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Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Debussy, from Preludes Book One:
Voiles (Sails)
Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (excerpt)
Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”
inspired by Mallarmé’s symbolist poem.
I would perpetuate these nymphs
So clear
Their skin’s light bloom, it eddies in the air
Heavy with tufts of sleep
Did I love a dream?
Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”
inspired by Mallarmé’s symbolist poem.
I. Impressionism: The Basics
A. Where?
B. When?
C. Who?
II. Debussy’s Aesthetic Goals
II. Debussy’s Aesthetic Goals
A. The Goal = Immediacy
B. The Obstacle = Nature of Music
not immediate, unfolds in/over time
III. Immediacy, Musical Realization (Pt. 1):
What you don’t get
A. Don’t get: Clear, articulated, periodic phrases
instead fragments, short motives
III. Immediacy,
Musical Realization (Pt. 1)
What you don’t get
A. Don’t get: Clear, articulated, periodic phrases
instead fragments, short motives
B. Don’t get: Long-range goals or climaxes
instead phrases that avoid clear peak or closure
III. Immediacy,
Musical Realization (Pt. 1)
What you don’t get
A. Don’t get: Clear, articulated, periodic phrases
instead fragments, short motives
B. Don’t get: Long-range goals or climaxes
instead phrases that avoid clear peak or closure
C. Don’t get: clear meter and often don’t get clear pulse
D. Don’t get: traditional or predictable forms
E. Don’t get: music that has long-range progress/process
IV. Immediacy, Musical Realization (Pt. 2):
What you DO get
A. Debussy’s Interest in Tone Color or Timbre
IV. The Musical Realization (Pt. 2): What you DO get
A. Debussy’s Ear for Tone Color or Timbre
•Dymanics: often in soft or very soft regions
IV. The Musical Realization (Pt. 2): What you DO get
A. Debussy’s Ear for Tone Color or Timbre
•Dymanics: often in soft or very soft regions
•Orchestration = solo instruments in unusual combinations
muted brass/soft percussion/harp
•Human voice used purely for color
B.Debussy’s Unique Harmony
•Chords chosen not for function, but beauty/effect
•Chords in parallel motion
IV. The Musical Realization (Pt. 2): What you DO get
A. Debussy’s Ear for Tone Color or Timbre
•Dymanics: often in soft or very soft regions
•Orchestration = solo instruments/unusual
combinations/muted brass/soft percussion
•Human voice used as another color in the
instrumental palette
B.Debussy’s Unique Harmony
•Chords chosen not for function, but beauty/effect
•Chords in parallel motion
•Use of whole-tone scale
Whole-tone Scale
IV. The Musical Realization (Pt. 2): What you DO get
A. Debussy’s Ear for Tone Color or Timbre
•Dymanics: often in soft or very soft regions
•Orchestration
•Human voice used as another color in the
instrumental palette
B.Debussy’s Unique Harmony
•Chords chosen not for function, but beauty/effect
•Chords in parallel motion
•Use of whole-tone scale
1. Six (6) notes per octave
2. Symmetrical Scale
3. Lack of Leading-Tone Effect
4. Lack of strong dissonance
•Pentatonic Scale
Format of Exam #4:
• 5 Listening IDs from listening list (composer,
title, movement as appropriate)
• 1 Listening question on Berlioz, Symphonie
Fantastique, “Witches Sabbath,” based on
Wright Listening Guide
• 2 additional listening
• Objective questions on reading, listening, lecture
• Choice of 2-3 essay questions
Debussy, from Preludes Book One:
Voiles (Sails)
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