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Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero Research Paper


Incidentally just like the minimalist composers of today, Ravel developed the Bolero piece in a controlled form of monotony but contained within its self the capacity to sedate and capture an audience, the Bolero piece is simple, combined with the fact that it is an extraordinarily original piece of music done in the key of C major, carefully brushing into a minor key it produces a beautiful atmosphere, this piece is repeated over and over again, lacking elements of ornaments and is persistent to a constant drone of a side drum. (Gofrredo.H etal, 2011)

When Ravel performed the piece in Paris on 22nd of November 1928, the piece was an absolute success that amazed even Ravel himself, despite its success Ravel was very interested in how his audience perceived the piece, a prominent lady who was present in the audience during the performance, remarked that Ravel was mad to come up with such composition, when Ravel heard of her comments he smiled satisfactorily and said that the lady had understood the piece!.

If any musical piece is taken, depleted of its basic concepts like harmony, melody and rhythm what is left is an abstract nature of music with elements like the tone, color and timbre, the most abstract of the them all is color, composers paid keen interest to color in their music, In this regard Ravel was a master, his creation of color in orchestra composition was exemplary and evident in all his work.

How ever Ravel was not locked into a particular cocoon of composing style, also to mention there were factors that influenced his compositions for instance the movement of the Impressionist, though he created a style unique to himself and again very rich in color including Bolero (Rebecca.R, 2011, 1).

Bolero was written as an experiment which surprisingly attached a lot of fame to Ravel, it was a composition with a flavor that was of Spanish ballet; Ravel was able to produce complete orchestra commposition gradually building its volume and tone.

Ravel himself described it as an orchestra piece that had no music in it. This composition made it evident that with only a variation in the color of composition, in a few minutes of repeating themes can result to an absolute master piece.

Bolero’s depth of structure is found on its collaboration of a number of rules on development. This resulted to an effect of an overall growth of harmony, dynamics and complexity of timbre elements.

In particular the unusual expositions of the minor and major themes, the themes contained a foundational process of timbral complexity development, while at the same time there is an even exposure of the under laying harmony development.

During the performance Ravel plays in an increasing pace, developing dynamics and also restraining how harmony develops which he could apply in vice versa, (Carlos.H, 2011, 1)The outcome is a sensation that of richness in sound contents while all other musical elements are evolving together with a of evolution that is always fluctuating.

Analysis of Bolero

Instrument interaction and duplication

Bolero contains some duplication of instruments that result to a form of loudness coupled with some form of parallel movement which is hard for the audience to tell apart perceiving as if only the high-pitched instrument is playing, with an indescribable feel to it due to the fact that one instrument is transposed resulting to a feeling of a pulse, this is due to the progression of the two instruments and their effect on each other.

Ravel was also able to use dynamics and timbre to a duplicate instrument, this produced different nature of timbre from the other instrument. Even when listening casually to Bolero a there is a feeling of crescendo that progresses all aspects of harmonically to the finale.

The intended effect of this kind of duplication was to develop dynamics, timbre and harmony, at this time (1928) the aim to achieve dynamics was somewhat obvious but timbre here was a thing that was somewhat revolutionary, his harmony was in traditional classical in nature. (Blair.F, 2011) Different harmonic elements in Bolero are used to accompany themes that are in both Major and minor.

The texture of Timbre

Ravel describes Bolero as an essay of instrumentation that contains no music, Ravel achieved complex timbre by duplication of simpler timbres combined together, by superimposing many simpler timbers with harmony that was related and also by varying dynamics that were related and duplicated with superimposed simpler timbers.

Comparison of Bolero and baroque

The baroque period refers to the period in which the Roman Catholic church was opposed to the Reformation protestant church, the reformation church concept of music composition was that arts should be a vessel to communicate themes that were religious and more importantly at this time emotional involvement was put into perspective (Academon, 2011, 1), the Roman catholic was opposed to this while the aristo class perceived baroque music as means of showing power and control hence building baroque buildings at the gateways of courts, reception rooms and staircases that were of a grand nature.

Baroque composer strived to show the human impact on music which was portrayed directly by human voice when doing solo voice, baroques refused to adhere to the complex nature of polyphony which is found in the later period of renaissance, baroque developed deep application of harmony as the underlining foundation for the polyphonic (Academon, 2011, 1), this had great effect on tone rather than modality, it is where the concept of chords but not notes were responsible for creating an effect of closure, it came to be known as tonality.

(Rebecca.R, 2011, 1) The musical formulations of the baroque period began to evolve and contrapuntal element was regained. The progression of chords was governed by tonality that was not completely developed until the second stage of the baroque period where modes had been reduced to minors and majors, in the second stage of the baroque period saw great and complete development of chordal progression, tonal quality, dissonance, and the formal structure.

Baroque music was characterized by excessive details of music which are to some extend vivid in Ravel’s Bolero as far as harmony color and duplication are concerened however Ravel’s way of composing was largely unique (Pascal.R, 32, 1)

Comparison of Bolero with Classical

Music in the classical period was highly disciplined in style and its structure, while else contemporary music was developed to allow musician to explore more and be free to work away from the rules of classical period (Blair.F, 2011, 1).

Classical concept was to achieve clarity and make portions of compositions containing melodic elements brief, also the style and how presentation was done was very important. (Blair.F 2011, 3)

Bolero is a contemporary piece that does not follow the rules of the classical period that were highly strict and complex while we can see that Ravel’s Bolero was just a simple piece with a lot of repetition.

Classical music had tendencies of being gallant, comfortable to listen to, classical style was bent on achieving graceful and balanced melodic movements. (Carlos.H, 2011, 1)

Comparison of Bolero with Romantic period

The Romantic period did see a lot expansion of formal rules to fit in new experiments, romantic period is a combination of previous ways of how music was composed, the romantic period does note denote writing songs for love (, 2011, 1), though emotional compositions were prevalent at this stage, romantic period was less stringent and gave composers a lot of room to explore their skill in fact the romantic period is known for bending the rules of the previous’ period (classical) structure the romantic period explored the application of ensembles that were large, emotions that were extreme and a nature of orchestration that was wild.

(Rebecca.R, 2011, 1) We see that Ravel’s Bolero was a very unique piece an also adventurous, by trying out something that was supposedly thought to be monotonous, for instance the way Bolero used reputation and was able to capture his audience in an unthinkable magnitude.

Bolero’s composition has traces of elements roughly dating to all the past periods of the music eras though the contemporary form is more evident as far as freedom of play with limited options in his pieces, alluding to the we he uses repetition (, 2011, 1).

Works Cited Romantic period- Music from 1820 to 1900., 2011. Web.

Academon. Comparison of Renaissance Vs Baroque Art. Academon, 2011. Web.

Blair.F. Difference between classical and contemporary Music. Ehow, 2011. Web.

Carlos.H. Baroque Music. Essayinfo. Web.

Gofredo.H etal. The model of Ravel’s Bolero. Milan: Laboratoria di Inforamica Musicale, 2011.

Pascal.R. Bolero. New York: Roult, 2011.

Rebecca.R. classical Music. New York: Suit101. Web.

This Research Paper on Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero was written and submitted by user Anaya Tate to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Anaya Tate studied at George Mason University, USA, with average GPA 3.17 out of 4.0.

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Tate, Anaya. "Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero." IvyPanda, 2 Aug. 2019,

1. Anaya Tate. "Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero." IvyPanda (blog), August 2, 2019.


Tate, Anaya. "Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero." IvyPanda (blog), August 2, 2019.


Tate, Anaya. 2019. "Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero." IvyPanda (blog), August 2, 2019.


Tate, A. (2019) 'Analysis of Ravel’s music piece, Bolero'. IvyPanda, 2 August.

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