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Winston Diep

Compare and contrast the use of harmony and tonality in the Debussy, Holborne and Poulenc (36 marks)
These pieces were composed in all different time periods and the use of harmonic and tonal features in all three pieces have elements that are all typical of the time period and style. The Tonality of the Debussy is complicated and blurred such as in the first three bars where the tonality of the piece starts out in E major. However element of C# minor can be seen through the use of the tri-tones at bar 1-3 causing the piece to be bi-tonal and blurring the tonality. This is typical of the impressionist style that Debussy composes in since the blurring of tonalities would be used to symbolise the dream-like state of the story that Debussy is telling. While Debussy's prelude uses blurred tonalities alot there are also sections where the tonality is clear such as at bar 21 which could be used to indicate the idea of waking up in Debussy's story. In addition to this would be Debussy's use of unrelated modulations that are used throughout his piece. Such as the modulation from C major at bar 44 to Ab major at bar 51. The use of the unrelated modulation is typical of music from the romantic period which creates more distortion to the tonality making it more difficult to identify the tonal key. In comparison to the Debussy, Poulenc uses tonality that is relatively simpler and also easier to identify than the Debussy such as the clear use of G major at the start of the piece. This tonality is also emphasised by the use of the arpeggio in G major at bar 1. There is hint of a modulation to D major (bar 6) which is the relative dominant to G major, which is typical of Neoclassicism that this piece is composed in. Another example of a related modulation would be from Eb major at bar 26 to Bb major at bar 40. While this contrasts from the Debussy that only modulates to unrelated keys; similarly Poulenc does also modulate to unrelated keys such as from G major bars 1-25 to Eb major at bar 26. This shows that while there is use of Neoclassicism there is also a features that are unrelated to this since the use of unrelated keys is not typical of the style of Neoclassicism. In contrast to both pieces the tonality of this piece is simple. Holborn's Pavane and Galliard uses modes which is typical of the renaissance era it was composed in which is different from both toe Debussy and Poulenc which uses modern tonality e.g. Gmajor. This can be seen from the use of false relations that can be seen in bar 13-14. However while this piece is modal there are hints of modern music written in, D major in the Pavane and D minor in the Galliard showing that while it was renaissance music it was slowly moving into modern music. In the Poulenc the use of Perfect cadence in bar 4 is a typical technique that is used in Neoclassicism. However the use of discords in the perfect cadence creates slight dissonance showing that while this is Neoclassicism there are features/techniques that are not strictly classical. Another example of this can be seen at bar 8 where the is use of a perfect cadence

Winston Diep

that is used on a weak beat of the bar. Another harmonic technique Poulenc uses is the parallel sixths in bar 9-17. The use of this technique is extended with Poulenc trying to emphasise the fact that this piece is Neoclassical. While there are techniques that are Neoclassical there are also techniques that would not be used such as the chromaticism used in bar 36 in the trombone part which is rarely used in classical music creating dissonance. Another example of chromaticism is seen in bar 86 where Poulenc takes features of jazz music before the piece ends with all instruments doubling each other. Compared to the Poulenc which although use of chromaticism is used has a mostly diatonic harmony Debussy also uses chromaticism but he uses it throughout creating dissonances which also blurs the tonality of the piece. Examples of this can be seen in the first 2 bars with the use of tritones (Mentioned in the tonality) that only allows the range of 3 tones using chromaticism to create dissonances. There is also used of a half diminished chord in bar 4 which is a typical chord that would be used in the romantic period causing dissonance and can also be related to Debussy's impressionist style about how the faune is in a deep sleep. There is also use of a un-resolving dominant chord that is that is used in bar 5 which is 'left hanging' and can be related to the story of how the faune has an unfinished dream. Also there is use of whole tone scales such as at bar 32-33. At bar 105-106 there is use of a perfect cadence (similar to what is used the Poulenc) which is used by Debussy to emphasis the clarity of the tonality in the end. These harmony of the Debussy compared to the Poulenc differs, with the only thing connecting them the use of chromaticism and use of doubling (bar 55 flute, oboe in the Debussy). In the Pavane however the harmony used throughout is (mostly) typical of the renaissance era. The use of suspension such as at bar 4-5 in the Pavane. in the second part is a harmonic feature that is typical of the Renaissance, since it has been prepared and resolved. There are also uses of Pedal notes such as in bar 34 which emphasis the tonality. What is also clearly typical of the Renaissance harmony is the use of false relations (as mentioned above in tonality) which is seen in bar 13-14 emphasising that the piece is modal. In the galliard also there is also use of a tierce di picardi in bar 24 which is a typical use of Renaissance music, which is not seen at all in either the Debussy or the Poulenc. However evidence of modern tonality can also be seen such as the use of the Phrygian cadence in bar 16. While all three compositions were written in different time periods and style as you can see in my analysis there is very little that connects these three pieces, for example in tonality how Poulenc uses related modulations or how Holborn is modal does not relate to Debussy's use of unrelated modulations with blurred tonality.