Vivian Giovani

  • A research proposal byVivian Giovani. The Piano Suite “Miroirs” of Maurice Ravel

    A Study and Analysis

    This work is a short biography and further analysis on Ravel’s suite for piano “Miroirs”.

    It begins with an introduction which is a kind of a short abstract of what is going to be

    mentioned and examined further . Also the purpose of this study with some personal thoughts

    of the author are expressed.

    The dissertation is divided in 3 chapters and 2 of them in further subcategories.

    Part 1.1, chapter 1 is referred to Ravel’s personal life.

    In this part, there is some information about his life , including the place he was born,

    his family and friends with the main characteristics of his personality and the kind of man

    he was.

    Part 1.2 chapter 1, is referred to his music studies, works and influences.

    In this part, Ravel’s studies are stated and the places where he had studied. Also

    composers and poets are mentioned who were great influences to his work and his

    relationship with them. In addition comments and opinions by various people are cited

    about Ravel’s personality and opus. Of course there is a stylistic approach to his work and

    how the influences of other musicians are showed, with examples and references , to

    certain works. There is also a part which is referred to Ravel’s relation to Gipsy and Spanish

    music with a short reference to these people and how they had influenced his work.

    Chapter 2, is the most crucial of the whole dissertation because it contains the main

    purpose of this study by analyzing in depth the piano suite “Miroirs” of Ravel and his art

    of orchestration .

    This chapter is divided in 5 subcategories. Each one begins with a reference to the programmatic

    character of the movement and one with the Spanish influences. Then an analysis in harmony and

    form gives a integral image and sense of completion. In addition, a reference is given, to

    the orchestration of Ravel did for the two of the five movements of the suite.

    The goal of this study is to examine Ravel’s compositional style, harmonic language and

    orchestration. I choose to analyse the specific work because it is a multifaceted work with


    programmatic and Spanish elements . This composition shows the great mastery that Ravel had

    in orchestration , the complex harmonic language he used, his imagination along with his

    programming thoughts and his preference in writing in a high virtuosic style.

    This study is a benefit for a music student and musician. It presents and analyses a

    composition of a great music composer and orchestra master of 20th century by combining

    classic, jazz, polytonal and ethnic elements in his work.

    The dissertation will be based on previous studies of various scholars and authors,

    dissertations , essays and articles.

    Information about his life and work will be based on the following sources:


     Roger Nichols, 1977

     Arbie Orenstein,1975 ( This book is a biography of M.Ravel including interviews ,

    letters, the places he studied and an analysis of his works with a catalogue of his

    compositions and a discography. Also it approaches the esthetic side of his work

    and his thoughts).

     Rollo H. Myers , 1960 ( A book about the life and works of M. Ravel)

     Norman Demuth , 1962

     Victor Seroff , 1953 ( Ch.1 is a background about Ravel’s life. Ch. 2 refers to his

    studies and influences. Ch.3 his relationship with “ Apaches”.Ch. 5 is about the

    changes in his style.Ch.9 sites his relationship with Stravinsky.

    Ch. 13 refers to “Les Six”)

     H.H Stuckenschmidt, 1968 ( This book refers to changes on Ravel’s work and life

    and it is important for having someone a whole picture of him.Also refers to his

    influence from Basque people).

     Ronald Manuel ; Dennis Dobson ,1947 (part Ι ch. I -II is about Ravel’s life.

    Ch.III cites the aesthetics of his work. Ch.IV is about his social life)

     Burnett James , 1987 ( A biography of Ravel with personal letters and recollections).


     G.W Hopkins , 1986

     Roger Nichols,1988 (Comments by Stravinsky and Milhaud for Ravel and his

    character )

     Arbie Orenstein,2003 ( This book is divided in four sections. The first is an insight

    into Ravel’s music career and the way he was thinking.

    The second part cites the correspondence and personal letters of Ravel .

    This part disclose his personality and character. It shows what kind of man he

    was , his emotions and thoughts, personal interests and travels.

    The third section is a collection of articles written by Ravel for various

    musicians and their works. It shows us his criticism to other composers and his

    opinion about their work.

    The fourth section includes interviews of Ravel published from 1911 to 1933 and

    these interviews appeared in various publications throughout the world).

     Norman Demuth, 1975 (ch.4 Ravel)

     J. Bogousslavsky , F.Boller Jan.2005 .( p. 132 The terminal illness and last

    compositions of M. Ravel.)


    Madge Waterston Hunt,1964 ( A dissertation with reference to the Spanish influence to

    Ravel’s work)

    ARTICLES ( internet)

     Concise Oxford University of Music 4th edition M.Kennedy and Joyce Bourne( few

    comments for his life and a list of his works)

     Maurice Ravel ( Biography with details about his family and the places where he

    lived, addresses and information about his works)


     Basque people ( few information about these people who had influenced the

    work of Ravel)

     Talk: Maurice Ravel (comments about Ravel by different artists)

     Maurice Ravel ( A short biography)

     Maurice Ravel ( A short biography)

     List of compositions by Maurice Ravel ( Comments about his works)

     Scott Simson March 22 2003 ( An article about M.Ravel and WarI)

     Jessica Duchen Febr. 23 2004 (An article about Ravel’s personality)

     Michael Kennedy and Joyce Bourne Jan.1 1996 ( An article about his life)

     “Questia “ ( Articles in newspapers , journals and magazines about Ravel and his


     Roger Clement Unitel Highlight (Comments about his life and work)


    Information and criticism about his work will be based on the following sources:


     Siglind Bruhn, 1997 ( This book devotes a part for Ravel’s work for piano “Les

    Miroirs”. It analyses “La Vall de cloches”, Miroirs, no5 and “ Une barque sur l’

    ocean”, Miroirs, no3)

     Stephen Zank June 2003

     Maurice Hinson , June 1 2005 ( This book is an analysis on Ravel’s piano works

    their music forms and history)

     D.Mawer , J.Cross, 2000 ( This book is an analysis on Ravel’s opus and it is

    divided in certain chapters , each containing a separately reference and examination

    on piano, chamber music, ballet, opera works and an aesthetic approach to his work

    and culture).

     John L. Holms , 1993 (About M.Ravel and his orchestral work on p.116. How

    conductors confront his work and the difficulties they had)

     John L. Holms , 1990 ( About M.Ravel and the way he composed on p. 141)

     Arbie Orenstein,1975

     Roger Nichols, 1977

     Rollo H. Myers , 1960

     H.H Stuckenschmidt, 1968

     Ronald Manuel ; Dennis Dobson ,1947

     Vlado Perlemuter & Helene Jourdan -Morhange April 1 2005 ( Comments for his piano

    works in which Perlemuter played and discussed them with Hélène Jourdan-Morhange)


     Laurence Davies, 1970 ( A reference to his orchestral music)

     Louis Laloy October 1999 ( Comments on Ravel’s work by Louis Laloy who was a

    notable French music critic and scholar. He was a close friend of Debussy and he

    wrote biographies for notable composers.)

     Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen ( This book is an analysis on Ravel’s piano works by


     Norman Demuth , 1975 ( ch.4 refers to M. Ravel)


     Madge Waterston Hunt Methodist University 1964 ( Comments about the Spanish

    element on Ravel’s work)

    ARTICLES (internet)

     Robert Craft May 1, 1975

     Magazine “Adante Corporations” Tim Page ( an article about Ravel’s orchestral


     Milt Stevens Oct.26, 2001 ( an essay about the role of trombone on Ravel’s


     Maurice Ravel ( about his works) “ Naxos”


    This study contains some biographical elements , in order to be a right introduction and

    connection to Ravel’s profile and for the reader to have a whole picture of him and his

    work. It is basic and important because the life and the elements of someone’s personality

    are reflective in his style and the way he is thinking and working .

    On the other hand, the main purpose of this dissertation is to analyze “Miroirs” and

    with an emphasis to the orchestration Ravel did for the two movements and how clever

    he used the instruments of the orchestra by showing the abilities of each .

    The analysis will be done by using the classic harmony and detecting the motifs,

    sentences, periods and the form structure. In addition, wherever it is possible , other methods

    will be used , like Schenker analysis in harmony, A.Forte set theory, Meyer stylistic

    analysis, Reti theme analysis and analysis of Jean Jacques Nattiez.

    Also for the evaluation and analysis of his orchestration and compositions, comments of

    other authors, using the bibliography mentioned above and other recommended will be used

    and whenever it is possible my personal opinion.

    The sources for his life and works will be based on articles from the internet, audio ,

    music sheets , dissertations , essays and books.

    For completing and fulfilling the purpose of this dissertation , some plans will be made

    based on the sources mentioned before. Then each information will be used in short

    according to the final well fit plan.

    There will be three basic plans. The one will be about his personal life , the second for his

    works and influences and the third will be about “Miroirs” . These plans will be based much

    on the contents, shown at the end.

    This study will show that Ravel’s work is undoubtedly unique and incomparable with a

    mastery on orchestration. The main characteristic is that each of his work has a strong

    melody and its own character. He had influences either classical or jazz, Spanish or

    ancient Greeks and this can be shown through this dissertation. The most favorable works

    are Bolero and Mother Goose and that is obvious because of the many articles and

    books which have been written for . Many people admired his orchestration and the way

    he wrote and that is why G.Gerswin asked from Ravel to give him some music lessons

    but Ravel said : Why do you want to be a second Ravel when you can be a first grade

    Gerswin? If someone reads the interviews and articles he /she will see how much people

    loved his work and thought of him as a unique personality but sometimes strange personality.


    Table of contents


    Chapter 1 :Biography of M. Ravel

    1.1 M. Ravel’s life

    1.2 M. Ravel’s works : influences and studies

    Chapter 2 : ” Miroirs “ Suite For Piano

    2.1 Noctuelles

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language

    2.2 Oiseaux Tristes

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language

    2.3 Une barque sur l’ocean

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language



    2.4 Alborada del gracioso

    Spanish music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language


    2.5 La vallee des cloches

    Program music

    Form and structure

    Harmonic language

    Chapter 3 : An overall conclusion to Ravel’s work

    A catalogue of Ravel works




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  • Battleship A film's soundtrack review

    I would like to share with you a critical review I wrote in autumn 2012 for the scifi film Battleship.This is a review about the film's soundtrack and the music of Steve Jablonsky- one of my favourite film composers.While the music of this film did not receive many good reviews I have a different opinion.

    I wrote this review as part of my Masters assignments for Composing for Film and Tv and I am trying to justify why I believe this soundtrack is a very good one!

    You can continiue reading the article or follow this link( more easy to read!)

    Battleship: The movie. Analysis and critical

    review of the film soundtrack.

    Battleship is an action-war movie released in spring 2012, which is based on a

    marine battle game by Hasbro.1 The film is another creation by Peter Berg the

    director of The Kingdom, Hancock and Friday Night Lights.2 The story unfolds

    around an alien species’ invasion to Earth and the efforts of the USA navy to confront

    and fight them.3 The most interesting element in the film’s soundtrack is the

    construction of Aliens motif and its use throughout the movie.

    Besides the efforts and the money spent for this movie the criticism around this

    film was really austere and disappointing for its creators. According to a films’ critic

    review “The finest section of Battleship may be the last 20 minutes…”.4 Also very

    discouraging are the comments of director James Cameron saying that: “…Now they

    want to make the Battleship game into a film. This is pure desperation.” 5 These are

    very few of the dozens of negative comments heard and written about the film.

    Regarding the music score composed for this movie there are not so positive

    reviews too. According to Phil Blanckley “the Battleship soundtrack is … highly

    repetitive, very little musical development …the use of the same instrumentation”.6

    Another review criticizes “failure of a score” and “nothing original”.7

    Regardless of the above negative criticisms, as well as many others over the

    internet, newspaper and magazines, my personal opinion is that there are some

    interesting elements and points in the Battleship’s score which should be

    acknowledged. A really amazing and striking point in film’s soundtrack is the Alien’s

    motif. It is a fascinating, bizarre, unearthly, unfamiliar and strange metallic hypnotic


    sound. This was recorded from a device called MRI. But what is the MRI? And how

    did they think about it? According to Oxford Dictionaries MRI is “a technique for

    producing images of bodily organs by measuring the response of the atomic nuclei of

    body tissues to high-frequency radio waves when placed in a strong magnetic field”.8

    Christina Radish at her article mentions when the director Peter Berg had a meeting

    with the composer of the film Steve Jablonsky to discuss about the film’s music, Berg

    had an MRI for his neck. This device made a scary noise which attracted Berg’s

    fantasy and immediately connected this sound with the aliens of his film. He thought

    that this sound will be perfect as an alien’s theme and will blend with the rest of the

    instrumentation too. He wanted something simple.9 And he actually succeeded in that.

    The theme of MRI is a fantastic and innovating sound which stands out on the rest of

    instrumentation and music and that is its purpose. According to Jeff Rona saying “If

    you can find a compelling musical idea…you have the makings of a good theme, even

    it is not strictly a melodic one.”10 The theme does not need to be a melodic one,

    especially in this kind of movie, but instead needs to be of something metallic,

    penetrating, sci-fi and extraterrestrial. The harsh review by James Southall is totally

    unreasonable stating “endless repetition of electronic snaps, crackles and pops.”11 My

    point is that this sound gives another dimension to the film and fulfills its purpose to

    represent successfully the nature of aliens. There are of course opposite opinions

    about the use of MRI sounded as theme music. An editorial review criticized, with a

    really strictly and narrow-minded way, that the use of the MRI in this film is just a

    desperate attempt of some people to sound innovating and that there is no actually

    anything new in this film score.12

    The score in overall is based on electronic sounds accompanied by strong, driving,

    repetitive percussion which give a dynamic tone and match perfectly to the


    mechanical, sci-fi mood of the film. Jablonsky, the composer of the film, knows very

    well how to master the hit point’s scenes by using very wisely and skillfully

    crescendos with electronic sounds following moments of silence. With this way he

    managed to create a climate of anticipation and agony. One of my favorite works

    featuring this is Planet G. This work is a combination of electronic sequenced

    background ostinato- motif sounds, in the style of 70s ambient electronic music, along

    with the Aliens’ RMI motif-theme. Slowly he introduces other instruments like a bass

    drum, metallic sounds and strange, unearthly electronic voices adding thus a tone of

    climax and tension during the track. These short moments of tension followed by

    softer ones give an interesting sound texture to the specific scene and help the

    audience to feel the danger and threat. The electronic, dark metallic sounds symbolize

    the high technology featured in the scene and blended really well with the aliens’

    metallic, technological sound of MRI scanner. When someone hears this music

    without the picture it sure makes no sense. He may find it obtrusive, tiring and too

    much mechanical. But when this piece accompanies the film, where the aliens prepare

    for fight and there is a great danger around, then the music has a meaning and serves

    the purposes of the scene.

    Another special track worth mentioning is The Aliens. This work is made of a

    consistent electronic background sound featuring occasionally the MRI sound of the

    aliens. The robotic- repeated electronic background accompaniment, blended later

    with other electronic, ambient, ominous sounds, represents the unknown mysterious

    technological spaceship that came from nowhere in the middle of the ocean.

    Occasionally the aliens motif is heard giving a chilling tone and preparing the

    audience of the aliens’ coming. As the music goes towards the end there is a

    crescendo formed by adding more sounds and amplification which suddenly stops.


    The same techniques Jablonsky used in Planet G mentioned above to create briefs

    moments of suspense and anticipation.

    These two works mentioned received surprisingly the most negative criticism. In

    my personal point of view these were perfectly adjusted to the scene and enhanced the

    entire bizarre, threatening and ominous atmosphere. The sound of MRI was truly

    innovating and not at all annoying and monotonous but instead very much interesting

    and unique. A technological sound used to represent high technology creatures. What

    is better than this?

    Regarding the songs used in this film, there are many in various styles, moods and

    genres for serving various scenes purposes. Some of these include music from various

    artists such as “…Billy Squier, Henry Machini ,The Black Keys, Citizen Cope,

    Dropkick Murphys, Carl Perkins , AC/DC…” and many others.13 Some also say that

    Rihanna should also be a part of the Battleship soundtrack instead of playing the role

    as a specialist in weaponry.14

    In the song list chosen there are among a lot of rock, rock and roll and hard rock

    songs which really fit in the movie’s mood. One of my favorites used in the movie is

    the Thunderstruck track by AC/DC. This track works really well not only because is a

    genuine work of hard rock with a peculiar rhythm in guitar but because it fits

    absolutely perfect in the specific scene. As the audience watches the efforts of

    veterans to fix the wrecked damaged ship the music of AC/DC comes to enhance the

    overall effect with its rhythmical content and mood creating thus a dynamic driving

    atmosphere. Another song with similar exciting content and overdriven guitars is the

    Super Battle song composed and executed by guitarist Tom Morello specifically for

    this movie.15The interesting part of this work is the characteristic sound quality of the


    lead guitar featured above the accompaniment and that gives a distinguishable,

    peculiar and memorable tone to the whole track. This song blends really well to the

    film’s overall mood enhancing the hard core, action-fighting scenes of the movie.

    According to a review “The other soundtrack choices include an ironic use of Henry

    Mancini’s “Pink Panther Theme” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate

    Son”.”16 In my point of view that makes clear that the director Peter Berg wanted

    songs also to be used in an interesting way.

    Concluding, Battleship should not deserve all these worldwide negative criticism.

    It is an action-battle movie based in an old board game which managed to create a

    story with fantastic visual and sound effects. This is a millionaire production of a very

    high standard. The music succeeded in many scenes to enhance the environmental

    images but also the sentiments of the characters and thoughts such as fear, agony,

    mystery, efforts… This film is highly recommended not only for action film lovers

    but for everyone and people of every age. So go out buy the DVD take your 3D

    glasses, turn your TV volume up and you will not regret it! You will live an amazing,

    unforgettable experience of fantastic visual effects and unbelievable innovating



    1 (2012) Battleship. [Online].Available at:

    ship/27819/(Accessed:12 November 2012).


    2Anon., (2012) ‘Universal Pictures' Battleship Arrives in Select International IMAX(R) Theatres in

    April’PR Newswire Association LLC, 3 April [Online]. Available at:

    accountid=14557 (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    3Anon., (2012) ‘Will Battleship movie be a hit or miss?’ Derby Evening Telegraph,13 April [Online].

    Available at:

    5E/16?accountid=14557 (Accessed: 13 November 2012).

    4 S. Zacharek, (2012) Review:Kaboom!Battleship Explodes With Dumb, Dizzy Aplomb. Movieline.

    [Online].Available at:

    (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    5 B. Moore, (2011) James Cameron Criticizes Battleship Movie. Screenrant. [Online]. Available

    at: (Accessed: 12

    November 2012).

    6 P. Blanckley,(2012)Battleship. Static Mass Emporium.[Online].Available at:

    soundtracks/battleship-cd-2012-review/ (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    7Ben’s film-music reviews (2012) Battleship (2012)review.[Online].

    Available at: (Accessed: 12

    November 2012).

    8 Oxford Dictionaries (2012) magnetic resonance imaging. [Online]. Available at: 14 November


    9 Christina Radish (2012) Brooklyn Decker and Director Peter Berg Talk BATTLESHIP, Naval

    Warfare and the Design of the Aliens at WonderCon. Collider.[Online].

    Available at:

    153633/ (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    10 J.Rona,(2009) The Reel world scoring for pictures. A Practical Guide to the Art, Technology, And

    Business of Composing for Film, Tv and Video(New York: Hal Leonard Books,) p.5


    11 J.Southall (2012) Battleship Movie Wave. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    12 Filmtracks (2012) Battleship.[Online]. Available at:

    (Accessed: 6 November 2012).

    13 Squidoo(2012) The Battleship Soundtrack List Rocks With Songs From AC/DC, ZZ Top, Billy Squier, Stone Temple

    Pilots & The Black Keys. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 10

    November 2012).

    14 Squidoo(2012)

    15 ArkivMusic (2012) Battleship-Original Soundtrack. [Online]. Available at:

    (Accessed: 12 November 2012).

    16 Ciao(2012) Battleship-DVD. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 8 November 2012).



    Anon., ‘Universal Pictures' Battleship Arrives in Select International IMAX(R)

    Theatres in April’ (2012) PR Newswire Association LLC, 3 April [Online]. Available


    AA5ECAE7F2/10?accountid=14557(Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    Anon., ‘Will Battleship movie be a hit or miss?’(2012) Derby Evening Telegraph,13

    April [Online].Available at:

    E0181B415503A5E/16?accountid=14557(Accessed: 13 November 2012).

    ArkivMusic (2012) Battleship-Original Soundtrack.[Online].Available at:

    (Accessed: 12 November 2012).

    Ben’s film-music reviews (2012) Battleship (2012) review. [Online]. Available at:

    (Accessed: 12 November 2012).

    Blanckley,P. (2012) Battleship. Static Mass Emporium.[Online].Available at: soundtracks/battleship-cd-2012-review/ (Accessed:10 November


    Ciao (2012) Battleship-DVD. [Online].Available at: (Accessed: 8 November 2012).

    Filmtracks (2012) Battleship.[Online].Available at:

    battleship.html (Accessed: 6 November 2012).


    Moore,B.(2011) James Cameron Criticizes Battleship Movie. Screenrant.[Online].

    Available at:

    (Accessed: 12 November 2012).

    Oxford Dictionaries (2012) magnetic resonance imaging. [Online].Available at:

    (Accessed: 14 November 2012).

    Radish,C. (2012) Brooklyn Decker and Director Peter Berg Talk

    BATTLESHIP, Naval Warfare and the Design of the Aliens at WonderCon. Collider.

    [Online].Available at:

    153633/ (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    Rona,J.(2009) The Reel world scoring for pictures. A Practical Guide to the Art,

    Technology, And Business of Composing for Film, Tv and Video. 2nd edn. New York:

    Hal Leonard Books

    Southall,J.(2012) Battleship. Movie Wave.[Online].Available at: http://www.moviewave.

    net/?p=2416 (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    Squidoo(2012) The Battleship Soundtrack List Rocks With Songs From AC/DC, ZZ Top, Billy

    Squier, Stone Temple Pilots & The Black Keys. [Online].Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2012).

    10 Battleship.[Online].Available at:

    ship/27819/(Accessed:12 November 2012).

    Zacharek,S. (2012) Review:Kaboom!Battleship Explodes With Dumb, Dizzy

    Aplomb.Movieline.[Online].Available at:

    aplomb/ (Accessed: 10 November 2012).



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