MUSI 200 Can you review this paper and critique it as well?
Share The Music
Sharing music is a way to capture and disperse the human experience. We all understand and interpret music and composers in vastly different ways which is useful in broadening our understanding of the world around us. Today you will immerse yourself in two works, “Etude 11” and “Violin Sonata,” by the 20th Century Composer Claude Debussy. While you experience these two compositions you will gather a better understanding of their melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, timbre, and form. We will also look in to the two pieces compare and contrast using these same guidelines.
Claude Debussy was a French composer whose works were a seminal force in the music of the 20th century. He developed a highly original system of harmony and musical structure that expressed in many respects the ideals to which the Impressionist and Symbolist painters and writers of his time aspired. (Claude Debussy, Encylcopedia Britanica) The first work discussed will be his “Violin Sonata” which is best described as a monophonic piece because of its nonexistent harmony and one melody. This piece captivated audiences through the use of silence and dramatic crescendo and diminuendo. His work in this sonata uses an almost dynamic form that races quickly through the work in parts but slows to allow the rhythm to be maintained. Overall this piece is best described as an emotional, dynamic piece that pulls the audience in to the story and captivates them even at the lowest points. Now that you better understand his “Violin Sonata” let us now move on to his work in Etude 11.
“The fingering”, he says, “is intentionally omitted in these Etudes… It is obvious that the same fingering cannot suit differently shaped hands” (Gatti, The Piano Works of Claude Debussy). This is a description of the Etudes as created by Claude Debussy, and his “Etude 11” is no different. This musical piece, as with his other Etudes, was not intended to be simply replayed by others who didn’t possess immense talent for the piano. This particular Etude uses a monophonic texture which is meaning to be without harmony. The piece utilizes a tempo of both ritardando, slowing, and accelerando, accelerating, as well as a rhythm that allows the listener to quickly understand the form. The form itself is remarkably structured to provide a moving story and a true demonstration of the skill of the pianist. His work can best be summed up in the following “In these, whoever is familiar with Debussy’s works and loves them, will find reborn across the web of his harmonic delicacies, the most felicitous moments of the past, retold with discretion, and what is more, with all the composer’s marvelous science, which he shows in the broadest sense of the word.”(Gatti, The Piano Works of Claude Debussy)
After listening to both pieces over the course of a few days it is hard to find the similarities of the pieces, but I imagine that was Debussy’s purpose. Debussy when composing his “Violin Sonata” used dynamic crescendos and diminuendos to tell a fast paced rhythmic story that was easily understood and reproduced. In sharp contrast to that his “Etude 11” was produced as part of his twelve piano poem works and was intentionally difficult for the pianist to reproduce. In the article produced by Mr. Gatti he describes Debussy as an arrogant and self-righteous man. I think this helps to explain why the contrast between these two sets couldn’t be more different, excluding of course their monophonic tone. Although both use a certain emotion in their performance and both pieces utilize a similar speed or rhythm to express their stories.
In closing we have covered two works, “Etude 11” and “Violin Sonata,” by Claude Debussy from the early 20th Century. These are some of the last works that Debussy produced as he died shortly after their release on March 25th, 1918. These two pieces are as different as they are alike and as unique as the composer who created them. His life’s work is best summed up by Paul Dukas below. Debussy’s work cannot be judged on the musical level alone. “One must seek the poetry in his work,” said his friend the French composer Paul Dukas. There is not only poetry in his music; there is often an inspiration from painting. (Claude Debussy, Encylcopedia Britanica) His compositions and musical talent will allow him to long be remembered as one of the most influential and dynamic composers of the 20th century.