Musical quotation

Musical quotation

Musical quotation is the practice of directly quoting another work in a new composition. The quotation may be from the same composer's work (self-referential), or from a different composer's work (appropriation).

Sometimes the quotation is done for the purposes of characterization, as in Puccini's use of The Star-Spangled Banner in reference to the American character Lieutenant Pinkerton in his opera Madama Butterfly, or in Tchaikovsky's use of the Russian and French national anthems in the 1812 Overture, which depicted a battle between the Russian and French armies.

Sometimes, there is no explicit characterization involved, as in Luciano Berio using brief quotes from Gustav Mahler, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and others in his Sinfonia.

Musical quotation is widely used in animated cartoons.[citation needed]


Quotation vs. variation

Musical quotation is to be distinguished from variation, where a composer takes a theme (their own or another's) and writes variations on it. In that case, the origin of the theme is usually acknowledged in the title (e.g., Johannes Brahms's Variations on a Theme by Haydn). In the case of quotations, there is usually no explicit acknowledgment.[original research?] However, it sometimes appears in the score. For example, in Schumann's Carnaval, in the section "Florestan" he quotes a theme from his earlier work Papillons, Op. 2, and the inscription "(Papillon?)" is written underneath the notes. In the final section "Marche des Davidsbündler contre les Philistins", he again quotes the same theme, but without acknowledgement. In that final section, he also quotes another theme first used in Papillons, the traditional Grossvater Tanz (Grandfather Dance), but this time the inscription is "Thème du XVIIème siècle".


Examples of musical quotations in classical music include:

The Gregorian plainchant melody Dies Irae has been quoted by Charles-Valentin Alkan, Johannes Brahms, Benjamin Britten, Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt, Modest Mussorgsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky and many other composers in their works.[citation needed]

American Rock band Brand New quoted The Cure's song Close to Me in the song Logan To Government Center with the lyrics "I never thought this day would end; I never thought tonight could ever be this close to me."[citation needed]

Quotation is also a tradition in jazz performance, especially of the bebop era. Charlie Parker, for instance, quoted Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in his solo on "Repetition", and "Country Gardens" on his Verve recording of "Lover Man"; Dizzy Gillespie quotes David Raksin's "Laura" on "Hot House" during the Massey Hall concert. Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins are especially famed among jazz fans for their addiction to quotation. Often the use of musical quotation has an ironic edge, whether the musician is aiming for an amusing juxtaposition or is making a more pointed commentary (as when a youthful Rollins, playing alongside Charlie Parker on Miles Davis's Collector's Items, throws in a snippet of "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," or when the avant-garde saxophonist Ornette Coleman rebuffs a skeptical heckler at the Croydon Hall concert with a snippet of the jazz standard "Cherokee").[citation needed]


See also

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