Today i’m going to show some interesting devices extracted from a composition i did when i was studying orchestration. Despite the mockup was not quite good, its interest is high because combines typical Claude Debussy’s instrumentation with daring impressionistic harmonies. Debussy’s music has proven to be very influential, and its use of sensuous tonal colours and its orchestration methods have influenced many film scores.
The initial bars show a typical impressionist static color harmony (Gmaj7/9) with an interesting glittery orchestration very rich in rhythmic figurations (A7) played on glockenspiel, harp and celesta. Above this harmony, there is a lydian melody written for an oboe soloist.
The woodwinds then start a tonal descendent scale, developing off the melody (with diminished chord shadows) and answered by tremolo strings (6 to 8). Meanwhile sincopated pizzicato bass makes 2/4 rythm, overlapping the original ¾ and creating an interesting movement. Flutes, glockenspiel and celesta make glittering acompainment following tonal scale. I found interesting to discover how much Debussy used tonal scale and that was definitely instructive, especially how it is mixed with functional harmony.
In the next bars there is a very idiomatic impressionist subttle modulation to the tritone C# . In this part we find a re-exposure of the melody played by the strings. It is interesting to see how you can modulate with zero preparation and it will sound natural as long as the harmonic rhytm is constant. The thing is, once you get it going, the listener is expecting changes at every turn anyway, so unprepared modulations don’t sound surprising as they would in another context.
In this section we also find a very interesting oboe chromatic line shadowed by glockenpiel wich can be defined as a secondary character of the scene. Despite being a contrapuntistic melodic line, its orchestration masks its condition and the listener perceive it as part of the accompaniment.
In the final bars there is another typical device of Debussy highly used and developed by later composers like Igor Stravinsky. There is a question-answer game between diferent textures of the orchestra using adiatonic chords. We look for wildest and strongest tesiture of instruments to achieve high harmonic and orchestral contrast between phrases.