Structural Models in Debussy's Late Works
MetadataShow full item record
In Claude Debussy’s late works one sometimes encounters passages with unclear and seemingly fragmented structures. Performers often make interpretive decisions based on musical structure, and understanding these problematic sections is a necessary step in developing an informed interpretation. While current research identifies possible models and compositional predilections that may have influenced the fragmented style of Debussy’s late works, the passages in question have yet to be subjected to a comprehensive analysis. This document begins with a survey of current research on Debussy’s late style, and of new types of narrative structures that may have influenced his thinking on musical form, which developed in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century poetry, visual arts, and early film editing techniques. It continues with a presentation of analyses of these “fragmented” sections from a selection of late works that include his chamber sonatas and solo piano works. The analyses use a reductive analytical approach and result in illustrative reductive graphs that reveal their underlying structure. The analyses of these pieces unravel some of Debussy’s techniques for creating both a fragmented and yet unified structure, looking both to the extra-musical influences that Debussy may have used as models, and to the specific musical interpretation and results of his experiments with these models. These studies of Debussy’s late chamber works are relevant for performers in terms of informing and developing an interpretation, and to theorists as case studies for Debussy’s use of fragmented structural models.