Mother Goose & More
MOTHER GOOSE AND MORE As any child knows - and can show us with a look of wonder or a big smile - there is nothing like a good story. Children's understanding of music, however, is a great deal more mysterious, sometimes inexplicable. Adults often allow music to represent realistic events: who can listen to The Nutcracker or The Sorcerer's Apprentice without conjuring up the vivid images of the original story? But children often dream up more original, more daring, more colorful and even more abstract images, needing only the opening of a door, so to speak, to spark their musical imaginations. Of the extent of their journeys, we are largely and deeply ignorant; only their artwork gives us an occasional clue. Mother Goose and More, while offering familiar and unfamiliar tales for their perennial entertainment value, attempts to explore stories and music of varying origins and in different styles. In most cases, the musical works are "kicked off" by a tale or poem by a classic or modern author: Charles Perrault, Mme. D'Aulnoy, or "Mother Goose" herself. The music, by various composers, seeks to stimulate thought, passion and fantasy without overly specifying 'what" to listen to. We hope that the joint venture of words and notes will make the deepest impression, even if your child falls asleep after a few minutes. Maurice Ravel's famous suite Ma mere l'Oye (Mother Goose) for piano four-hands was composed in 1908 for his young friends Jean and Mimi Godebski. Ravel made his brilliant orchestration of it in 1922 for concert and ballet use. In each section, Ravel paints not so much the story as an engaging image from the story - the sleep of the Sleeping Beauty, Pucet's wanderings in the forest. The dialogue between Beauty and the Beast and especially the enchanting music of the tiny "pagodas and pagodines", in which Ravel blends the exoticisms of far-eastern (pentatonic) modes with neo-renaissance "lute and viol" instrumentation. Most of these stories are familiar, but we looked up that fascinating story-teller Marie-Catherine, The Countess d'Aulnoy (c. 1650-1705); among her 25 surviving tales is the lengthy adventure of the young girl (Laideronette) who won't love the green serpent because it is uglier than she. He then saves her life and brings her to Pagodaland ... [Pagoda to Mme. D'Aulnoy, were clearly people, not structures.] Her story, Serpentin Vert (The Green Serpent), was first published in 1698. Ravel enjoyed "conjuring up the poetry of childhood in these pieces" because it "led me to simplify my style and clarify my writing." Dear Parents: "The Composer's Corner" series was founded in order to bring the joy of beautiful music to children. There are few collections of recorded music for young people that speak to the intellectual level of computer savvy children who are comfortable with abstract concepts. My experience is that young audiences are capable of understanding profound musical concepts; the miracle of playing music for children is that they 'get it' long before they have the language to talk about it. There is scientific evidence of the link between learning music and intelligence. When college students listen to 20 minutes of Mozart before taking an IQ test, their scores are raised by 10 points. New studies show that when children 3-11 study music, their IQ is raised permanently. Making connections in the abstract language of music is like figuring out an aural puzzle, developing our abstract reasoning abilities. I hope you and your children will be enchanted by this collection of classic stories and the music they inspired. Gena Raps.