Instrumental pieces - features (essay Qs)

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Debussy 20th Century and Impressionist features (1894)

  • Parallel dissonances - cellos move in parallel 7ths
  • Use of dissonance for colour and atmosphere, not tonal direction
  • Highly selective combination of instruments - emphasis on woodwind and horns
  • Very particular performance directions/specific playing techniques - con sourdine in strings, pp, divided (beggining)
  • "clouded tonality" - flute melody begins on C# which is not in chord I of E maj
  • Flute melody spans a tritone, C#-G
  • Flexible approach to rhythm obscures pulse - eg duplets against compound time sig
  • "free illustration of the poem" by Stephen Mallarme - tone poem
  • Effective placing of silence - b.6 - builds suspense
  • Changes of time signature - complex rhythms disguise a regular pulse
  • Added 6th chord - 3rd appearance of harp
  • Use of whole tone scale - approach to central section
  • Antique cymbals on return of melodyin section D
  • Dom 7th/Dom 13th chord used toward end of piece

Mozart Classical features (1783)

  • Sonata form - commonly used in the classical period - exposition, development, recapitulation
  • Use of the classical piano - capable of delicate dynamic effects
  • Tonic key of Bb - modulates to dominant (F) and C minor 
  • Use of functional harmony   -Cadences define structure
    -Clear harmonic progressions 
    -Emphasis on primary triads
  • Melody-dominated homophony -  Ornate melody in RH
    - Broken chords in LH
    - Use of


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