ABSTRACT

Many of the dance movements of The Rite are stratifications, layered or polyrhythmic structures in which there is a superimposition of melodic fragments and rhythmic patterns that repeat according to varying cycles or spans. Stratification of the kind found in The Rite is without precedent in the art music of Russia and the West. The harshness of the dissonance in The Rite of Spring is for the most part octatonic in conception. Questions are likely to arise at this point about the aesthetic attraction of the superimposed and stratified textures of The Rite of Spring, radically new in 1913 and perhaps to this day still capable of startling and even shocking first-time listeners. The thought of such a correspondence to African polyrhythm must surely have occurred to any number of enthusiasts of Stravinsky’s music familiar to a degree with African music through recordings and the transcriptions of numerous scholars.