Wooten and Levitin’s concepts in Bolerean music


Wooten and Levitin’s concepts in Bolerean music

With the use of the two versions of Bolero, Levitin and Wooten’s concepts of dynamics, rhythm/tempo, phrasing, and tone colour can be identified and effectively analyzed. Just like art, music requires a deep sense of understanding of concepts and the manner in which various musical chords function within the broader mind of the human being.  Understanding, comprehending or even appreciation of music can sometimes prove to be a challenge as people attempt to examine its role and existence.

Levitin and Wooten look at music how people perceive it within a large paradigm.  Bolero is a moving musical piece that was pioneered by Maurice Ravel. It would later stand out as one of the most famous musical compositions of his time. As such it is appropriate to use this piece to analyse these musical concepts.


The music features unique musical composition with a new style of composition and dance gestures, with the musical instrumentation largely utilizing a sopranino saxophone in F. furthermore this form of music has been characterized as having a plain structural composition being in C major of ¾ timing. In its composition, Bolero music starts with pianissimo progressing in a crescendo and ending up to a fortissimo being played so loud. The music is anchored on a constant ostinato in the entire composition.  Wooten’s “The Music Lesson” brings out a rich collection of concepts that he has come up with over the years in his Bass camps.

.A combination of the ten ideas seeks to illustrate music as a language all interwoven into musical concepts. Quite distinctively, Wooten identifies these concepts as elements of music that he identifies as notes, articulation, feel the musical technique, rhythm, dynamics, tone, listening, phrasing, and space. (Wooten) Similarly, Levitin’s “This is your brain on music” offers insightful information regarding how humans perceive musical sounds and the manner in which the human brain processes musical sounds. In his point of view, humans have been successful in their own standing due to music. (Levitin)

In using these concepts to analyze Bolero music, several issues come into the mind. These issues are related to how music is perceived and how humans interpret it. In a fundamental way, Ravel’s Bolero music takes fifteen minutes repeating each of the song themes’ two sections approximately nine times using the same key. The composition uses various orchestrations varying considerably the musical texture. Consequently, it creates crescendo. Using Wooten’s core concepts, Bolero puts into focus a repeat pattern of AA BB four times, and AB being repeated once.

All these serve to offer the composition a sort of modulation that creates a cataclysmic musical closure. In putting Levitin’s perspective, the melody used in the compositions makes the music to stick in human brains because of simple rhythm use. (Ravel) The effects of most of the repetitive concepts of Wooten seek to make the musical patterns stick to people’s brain. Therefore, occasionally people can be able to feel the beats and sounds of particular music without physically listening to it playing. (Wooten)

Much of Andre Rieu’s renditions were based on classical music creating a new niche in music from the period ending up to the twentieth century. His approach to classical music was mostly anchored on involving the audience during musical performances so that the audience can appreciate music. However, these renditions combined the admired compositions of great classical musicians of the time with a rather informal musical performance environment that was mostly associated with pop music. His articulation of music provided a festive atmosphere for the audience where they are encouraged to participate in the performance through dance and song. Wooten would later describe this perception of music as more of a language of the learning process to understand music.

The way the audience was introduced to music during Rieu’s performance is quite similar to introducing a child to language. Thus, music becomes a form of expression, where people join through dance and song to convey their heart most felt feelings to the song being performed. People learn music and it gets into their brains and when treated as a language, Wooten argues, then people are able to learn new things and skills. Rieu further reinforces the perception of music by making it possible for the audience to understand his musical structure. (Rieu)


In conclusion, it is evident that Wooten and Levitin’s concepts of dynamics, rhythm/tempo, phrasing, and tone colour in Bolero are not only used in understanding music in totality, but they progressively come out clearly as concepts that can be utilized in the articulation of human’s perceptions of various musical sounds. Their work generally leads up to the generalization of musical perception as an intimate build-up process operating as a whole rather than individual components.

When people hear music in terms of tonal framework, they are able to relate the tones within the broader framework of beats.  The integration of these concepts in Bolero makes the music lively and attractive to the listeners. Besides, the rhythm, tone colour and even the use of dynamics in the music make it posses the ability to stick to the minds of the audience. No wonder this was one of the excellent composition of Ravel.



Works cited

Levitin, Daniel J. This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. USA:    Penguin publishers, 2007.Print

The rendition of Bolero performed by the Wiener ( = Vienna) Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, <youtube.com/watch?v= KK23BhEQVyU&feature=related>

The rendition performed by Andre Rieu, <youtube.com/watch?v=3-4J5j74VPw>.

Wooten, Victor L. The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music. USA:         Berkley Trade, 2008.Print



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