Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
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Blue Rhapsody

A Songwriter's Rhythm

by Len Bourret


From the dark, dusty corner of Aeolian Hall, I was transported back to February 12, 1924 . Light falling on the classic, Baldwin piano formed a pale line, which filled the space between each piano key. Shadows embossed and hovered against the red tapestry, ghostly apparitions masking the life's blood of previous years. Marking time in "simple-song" form, 32 bars, and 2 musical phrases, from which I could hear music...

...in the rhapsodic color of blue--a type of folk song, originating from African-American culture and ethnicity, with a 20th-century melancholy of repeated notes. But one without a closing section. A song in a seemingly endless, unfinished symphony. A concerto with 3 movements, in which the piano stands out in bold relief, against a muted, orchestral backdrop. The end result being that I can only hear the piano. No other instruments are significant. The piano becomes a harmonica, resounding in two or more independent, but related melodic parts.

Marking time in simple-song form,
32 bars, and 2 musical phrases,
I can hear music in the rhapsodic
color of blue.
A type of folk song, originating
from ethnic culture
emanating from the spirit
and the soul, with bell's pealing
in history's melancholy with
repeated notes. But without
a closing section.

The sound which emanates is sometimes dissonant, not pleasing to the ear. At other times, its melody produces a glissando of continuous or sliding movements on a too-rapid scale. A barbershop quartet that...

...sings off-key, is not in harmony. An unwritten improvisation, which gets worse gradually as its tone-deafness increases. A cacophony of sounds. Can you hear the somewhat distracting noises of a city's busy, crowded street?

Gershwin's composition is a complicated and intricate piece that makes one wonder why he did not go on to become a writer of classical music, a mysterious question now buried within the life of a legendary composer.

A concerto with 3 movements,
a piano's keys strike
like the hammer of the harp's
strings, stand out in bold
relief, against an orchestra's
muted backdrop. The end
result being: I can only hear

the piano. No other
instruments significant.

The piano, like a harmonica,
resounds in two or more
independent-but-related
melodic elements.

The sound is sometimes
dissonant, not at all
pleasing to the ear . . .

--unlike the lullaby, or cradle song, with its balance of gentle or regular rhythm and a steady rocking of ostinato or compounded accompaniment. The music is instead metered and expands to triplets. . .

...but practice makes perfect,
and its melody produces
a glissando of continuous or sliding
movements, accelerating from a once-
too-rapid scale.

With rhythmic interaction and coherent, successive pitch, the sound has a clear and stable frequency, so becomes a pleasant melody. Thus differentiating a peaceful chord, as opposed to chaotic noise.

As Gershwin's rhapsody develops, a nocturne becomes a serenade, an expressive and graceful form...

...like a tranquil night's dream--in sharp contrast to theatrical opera. Each becomes an orchestration of various characteristics or combinations, to arrive at a certain sound. Every piece of life's music becomes...

...a prelude of things to come.

A barbershop quartet
which graduates from
the repititious and
redundant, singing on-
key in perfect pitch,
and in a balance of raptured
harmony, like an improvised
masterpiece, which gets
better, as tone
deafness decreases.

A lullaby or cradle
song, in a gentle
rhythm, but with
steady rocking
ostinato, and
accompaniment
compounded by
metered music,
which expands
to triplets.

Interacting in
rhythm and
succession of coherent
pitches, the sound has
a frequency, clear
and stable.

Differentiated
from chaos,
the sound is
peaceful, and
strikes a tranquil
chord.

A nocturne
become a
serenade,
expressing
buoyant,
graceful
dream. In
sharp contrast
to an opera--
a theatrical
drama.
Orchestrated
characteristics,
combinations to arrive
at a composition so
splendorous and
unequaled.

Through a poem-like and steady progression, Gershwin seems to be reminding us that life is written, too, like a continuous, yet unfinished, symphony...
reminding us that time, like music, may or may not be characterized by syncopation.


© 2006 Len Bourret

Len Bourret's articles, essays and poetry have appeared in numerous offline and online publications. His works, extremely popular and widely circulated, have a distinctively-unique voice. Len's goal is to have his works promoted by a well-known publicist, and circulated by a major distributor. If it is his destiny, he would like to become known as the Andy Warhol of poetry.

Find more by Len Bourret in the Author Index.

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