#5 – Claude Debussy – Mvmt 3, “Suite Bergamasque”

The next installment in the series looking at works that have been influential in my own composing is this piece, the 3rd movement from Debussy’s piano suite, “Suite Bergamasque.” Along with Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”, it is the most popular with the general public among all of these pieces. Claude Debussy, a French composer and certainly one of the greatest composers of all time, was born August 22, 1862, and died March 25, 1918. Debussy is renowned for his sensitive ear and touch. He belongs to the current of musical Impressionism. One can hear this, as, after hearing this movement, one is left rather with a general effect or impression, rather than remembering any one piece of a work, much like Pärt. This piece come from Debussy’s repertoire of solo piano music. I heavily encourage the listener to find more of Debussy’s piano music, as I believe it forms one of the most complete and unquestionably beautiful collections of music to be found anywhere. Debussy’s mastery of the piano is on full display here. Simply listen to the variety of sounds that Debussy evokes from the piano: rolled chords, quick arpeggios, a singing melody, encompassing the total range of the piano, from low to high. Listen to how forward motion sounds suspended: one chord (that is, more than one note played at a time) is repeated over and over. This is a hallmark of musical impressionism, making him a kindred spirit with Maurice Ravel, who appears later on. As always, The “Suite Bergamasque” Wiki page. Enjoy!

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, www.RapAnalysis.com go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at [email protected].

1 Comment

  1. This is a beautiful piece. I noticed everything that you mentioned, even though I don't know what some of the terms you mentioned mean.
    I am a fan of classical music (not a diehard – I just like to play classical music when I am studying and such).
    I recognized this piece too … it was in at least one film I've seen recently, but I can't remember which.
    You know what would be cool: you should play us a bit of what you are working on next taco Tuesday.
    I would surely love to hear what you have done so far. Plus, Benny, while being really talented at kicking ass in Smash, is also a talented pianist. I think a bunch of us would enjoy that.

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