Harmonic Ingenuity of Debussy:– Initial-Observations

August 8, 2014

Oscar South

To truly and correctly consider the content of a musical work, the context and form must be observed and understood. Before we dig into the ‘meat’ of the piece (all those juicy chords..) I will take some time to make any relevant initial observations.

Firstly, what is an Arabesque?

According to according to the Yale university library’s glossary of musical forms, it is “a short piece of music featuring various melodic, contrapuntal, or harmonic decorations”. While correct, this is probably true of most pieces of music!

‘Oxford Dictionaries’ defines the term abstractly from musical form as “an ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines, originally found in ancient Islamic art”. It goes on to specifically define a musical Arabesque as “a passage or composition with fanciful ornamentation of the melody”. This is a little more clear but no more specific.

The Baker’s Student Encyclopedia of Music (L. D. Kuhn, 1999)…

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