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Ravel harmonics

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by pb_st, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. pb_st


    Jan 22, 2014
  2. notabene


    Sep 20, 2010
    SF Bay area
    Isn't that harmonic the cello's problem?
  3. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    It's not the cello's problem, those are divisi basses. The Eb is not marked as a harmonic, just play a normal Eb.
  4. pb_st


    Jan 22, 2014
    No, at rehearsal mark 8 those really are marked as harmonics, and repeated during 8 measures. Got no idea how to play it...
  5. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Ah, I didn't zoom in far enough to see the diamond note head. I bet the publisher left out a natural sign, and those should be played on the G string, similar to figure 9 (sounding B natural). I would listen to a recording and see if you can tell what's coming out there.
  6. An E-flat harmonic on the G-string is theoretically possible, sounding as a G-natural two octaves above the open string (8th partial). This would make sense in the context of the piece, but I wonder if it's what Ravel meant. He gives no indication as to what pitch (or string) he'd like, and the 8th partial on the kinds of strings available in 1919 would have been very unstable.

    If you take a look at Ravel's version for piano, at that particular moment a sounding E-flat (or a B-natural) would be completely out of place. I don't know the "official" answer to your question, but either this is a (repeated) typo or you really are meant to hit the 8th partial. If it's a typo, I'd say the D harmonic on the G string makes the most sense.
  7. This assumes the bassists on the recording knew what to do, played it perfectly, and are audible.
  8. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC
    Dug out my copy of "The Notation Of Harmonics For Double Bass- A Guide To The Orchestral Bass Parts Of Maurice Ravel In Simplified Chart Form" By Lucas Drew- University of Miami Music Publications.

    There is a footnote referring to this that reads as follows:
    "It appears that Ravel meant a "Bb" diamond shaped note in place of the tablature "Eb".
    This harmonic would sound "D"

    The chart shows this note being played on the "G" string with the following direction:
    "Each Arabic number indicates the number of equal divisions of the string when this harmonic is played. "
    The number for this harmonic is "6".

    This supports Paul's theory.

  9. E.O.M.


    Dec 7, 2001
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Publishers be publishin'... :)
  10. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Washington DC
    As is their wont. ;)
  11. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
  12. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Wow. The fact that such a publication needed to be written says a thing or two about how we notate harmonics. While I have seen the diamond shaped note head, the ° above the note, and variations of an open string bracketed with the "note" above it indicated, it gets confusing. I am going to assume that this was a typo, but it would be nice to have a standard system.

    Part of that desire is also because I play in 5ths. While it comes with the territory that I have to adapt sometimes, trying to interpret what sounding pitch is desired, and then find a way to play it on my instrument can be a challenge. Most harmonics can be found elsewhere on the instrument, and in sections like this that divide into several different basses, most sections are sympathetic and let the 5ths players take the notes that work on their instruments.

    Ravel was a tricky man.
  13. MusikFind1


    Mar 12, 2012
    Publication is now back in print:
    "The Notation Of Harmonics For Double Bass- A Guide To The Orchestral Bass Parts Of Maurice Ravel In Simplified Chart Form" By Lucas Drew-
    Original publisher: University of Miami Music Publications.
    Item: 82-34959
    PRICE: $5.95
    Agent Alfred Music Co. Available from any music dealer.

    [ Check the 2nd and 3rd entries on the C String. Mr. Drew said the publisher reversed them in the original publication]

    Mvt. III Reh 8 measure 3, 5, 7. The Eb harmonic should read Bb harmonic, played Sur Sol for the correct D. See Reh. 5. This was an Durand engravers error.

    Mvt. 1 Reh. 11 measure 7 Change the word Solo to Soli. The entire section should play.

    Mvt. II Reh. 17 measure 5, Remove the arco. The passage starting on C# should be pizz to the end of that movement.
  14. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    My only input is this is one of my favorite pieces of all time. Partial to the solo piano version and i am starting to work on a bass version.
  15. pb_st


    Jan 22, 2014
    Many thanks for your replies, this is very useful information.