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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: An exploration of exoticism in Maurice Ravel’s Cinq melodies populaires grecques and Chansons madecasses
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Padhraic O Cuinneagain
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2004
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (46pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library
Abstract: This thesis deals with the influence of exoticism in the vocal music of Ravel with particular reference to two major works: Cinq melodies populaires grecques and Chansons madecasses. These cycles were chosen to represent early and later periods in Ravel’s compositional output.
The principal aim of this thesis is to identify features in the Cinq melodies populaires grecques and the Chansons madecasses that could be construed as exotic. It is important to note that when the term ‘exotic’ is used, it is not to say that individual features of the music are themselves exotic; often they are not exotic in isolation. More often, it is a combination of these features that help to evoke a feeling of the exotic. This thesis also highlights the similarity of certain features from the Cinq melodies populaires grecques in the Chansons madecasses and examines the possible reasons for this repetition.
The thesis comprises three main chapters. The first chapter examines the influence and role of exoticism in France and specifically in the music of Raval in the early 1900s. Chapter two begins with a brief background to the Cinq melodies populaires grecques continues an introduction to traditional Greek music. Finally, the Cinq melodies populaires grecques are examined for possible exotic elements. Chapter three again explores the background to Chansons madecasses and to traditional Malagasy music. The final section reveals exotic elements that are in evidence in this cycle. Although text-music relationships are an important aspect in the Chansons madecasses, they do not affect melodic devices associated with exoticism. Therefore, it has been necessary to limit research to a discussion of specific ‘exotic’ features. Finally, the conclusion assesses the features that were utilized in the Cinq melodies populaires grecques and Chansons Madecasses and suggests whether the elements employed in these cycles can be traced back to the music of Greece and Madagascar.

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