Maurice Ravel – Bolero (trombone solo) (VI)

Maurice Ravel – Bolero

Composer started to compose Bolero as a trial but after the completion of the piece, it became Ravel’s most famous work. At the beginning of Bolero, it sounds like a Spanish ballet. However, Ravel composed this little theme for large orchestra with a slow and consistent development of the theme in content as well as in tonality. Ravel identified this wonderful work as “the piece for orchestra without music”. On the contrary, we can see that, despite the theme is just repeated several times with differences in instrumentation for 15 minutes, Bolero is one of the most important pieces in orchestral literature.

Ravel’s magnificent Bolero solo is very important for trombone because performers are always confronted with some problems. When the piece starts, trombone player has to wait for that important solo and when the solo comes, performer must play b flat which is the highest note for trombone and later on, other high notes emerge as well. At the d flat, which is in the second subject, performer must give an extra attention to the glissando. If orchestra’s volume is high and the tempo is slow, performer needs an extra breath. Generally after the long notes, performer has to breathe because that can save some energy and assures the mouth position. When the orchestra rests, including vibrato makes this solo better. Performer has to make good control (especially breath and mouth position) when the notes are starting to get across the bass octave. Besides, at the end of the solo, when the volume gets loud, performer must catch a qualitative sound.

The best solution for the Bolero’s trombone solo is to exercise after memorizing because of the high pitches. Otherwise performer cannot play consecutively. So, if performer always remembers this solo in his mind, it will be useful for playing in right positions. And also, performer has to play high notes in forte because of their mouth condition. In addition to that, every conductor wants a different tempo, so studying in different tempos will be useful either.

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