Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Mark, Christopher. "Britten's Quatre Chansons Françaises." Soundings 10 (Summer 1983): 23-35.

Britten's Quatre Chansons Françaises, written in 1928, show four possible sources of influences: Frank Bridge, Britten's composition teacher; works whose scores Britten owned; broadcasts, recordings, and concerts; and orchestration books. Britten may have used Bridge as a model for some of the harmonies and orchestration in the first song "Les Nuits de Juin," but this is difficult to trace. Of the works he knew in score, those that seem to have had the most influence are Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and Siegfried and Ravel's Introduction and Allegro.Tristan serves as a model for the end of the song cycle where the similarities are key (B Major/C-flat Major), and the spacing of the strings in the final chord, which is repeated three times as in Tristan. Also, the soprano ends on the same note (F-sharp/G-flat); the utilization of suspensions is similar; and the "Tristan chord" is blatantly quoted in the third song "L'Enfance." The influence of Ravel, along with that of Debussy, may have been acquired through broadcasts as well as scores. This French influence appears in the vocal writing; the use of non-functional progressions of seventh and ninth chords; an oscillating triplet figure in "Les Nuits de Juin"; a melodic line constructed from a chain of 025 trichords in the final song "Chanson d'Automne"; and modal inflection such as is found in the second song "Sagesse." Finally, Cecil Forsyth's book Orchestration appears to have influenced not only the orchestration but also various instructions written in the parts.

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Nikola D. Strader

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