This is one of Debussy’s most popular pieces. “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”
Impressionist music was often dreamy in nature and this piece fits right in that category. The dreamy quality of the melody is achieved using the whole tone scale. Whole tones on guitar are achieved by skipping on fret each time you advance on the neck. On piano you would skip one key(whether black or white.) There are only two whole tone scales….think about it???
Debussy achieves the lush sonority with his orchestration in the strings and his use of tall chords…chords with extensions, 9, 11, 13s etc. The sound of the harp also adds to the piece’s calmness.
The video again has an amazing animated score which may visually help you enjoy the music so try and follow along!
Hope everyone had an easy Monday! Regardless you might want to unwind a bit and I am here for you. This issue of ‘Music to Relax’, features the impressionist composer Debussy’s piano work “Arabesque.” Debussy wrote a pair of these and this is the 1st one.
The music of the Impressionist period began near the end of the 19th Century in reaction to ‘Common Practice,’ music with its roots in the Medieval period (500-1400), through the Renaissance(1400-1600), stylistically heightened in J.S. Bach’s hands in the late Baroque(1600-1750), continued through the Classical period(1750-1820) of Beethoven and Mozart and exploited through chromaticism and virtuosity of the Romantic composers(1820-1910, some say it has never truly ended.)
Regarding the chromaticism of the Romantic Period pretty much any note was fair game, but, the music still followed the basic rules of tonality and rules of the ‘Common Practice.’ All twelve notes could be used in any key…the basis of my blog name 12 Notes & the Truth!
Impressionists, who followed the art movement broke with these traditions. The result tended to be very lush relaxing wide open sounding music. They tried to make different sounds. Non diatonic scales and non functioning chords were trademarks of this period. However, Debussy and another composer Ravel were not fond of the term applied to their music.
If you want to play this and relax it should do the trick.
If you are looking for a music challenge try to think how this music sounds different than Bach, Beethoven, Mahler…etc.
Click here for previous ‘Music to Relax’ posts.