Taruskin explores four different instances of these transformations which he describes as Stravinsky's use of Russian folk music as a self-emancipation from the cul-de-sac that Russian music was trapped in. Let's look at one of his examples. Here is a facsimile page from the sketchbook. At the top of the page, tidily written out, is the Semik song "Nu-ka, kumushka, mï pokumimsya" which comes from Rimsky-Korsakov's anthology. The rest of the page shows developments of the tune for the "Spring Rounds" or "Khorovodï."
|From p. 907 of Taruskin, op. cit.|
We are so lucky to have access to Stravinsky's sketchbook! Taruskin offers a comparative analysis showing how the tune was transformed and incorporated in The Rite:
|Taruskin, p. 909|
What is really remarkable here is not that he found inspiration in folk melodies, that was quite common in composers of many countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What is remarkable is that he absorbed some stylistic elements, such as the leaping grace notes, and wholly transformed the original material with great freedom.
Another example, that I won't quote (see Taruskin pp. 911 et seq.), involves the deconstruction of a wedding song by using motifs from it as tesserae in a melodic mosaic, subjected to varied juxtapositions, internal repetition, transposition and so on. There is even a folk source for the kind of dissonant counterpoint we often find in The Rite. I mentioned many posts back that Russian folk music is actually performed by groups, not soloists, and it is typically full of heterophonic polyphony, meaning a melody accompanied by variants of itself. Taruskin quotes examples from the sketchbook.
In a burst of enthusiasm, on page 36 of the sketchbook, Stravinsky scrawled a phrase that might serve as a motto for The Rite of Spring: "There is music wherever there is rhythm, as there is life wherever there beats a pulse."
And with that, let's pause for today and listen to another performance of The Rite. This is the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest of the Netherlands conducted by Jaap van Zweden. Just follow the link: