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Debussy; 20th Century Impressionism

An exploration of late 19th and early 20th Century Impressionism focusing on two works of Debussy

This project is going to focus on the development of Impressionism and how it progressed; exhibiting how it emerged into Impressionistic music, the precise devices impressionistic composers used and it'll also analyze how composers created an impressionistic effect in their works. The major composer that will be mentioned is Debussy along with his two famous works, En Bateau and La Mer.


Impressionism developed during the late 19th and early 20th Decades. There wasn't an exact date when this movements began, but in the years between 1867 and 1886 a group of artists shared a couple of related techniques towards their works, creating impressionist paintings. One characteristic of Impressionism was to add short and heavy strokes of paint to capture the format of the subject alternatively than its details, providing the painting a blurry effect. To make a radiant surface the music artists mixed the colorings as little as possible so when darker shades were needed, the musician mixed complementary colors together. Generally in most Impressionist paintings the utilization of black coloring is avoided as this might define an subject more clearly with it being such a solid colour. Artists put wet paint into wet paint without looking forward to previously applied paint to dried; this produces softer edges and a variety of strange colours. Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, Armand Guillaumin and Frdric Bazille, were the primary Impressionist painters who proved helpful together and affected each other. Through the early 1870s there were other designers who painted within an Impressionist style, including Edgar Degas and Paul Czanne.

‰douard Manet was an established painter and in the 1860s his work greatly inspired Monet combined with the others of the group. His work became the leader in Impressionist work where the importance of the subject was minimized plus more attention was paid to the artist's use of coloring, tone and feel. The depth of the topic was minimized so the viewer would go through the surface patterns and the mixture of colours rather than in to the three-dimensional thing.

In the late 1860s Monet, Pisarro, Renoir as well as others began to color landscapes and river moments where they tried out to objectively record the colours and types of items as they made an appearance in day light at a given time. This selection of artists discarded the traditional scenery palette of greens, browns and greys and instead thought we would coloring in sunnier, brighter shades.

In 1874 the state Salon of the France Academy finally agreed to let 'the group' maintain a skill show. Monet's painting 'Impression: Sunrise' attained them the name 'Impressionists' from the journalist Louis Leroy who composed for the French newspaper Le Charivari in 1874. Overall they held seven succeeding shows, the last in 1886. During that time they all continued to develop their own private and specific styles.

During this Impressionistic period, books also became famous and many freelance writers adopted a method that relied on relations. Many freelance writers have tried to include Impressionism into their books, poems and other literary works, Impressionist books includes a volume of categories, especially symbolism; its chief writers being Baudelaire, Mallarm, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Laforgue. In Impressionistic books authors tend to focus more on the character's mental life such as their Impressions, feelings, sensations and feelings, rather than looking to interpret them. Furthermore, Impressionism in music works similarly to create expressive impressions and not to get clear pictures. Impressionism took place as a a reaction to 19th century Romanticism. The music from this period aims to make a feeling and atmosphere and is not designed to describe anything. This is done through almost every aspect of music. Furthermore, there became a remarkable change in the size system, as a replacement for using the usual major and minor tips, Impressionist music tended to work with more dissonant and more uncommon scales including the whole tone scale. Furthermore change, Impressionist composers preferred to work with short forms including the nocturne, arabesque and prelude, rather than the long forms of music like the symphony and concerto.

2. The Great Influx of Kanagawa.

The Great Wave of Kanagawa is a famous woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. Released in 1832, this part is one of Hokusai's most well-known works and was the first in his series, 36 Views of Support Fuji. The picture shows an enormous influx breaking over into spray, foam and smaller waves intimidating boats in japan region of Kanagawa. It really is a graphic of terror, elegance and power, simultaneously through Hokusai's perspective. Mount Fuji can be seen in the background of this printing along with the other 35 designs, hence the name '36 Views of Mount Fuji'. The influx is intended to be a normal sea influx created by the wind flow rather than a tsunami. Just like the other prints in the series, it depicts the region around Support Fuji under dangerous conditions. A study on Hokusai's work was undertaken in 1896, Edmond de Goncourt writes, "The look for The Influx is a deified version of the sea made by a painter who lived in a religious terror of the mind-boggling sea adjoining his country on all factors; it is just a design which is impressive by the sudden anger of its jump in to the sky, by the deep blue of the clear inner aspect of its curve, by the splitting of its crest which is thus dispersed into a shower of very small drops having the shape of pets' claws. "[*]

The Great Influx inspired the logo design of Quiksilver, the search wear and clothing producer.

Hokusai's painting shows a influx breaking over into squirt, foam, and smaller waves. It is an image of terror, luxury, and awesome vitality, all together through Hokusai's use of perspective. In a report of Hokusai's work in 1896, Edmond de Goncourt creates,

"The look for The Influx is a deified version of the ocean created by a painter who resided in a religious terror of the mind-boggling sea surrounding his country on all edges; this is a design which is impressive by the immediate anger of its step in to the sky, by the deep blue of the clear inner area of its curve, by the splitting of its crest which is thus scattered into a bathtub of very small drops getting the shape of family pets' claws. "

This vibrant yet suggestive imagery is very well suitable for the soul of Debussy's works. It really is seen in Debussy's view of nature, which is typically vague, dreamy, with a type of "luminosity. " La Mer can be an obvious example and you will be handled further on in the newspaper.

Drawing from his exposure to Impressionism in painting, Debussy attempted to recreate the simple, nuances in shading, light which made this new kind of artform unique. Starting with l'Apres-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of your Faun) impressionistic imagery and style becomes characteristic of Debussy's works. This type of imagery can also be within the symbolist activity of that time period in literature that was also among the list of major influences after Debussy.

I will discuss this piece of art work and how it web links to Debussy's La Mer.

3. Impressions: Sunrise.

This section will be like the second theme but just authoring a different masterpiece of design and how it links to Debussy's En Bateau.

4. Claude Debussy.

This section includes a great deal of factual statements about Debussy's life, where he was raised etc. plus a set of his impressionist works. I will also discuss how Debussy creates the 'blurry' image he does indeed in his parts.

5. Impressionism in Music.

I will be speaking about how exactly impressionism grew from artwork to music and exactly how they now both link together.

6. Impressionistic Composers.

This section includes slight information on other impressionistic composers and how they used different ways of creating impressionistic parts.

7. Impressionistic Musical instruments.

woodwind, strings, harp, piano, small chamber ensembles

This is a very small section about the main devices that were found in impressionistic music.

8. 19th Century Impressionism

I will get into much more depth about Debussy's En Bateau and touch upon impressionism in the 19th Century.

9. Development of Impressionism in the 20th Century.

I will reveal the introduction of impressionism from the 19th century to the 20th century. I'll also get into more detail about Debussy's La Mer.


1885 - 1910

Impressionism was an important musical style that emerged during the early on 20th century. The complete idea started out with French painters. Their paintings were blurry and fuzzy. You can find no clean, hard outlines or ends or shapes. The same holds true with music of this period. The sounds were "painted" using richly coloured harmonies.

Impressionistic music achieves it's unique audio by using:

1. Bitonality. This implies two different harmonies at once. This system creates fuzzy harmonies. Traditional harmonic progressions are clean and easy, while Impressionistic harmonies are fuzzy. Think about music written in two different keys at the same time. Among this is Debussy's piano part, La Puerta Del Vina. The proper hand plays in one key, the left hand in another key. Played out mutually, they create bitonality.

2. Fuzzy chords. Take tons of records and pile them up, one on top of another, and you will get some very interesting sounds. Listen to Debussy's Claire de lune.

3. Modes. They are special scales that have been around for a long period. They were employed by composers until about enough time of the Renaissance. An excellent piece by Debussy that is based entirely on modes is Fetes (Festival). What an unbelievable part! The Dorian mode is one of the scales that is used in this part. You can be play it on the piano by starting on D and participating in up eight records on the white secrets.

4. New sounds that suggest unique locations--composers like Maurice Ravel borrowed ideas from places like Spain, the Orient, Greece, and jazz from America to "car paint" these noises to their music. Bolero is an outstanding example of this new, spectacular sound. Another wonderful exemplory case of Impressionistic music with a Spanish flavor is Ravel's piano part, Albarado del Gracioso.

5. Pentatonic scales. These are scales with just 5 notes. Play just the dark keys on the piano and you have this simple, short level. This old level 's been around for a long period. Music of China and the American Indian utilize this scale. Debussy's Gal While using Flaxen Hair is an excellent example of a piece based on this 5-build scale.

6. Whole tone scale. That is a scale without half steps. Listen to L'isle joyeuse (Island of Pleasure) by Claude Debussy.

This is performed through nearly every facet of music: melody, tranquility, color, rhythm, and form. Melodies tend to be brief in aspect, often repeated in various contexts to provide different moods. In conditions of color (see also chromaticism), notes are often drawn from size systems apart from the traditional major and modest. Included in these are pentatonic, whole-tone, or other unique scales (for example, Debussy, a significant physique of impressionism, was affected by asian music). The use (or misuse, as some critics might say) of harmony was a significant part of impressionism. Impressionists didn't use chords in the traditional way. For practically the entire background of Western music, chords had been used to make and relieve anxiety, thus giving the music a feeling of direction. A nice example to use here's Mozart's famous Sonata within a, K. 331. You may defininitely hear the harmonies constantly leading the music frontward until it finally extends to resolution on the final note.

Now to provide an example of impressionism, we have "L'sle Joyeuse" ("The Island of Joy") by Claude Debussy. This is really a musical interpretation of the painting "The Embarkation for Cythera" by Jean-Antoine Watteau. Both the painting and the part tell the storyplot of a journey to the mythical island of Cythera, a perfect place of love and beauty. The beginning trills suggest the ecstatic anticipation of the travelers; a middle section depicts them floating above the water; their appearance is heralded by jubilant trumpeting; and their ecstatic delight in realizing their destination offers a climactic surface finish. The chords in this piece sometimes serve no harmonic purpose in the original sense; these chords arranged the joyful "color" and feeling of the piece, and are no more exclusively used to develop and release tension. Sometimes the melody isn't very clear, but rather implied. . . we only get the feeling than it.

Impressionism designated the first major steps into the Debussy and Maurice Ravel. A particularly noteworthy facet of impressionism was the weakening of the idea of tonality. Despite the fact that impressionist music was still tonal in nature, the "non-functional" chords paved just how for the later likes of Schoenberg, as well as others to do away with tonality altogether (this is talked about further on the web page interacting with atonalism. )



Palmer, Christopher (1973) Impressionism in Music, London, Hutchinson & Co.

* This source will be good for my section on 'Impressionism in Music' as it describes a transitional movement from art through to music. It also analyses the essentials of musical impressionism in Debussy's mature style, which is simply perfect for my whole task.

Cummings, David (1995) The Hutchinson Encyclopaedia of Music, Oxford, Helicon.

This source shows a brief but clear classification of Impressionism. It mentions how impressionism first of all belonged to fine art and exactly how Debussy became known as the first choice of the activity.


Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Ultimate Research CD-ROM.

This is a good source for my first section on 'Impressionism', this source carries a lot of information about impressionist musicians and artists and exactly how they created their paintings. In addition, it talks about how Debussy was inspired by impressionist painters.


http://library. thinkquest. org/27110/noframes/intervals/impressionism. html

* This source explains about Impressionism but discusses what impressionist music does not include and why is it different. This source also provides an exemplory case of how music and art work can link along. It shows a musical interpretation of the painting "The Embarkation for Cythera". http://au. encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_781531905/Impressionism_(music). html

This source is good as it points out what new devices Debussy experienced inputted into his music. http://www. tcd. ie/Music/JF%20History/debussy. html

This source provides some information about Debussy's La Mer, one of the items I am writing about. It also discusses impressionistic affects in the music of Debussy. http://www. classical. net/music/comp. lst/works/debussy/lamer. php

This is a good source as it clarifies about the part La Mer in a whole lot of depth. http://www. lycos. com/info/claude-debussy--music. html?page=3

This source provides a small little bit of information about Debussy and what he thought about Impressionism, it also clarifies how he viewed his impressionistic music. http://www. classicalarchives. com/bios/debussy_bio. html

This source offers a full biography of Debussy which will be necessary for my task, impressionism is also brought up in this source. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Impressionist_music 07/12/08

This source has a tiny section on the musical instruments found in impressionistic music, I am going to then be able to write about how these instruments give the effect that they are doing in both of Debussy's works.


Debussy, La Mer.

This is the full rating of Debussy's La mer.

The Great Piano Works of Claude Debussy.

This source includes En Bateau, the other piece I am writing about. It also includes some information about Debussy's life.


"I am seeking to do 'something different'- in a way realities- what the imbeciles call `impressionism' is a term which is really as poorly used as is possible, particularly by art critics. "

- This is what Debussy said about his impressionistic works in a notice of March, 1908.

"The look for The Influx is a deified version of the ocean created by a painter who resided in a spiritual terror of the mind-boggling sea adjoining his country on all attributes; it is a design which is impressive by the immediate anger of its step in to the sky, by the profound blue of the translucent inner area of its curve, by the splitting of its crest which is thus dispersed into a shower of tiny drops getting the shape of pets' claws. "

- Edmond de Goncourt, 1896. Edmond published this in a study of Hokusai's work. Both quotations.

[*] Edmond de Goncourt, http://www. tcd. ie/Music/JF%20History/debussy. html

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