The Music Theory and Musicology Society Conference Keynote
RAVEL'S SONIC ILLUSIONS
Jennifer Beavers, University of Texas at San Antonio
Ravel’s interwar compositions and transcriptions reveal a sophisticated engagement with timbre and orchestration. Of interest, is the way he uses timbre to connect and conceal passages in his music. In this talk, I look at the way he manipulates instrumental timbre to create sonic illusions that transform expectations, mark the form, and create meaning. I examine how he uses instrumental groupings to create distinct or blended auditory events. Using a sound-based analytical approach, I develop these descriptions of timbre and auditory scenes to interpret ways in which different timbre-spaces function. Through techniques such as timbral transformations, magical effects, and timbre and contour fusion, I examine the ways in which Ravel conjures sound objects in his music that are imaginary, transformative or illusory.