Ravel's Piano Concerto in Gmajor- Movement 3

Some notes on the 3rd movement of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G

WJEC A level Music Option A

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  • Created by: Charlotte
  • Created on: 29-05-12 20:14


I've colour coded these notes using the following colours:

  • Themes = RED
  • Influences = GREEN
  • Figures = ORANGE
  • Piano writing = INDIGO
  • Harmony = BLUE


Fig F = Four fanfare-style chords
Fig x = perfect 5th interval
Fig y = major 2nd interval
Fig z = major 2nd followed by a minor 3rd 

1 of 18

Exposition- Introduction

G major
-Circus atmosphere

16 bar introduction 
Simple duple time
Opening fanfare style chords- FIG F
Resolves on double bass.
Drum roll increases expectation 
Opens on a 2nd inversion of Gmaj (tonic 6/4) chord (established on bassoons and cellos)

Piano writing:

  • Non-thematic, percussive, moto perpetuo idea
  • Mainly uses perfect 5ths but there are also tritones and 4ths, emphasises tonic on first beat.

Sparse chords in the strings support the piano whilst maintaining the chord of G

Similar to Stravinsky's 'Petroushka' and also Gershwinwsque

2 of 18

Exposition- 1a (Bars 17-36 / Fig 1-3)

Played by Eb clarinet
-Sounds Gb major against the orchestra's Gmajor -Elements of bitonality (links to false relations at start of mvt 1.
-Uses diminished 8ves (Ravel favoured this leap)
-Trombone gliss

Repeated by piccolo
- Now reduced to 4 bars
-Alludes to Bmajor
-Trombone gliss augmented, extended and passed around brass

Fig F to conclude 

Piano part
-More peripatetic (keeping the same intervallic style)
-Sharpened 4ths (C in bar 17)

3 of 18

Exposition- 1b (Bars 37-56/ Fig 3-5)

feel, folk-like NATIONALISM (Basque heritage)

Piano writing
-Plays melody for first 9 bars

1b echoed on strings
-Starts in middle of bar and uses crotches so the accents fall on different beats
-Cycle of 5th (Dmin, G, G9, C, C6)

Piano writing:

Woodwind double string melody (bar 51)

Harmony goes from Emin7 in bar 52 to Emajor in bar 56
-Distinctive of Ravel's style 

4 of 18

Exposition- Transition (Bars 57-79/ Fig 5-7)

AIM: Prepare for 2nd subect in new key

Eminor with added 6th

Semiquaver patterns
-Reminder of perpetual motion at start
-Antiphonal dialogue between flute/piccolo and piano

D minor at bar 62 (SEQUENCE)

Fig 6 Piano plays woodwind part
-Pitch rises
-G9 prominent in string accompaniment
-Goes to C7 in bar 67
-Bar 72 piano plays an octave higher and uses fig z and inversions of fig z

 Fig F concludes
-In B major (Dominant chord of new section 

5 of 18

Exposition- 2nd subject (Bars 79-115/ Fig 7- 11)

E major

Brass dominates Piano tacet
Wherever the melody is, the time sig changes to 6/8 

Horn, elements of octatonicism
Accompanied by E 6/4 chord in strings 

Taken over by trumpet, antiphony

Repeated by horn with slight rhythmic/harmonic modifications

2c & 2d 
Played by trumpet
2d uses fig z  

6 of 18

Exposition- 2nd subject

5 bar jazzy contrast - JAZZ
Chromatic descents
Makes a jazzy B9 chord at bar 93
Sulla tasteria- play on the fingerboard (Softer sound)

2a on piano, hamonised with chords
-fuller texture
2b doubled by piccolo
Sulla cassa- on the drum of the tambourine

2a repeated, followed by 2c & 2d
Piano plays RH in 6/8 and LH in 2/4 -rhythmically complicated 

2c & 2d repeated

6 bar jazzy phrase- JAZZ
  Piano plays with both hands in bass clef
Does a chromatic descent using semiquavers
Romantic string sound 
 Builds up a jazzy B11 chord

7 of 18

Exposition- Codetta (Bars 115-154/ Fig 11-14)

E major

Non-thematic passage work

Fig 11
Repeated staccato quaver chords keep the pulse

Piano plays a double chromatic scale in unison

Ascending scalic passage on strings

Piano plays chordal fig F

Fig 12
Similar to fig 11
-More dissonant
-Diminished intervals
-False relations

Bar 132 -Arpeggio based idea 

8 of 18

Exposition- Codetta (cont.)

Bar 136 - scalic string passages
-Based on chord of G#min 9
Piano plays Fig F

Fig 13
Cycle of 5ths (G# half dim, C#maj7, F, B half dim, E7, Amin--> Adim7)
 Virtuosic finger work for piano
Working bass

Key change to Eb major bar 152 


9 of 18

Development (Bars 154-214/ Fig 14-20)

6 processes- Each process gets thicker in texture

Fig 14- Process 1
Eb major

Cellos half arco, half pizz

Piano taset

2nd bassoon plays softly and is overlapped by 1st basson (bar 162) to allow for breathing

1b heard in harp and cello bar 162

2a heard in horn at bar 167

Ends on a 6/3 Eb chord (i.e. first inversion) 

10 of 18


Fig 15- Process 2

Piano enters.
-bassoon plays C maj arpeggios but piano part has A minor tendancies

Horn plays 2a again but this time its a bar longer

Fig 16- Process 3 

Cellos take over the bassoon line
Piano uses cross over hand technique
-non thematic
1b heard in 184 by clarinet and viola

2a on horn (b. 187)- 3 bar version

11 of 18


Fig 17-Process 4
Bb minor

Piano continues with overlap

 Violas play fig z accomp.

2c and 2d on trumpet
Shortened 1b on clarinet and harp
-first time 1st and 2nd subjects are played together

Brass fanfare

12 of 18


Fig 18- Process 5
F# minor
-starts with a 6/4 chord

Piano's overlapping hand now plays 4ths instead of 3rds 

2c and 2d on clarinet

1b on piccolo and harp (b. 202)
-on the beat for the first time

2b heard on trumpet in b. 203

1a on clarinet in b. 204
-first time in development 

13 of 18


Fig 19- Process 6
Db major
Layered and increasingly thicker, snippets of imitation 

Piano chords back to 3rds

Moto perpetuo in cellos

Key change (to G major) ready for recap
-starts with a C# half dim chord

2b on clarinets in 6/8
Piccolo and flute play 2a in 6/8 at b/212 
Clarinets go back to 2/4 at b 212  
-play chromatic ascent

Lots of cross rhythms


14 of 18

Recapitulation- 1st subject (Bars 214-246/ Fig 20-


Differences to Exposition

  • 1st subject now 16 bars (20 bars shorter than exp.)
  • 1a played on piano in F#major (was Gb before)
  • 1a exploits piano techniques such as chords and note clusters
  • 1a repeated by piano in Eb major (not piccolo in B major)

Piano joins orchestra in G major at b. 224 and plays a series of chromatic parallel chords


 Differences to Exposition

  • Now played by woodwind
  • Played a 3rd higher

Piano accompanies, Violin and piccolo join in for first few notes of repeat at b. 232

15 of 18

Recapitulation- 2nd Subject (Bars 246-269/ Fig 22-

The transition section is omitted and 2nd sub immediately follows 1st

Now heard on piano fully harmonised
Played ff (mf before)

Trumpet takes over from piano
Piano repeats 2a
2b repeated up a semi tone (sequence)
2b repeated by woodwind

NEW 3 bar passage on piano
Jazzy interruption
Starts with C9 chord (b. 259) and an augmented 4th takes us to F#minor (b. 262)
Piano plays chromatic link using octave leaps

16 of 18

Recapitulation- codetta (Bars 269-295/ Fig 24-26)

3 bar piano passage repeated a minor 3rd higher (sequence)
2nd jazzy interruption
Trombone gliss
Chromatic augmentation by horn

A minor upwards scale leads into codetta
(fig 24 based on fig 13-14)

Only 26 bars long (34 previously)

Uses sequence

Cymbal roll

3 bar interruption of 1b in woodwind

Rising chromatic scale passed from bassoon to clarinet to flute/piccolo

Piano plays extended 9ths (technically difficult) and rises chromatically 

17 of 18

Coda (Bars 295-END/ Fig 26-END)

Chromatic scale ends on a tonic G

Sudden drop to p dynamic.

Ambiguous tonality- interplay with G and E minor

Piano plays note clusters and chords

Imitation by woodwind

Texture gradually gets thicker.

Dynamics increase

Tutti fig f to close

(Piano plays an A- the 7th of Gmajor because this is the lowest note on piano, G is below the range)

18 of 18


jessica proctor


thanks for making it's really awesum :)



Thanks! All your quizzes etc were really helpful! How did you think it went?

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