart can be analyzed in the key center of the

upper of the two triads (see Figure 21).

Figure 21. Ab/G to be interpreted as an Ab blues.

Over this harmony, the violin part, marked liberamente espressivo, plays four-

note melodic phrases throughout the piece. The four-note phrases are from either the [0

3 5 8] or [0 2 5 7] tetrachords (Figure 22).

31
Figure 22. Nocturne violin part (mm. 5-17)

The violin notes coincide with the chromatic blues scales of the key centers, and also

reflect one of the tonalities housed in the bitonal chords as seen in Figure 19. The effect is

a fluid interaction with the harmonies without committing or implying one particular

tonality or key center. The A section ends with the violin melody breaking the pattern

precisely when the harmony changes to the C/Bb harmony in m. 17, the second iteration

of blues bitonality as shown in Figure 15.

Coinciding with the harmonic and melodic change in m. 17 is a change in

rhythmic character. Most striking about the rhythm in the A section is the way Copland

has divided the measures. Although essentially composed in 4/4 meter, Copland has

defined the meter as 3+5/8, and uses a dotted line to delineate the division in the piano

part (see Figure 18). Copland uses tenudo markings on the first eighth note of the second

half of the measures rather than an accent. Beginning in m. 4, Copland writes that the

first three eighth notes should contain an accelerando, and the remaining five should

ritard. He writes sempre simile in m. 5 to indicate this should continue. As Copland

indicated the variable tempo and does not indicate accents, the complex time signature is

32
designed to assist the musicians with the division of the speeding-up and slowing-down

process rather than a strong rhythmic division of the measures.

M. 17 is proceeded by a molto rit., the first of the piece, and marked a tempo. A

long phrase begins on Bb2 and continues up to Bb4. Combined with the C/Bb harmony,

mm. 17-18 sound starkly different than the rest of the A section, and have a strident

quality, with a strong sense of arrival due to the clean, unambiguous harmony. The

addition of the Ab near the end of the measure completes the Lydian flat-7 mode (Figure

24).

Figure 23. Nocturne mm. 16-19

Two Pieces for Violin and Piano by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1927 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

B Section

The B section is starkly different, rhythmically and tonally. The tempo marking

changes to Meno mosso (Grave) and the measures are no longer divided the way they

were in the first 23 measures. Mm. 24-27 and 33-36 contain tertian harmony in whole

notes in the piano, with the violin playing six-measure phrases built from tetrachord [0 3

5 7] a minor third apart, (beginning on C# and E respectively, see Figure 24).

33
Figure 24. Nocturne mm. 24-29

Two Pieces for Violin and Piano by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1927 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

Harmonically, Copland uses the bi-tonal blues chords mentioned in Figures 14

and 15, and the idea of the split third to generate the harmonic movement, including a

modulation from an F# blues key area to A blues key area and subsequently from A blues

to C blues. The modulation progresses as follows: the first chord is F# major; Copland

then introduces the harmony a whole step up, G# major; this is followed by F# major

again, and then A major (the bIII of F#); this is followed by F major, the semitone below

F#, and then G# major again. The G# major now becomes the pivot chord, as it is also

the semitone below A, or in other words is part of the A blues modality. The following

chord is A minor, followed by B major, the whole-step above A. This resolves to the B/A

Lydian flat-7 phrase in m. 31 which is exactly like m. 17 but in A instead of Bb. Following

this, the pattern of the first four measures repeats, this time beginning in A and ending

on C. In m. 37 Copland reintroduces the opening minor-third figure, Eb-C, transitioning

back to the A section.

A and Coda

The A section is very similar to the A section, however it is shorter, and instead of

using the F#7 to modulate to Bb the section remains in F# in m. 52. The piano covers

more octaves (over five as opposed to over four in the opening A), and Copland

34
introduces an echo effect in the piano, mimicking a blues-like call and response (Figure

25).

Figure 25. Nocturne mm. 39-42, call and response

Two Pieces for Violin and Piano by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1927 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

A nine-measure coda brings the key center back to Ab. The tempo is marked

Tempo II, or Grave, as the B section was marked. The harmonic progression is similar

to the B section, but the sparse texture creates more of a memory than an actual return of

the B section. The nine-measure coda ends with four measures of the unambiguous

Bb/Ab blues polychord in Ab Lydian flat-7. Copland draws to a close with a full unaltered

Ab triad in the piano and harmonics in the violin.

Copland Conclusion

While analyzing this piece from a blues perspective does provide some insights, it

also leaves some questions. For instance, if it is true that Copland was thinking of a key

center of Ab for the beginning and end of the blues, why does he never use a clear IV

35
(Db) or V (Eb) throughout?20 Despite a 12-bar blues not being used clearly throughout,

taking a step-back and looking at the entire sixty-four-bar form shows that the overall

structure of the piece is in three parts, possibly a reference to the three tonal sections of a

blues. Additionally, the climax of the piece occurs in mm. 50-51, about four-fifths of the

way through the piece, which is the same place a blues chorus climax would occur during

the V chord.

Figure 26 Nocturne, reduction of tonal centers, three sections

In 1926, Koussevitzky, the great conductor and a friend of Coplands teacher

Nadia Boulanger, asked Copland to write a concerto for a League of Composers concert

he was to conduct in Boston. Roy Harris, a fellow composer, friend, and Boulanger

student, warned Copland against writing a concerto using the jazz idiom: I think it is the

wrong stepJazz is on its way out. Beware for that new piano concerto which so many

Copeland (sic) enthusiasts are waiting fordont disappoint us with jazz (Pollack 2002,

129). This warning would in hindsight seem prophetic. Following the first performance

of his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, virtually all members of the media proclaimed

it a colossal failure. Philip Hale of the Boston Herald wrote, we found little to attract,

little to admire, much to repel. Samuel Chotzinoff in the New York World wrote: The

jazz there was a pretty poor pick, as those things goThe composer-pianist smote his

20 He does use G7 and A7, which contain the same tritone as Db7 and Eb7.
36
instrument at random: the orchestraheaved and shrieked and fumed and made

anything but sweet moans until both pianist and conductor attained such a climax of

absurdity that many in the audience giggled with delight. The Boston Evening

Transcript proclaimed: A harrowing horror from beginning to end. There is nothing in it

that resembles music except as it contains noise. Paul Sanborn, in the New York

Telegram wrote: gargantuan dance movements as a herd of elephants engaged in jungle

rivalry of the Charleston and dances further south (Butterworth, 40-1).

Copland himself publicly declared in 1928 that he had no more use for the

synthesis of jazz and classical music. He wrote that he sensed a shift in the national

mood, that jazz was best represented by the improvising musician, rather than by the

notating one. I sensed its [jazzs] limitation, intended to make a change, and made no

secret of the fact (Copland/Perlis, 134). However, Copland publicly revisited the blues

occasionally throughout his career, most obviously in his Four Piano Blues, published in

1949. Included was the Sentimental Melody or Blues #1, written in 1926. The other three

blues were written between 1934-1948, showing that Copland might have declared a

change, but still took occasion to flirt with, as Virgil Thompson would say, his wild oat.

37
CHAPTER 4

RAVEL'S BLUES

Ravel, When Jazz?

According to many scholars, Ravel began experimenting with American jazz in

his opera LEnfant et les sortileges (The Child and the Sorceries), composed from 1920-

25.21 The opera is a childlike fantasy, with dancing trees, animals, and kitchen items. In

one scene, a dance between a teapot and a cup, Ravel uses elements from the jazz idiom

in what has been called a pastiche of tin-pan alley (Orenstein, 194). Slide trombones,

xylophones, dotted eighth-note swing rhythms, and ragtime-esque harmony create the

sound of an early ragtime dance number. Orenstein suggests that Ravel might have been

influenced by a tune he was fond of, Vincent Youamans Tea for Two (194). Ravel was

consciously using the American art form, as he is quoted as saying of the piece that it was

composed in the spirit of an American operetta (Manuel, 22-3).

Although LEnfant might be his first conscious attempt at using jazz in his

compositions, Ravel spoke about jazz as early as 1921, saying that he considered jazz the

only original contribution America had so far made to music (Engel, 201). Ravels friend

Hlne Jourdan-Morhange22 says that the composer never missed a chance to go in to

Paris, to see the illuminated city, hear the noises of the night, jazz and the chatter of

young friends (1938, 194). Ravels Sonate pour Violin and Violoncelle (1920-22),

although completed three years before LEnfant et les sortileges, contains elements

reminiscence of jazz rhythms and blues tonalities. In particular the opening to the

21Orenstein, Goff, Ramsey Voelker and Pepin all point to this piece as, in Pepins words,
Ravels first conscious attempt to use Americana elements (103).

22 To whom the Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano is dedicated.


38
Allegro could be analyzed as polytonal, outlining an A-major triad and an A-minor

seventh chord, or an A7th chord and an A-Minor triad:

Figure 27. Sonate pour Violin and Violoncelle, mm. 1-7

Sonate pour Violin and Violoncelle by Maurice Ravel


1922, Public Domain

However, the violin enters alone, and all notes are slurred except the G-natural, so it is

possible (if not likely) that a listener would hear the G as an accented note, implying a

syncopated rhythm. The following is the violin line rewritten to begin on the and-of-two:

Figure 28. Sonate pour Violin and Violoncelle, mm. 1-5 rewritten.

In addition, the presence of C and C# implies the polytonality expressed above, or

implies a split 3rd, or an A-dominant 7th chord with both major- and minor-third. The

unresolved seventh had been a staple of French and in particular of Impressionist

musical style, championed by Debussy and Ravel himself. However the addition of the

implied syncopation, and the tendency of other French composers of the time to play

with jazz rhythms and sounds show that Ravel was either consciously or unconsciously

already playing with these sounds and rhythms in the early 1920s.

In Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano Ravel deliberately used blues elements in

the second movement, which he titled Blues. It is worth noting that Ravels

39
compositions following the Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano also used jazz and blues

elements, in particular Bolero and the two piano concertos. For example, Bolero (1928)

uses saxophones in the orchestra, and Concerto for the Left Hand (1931) and Concerto

for Piano and Orchestra (1932) both contain blue notes, syncopation, and bluesy

thematic influence (Orenstein, 200-5).

Sonata Background

Sonata [No.2] for Violin and Piano was composed in the years 1923-27, and

published in 1927, quite late in Ravels career. Ravel, who was born in 1875, was fifty-two

years old at the time of its publication. His compositional style was firmly established,

and his sound, which he called plainly French music, Ravels music was both familiar

and extraordinary (Orenstein, 199). Although upon publication it was the only violin

sonata in his output, a sonata composed in 1897 was posthumously published in 1975,

called Sonata for Violin & Piano No. 1 in A minor (Posthumous). Due to this, the G

major sonata is referred to as Sonata (No. 2) for Violin and Piano.

The Sonata (No. 2) for Violin and Piano is Ravels final chamber work, and may

be seen as a turning point leading to his incredible final few compositions. Following the

sonata, he composed Bolero (1928), Fanfare for orchestra (1929), Concerto for the Left

Hand (piano and orchestra) (1930), Concerto in G for piano and orchestra (1931), and

Don Quichotte Dulcine (voice and piano) in (1934). These would be his final works

Ravel did not write a new piece in his final three years of life, and passed away in

December 1937.23

However, a large number of Ravels most popular pieces were composed prior to

the Sonata (No. 2) for Violin and Piano, including Pavane pour une Infante dfunte

23 Less than six months after George Gershwins death.


40
(1899), Jeux deau (1901), String Quartet (1903), Rapsodie Espagnole (1908), Ma Mre

lOye (1910), Daphnis et Chlo (1912), Le Tombeau de Couperin (1917), La Valse (1920)

and Sonate pour violin et violoncelle (1922) to name a few (Orenstein, 219-42).

The Blues in Blues

Ravel was a composer who honored tradition and form, while continually

searching for new tonalities and chord structures. He often quoted his teacher,

Massenet: To know one's own trade one must learn the trade of others (Goss, 35).

However, it was his belief in using rules and structure to inform the composition rather

than define it that became the hallmark of his personal style. Never one to hold rigidly to

a particular structure, he nevertheless used form as a way of avoiding frivolous

experimentation. Madeleine Goss says: his art lay in expanding the known rather than

in restlessly seeking novelty (36). In the Sonata (No. 2) for Violin and Piano, Ravel

would both adhere to and also aim to stretch the rules of the familiar blues form.

In 1928 Maurice Ravel said to an American audience to my mind, the blues is

one of your greatest musical assets, truly American (Taruskin/Weiss, 481). Ravel was

clear to point out that, unlike Copland and Gershwin, he saw the blues not as a way to

sound American, but rather as a set of sonic possibilities, which could fuel his own

French compositions. He said that popular forms are simply materials for

construction and that the art of composition comes from the mature conception of the

form where no detail has been left to chance (Taruskin/Weiss, 482). He believed the

use of the blues as a compositional form would be superseded by the nationality of the

composer using these elements, and would still result in pieces with the national

characteristics of their respective composers, despite the unique nationality of their

initial material [blues] (Taruskin/Weiss, 482).

41
Analysis: II. Blues

The second movement of Sonata (No. 2) for Violin and Piano titled Blues is 145

measures long, and takes six minutes to perform. It contains contrasting themes and

rhythms, bitonality, and contrapuntal writing. Ravels music is regarded as

impressionist, due to his use of extended harmonies, modality, and atmospheric

textures. Impressionist elements are present in this piece, however they are altered

slightly from his usual output by the presence of the blues. The most dramatic change is

that Ravel uses the 11-note blues scale as a mode, creating a stark contrast between the

first and third movements of this work, which use more familiar impressionist

harmonies, although the third movement III Perpetuum mobile makes interesting use

of a split third throughout.

Form

The entire movement can be analyzed in sonata form. Ravel used rehearsal

numbers to designate twelve distinct sections throughout the piece, as well as an

introduction, which is not marked but runs from mm. 1-10. The exposition, running from

mm. 1-63, contains two distinct themes, a transition between them, and a clear closing

figure. The development, running from mm. 64-109, contains three interpretations of a

twelve-bar blues, and develops motives and melodic and harmonic material from the

exposition. The recapitulation contains a return of both themes from the exposition, and

ends with a short coda. Table 3 provides a diagram of the themes, transitions, and major

sections in the piece.

42
Table 3. Sonata for Violin and Piano II Blues, Chart of Sonata Form
Sonata Section Rehearsal # Measure # Description
Exposition n.a. 1-10 Introduction
1 11-26 Theme 1 (G/Ab)
2 27-36 Transition
3 37-53 Theme 2 (0,3,5)
4 54-63 Closing

Development 5 64-75 Blues #1


n.a. 76-77 Transition
6 78-81 Introduction to Blues #2
n.a. 82-94 Blues #2
7 94-104 Blues #3
8 104-109 Transition to Recapitulation

Recapitulation 9 110-120 Theme 1


10 121-129 Theme 2
11 130-137 Theme 2
12 138-145 Coda

Exposition

The piece opens in 4/4, with the piano and violin written in different key

signatures: the violin part has one sharp (G-major), and the piano part has four flats (Ab-

major). The violin begins pizzicato, strumming a three-note G-major chord in steady

quarter notes. By the end of the third measure, we have heard G-major, C-major, and D-

major triads, the I-IV-V of the blues. The piano enters with an Ab and Eb, clearly

defining the key of Ab, although the quality, major or minor, is ambiguous due to the

absence of the third. This is clearly indicating a bitonality between Ab and G. Both Pepin

and Ramsey point to the juxtaposition of Ab and G as reminiscent of an out of tune

honkey-tonk piano (Pepin, 106; Ramsey, 51). This half-step relationship of triads is one

that is found in the blues scale itself (see Figure 29), and was seen in the Copland pieces

earlier in this paper (see Figure 14).

43
Figure 29. Ab chromatic blues scale (contains Ab7 and G7)

Ravel exploits this bi-tonality throughout the piece, particularly in the first theme. Before

the entrance of the first theme, an important motive is introduced, which I will call the

Blues Motive 1. This motive contains all staccato notes, and a dotted rhythm, where the

beat is split into a dotted-eighth value and a sixteenth value (Figure 30).

Figure 30. II Blues Blues Motive 1, as in m. 8

The elements of this motive appear throughout the piece and play an important role in

the development section.

In m. 12, the violin begins Theme I marked nostalgico, the piano has taken over

the G/Ab5, and both parts have the key signature of Ab. The theme is soft, wistful, and

fragmented (Figure 31).

Figure 31. II Blues mm. 11-14

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

The FF#G motive in m. 12 simulates the vocal glissando performed by blues singers

and by blues instrumentalists. Ravel develops this glissando throughout the work.

44
If we accept Ab as the key, the melody emphasizes the scale degrees 7, 6, 1 and 2 of the

key, but also passes through the flat-7, and introduces the ambiguous split 3rd by using

Cb in mm. 15-17 and then C in mm. 19-24. If the accompaniment were removed, the first

six measures of the melody could be analyzed in both G or in Ab. Ravel is manipulating

the ambiguity in the blues scale.

The harmony in the opening of the piece can be analyzed as a juxtaposition of a I-

IV-V in G over a I-VI7-V7/V-V7 in Ab (Figure 32).

Figure 32. II Blues reduction of harmony mm. 12-26, piano only

Mm. 12-26 can be analyzed as containing two simultaneous blues progression. The Ab

blues, although missing the IV, contains the V7/V, or Bb7, which can be a substitution

for the IV chord (Db). The final measure of Theme I is punctuated by a chromatic piano

figure, with a low blues glissando chromatically saturating the notes C#3-G3, and the

chords C#m, Dm, and Em overlaid. The piano figure alone implies a cadence in G, with

the leading tone and tonic in G played in the left hand (F#-G)(see Figure 34). However,

the violin melody leads into the cadence with scale degrees 2-b3-3 figure in Ab directly

before playing Ab and then playing a long blues glissando up to the leading tone (G) of

Ab. Also, the bass of the piano has been functioning in Ab, and this cadence is preceded

by octave Ebs in the measure before. Despite the right hand of the piano leading to E-

45
minor, the left hand saturates C#3 to G3 and hence, the piano figure in m. 26 is

reminiscent to a cadence in G and also a half-cadence in Ab (Figure 33).

Figure 33. II Blues mm. 25-27

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

The transition to Theme II begins the same as the first theme, and ends on a clear

Bb9 chord, with the violin passing through the split 3rd of Bb. This sets up Theme II to

begin in Eb, the dominant key area. However, Theme II begins with an unambiguous E7

chord. It descends in minor thirds: E7-C#7-Bb7-G7, using scale degrees 3-5-6 as pivot

tones. This is followed by a four-measure section in the expected Eb in which the texture

of the piano accompaniment changes to staccato notes and dotted rhythms built off of

the Blues Motive 1 (from Figure 31). This moment conspicuously sounds like homage to,

if not a direct quote from, Debussys Les collines dAnacapri from Preludes Book 1

(Figure 34).

Figure 34. II Blues mm. 43-46

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

46
The Theme II-section ends with a chromatic blues glissando figure in the piano and

violin (Figure 35).

Figure 35. II Blues mm. 51-53

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

This figure implies Eb7, but the dissonance is created from the juxtaposition of Gb and G

chords over the Eb. Ravel is using the split-third of Eb (G and Gb) to create bimodality

(Figure 36).

Figure 36. II Blues m. 53, notes without rhythm, juxtaposition of G and Gb7

The exposition closes with a return to Theme I. This theme functions as a

transition to the development. We hear it first for five measures in Ab as in the original

Theme I, and then the music modulates to two-sharps, and we hear the theme in five

measures in a B blues mode. All the while, Ravel has introduced the Blues Motive I

rhythm in the piano (Figure 37).

47
Figure 37. II Blues mm. 54-57

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

The tenth measure modulates to a D tonal center, which will serve as an ostinato during

the first blues of the development section.

Development, Blues #1

As mentioned above, the development section is structured around three twelve-

bar blues, with transitions and introductions in-between. The first blues begins in m. 64,

or rehearsal number 5 in the score. The D-ostinato lasts for twelve measures. The

melodic material clearly separates into three distinct groups of measures, which replicate

the harmonic relationship of a twelve-bar blues, built from a melodic fragment that

would be labeled in set theory [0 2 3 5 7]. In mm. 68-69 Ravel inverts this set to [0 2 4 5

7]. The I chord section of the blues (the first four measures and the two measures before

the V chord) is the Am/D chord, and the V chord contains the most complex harmony of

the twelve-measures (Figure 38).

Figure 38. II Blues mm. 64-75, reduction

48
The harmony throughout relates to D-Lydian flat-7, a scale used extensively by Ravel and

Debussy, and also by Copland in his blues (Figure 39).

Figure 39. D-Lydian flat-7

In this section, the rhythmic intensity picks up, and Ravel introduces accents on off-

beats. He begins building patterns of three notes, playing with the common three-over-

four rhythms seen in both the Gershwin and Copland pieces discussed earlier (Figure

40).

Figure 40. II Blues 3 Over 4 rhythm, mm. 71-74

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

Ravel also builds the polytonal complexity in this section, as can be seen in mm. 72-74

above. Measures 75-76 act as a transition to a new section, using an E#-blues in the

piano with an F# figure in the violin. Ravel has ostensibly reversed the bi-tonality of the

exposition, by giving the tonal power to the bottom of two semi-tone separated pitch

classes.

Blues #2

49
Section 6, or m. 78, has a key change to six sharps, and begins with a four-

measure introduction to the second blues of the piece. The first four measures introduce

the Blues Motive I rhythm in F#, establishing the split 3rd in the V chord (C#) (Figure

41).

Figure 41. II Blues m. 78, development of the rhythm from Blues Motive I

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

The violin plays a folk-like melody emphasizing the flat-7 beginning in m. 80.

However the first two pitches, scale degrees 3 and 2, lead to the actual beginning of the

melody, which starts on scale-degree 1 in m. 82. In the following 12 measures, mm. 81-

93, the violin plays a twelve-bar blues in F#. The piano plays a twelve-bar phrasing,

changing harmony on the appropriate measure, but the blues switches from an F# in the

piano to a Bb-blues, picking up on the IV chord (Eb) in m. 86. The result is a bi-modality,

F#/Bb, which we have not heard yet in this piece. Figure 42 shows the violin melody with

the piano accompaniment reduced to half notes.

50
Figure 42. II Blues mm. 81-93, two superimposed blues

This is followed by one measure of blues glissandi in the violin (m. 94), which coincides

with a transition to the final blues of the development section, this one in the key of G.

Blues #3

The third blues, mm. 95-106, contains all melodic elements so far in the piece:

the blues glissandi, the opening motive from Theme I, the dotted-eighth rhythm from

Blues Motive I and the three-over-four rhythm introduced in the beginning of the

development. A reduction shows that this blues clearly demarcates key centers G, C, F,

D. In other words, it is a G-blues with the F key center in mm. 104-105 functioning as a

tonal center on the b3 of the expected V chord, D7, which comes in m. 106 (Figure 43).
51
Figure 43. II Blues mm. 95-106, blues progression in G

A three-measure section using the A whole-half octatonic scale serves as a

transition to the recapitulation. In classical sonata form, the recapitulation would be

superseded by a moment in the V of the tonic key area. Since the piece is returning to the

Ab/G bi-tonality, the V of these chords would be Eb/D. Ravel emphasizes the Eb of the

octatonic in the left-hand with a glissando, the V of Ab. The A-octatonic scale also

contains the D-triad, the V of G. In addition, the recapitulation Ab/G chord contains a D

in the bass, which is setup by the A1 in the left hand (Figure 44).

52
Figure 44. II Blues mm. 106-110, end of development

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

Recapitulation

The recapitulation begins with a restatement of Theme I, with the violin one

octave higher than it originally appeared. The piano is unchanged, except that Ravel has

superimposed the D-ostinato and the [0 2 3 5 7] figure in Eb from mm. 64-78. Theme I

concludes at m. 121, followed by a Theme II-section built from a combination of the

Blues Motive 1 rhythm as used in the second blues of the development and the violin

pizzicato as used in the third blues of the development section (Figure 45).

53
Figure 45. II Blues m. 121, combination of Blues Motive 1 and violin pizzicato

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

Although Ravel does not use the melody from Theme II, the content used was

developed from Theme II. For the final 16 measures before the coda, Ravel uses the

combination figure above to harmonize the E, which remains the top voice of the violin:

C/Db for four measures, E-Lydian flat-7 for two, C/Db for two, A-Lydian flat-7 for one,

A/F# for five, A/Bb for two. A final blues glissando in m. 137, a beautiful Bb7 chord with

an e-minor triad in the right hand, leads us back to a sparse, distant final statement of

Theme I, shifting back and forth between the violin and piano. We hear the Blues Motive

I a final time, and a final blues glissando, ending on an Ab triad in the piano with the

flat-7 (Gb) in the violin (Figure 46).

54
Figure 46. II Blues mm. 137-end

Sonata for Violin and Piano by Maurice Ravel


Copyright 1927 by DURAND Cie
Editions A.R.I.M.A. and DURAND S.A. Editions Musicales

Ravel Conclusion

Ravel said that it was his intention to use elements of the blues as materials for

his composition, but intentionally maintained his personal, French, style. He was

successful in this venture on multiple fronts. Formally, Ravel was able to retain his

interest in formal structures without become handcuffed by the potentially repetitive

structure of a blues. Ravel uses the bi-modality of the opening as a harmonic structure

throughout, and has also set up a formal structure in which the blues-form is embedded

inside of sonata form. Harmonically, Ravel used many of the Impressionist techniques

he is known for, including sequences of dominant seventh chords, tertian harmonies

using upper extensions, sonorities built upon perfect intervals, and dominant seventh

55
chords with superimposed tertian harmonies. The melodic line throughout is simple and

modal, and the blues mode was used to generate much of the complexity.

In his later works Ravel explored jazz rhythms and harmonies, with the

continued influence of the blues making occasional appearances. One example of a

possible direct relationship is in his Piano Concerto in G. Much like the beginning of

Blues, the first movement of the Piano Concerto begins in the key of G, but the piano is

playing an arpeggio figure with a G-pentatonic scale in the right hand and an F#-

pentatonic scale in the left hand. The bi-modality is supported in the strings and is taken

up by the harp and trumpets. However, unlike in Blues, Ravel uses the sonority in a

much more subtle, elegant way, creating almost an echo rather than the forceful

juxtaposition of tonalities. The bluesy melodic line in the first movement, which sounds

like a Gershwin quote, is unlike anything in II Blues, but is a clear use of the

combination of flat-3 and 3, expressing the ambiguity for which the blues has become so

famous.

56
CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSION

It is likely true that of the non-European music incorporated into art music in the

1920s (Russian, Romanian and other folk music, Balinese Gamelan, etc.) the blues has

influenced twentieth century music, in particular American popular music, more than

any other. Rock & roll, rhythm & blues, soul, funk, and many other styles of popular

music trace their lineage to the blues of Bessie Smith and W.C. Handy. Art music

composers after the 1920s gradually shifted away from jazz and blues influence, and its

association with what it meant to be an American composer faded. Ravels and

Gershwins works in the early 1930s can be seen as the pinnacle of the synthesis.

Copland (who, as mentioned, abandoned jazz after the 1920s) composed his

attempt to catch another countrys flavor, El salon Mxico in 1937, which became a

huge success, performed by fourteen American orchestras in the first year of its

publication alone (Crawford 587). This was the first of many orchestral achievements for

Copland, none of which incorporated the jazz idiom until his Clarinet Concerto (1949),

written for Benny Goodman. Other American composers began to develop an American

identity independent of the jazz influence. Composer Henry Cowell in the 1930s was

writing music drawing on a vast range of non-Western influences, and also published the

works of composer Charles Ives. The popularization of Ives (in particular among young

composers and conductors), with his use of American folk music, poly-tonality, and

dissonance, contributed to a new understanding of what American music could be.

Copland, Cowell, John Cage and many other modernists were redefining what it meant

to be an American composer (Crawford, 594-6).

The choice of the three composers discussed in this paper does not imply any

hierarchy over other composers working with synthesizing jazz and classical music in the

57
1920s. Composer and pianist James P. Johnson, who wrote The Charleston, also wrote

symphonic compositions that contain interesting alternatives to the choices mentioned

in this paper. Darius Mihauds Cration du monde (1923) contains blues elements, as

does many works of George Antheil and John Alden Carpenter. Antheils A Jazz

Symphony would be particularly interesting to analyze. Composer William Grant Still

did not write substantial works until the 1930s, but he got his start in the 1920s and his

Symphony No. 1 Afro-American (1930) and many of his other works contain blues

elements. His opera Blue Steel (1934) might be an interesting study, although to my

knowledge it has never been recorded in its entirety.

The blues artists discussed in this paper only represent a small number of artists

active in the 1920s. The recordings of Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey and Ethel Waters from

the 1920s are incredibly important to the history of the blues. Any discussion of the blues

in the 1920s must include mention of Louis Armstrong, a master of instrumental and

vocal blues. His virtuosic mastery of the blues is demonstrated in the much-lauded

introductory cadenza to West End Blues (1928), which is addition to being an

emotional opening to the piece also saturates the chromatic scale in a flurry of riffs and

phrases. The tradition of instrumental blues recordings also includes works by Fletcher

Henderson, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton, and many others.

In the decades since the 1920s other composers have continued to explore the

synthesis of blues and art music. Duke Ellington was working in smaller popular forms

in the 1920s but explored larger forms in Black, Brown and Beige (1934) and others.

Such Sweet Thunder (1957), a suite based on the work of William Shakespeare, contains

complex arrangements and thru composed expressions, in particular the composition

Sonnet for Caesar. Samuel Barbers Excursions (1945) for piano, movement II is

marked In slow blues tempo, and the second movement of George Rochbergs Carnival

58
Music (1975) for piano is titled Blues. Rochbergs piece contains complex rhythmic

ideas and extended use of chromaticism, as well as references to blues, ragtime, and

other jazz styles. Gunther Schullers Suite for Woodwind Ensemble (1945) also contains

a second movement titles Blues. The string quartet Ethel, founded in 1998, has

performed many blues infused works, including Don Byrons String Quartet 2 Four

Thoughts on Marvin Gaye and John Kings No Nickel Blues.

The use of the blues in the music of Copland, Gershwin, and Ravel, points out the

significant role that the blues played in revitalizing art music in the 1920s. Each

composer found a unique and personal manner with which to blend the blues with their

compositional styles while retaining their individual voices and expressions.

Additionally, the melodic, harmonic, and functional qualities of the blues inspired the

composers to make compositional decisions unique to their compositional output. It is a

testament to the power of the blues that it could stimulate the creativity of these

composers, resulting in three distinct and innovative compositions that have become

part of the standard piano and chamber repertoire of the twentieth and twenty-first

centuries.

59
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64
APPENDIX A

TRANSCRIPTION OF AVALON BLUES BY MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT

65
(FIRST VERSE ONLY)

66
APPENDIX B

SURVEY OF SONGS ENDING ON THE CLICHD DOMINANT CHORD

67
"Roots 'N' Blues - The Retrospective, (1925-1950)"
(107 individual recordings)

Yes, Does End on No, Does Not End on


Dominant, 18, Dominant
17%

No, Does Not


End on
Dominant, 89,
83%

40
35
35 32

30

25 22 No, Does Not End


on Dominant
20

15 Yes, Does End on


Dominant
10 8
7

5 3

0
1920s 1930s 1940s

Created By Elliot Sneider, March 2013

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APPENDIX C

PERMISSION FOR GERSHWIN REPRINTING

69
70
APPENDIX D

PERMISSION FOR COPLAND REPRINTING

71
October 18, 2013

Elliot Sneider
Arizona State University
700 East Mesquite Circle, Unit Q120
Tempe, AZ 85281
USA

RE: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Aaron Copland; Sentimental Melody by Aaron Copland;
Piano Blues No. 4 for John Kirkpatrick by Aaron Copland; Two Pieces for Violin and Piano by
Aaron Copland

Dear Mr. Sneider:

We hereby grant you gratis permission to include excerpts from the above referenced work in your dissertation for
Arizona State University.

We do require that you include the following copyright notice immediately following the excerpts:

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1929 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

Sentimental Melody by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1929 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed.
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee for the USA.
Reprinted by permission.

Piano Blues No. 4 for John Kirkpatrick by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1949 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed.
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

Two Pieces for Violin and Piano by Aaron Copland


Copyright 1928 by The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. Copyright Renewed.
Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., Sole Licensee.
Reprinted by permission.

Permission is also granted for you to deposit one copy of your paper with ProQuest. Should you wish to place your
paper elsewhere, beyond that which is required for the degree, you will have to contact us in advance as a royalty may
be payable.

With kind regards,

BOOSEY & HAWKES, INC.

John White
Coordinator, Copyright & Licensing

Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.


229 West 28th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001
Telephone (212) 358 5300 Fax (212) 489 6637
www.boosey.com
Tax ID: 11-1590300

72
APPENDIX E

PERMISSION FOR RAVEL REPRINTING

73
Ilaria Narici
General manager

MGB Hal Leonard


via Liguria, 4 Fraz. Sesto Ulteriano
20098 San Giuliano Milanese MI (Italy)
+39 02 98813 4301 ph
+39 02 98813 4305 fax
lucia.castellini@mgbhalleonard.com
www.ricordi.it

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75
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Elliot Sneider studied jazz piano at New England Conservatory of Music with

Paul Bley and Danilo Perez, and composition with Hankus Netsky and Michael Gandolfi.

He earned a Masters degree in Music Composition and Technology from New York

University, where he studied composition with Marc-Antonio Consoli. At Arizona State

University he studied composition with James DeMars, Roshanne Etezady and Rodney

Rogers. In addition to his research on the blues, Elliot has researched the intersection of

improvisation and composition and is exploring an analytical concept in which the

improvisational elements of a composition are discussed as part of an eclectic analysis.

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