Arts & Culture | Impressionism | Modern Era | Classical
The term ‘Impressionism’ is associated in music primarily with the work of Debussy, but is also used in connection with Ravel, Stravinsky, Szymanowski and others. While Debussy did not enjoy a personal association with any of the leading Impressionists, certain analogies between his aesthetic and techniques and those of painters such as Monet, Renoir and Pissarro are striking. In their attempts to capture transient effects of light and atmosphere, Impressionist painters used small dashes and dabs of contrasted colours which, when viewed from a distance, give the canvas a slightly blurred quality, lacking in sharp outlines and clear directional movements, but with an effect of rapid surface vibration. Debussy’s music displays comparable qualities. In the orchestral works, subtle and highly individual blends of sound are created, whose individual instrumental components are hard to isolate. The harmony meanwhile, often lacking clear functional implications, seems static, whatever rapid surface figurations or other ‘shimmering’ effects (such as the use of a rapidly repeated note or a string tremolando) might animate the surface.
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