Stravinsky string chords in the Augurs section. The

Stravinsky scored ‘The Rite of Spring’ for an exceptionally large orchestra, with many transposing instruments (the piccolo, alto flute and cor aglais just to name a few). The instrumentation ranges from use of a limited number of instruments to tutti. The fact that the ‘dudki’ section is scored mainly for wind instruments (whilst the string instruments play accompaniment figures) demonstrates Stravinsky’s subsequent liking for bands lacking ’emotional’ string sounds, as in ‘Symphonies for Wind Instruments’, ‘Concerto for Piano and Winds’ and ‘Symphony of Psalms’, in which the latter only required cellos and double basses to make up the string section. Inarguably, the most arresting feature of the work is the high unaccompanied solo for bassoon at the start of the work which battled early audiences because of its very high register. Stravinsky also put much more emphasis on the dynamics and timbre of the instruments as opposed to the conventional melodic, harmonic and rhythmic features; as seen through the string techniques at the beginning of the famous ‘Augurs of Spring’ section which include repeated down bows and double?stopped chords (playing two strings at once). Similar, Debussy responded to the sensual properties of instrumental sounds in works such as ‘Prelude a l’apres’ midi d’un faune’ and ‘Lohengrin’, in which he represents an absence of melodic, harmonic or rhythmic purpose through long moving chords. Harmonics in the double bass parts can be heard in the introduction as well the more standard pizzicato technique in violin 2 at figure 4. The trumpets are sometimes required to use mutes, as well as play in a very high register. Horns are used to double and reinforce some of the string chords in the Augurs section. The upper woodwind instruments are sometimes required to use flutter?tonguing technique, shown as ‘flttz.’ in the score in the Introduction section.Stravinsky combined traditions both ancient and modern to create ‘The Rite of Spring’, as well as highly unusual compositional elements and an unusually large orchestra. After ‘The Rite of Spring’, Stravinsky went on inventing orchestral sounds and textures throughout his life, from the unique ensembles of Les Noces and the Symphony of Psalms until the “Gaillarde” from Agon, scored for flute, mandolin, harp and lower strings, with double bass harmonics. 100 years on, Stravinsky’s music continues to seize audiences by the ears.


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