Paul Bowles

"An Exploration of Paul Bowles Piano-Solo Pieces"

This research paper provides a general overview of the piano-solo literature by the American composer Paul Frederic Bowles (1910-1999). Thanks to recent contributions, this repertoire is now available in recordings and musical scores as it has never been before. This paper is divided into two sections. The first covers the biography of Paul Bowles and his musical achievements composer, along with his research into the folk music of Morocco and his literary writings as a music critic for the journal Modern Music and for The New Herald Tribune. The second part is about Bowles’ piano-solo output, divided thematically into pieces with similar forms and structures.
 

For Bowles’ solo piano music, theoretical analysis and a review of existing literature help to reveal style traits, including his preference for short character pieces, in which Bowles
employs neoclassical elements, such as melodies with classical harmonies that display bitonal and pandiatonal tendencies, along with ostinato patterns and Alberti-bass accompaniments.
Bowles’ music often displays ternary or free structures, with motivic development techniques through which themes or passages are derived from previous motives. Jazz and folk idioms are also an important aspect of Bowles’ piano music, particularly in his dancelike pieces, many of which display a Latin-American flavor.