THE PORTRAYAL OF WATER AND WAVE PATTERNS IN THE MUSIC OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY

Ashworth, Amanda Pauline (2011) THE PORTRAYAL OF WATER AND WAVE PATTERNS IN THE MUSIC OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY. Masters thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

My thesis considers the shaping of Debussy’s aesthetic, the musical language he uses
within an oeuvre that centres on the role of Nature as imaginative stimulus, and its
particular relevance to his Water pieces within which I determine wave patterns.
An examination of his piano and orchestral pieces, with particular reference to L’isle
joyeuse, ‘Reflets dans l’eau’ from Images I and La mer reveals these wave patterns on
every level of composition. Debussy’s use of modes to produce ‘floating’ harmonies
that more easily suggest sliding curves and multiple lines above an equilibrium of
water/key, together with his treatment of ‘rhythmicised time’ to evoke fluidity and the
metamorphosis of spatial awareness, aid a perception of waves and liquidity within
his Water music. This flowing organicism is supported by ternary-type forms when
discernible (in an otherwise ‘open’ structure), and meticulous attention to musical
instructions, particularly in the use of specific dynamic waves of sound, which
repeatedly swell and contract. These elements contributed to the appearance of an
improvisatory style that assisted the performer in the realization of Debussy’s
conception for a ‘free’ music, so that the listener in turn recognizes audible waves of
sound. All of these aspects are supported by the composer’s visual acuity, in the
configuration and alignment of his notes and symbols on the written page, (which I
have demonstrated on the relevant scores). Whether cognitively or intuitively based,
they produce wave-like patterns that assist the spontaneity of Debussy’s intentions for
his music, traversing bar-lines and enabling the composer to truly communicate his
feelings. These pitch contours and innovative use of musical language act as signifiers
for new correspondences between Debussy’s Water compositions and his twenty-first
century followers, extending our knowledge of his genre.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Music
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 10:12
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2014 10:12
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48144
DOI:

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