Impressionism In Music

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Through out the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, French musicians searched for greater independence from German music, seeking a idiosyncratic path of their own. This launched the first in a series of modern artistic movements that revolutionised societies attitudes towards art as well as leading to the introduction of movements such as impressionism. Impressionists focus was to convey atmosphere and aesthetically pleasing impressions from nature, adopting an attitude of observation rather than direct emotional engagement. The idea was to capture a point in time before reason had a chance to process it. Initiated and explored by composers such as Claude Debussy, the movement sparked much debate among music scholars as well…show more content…
As with most artistic movements, the Impressionist movement in music was a reaction to the previous era of music, the Romantic era, in which the music of many composers was heavily and overly dramatic by comparison. Impressionist music focused on suggestion and atmosphere, conveying moods and emotions aroused by the subject rather than a detailed tone-picture. It is a musical movement that aims to place emphasis on tone colour, atmosphere and fluidity essentially evoking a mood for listeners through techniques and sound. Impressionist music was easily recognisable due to the way in which it contains a variety of evident musical techniques and characteristics. This may include modal influences in which primary intervals were emphasised including octaves, fourths and fifths in parallel motion. This particular characteristic resembles a medieval procedure called organum in which a melody is harmonised by another which runs parallel to it at a distance of a fourth or fifth. Another characteristic within impressionist music may include the whole-tone scale, utilised by Claude Debussy who was deeply intrigued by music of the native orchestra, the gamelan, with percussive rhythms and interesting instrumental colours. Impressionists also often incorporated the pentatonic scale which is sounded when the performer strikes the black keys of the piano. These changes in scale…show more content…
It is a delicate and luminescent picture of half-light and half-shadow and a warmly lyrical expression of moods suggested by the title and the poetic lines that inspired it. The beautiful piece incorporated no fingering or peddling for pianists. The composer insisted that there should be no special emphasis on the melodic line or chords as the music is written as to make this unnecessary. Debussy instructed his students to play with sensitive fingertips and to play chords as if the keys were being attracted to the tips of the fingers and rose to the hand as if to a magnet. The tempo marking on the iridescent piano piece is marked Adante with tres expressif (very expressive) noted beside it. Clair de Lune takes its players and listeners through a variety of passages from soft and slow to loud and lively. The piece incorporates many elements of impressionism and acts as a brilliant example in conveying the way in which Debussy reflected these characteristics within his pieces. Evident in this work, Debussy sought to get rid of the sense of bar lines in much of his music. Rather than the typical fixed sense of beats, Debussy wanted his music to have a free-flowing effect which is evident in the way he wished for Clair de Lune to be performed. The sense of rhythm is blurred within the piece as there are often missing downbeats in the melody, constant shifts between triplets and duplets, an

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