Saturday, July 25, 2015

Is that Simon and Garfunkel, or Maurice Ravel?

In 1968, Simon and Garfunkel released their great album, "Bookends". One of my favorite songs on the album is "Old Friends". Like many of their songs, it uses some cool chords, has wonderful harmonies, and features a wonderful orchestral accompaniment. I'm sure I have listened to this song over 100 times....I like it that much. The main musical statement is based on a perfect fourth interval. "Old" is an A-flat and "Friends" is an E-flat, and the song opens with this theme stated instrumentally 3 times. Cool.
Like many of you, I also love the music of Maurice Ravel. One of the pieces that I only recently discovered was his second opera, "L'Enfante et les sortileges". This is an opera of one act that premiered in 1925. The section of the opera entitled "Il est bon, l'Enfant, il est sage" uses the same interval repeated three times, this time using a B-natural and F-sharp...a perfect fourth. The first time I heard it, I automatically started singing "Old Friends".
Coincidence? Probably. Forty-three years separate the two. Paul Simon (he wrote the music for Simon and Garfunkel) is one of the greatest songwriters of all my opinion at least. Maybe he was familiar with Ravels' operas and "borrowed" this phrase while writing "Old Friends". I would love to ask him that.
Here are both of the works in question. Take a listen. First is "Old Friends".

Next up is Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortileges:

I think this is another great example of the popular and classical musical worlds crossing and blending.

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