Re-read Take a Closer Look: Exploring Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” in your textbook
1. Re-read Take a Closer Look: Exploring Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” in your textbook.
2. Carefully listen to the song “Clair de Lune” and critically examine its components, style, context, and influence. Listen for and try identifying at least TWO basic elements of music described in the required Module 6 textbook pages. You may also wish to refer back to the Module 6 Online Exploration resources as well as the required pages in your textbook for Module 6.
3. Read the essay “Musical Impressionism: The Early History of the Term” by Ronald L. Byrnside from The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4 (October, 1980), pp. 522-537, published by Oxford University Press here in Module 6.
4. Now that you’ve carefully examined and researched the work of music, write and submit the finished essay using at least three fully developed paragraphs and at least 500 words, in which you:
Describe Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” analytically. In doing this, identify at least TWO basic elements of music described in the Module 6 required textbook pages “The Basic Elements of Music.” Identify the “mood” of the song.
What kind of “Impression” does it give you?
Explain whether “Clair de Lune” is Apollonian or Dionysian, and provide evidence supporting your argument. Knowing that “Clair de Lune” belongs to a musical school known as Impressionism (based on your research) describe the similarities and differences between Impressionism as an artistic movement (as we learned about in Module 5) and as a movement in music. Use evidence from “Clair de Lune” and your exploration of Impressionism to support your arguments.
Conclude by commenting on whether or not you believe that Music and Visual Art should share an artistic classification such as “Impressionism.” In other words, does referring to “Clair de Lune” (the song) AND Claude Monet’s “Impression Sunrise” (the painting) both as “Impressionism” make sense? Or is this just an example of Academicians in Humanities making an unnecessary connection? Be sure to use and cite “Musical Impressionism: The Early History of the Term” by Ronald L. Byrnside and/or another essay you have already found and read as a research source article concerning the musical school and movement known as Impressionism
Clair de Lune Analysis Essay
The French composer, Claude Debussy, developed an outstanding masterpiece known as “Clair de Lune” meaning moonlight, and the work was based from several poems, “Fetes Galantes” collection, written by an artist called Paul Verlaine (Byrnside, p529). “Clair de Lune” was an artwork full of creativity. Debussy developed distinct patterns in his music, giving it a touch of smooth rhythm. The tones and notes of this masterpiece almost shared similar frequency throughout the whole work, although there were significant variations in tones. The progression of scale in Clair de Lune is in an organized way with high and low frequencies alternating effectively. The music notes in the masterpiece rise and fall respectively and later advance to more passive or peaceful tones creating an unforgettable melody in the music. Despite the unity in the music, sometimes the work shifts to sporadic for moments then changes back to the normal unity. The artist is dissonant and his use of dissonance goes well with the piece bringing a sense of uniqueness. The essential or primary elements of the music were artistically presented and worked harmoniously throughout the complete masterpiece of Clair de Lune. The song shows a lyrical and light-airy mood filled with romance. This mood leads to the second basic elements which are an impression of peacefulness and calmness (Zellers, np). Besides, it is an amazing masterpiece that relaxes the minds of the audience.
The music Clair de Lune exhibits both Apollonian and Dionysian features regarding the fluctuating notes. The work displays more characteristics of Apollonian. The artist Claude Debussy involved great analysis and precision in the structure as well as compositional material of the piece for it to be Apollonian (Byrnside, p529). This masterpiece captures the attention and interest of the greatest musicians ever known. The piece is unique in a way that it offers the audience a quiet place where they can ponder and meditate about life as well as purpose. Besides, the work Clair de Lune triggers deep emotional feelings and sentiment of romance. The feelings evoked bring up exciting experiences and memories hence allowing or enabling one to recall. Generally, the arrangement of concepts of melody, harmony, and rhythm in the piece of music is impressive and relies on qualities of sound that can be described fundamentally as Apollonian.
The most critical and recognizable resembles between impressionism in movement in music and artistic movement is that the two movements are both aimed to trigger a certain mood or feeling among the audiences or users of the piece. The critical consideration is about the emotions and expressions about the music in either form, but not about the dimension, for example, two or three dimensional, or the sound of music. Both movements unlock the mind and soul of a person, inducing deep moods and feelings (Zellers, np). Impressionism both as a musical and artistic movement has an ultramodern form of art defying the customary principles of their discipline. A common variation between the two movements is that the artistic movement illustrates the visual impression of life and its perspectives. According to Debussy’s statement, “Rules and chords should not affect or hinder musicians, but rather allow the music to blend into its sound and prominence” (“Claude Debussy Quotes, np). This condition means that it disobeys traditional regulations like the Avant-grade form. Furthermore, the artistic movement creates a picture or visual expression, while musical movement portrays feelings and emotions.
Byrnside, Ronald L. “Musical Impressionism: The Early History of the Term.” The Musical Quarterly, LXVI, no. 4, 1980, pp. 522–537.
“Claude Debussy Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, 2001,
Zellers, Daniel. “Impressionism: Music and Art.” Prezi.com, Prezi, 25 Nov. 2014.
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