Claude Debussy: Piano Preludes - La Fille Aux Cheveux de Lin

Topics: Music / Pages: 4 (878 words) / Published: May 13th, 2013
Claude Debussy: Piano Preludes - La fille aux cheveux de lin
Lucinda Nicholls, 10.1
Part 1
La fille aux cheveux de lin is the eighth piece in Book 1 of Debussy’s Preludes. It is a typical example of his impressionist composition style, impressionism in this case meaning a type of program music which aimed to evoke moods and impressions through tone colour and harmony. Impressionism also relies on allusion and suggestive understatement to convey its subtle meaning.
La fille aux cheveux de lin is alluded to be in ternary form, with the opening theme from bars 1-3 making a reappearance in bars 28-32 with the rhythm augmented into crotchets in bar 31. The return is not a direct repeat of the theme, but we are given enough of the original melody to be able to assume that it is a return. The way Debussy has alluded to the piece being in ternary is in itself, an “impression” of form.
One of the features of Debussy’s Preludes is that the title to each work is written at the end of the piece, enabling the listener to form his own opinion to each piece before being influenced by the title Debussy chose to name it. ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’ roughly translates to ‘The girl with the flaxen hair’, which is vague enough to allow each listener to create his own perception of the piece, while specific enough to evoke a particular mood.
There are many new harmonic techniques Debussy used throughout his Impressionist works, some of which which are found in La fille aux cheveux de lin. The opening theme, bars 1-3, is based on the pentatonic scale formed by the black keys of the piano. All notes in the theme, save for the F in the third bar, are part of this scale. Debussy used many traditional major and minor chords in his pieces, but he used them in original, innovative ways that made them sound unfamiliar and fresh. He especially loved to use parallel movement in his chords, and an example of this is the parallel fourths found in bar 14 and bars 33-34, and the ascending

Bibliography: * ------------------------------------------------- Alvira, José Rodríguez. "Harmonic Analysis of Debussy 's Prelude La fille aux cheveux de lin (Book I, VIII)." teoría - Music Theory Web. N.p., n.d. Web. <>. * ------------------------------------------------- Grout, Donald J., and Claude V. Palisca.A History of Western Music. Fourth Edition ed. London: Dent, 1988. Print. * ------------------------------------------------- Quote, Kerman, Joseph, and Vivian Kerman.Listen. Third Edition ed. New York: Worth Publishers, Inc., 1980. Print. Page 416 * ------------------------------------------------- "Préludes (Debussy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. <

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