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Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy reveled in harmony. His works are redolent of complex and innovative harmonics and his ability to create new and innovative ways of exploring - and playing with - traditional Western harmonics helped allow those harmonic traditions to develop into modernist tropes: He serves as one of the most importance bridges between 19th century and 20th century music. This paper will discuss some of the artistic forces that may have influenced Debussy in the writing of his compositions.

The greatest strength of Debussy's work lies in his innovations - which is not to say that his music is inadequate in other ways. Much of his work relies on the use of the whole-tone scale. Although Debussy did not invent this scale, he was the first composer to use it with such success and with such skill. In a whole-tone scale, there are only six notes to the octave (with each note a full whole tone, or two semi-tones, apart from its neighbors). This scale has been far more widely used in non-Western than in Western music - the French Impressionist composers such a Debussy used it more often than any other school of Western composers before or after - but the effect of this scale is not inherently non-Western (

Debussy's work has a somewhat surreal quality to it because of his use of this scale: We have the impression when we are listening to it that (no matter how loud the music may be or how close we may be to the musicians who are playing it) that we are overhearing it rather than listening to it. It is this sense of music heard from a distance, like a band of fairy players walking through a forest ahead of us that we know that we will never be able to overtake and so whose music we enjoy for a few moments before it fades away, that led critics at the time to refer to work by Debussy along with his co-stylists as "impressionists", for their music does bear key similarities to the paintings that were be...

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Claude Debussy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:09, May 28, 2020, from