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"Haunting" ballet melodies.


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#31 PeggyR

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:35 AM

Just saw Don Quixote this weekend, and ever since I've been humming Queen of the Dryads variation. It's such a pretty waltz you want to sway while you hum, which probably looks a little strange when you're sitting at a desk in an office.

#32 jsmu

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 02:35 PM

Definitely all of Valse-Fantaisie, one of the prettiest ballet scores ever
the opening waltz from La Source
the man's variation from Baiser (Balanchine)
the English horn variation (SUBLIME) from Theme and Variations, equalled by the choreography
ditto the Adagio of Symphony in C
the finale ('Tenor Lead') from Drink to Me Only WIth Thine Eyes
'Nein, Geliebter, setze dich' from Liebeslieder Part II
Coffee/Arabian from Nutcracker, and the B minor episode from Flowers
Most of Tchaik Pas, but particularly the girl's variation and her F# minor turning sequence (pizzicati) in the coda
the Elegie, particularly the ending, from Tchaik Suite #3
the Third Theme from The Four Temperaments
most of the Shades music from Bayadere
the little lute-mandolin waltz from the ball scene in Romeo, and the balcony scene
the Rose Adagio
the 'Russian' variation from Swan Lake, particularly the opening
Verdy's variation from Emeralds ('La Fileuse') , the pas de trois, and the finale
almost everything in both Minkus and Glinka Pas de Trois (corny but irresistible)
ALL of Roma, which is sadly a lost masterpiece--which almost no one still living has seen. beautiful score.
the Adagio of Symphonie Concertante
the Menuets from Sonatine and Tombeau
the opening movement and 'girls' dance' from Square Dance
the finale ('Dithyrambe') of Duo Concertant
virtually every aria in the Morris 'L'Allegro'...
every note of Serenade
the Berceuse from Firebird
the opening cadenza of Chausson Poeme (Jardin aux Lilas)
the galop from Ballo della Regina
the finale of Donizetti Variations
the slow movement of Divertimento no. 15
the czardas variation (cimbalom or similar) from Raymonda
the main theme of Valse-Scherzo
the divertissement pas de deux from Midsummer
everything in Who Cares?, but particularly Stairway to Paradise

#33 polyphonyfan

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 12:44 AM

As of now (always subject to change! :) )

[size=4][font=times new roman,times,serif]1. [font=Calibri] [/font]The Death of Juliet- Romeo and Juliet[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=times new roman,times,serif]2. Finale from Swan Lake[/font][/size]

[size=4][font="Times New Roman"]3. Theme from Swan Lake[/font][/size]

[size=4][font="Times New Roman"][size=4][font="Times New Roman"]4. The Transformation of the Nutcracker -The Nutcracker[/font][/size][/font][/size]

[size=4][font="Times New Roman"]5. Madrigal - Romeo and Juliet[/font][/size]

[size=4][font="Times New Roman"]6. [/font][/size][size=4][font="Times New Roman"][size=4][font="Times New Roman"]Introduction - Romeo and Juliet[/font][/size][/font][/size]
[size=4][font="Times New Roman"] [/font][/size]
[size=4][font="Times New Roman"]7. Finale from Giselle[/font][/size]

[size=4][font="Times New Roman"]8. Finale from Sleeping Beauty[/font][/size]

#34 bart

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 05:15 AM

Polyphonyfan.as I read your list I found that I could hear just about every piece you mention. Some melodies came instantly; others took a little time to locate and retrieve. I thought of a time a few years ago when, during a performance of Carmen, I could hear the distinct sound of humming coming from the balcony. It was a spontaneous, and possibly unconscious, sing-along to the Habanera, another haunting auditory icon.

What is it about these "hauntiing" melodies that makes them stick in the mind and makes so many of us want to sing along? In other words, what qualities do they share?

All are extremely cantabile. Each can be hummed or vocalized rather easily, whether or not your have any musical training. Most are "romantic" in feel (or at least amenable to romantic interpretations in performance) -- with longish but not over-long flowing lines that permit the use of rubato phrasing and even a touch of schmalz. (A smaller category are especially sprightly, with a pronounced rhythm.)

Another question that has been puzzling me: why have only two of us so far mentioned the Berceuse from Firebird. It has a very long melodic line; it is quite complex rhythmically, is romantic in a touching, eery way, and is very beautiful. I often find myself thinking of it and recalling the chroeography (Balanchine's version). Perhaps the length of the line, and the complexity of the rhythm within the line, are the problems?

#35 LiLing

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:13 AM

<P>

Polyphonyfan.as I read your list I found that I could hear just about every piece you mention. Some melodies came instantly; others took a little time to locate and retrieve. I thought of a time a few years ago when, during a performance of Carmen, I could hear the distinct sound of humming coming from the balcony. It was a spontaneous, and possibly unconscious, sing-along to the Habanera, another haunting auditory icon. What is it about these &amp;quot;hauntiing&amp;quot; melodies that makes them stick in the mind and makes so many of us want to sing along? In other words, what qualities do they share? All are extremely cantabile. Each can be hummed or vocalized rather easily, whether or not your have any musical training. Most are &amp;quot;romantic&amp;quot; in feel (or at least amenable to romantic interpretations in performance) -- with longish but not over-long flowing lines that permit the use of rubato phrasing and even a touch of schmalz. (A smaller category are especially sprightly, with a pronounced rhythm.) Another question that has been puzzling me: why have only two of us so far mentioned the Berceuse from Firebird. It has a very long melodic line; it is quite complex rhythmically, is romantic in a touching, eery way, and is very beautiful. I often find myself thinking of it and recalling the chroeography (Balanchine&amp;#39;s version). Perhaps the length of the line, and the complexity of the rhythm within the line, are the problems?

</P>

Maybe also because it is't seen very often, which may change now that ABT has one.Most of mine have already been mentioned. I think I can hum the entire Tchaikovsky Serenade in CM, and most of Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet
I'll add:
The ballerina's music in Petrushka
The percussive section in Rite of Spring
Bach double violin concerto in Dm ( Concerto Barocco)
Gift to be Simple theme in Appalachian Spring
A section from Billy the Kid I think may be called buckaroo holiday?
Spartacus, Phrygia's theme, haunts me, and I don't even like it! And speaking of being haunted by music you don't like, Bolero, it pounds in my brain! Bejart's choreography probably added to my distaste.

#36 sandik

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:20 AM

Bart, I think you put your finger on a couple of crucial elements here when you talk about rhythmicity and "humability." We perceive movement through kinesthesia, a process where our brains translate visual information into muscular response -- any time that our kinesthetic experience is reinforced by our other senses, like hearing, it becomes even more powerful. And if something is "humable" we can ourselves "play along" with the score -- again, we have a physical experience and that resonates strongly.

And yes, as lovely as the Berceuse is, it's rhythmically eccentric enough that we don't have that heartbeat connection.

#37 polyphonyfan

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 11:51 PM

[size=4]bart,

You definitely identified important qualities that these pieces share. :) There is too, I suppose, always a “mystery” quality to a beautiful, hummable, piece of music. Like Aaron Copeland said, “Why a good melody should have the power to move us has thus far defied all analysis.”

[font=Calibri]Also, for me, I feel like these pieces have a certain duality which pulls your emotions in different directions at the same time- they have the rare quality of being able to powerfully capture sorrow and joy together at once, not “bittersweet-ness” but distinct sorrow and distinct joy separately and yet somehow seamlessly together. How the composers achieved that, I have no idea, but it is hopelessly brilliant, and haunting. Posted Image[/font][/size]

#38 bart

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 10:40 AM

Sandik, I l really like the following:

We perceive movement through kinesthesia, a process where our brains translate visual information into muscular response -- any time that our kinesthetic experience is reinforced by our other senses, like hearing, it becomes even more powerful. And if something is "humable" we can ourselves "play along" with the score -- again, we have a physical experience and that resonates strongly.

What you are describing is something dancers often talk about. Your point suggests to me that we, in the audience, experience something similar. Certainly this experience has been much enhanced, for me, by starting ballet classes relatively late in life.

[size=4][font=Calibri]Also, for me, I feel like these pieces have a certain duality which pulls your emotions in different directions at the same time- they have the rare quality of being able to powerfully capture sorrow and joy together at once, not “bittersweet-ness” but distinct sorrow and distinct joy separately and yet somehow seamlessly together. How the composers achieved that, I have no idea, but it is hopelessly brilliant, and haunting. Posted Image[/font][/size]

Makes sense. There is a parallel to this in the story line of many of these ballets. People weep but are also exhilarated -- truly joyful -- as they sit in the theater and allow the travails of Odette/Siegfried, Romeo/Juliet, and other star crossed lovers sweep over them.

#39 bart

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:01 PM

APOLOGIES for replying to -- or adding to -- my own post:

Polyphonyfam and sandik, you might want to check out Charles Rosen's article, "Freedom and Art," in the New York Review of Books. May 10, 2012

Rosen notes that

The ambiguity of spoken or written language is far less than the ambiguity of musical meaning, a disconcerting ambiguity described by Denis Diderot in his Lettre sur les sourds et muets:

"In music, the pleasure of sensation depends on a particular disposition not only of the ear but of the entire nervous system. ... In addition, music has a greater need to find in us these favorable dispositions of the organs than painting or poetry. Its hieroglyph is so light and so fleeting, it is so easy to lose it or to misinterpret it, that the most beautiful movement of a symphony would have little effect if the infallible and subtle pleasure of sensation pure and simple were not infinitely above that of an often ambiguous expression ... How does it happen then that of the three arts that imitate Nature, the one whose expression is the most arbitrary and the least precise [i.e., music] speaks the most powerfully to the soul."


Rosen is discussing the ability of music to express "freedom." But the point could apply equally well to a variety of other "meanings," including the narrative themes we find in ballet.

#40 sandik

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:12 PM

Sandik, I l really like the following:

We perceive movement through kinesthesia, a process where our brains translate visual information into muscular response -- any time that our kinesthetic experience is reinforced by our other senses, like hearing, it becomes even more powerful. And if something is "humable" we can ourselves "play along" with the score -- again, we have a physical experience and that resonates strongly.

What you are describing is something dancers often talk about. Your point suggests to me that we, in the audience, experience something similar. Certainly this experience has been much enhanced, for me, by starting ballet classes relatively late in life.


Absolutely we experience this in the audience. We actually have kinesthetic experiences --the physical reaction to visual stimulation -- frequently. It's why you dodge when you think you see a ball come your way, why you wince when you see a boxer land a punch. It's most easily observed with those kind of moments, where there is pain, or the possibility of pain involved, but it's happening all the time.

#41 bart

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 05:31 AM

What wonderful news -- I'm kvelling for you and your mom!



Sandik, I l really like the following:

We perceive movement through kinesthesia, a process where our brains translate visual information into muscular response -- any time that our kinesthetic experience is reinforced by our other senses, like hearing, it becomes even more powerful. And if something is "humable" we can ourselves "play along" with the score -- again, we have a physical experience and that resonates strongly.

What you are describing is something dancers often talk about. Your point suggests to me that we, in the audience, experience something similar. Certainly this experience has been much enhanced, for me, by starting ballet classes relatively late in life.


Absolutely we experience this in the audience. We actually have kinesthetic experiences --the physical reaction to visual stimulation -- frequently. It's why you dodge when you think you see a ball come your way, why you wince when you see a boxer land a punch. It's most easily observed with those kind of moments, where there is pain, or the possibility of pain involved, but it's happening all the time.


I was thinking about sandik's response when I came across the following -- from the encyclopediste Denis Diderot's Letter on the Deaf and the Mute. It seems that people were thinking and speculating about such issues even in the 18th century..

In music, the pleasure of sensation depends on a particular disposition not only of the ear but of the entire nervous system .... In addition, music has a greater need to find in us these favorable dispositions of the organs than painting or poetry. Its hieroglyph is so light and fleeting, it is so easy to lose it or to misinterpret it, that the most beautiful movement of a symphony would have little effect if the infallible and subtle pleasure of sensation pure and simple were not infinitely above that of an often ambiguous expression ... How does it happen then that of the three arts that imitate Nature, the one whose expression is the most arbitrary and the least precise speaks the most powerfully to the soul?


[size=2]Quoted in Charles Rosen, "Freedom and Art," NY Review of Books, 5/10/12.[/size]

#42 Neryssa

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 02:13 PM

Also want to add the Hungarian variation (with the balalaika) from Raymonda.


Which piece is this? I like Act III: Pas Classique Hongrois

#43 leonid17

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 10:06 AM

I particularly like the Sibelius "Valse Triste" which has been choreographed a good number of times and possibly the first time was by George Balanchine.

See:

http://www.hodsonarc...lse_Triste.html

#44 bart

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 05:04 PM


Also want to add the Hungarian variation (with the balalaika) from Raymonda.


Which piece is this? I like Act III: Pas Classique Hongrois

That's it, Neryssa. My post was a poor description of the clapping variation. On relistening to the music, I see that "balalaika" is wrong, too. The melody haunts, but also carries false memories in this case.

I love the tune, which immediately evokes the choreography when I think of it.

#45 Neryssa

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 04:32 PM



Also want to add the Hungarian variation (with the balalaika) from Raymonda.


Which piece is this? I like Act III: Pas Classique Hongrois

That's it, Neryssa. My post was a poor description of the clapping variation. On relistening to the music, I see that "balalaika" is wrong, too. The melody haunts, but also carries false memories in this case.
I love the tune, which immediately evokes the choreography when I think of it.


What do you mean by "false memories?"
I also wonder why Balanchine choreographed it for Maria Tallchief the way he did in Pas de Dix. If I remember correctly Tallchief wrote about expressive port de bras similar to the ones in Firebird. However, when I watch the Russian versions today (beginning with Pas Classique Hongrois), it begins with a développé which is lovely... I still prefer what Balanchine choreographed for the coda (Act III). Forgive my clunky writing.


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