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#1516536 - 09/16/10 12:32 PM Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte
jlynne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/10
Posts: 102
I'm looking for advice. I'm working on this piece and I can play the notes, but I cannot for the life of me find the "soul" of the music. Apparently, I have zero affinity for dead royalty.

It's not technically all that difficult, but my rendition of it has all the impact of fingernails on a chalkboard. Can anybody suggest some imagery or a backstory line that might help? I just can't find the feel of it. Maybe Ravel is just beyond me or maybe I need french lessons. I definitely need something.
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#1516540 - 09/16/10 12:40 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
Morodiene Online   content
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How about Ravel's own words on the piece:

"Do not attach more importance to this title than it has. Avoid dramatizations. This is not the funeral mourning for a girl who has just died, but the evocation of a pavane which could have been danced by a small princess in the days of old, at the court of Spain."

Do some research on Pavane dances and I think that will help as well.

This is what Maurice Hinson has to say about it as well:

"This work was given its world premiere by Riccardo Vines on April 5, 1902 and was the first of Ravel's works to achieve real popularity. It is dedicated to the Princess Edmond de Polignac, a painter and wealthy member of French aristocracy... Ravel insisted that his work should be played calmly, in strict time and without any passionate or sentimental rubato. He told one young pianist, n some exasperation, "I have written a pavane for a dead princess, not a dead pavane for a princess." It must have been exaggerated performances like this that called forth Ravel's response: "I hate to have my music interpreted: it suffices merely to play it." But Ravel could not have meant such a statement literally. What he probably meant was that he hated to hear his music over-interpreted.

The pavane was popular in the sixteenth century and during this time it became established as an introductory dance to the galliard. It was intended to express ceremonial dignity. Ravel's version is a piece of great charm and beautiful in its poignancy.

Try to make the accompaniment sound like a lute; this instrument was very important in early Spanish and French music.

Pavane is written in rondo form: A B A C A. A = measures 1-12; B=13-27; A=28-39 (with varied accompaniment); C=40-49 and repeated, 50-59; A=60-72 (varied with more elaborate accompaniment)."

Hope this helps!


Edited by Morodiene (09/16/10 12:56 PM)
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#1516560 - 09/16/10 01:12 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: Morodiene]
jlynne Offline
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Registered: 02/01/10
Posts: 102
OMG!

Quote:
"I have written a pavane for a dead princess, not a dead pavane for a princess."


He's talking to me! blush

In addition to making the mistake of emphasizing the idea of a eulogy, I think what I'm missing is the sense of wistful nostalgia for a time and tradition long gone.

Thank you very much Morodiene. I will have another go at it and see if my changed outlook produces better results.
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99% of what I produce at the piano is simply noise, but that other 1%? That's music.

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#1516578 - 09/16/10 01:34 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: Morodiene]
JGonzalezGUS Offline
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Registered: 12/22/09
Posts: 191
Loc: Florida, USA
Great post, Morodiene!
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#1516623 - 09/16/10 02:27 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
Butters109 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/12/09
Posts: 204
One thing when playing Ravel is to think of the orchestral nature of his music. Take the opening, think of the portato in the bass cleff like a string base, the staccato in the right hand like a cello, and the slurred melody like a flute or violin.

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#1516637 - 09/16/10 02:44 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6035
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Morodiene, that was a very good post! I learned a lot for when I learn this piece someday (which I WILL do).

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#1516653 - 09/16/10 02:59 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
btb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Here is the focus ... the little Princess ... of the large Spanish royalty picture by Velazquez
called Las Maninas (at the Prado) which inspired Ravel to compose ...
Pavane pour une infante defunte ... Pavane for a Dead Princess.


Painted in 1656 ... Las Maninas means Maids of Honour.



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#1516666 - 09/16/10 03:17 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: btb]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: btb
Here is the focus ... the little Princess ... of the large Spanish royalty picture by Velazquez
called Las Maninas (at the Prado) which inspired Ravel to compose ...
Pavane pour une infante defunte ... Pavane for a Dead Princess.


Painted in 1656 ... Las Maninas means Maids of Honour.




Oh, she's a cutie!

Glad that info helped, everyone.
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#1516707 - 09/16/10 04:09 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
jlynne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/10
Posts: 102
YES!



She's precocious. I can see the rebellion in her eyes. And Ravel is giving her a huge wink of understanding across the years - acknowledging her frustration. That's where the tension in the music comes from, not from loss and death, but from growth, from the maturity born of acceptance of societal conventions. Ravel uses one of those conventions, the formal, ceremonial pavane, to reassure her that submission is not the same as surrender - that even a caged bird can sing beautifully. The music isn't so much a sad memorial of loss and grief, it is actually more an expression of hope and encouragement.

OK, probably that only makes sense to me, but it does make sense to me, and that's what I needed - a new perspective. Thanks everyone!
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99% of what I produce at the piano is simply noise, but that other 1%? That's music.

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#1516731 - 09/16/10 04:34 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
The translation using the word "dead" is not really wrong I guess, but "défunte" is really used in French the way we use "late" in English, as in "the late Mr. Jackson". It would be much less confusing to say "Pavane for a 17th-century princess". Or "Pavane for the late Infanta". Or... something.

As long as nobody both interprets "infante" as baby and "défunte" as dead, we're fine, really. smile
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#1516738 - 09/16/10 04:41 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: david_a]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: david_a
The translation using the word "dead" is not really wrong I guess, but "défunte" is really used in French the way we use "late" in English, as in "the late Mr. Jackson". It would be much less confusing to say "Pavane for a 17th-century princess". Or "Pavane for the late Infanta". Or... something.

As long as nobody both interprets "infante" as baby and "défunte" as dead, we're fine, really. smile


Agreed. laugh
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#1516748 - 09/16/10 04:56 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
dolce sfogato Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 2594
Loc: Netherlands
Ravel also seems to have been enticed by the 2 words 'infante défunte' which make a good tonguetwister in french, something quite more superficial than generally thought..
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#1516782 - 09/16/10 05:50 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6645
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
There is actually no evidence linking Ravel's inspiration to said Velazquez painting. Ravel, while discussing the pavane said, " (it)is not a funeral lament for a dead child, but rather an evocation of the pavane that might have been danced by such a little princess as painted by Velazquez."
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#1516783 - 09/16/10 05:52 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: Morodiene]
landorrano Online   content
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2443
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: david_a
The translation using the word "dead" is not really wrong I guess, but "défunte" is really used in French the way we use "late" in English, as in "the late Mr. Jackson". It would be much less confusing to say "Pavane for a 17th-century princess". Or "Pavane for the late Infanta". Or... something.

As long as nobody both interprets "infante" as baby and "défunte" as dead, we're fine, really. smile


Agreed. laugh


Sorry, this isn't correct.

"Défunte" without question draws attention to the fact that the princess is dead. She is not a historical figure, belonging to the past, in some way her death is weighing on the present.

Concerning the Velazquez canvas, I don't believe that it is known that Ravel was inspired by this work. By the way, the word is meninas, not maninas.

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#1516789 - 09/16/10 05:57 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
OK, thanks - that makes sense. I was also pointing out how easy it is for an English speaker to think that infante or infanta means baby (any baby, not a young princess).
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#1516798 - 09/16/10 06:14 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
landorrano Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2443
Loc: France
Well, infante doesn't mean that the princess in question is necessarily a child, or even young.

Today in Spain, the two daughters of the king and the queen are known as the Infanta Cristina and the Infanta Elena, and they are at least 40 years old, I think.

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#1516800 - 09/16/10 06:21 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Exactly.
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#1516820 - 09/16/10 07:05 PM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: landorrano]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6077
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Well, infante doesn't mean that the princess in question is necessarily a child, or even young.

Today in Spain, the two daughters of the king and the queen are known as the Infanta Cristina and the Infanta Elena, and they are at least 40 years old, I think.



That is correct.
More information here .

Apparently this is what he said (according to the Wikipedia): Ravel described the piece as "an evocation of a pavane that a little princess might, in former times, have danced at the Spanish court".
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#1516978 - 09/17/10 01:36 AM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
OK chaps ... here’s the first page (of 4) of Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunte ... to help with suggestions for the OP to develop a dance rhythm .

"I can play the notes, but I cannot for the life of me find the 'soul' of the music."

Any thoughts?

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#1516999 - 09/17/10 02:34 AM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: jlynne]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
It's easy to let all the eighth notes get in the way, bog you down, etc.

Stop playing the piano for a while, and sing just the melody alone. Completely forget the eighth-note accompaniment, and do not stick to the tempo that you were practicing; just go at the speed that feels comfortable to sing. Pay special attention to the ties.
That's the best I can do...
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#1517107 - 09/17/10 09:08 AM Re: Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte [Re: ChopinAddict]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Well, infante doesn't mean that the princess in question is necessarily a child, or even young.

Today in Spain, the two daughters of the king and the queen are known as the Infanta Cristina and the Infanta Elena, and they are at least 40 years old, I think.



That is correct.
More information here .

Apparently this is what he said (according to the Wikipedia): Ravel described the piece as "an evocation of a pavane that a little princess might, in former times, have danced at the Spanish court".


Which is what I originally quoted (though not from Wiki).
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