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We use the term "musical impressionism" most often in reference to Debussy and his ilk. But how well does this term translate from the world of art? And, for that matter, what exactly is impressionism in art? We all know it when we see it, but what exactly is the official definition? And then, how well does this term apply to music? And why do we say Debussy is impressionistic, but Hindemith is not?

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But that's the point, isn't it? The suggestion of a series of images, like a train slowly moving through a station. You stand and watch each car go by. Each is a snapshot, a moment in time, complete in itself, yet leading to the next. I suppose some would call it ear candy, as opposed to the intricately-crafted symphonies of Beethoven. It is a very different way of putting music together, yet still well within the umbrella of tonality. And people like it. They also like Beethoven. At least I do.
 
Saul Dzorelashvili said:

Well in Impressionism the melody and harmonies derail from one key and mode to the next...

Tyler, thank you for interesting details. Should pentatonic and octatonic scales also be added here?

Perhaps, the best result of this thread will be updated article in wikipedia :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism_in_music

Tyler Hughes said:

However, the most important event for the impressionist movement came in 1889, with the World Exposition in Paris. Here, Debussy heard for the very first time Javanese gamelan music and chinese orchestras. Inspired, Debussy, Ravel, and other impressionist composers began exploring sound color. Much like the painters of the impressionist movement, composers were obsessed with color and creating an almost hazy mist of music. Some of the more common traits one can find in impressionist music are the following:

  • Parallel harmonies
  • Orchestral colors that were not found in the previous musical periods. 
  • Chromatic and whole-tone scales
  • ninth chords
  • chords built on fourths and fifths
  • blurred rhythms and obstruction of the beat
  • small forms

Yes, Benny Hill isn't likely to be so arousing.

Kristofer Emerig said:

I'd better change it, lest I have 3000 friend requests by tomorrow.
 
michael diemer said:

Whoa! Is that Gina Lollabridgida?

Kristofer Emerig said:

Is this better?

michael diemer said:

Sorry, I didn't intend for both of those mugs to deface the same post. It's rather frightening, I hope nobody fainted or anything.

After a bit of research on Al Gores amazing internet, it appears that the

fatherhood award goes to Ernest Fanelli . (see you tube  Symphonic Tableau-' The Romance of the Mummy'

   all 49 plus minutes    first preformed in 1912     MGM could have put him to work )

As for Dave Barry, - Does he do impressions  ?  He has somewhat disappeared . I miss his slant

 on things   almost as much as I miss Gary Larson.

 

Oops, Fanelli's piece was pre-formed earlier but not performed until 1912

(when will this site install spell check)

I have been using that site with no problems whatsoever, maybe cause I have an iMac? I dont know...

Didnt know that Ray, since I never had a problem with it, I didnt suspect anything wrong with it

my Imac is just fine lol

Kristofer Emerig said:

..*Saul hadmore to say, but his computer just took a dreadful hard crash*
 
Saul Dzorelashvili said:

Didnt know that Ray, since I never had a problem with it, I didnt suspect anything wrong with it

My wife, who knows something about art, tells me that impressionist painters were interested in capturing the general feeling or look of a scene. Say you're looking at a meadow by the sea. some sailboats out on the water. Your eye does not see the details, like the grasshopper on the daisy stem, but rather sees the overall forms. you can't tell how many people are on the sailboats, or the color of the wood. so they were in effect studying how the eye actually works. The closer you are to something, the more detail you see. If you go up to a flower, you see the aphids running around. If you have a microscope, you see an entire ecosystem in a drop of water. But they were looking from a distance, so they tried to paint what the eye actually sees from there - a general impression, hence the term.

I think the impressionist composers were influenced by their cohorts in painting, in that they tried to make their music more suggestive, more hazy around the edges, to emulate the impressionist style of painting. As the painters were looking at vision and trying to paint more in accordance with what the eye sees, the composers were studying the ear or sense of hearing. There was more fascination with the experience of hearing than the rules of the classicists, or the idealism of the romantics. The emphasis is on sensation and perception itself, rather than rules or ideals.

I want to stretch the definition of impressionism a bit, by saying it is not "a school of music," or a specific tendency, in the same way that Schoenberg's serialism is a school, with known followers, and particular methods.

I propose that even electronic music can be "impressionistic," if the goal is to evoke natural scenes, such as mountains, lakes, oceans, rivers, trees, pools of water; or boats in water; or picturesque villages and towns.

I would venture to argue that Henri Pousseur's "Trois Visage de Liege (1961)" is one the greatest, if not THE greatest impressionistic work of latter half of the twentieth century, though it is not so well known.

All three movements have only recently been posted online.

The third movement is, I think the most successful, in evoking nature, or objects in nature.

I see motor boats and sea birds, like gulls, flying over water, as the pieces proceeds, but others might see something different.

You can listen here to the third movement:

Henri Pousseur: Trois Visages de Liege, Forges (1961)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYiRx7Qam3A

If you want to listen to all three of the movements in order, you can listen to these links, successively:

One: Henri Pousseur: Trois Visages de Liege, L'Air et l'eau (1961)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPDCPWoJtuY

Two: Henri pousseur - trois visages de liege, ii voix de la ville

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSLjvDMTO_w

Three: Henri Pousseur: Trois Visages de Liege, Forges (1961)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYiRx7Qam3A

I wonder if others would agree with me that these movements are indeed impressionistic, not simply because they are "French" (Franco-Belgian, actually), or because they were written by a French speaking composer, or because they attempt to evoke scenes in a "French locale."

I am talking about the spirit of the work, which I see as "French," culturally, but also as impressionistic, in mood and impetus, in spite of the use of electronic means.

Henri Pousseur was closely associated with the early electronic composers, such as Stockhausen, but unlike Stockhausen, the work he creates here, appears to have a certain gentleness, lyrical quality and regard for the symmetry and pleasantness of nature, as seen by Monet, and has depicted in sound by Debussy and Ravel.

I have never heard another electronic piece, before or since, that was so purely pleasing aesthetically.

[Note: Listening to the Pousseur with earphones greatly enhances the experience.]

Just a question...

I did this painting using photoshop and painter, this is an original digital painting, what genera of art would this fit?

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