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 a great Thanksgiving vacation. Getting back to the work grind is going to be tough this week especially for those of you lucky enough to have had some time off for the holiday. Once again my friends I am here to help you chillax and set an aural soundtrack to get you in a groove for the week ahead.
I was first introduced to this piece when I just began ‘serious’ study of music in college. There was an arrangement for a guitar quartet that I was lucky enough to be a part of and have loved this piece ever since. There are several arrangements of the Pavane for a variety of instrumentations including solo piano and guitar. My favorite , in the video below, is a symphonic version. Ravel was a master of instrumentation as can be heard in this piece and his other compositions such as, “Bolero.”
Ravel along with his contemporary and French countryman, Debussy, were the leaders in the music of the Impressionist movement. A period in music history that generally stretches from 1875-1925.
In my previous Music to Relax Posts, I often mention the words open and space when describing the music. I thought I would expand on that here. Both terms ‘open’ and ‘space’ are multifaceted in musical analysis. They can refer to the rhythm, harmony, melody, texture and orchestration, as well as, any musical parameters. In order of the previous parameters this could mean; longer slow notes, chords that extend over the octave with little dissonance, stately themes and a lush character. This certainly does not mean that relaxing music can’t be dissonant, fast, chromatic, etc. Or that music that doesn’t follow these ideals can’t be relaxing. They are offered as generalizations which are often employed in music widely regarded as relaxing.
Perhaps a good illustration would be in visual arts. If you see a painting that is very busy and confusingly draws your focus in multiple directions it might be considered to raise tension in a viewer. Conversely, a portrait of a pastoral landscape with flowing soft colors and a subject that catches the eye easily would be more relaxing.
Enjoy and relax!
If you are looking for some new music to add to your listening repertoire try Brahms Symphony No 4, 2nd movement. It is a great piece!
What to listen for: The piece starts with a distinguished theme in the French horns. Listen then as it moves between different instruments throughout the piece. Brahms not only had different instruments playing the theme throughout but accompanied by different orchestrations as well.
Ready for some relaxing music to unwind to this piece should do the trick.
Try the rest of the fourth symphony’s three movements if you get a chance.