Monday, December 1, 2014


“If someone says can't, that shows you what to do.”

AUTHOR: John Cage
“Pushing yourself to do things others say can not be done takes determination 
  and shows strength of character.”


(Prélude à ‘‘L’après-midi d’un faune’’)

Arnold Bocklin: Faun Whistling at a Blackbird
Pál Szinyei Merse: A Faun
The goat man,

more commonly affiliated with the Satyrs
of Greek mythology or Fauns of Roman,
is a bipedal creature with the legs of a goat
and the torso of a man (half-man, half-goat)
and is often depicted with goat's horns. These
creatures in turn borrowed their appearance from
the god Pan of the Greek pantheon. They were a
symbol of fertility, and their chieftain was Silenus,
a minor deity of Greek mythology.
Stéphane Mallarmé in the guise of Pan, 1887
Stephane Mallarmé's
Édouard Manet: Stéphane Mallarmé, 1876
Montenard Frederick:
The Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
formed the inspiration for the symphonic poem
composed by Debussy. In 1912 the score
was adapted as a ballet
L'apres-midi d'un Faune
Performed by
Rudolph Nureyev
Andy Warhol: Rudolph Nureyev

Vaslav Nijinsky: 1889-1950
Leon Bakst: Nijinsky As Faun, 1912
The Prelude,
- - click screen to close - -
written by Debussy in 1893, is his
sensuous musical interpretation of Mallarme's
poem depicting the dreams and desires of the
reed pipe playing Faun's imagination as they
stir in the shimmering afternoon heat.
Édouard Manet: Frontispiece for "L'après-midi d'un faune"
This was Debussy's first major orchestral work, and one
for which he received the prestigious Grand Prix du Rome.

Opening of the Poem:
These nymphs I would perpetuate.
So light their gossamer embodiment,
floating on the air inert with heavy slumber.
Was it a dream I loved?
My doubting harvest of the bygone night ends
in countless tiny branches;
together remaining a whole forest,
they prove, alas, that since I am alone,
my fancied triumph was but the ideal imperfection of roses.
Let us reflect . . .
or suppose those women that you idolize
were but imaginings of your fantastic lust!
Mallarmé wanted to write in a style of language that
was more about moods and states of mind than about
ideas and stories; language, that functioned like music.
He was a part of a group of Parisian poets called the
Symbolists who parted with traditional forms of meter
in their writings and often parting with principles of well
established verse forms including meanings of words.
Mallarmé’s work appealed strongly to many musicians
especially Debussy who also was changing the well
established rules of traditional harmony and melody
composition in his own pieces in a musical style
(developed from the French art style) called
Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer: Après-midi d'un faune
Debussy provided the musical background
to Mallarme's poem. His intention was not to
write a programmatic musical narration of the story
but instead to evoke with music the same images
and feelings that the poem does with words.
The composer’s own description of the piece reads:
"The music of this Prelude is a very free illustration

of the beautiful poem of Mallarmé. By no means

does it claim to be a synthesis of the latter. Rather
there are the successive scenes through which
pass the desires and dreams of the faun in the
heat of this afternoon. Then, tired of pursuing
the fearful flight of the nymphs and the naiads,
he succumbs to intoxicating sleep, in which he
can finally realize his dreams of possession
in universal Nature."
(Prélude à ‘‘L’après-midi d’un faune’’)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London

The ‘Big Bang’ also known as the impressionism
movement in music was a movement in European
classical music, mainly in France, that began in
the late nineteenth century and continued into the
twentieth century. Musical impressionism focused
more on suggestion and atmosphere rather than
strong emotion and depiction of a story as in
program music. Musical impressionism was based
in France, and the French composer Claude
Debussy is generally considered to be one of the
“great” impressionists.
Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun by Debussy is a
composition inspired by the poem Afternoon of a
Faun ByStéphane Mallarmé; this poem evokes the
dreams and erotic fantasies of a pagan forest
creature who is half-man, half-goat; it is one of
Debussy’s most famous works and is considered
a turning point in the history of music.
Debussy has used the duration ofThe Prelude to
an Afternoon of a Faun, to make the musical
piece feel irregular to the listener. The tempo is
the speed at which the passage of music is
played;Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun had a
Tres Modere (very moderate) tempo, with the
metronome markings equalling 44 beats per
second [(M.M = 44) (1 minute)]. The metronome
markings change throughout the piece as well
as the time signature; the development of the
main theme moves fluidly between 9/8
(compound triple), 6/8 (compound duple) and
12/8 (compound quadruple), which shows the
mixed metre; this is seen on multiple bars such
as bar 1, bar 5 and bar 21. By Debussy using
the tempo, beat and metre, and rhythm he was
able to create the feeling of uncertainty and
ambiguous throughout the musical piece.
(Kamien, 2000)
Debussy is famous for his use of tonality in The
Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun particularly
the use of the whole-tone scale. A whole tone
scale is a scale in which each note is separated
from its neighbours by the interval of a whole
step. An example of this whole tone scale is the
clarinet on bar 32. (Debussy, Prélude à l’après
-midi d’un faune, 2013)By the use of whole-tone
scales in Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun, it
gives the song a vague and dreamlike feeling.
The harmony and melody of The Prelude to an
Afternoon of a Faun gives the song a dreamlike
and improvisatory feeling. The opening flute
solo of the piece consists of a chromatic
descent to a triton below the original piece.
(Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, 2013)
Chromaticism is a musical technique combining
the primary diatonic pitches with other pitches of
the chromatic scale.Debussy also uses
augmented triads and diminished Triads in the
Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun; the use of a
diminished triad is seen on Bar 8 and 9. For the
melody Debussy has used an unaccompanied
flute in some parts such as, the flute theme that
opened the piece, then the melody changes and
is started to be played by the woodwinds plus
the first horn in unison.Having the melody
change Debussy was able to create an
indistinct feel to the song.
Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun by Debussy
is said to have a vague and subdued timbre.
Timbre is what makes a particular song
different from another. The reason Prelude
to an Afternoon of a Faun is said to have an
indistinct timbre is because of the way Debussy
has used all the musical elements. From the
use the tempo, metre, rhythm and also
dynamics, Debussy was able to give the song
an ambiguous and more dreamlike feeling then
other songs. Also combined with the harmony
and melody with the structure and texture,
Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun can come off
as an unclear and delicate piece of music.
By the use of the structure and texture of The
Prelude to an Afternoon of a Faun, Debussy
has made the song seem vague. This piece of
music has a ternary form which is a three part
musical form, the first and third parts are identical
where the second part is different. This is heard
when the melodies change, first part is the flutes
solo melody which is unaccompanied (bar 1), it
then moves onto the woodwinds and first horn
(bar 38) and finally going back to the original
melody (bar 45) and even with the ternary form
each section is able to blend in with each other.
(Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, 1990). By
having the sections blend in with each other, the
song has become unclear to the listeners. The
opening flute solo of The Prelude to an Afternoon
of a Faun is monophonic; this means that the flute
was being unaccompanied while it was playing.
From the use of these stru/ctures and textures
Debussy was able to makeThe Prelude to an
Afternoon of a Faun feel hazy and unclear.