Friday, November 30, 2007

Seeing Debussy, Hearing Monet

Went to this gig at the Barbican tonight: music/event-detail.asp?ID=5621. Slightly more pedagogic than I expected, but after an initial alarmingly elementary introduction to the concept of the tonic and dominant, the verbal exposition of the similarities and analogies between Monet's painting and Debussy's orchestral works was actually both eloquent and illuminating.

... in the first minute of the piece, Debussy mischievously throws in a bar of complete silence, giving the listener the opportunity to explore the musical quality of negative space within a gentle flowing river of sound. [...]

Most notable was the explanation of the sheer simplicity of the musical motifs or devices which Debussy employed to lend a (minimal) structure or self-coherence to his works; even something as simple as a semi-tone shift could be transformed by Debussy's masterful technique into a memorable shrift of melody.


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