Voiles, From Book I Of Preludes By Claude Debussy

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Voiles, from Book I of Preludes by Claude Debussy was written during a time when Impressionism and Symbolism were thriving in music, art, literature, and poetry. With symbolism, artists broke away from traditional techniques in order to indirectly evoke specific emotions, images, and concepts without merely describing them. Symbolist poets often used strategic spatial placement, word sizing, and nontraditional grammar in order to add nuance to the meaning of the text. Impressionism was a similar art movement in that it avoided directly depicting images. Some have applied impressionist interpretations to the works of various composers, but impressionism was typically found in paintings where the images looked almost out of focus and oddly cropped, with the juxtaposition of contrasting colors that portrayed the effects of light. In this essay, I will be analyzing how Debussy shows influences of these art movements in his composition, Voiles, and discuss various possible interpretations of the intentionally ambiguous title. Voiles uses various distinct compositional techniques that break away from traditional rules and give the piece a sense of dreaminess or otherworldliness. From the opening gesture, the listener feels a sense of unease. This feeling of disorientation is created by Debussy’s use of the whole-tone scale, which is used almost exclusively throughout the entire piece. A whole-tone scale is comprised of only six notes, all a whole step apart from each other. By
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