Music For Uplifting Gormandizers: Bolero

Ravel’s Bolero is one of the most popular classical music pieces. It is indeed a very approachable piece, with a simple AABB structure and two very pleasant melodies. Also it stays in C major throughout, giving it a tension and simplicity that surely contributes to its success. I’ve been thrilled by the Bolero since day one, as a kid. What really enticed me was its structure: same key and tempo throughout with the constant crescendo. I also found the melodies very attractive, the first more sunny and friendly, the second threatening and lascivious. Even then I loved repetition in music.

I made my first Bolero in 2000, with the complicity of Maurizio Liguori of TechnoGod in their studio in Bologna. It was a dubby/d’n’b take, still unpublished. I don’t really like that arrangement anymore, except for one idea which I kept in this new version: shifting the time signature from 3/4 to 4/4.

In this version there is another suggestion I’ve had while listening to Ravel’s piece: the second theme sounds like it was written for distorted electric guitar. I imagined it being played by two of my favorite guitarists, both very sentimental yet intensely different: Frank Zappa (the most adventurous guitarist I’ve ever heard) and Robert Fripp (the most soulful yet measured and scientific guitarist there is). So I devised a suitable background for this odd sonic marriage to happen. I’ve played guitar for most of my life, yet I’ve never imagined myself as a guitar hero: this is as close as I’ve ever been. Moreover, I’ve always felt that the Dobro was a really funky instrument, with or without bottleneck.

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