Characteristics Of Debussy's La Soire

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The exoticization of Spain present in Debussy’s La soire ́e dans Grenade recognizes and incorporates the native sounds and rhythms of Spain with an emphasis of importing Andalusian classical music. With La soire ́e dans Grenade, Debussy tries to paint a picture of exotic Spain for Western audiences by drawing influence from increase cultural attention of Iberian Andalusi (Islamic) heritage present in Granada. Interest in Iberian Andalusi tradition began with the publication of Antigüedades árabes de España (1787-1804), an account of Arabic influence in Spain driven by the fascination of Andalusi textiles and remnants of the Alhambra. Exhibits related to Spain’s relationship to its Islamic past (711-1492) and contact with the Orient fascinated …show more content…
The first of the piece of the set, Pagodes is heavily influenced by Debussy’s interest in gamelan music and evokes images of East Asia. The movement features a syncopated, off-beat chordal pulse with a pentatonic-inflected melody. While the third, Jardins sous la pluie, returns to Debussy’s France by incorporating two French folk songs Do, do, l’enfant do and Nous n’irons plus au bois. As the overall title suggests, Estampes are prints of different foreign places juxtaposed, featuring characteristics for the corresponding regions. Incorporating stylistic features of another culture while composing for a Western audience as described by Locke’s idea of transcultural composing, is realized in this set. Debussy’s incorporation of distinctive scales, rhythmic patterns, harmonies, and colors commonly associated with the exotic also follows Locke’s idea of submerged exoticism. La soirée dans Grenade allows both submerged exoticism and transcultural composing to intersect. Although Debussy tries to imitate authentic Spanish music, the music does not reflect Spanish tradition except for the imitation of the strumming guitar. The Spanish composer Manuel de Falla would also echo this concept by saying, "There is not even one measure of this music borrowed from the Spanish folklore, and yet the entire composition in its most minute details, conveys admirably …show more content…
In his book, Locke states that the term “arabesque” had multiple interpretations in Debussy’s time. Arguments ranging from curved lines to pleasure have appeared in regards to affect invoked by the arabesque. However, the melody presented by Debussy and the arabesque have a common theme. While Debussy’s ornate melody moves around the given pitches of the scale, the arabesque ornates itself repeatedly with a given pattern only to return to a single stem. Thus, Debussy creates a piece which sounds in whole Spanish without necessarily imitating and copying directly musical traditions of Spain. Since Debussy’s musical exoticism does not reflect directly the culture it tries to portray, it would be interesting to see this analysis applied to his Asian inflected music such as Pagodes and music influenced by gamelan. Given Debussy’s large interest in exotic music, he redefines the exotic and ancient to cater foreign influenced music to a wider range of audience. Debussy’s Prélude à l 'après-midi d 'un faune provides another interesting case study of connecting ancient Classical traditions to exotic musical settings. Such is the case of Prélude à l 'après-midi d 'un faune which narrates a faun’s encounters with several nymphs in a dreamlike manner. Drawing on the exotic for influence, Debussy saw it as an opportunity to explore new

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