A listening activity about the music of Debussy

Debussy often wrote the title of his works at the end of the piece of music so as not to give any preconceived ideas. Discuss how well you feel these titles depict the actual music as you complete the listening activity.

Using a list such as the one below, listen to excerpts from the items on the Listening List (not in order and without revealing the title of the piece being played) and try to match them to the their correct title. Discuss what aspects of the music help to depict the subject matter.

Excerpt 1 – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Excerpt 2 – The Sunken Cathedral
(Based on a mythical cathedral that emerges from the ocean on clear mornings)

Excerpt 3 – The Golliwogs Cakewalk
(A ‘cakewalk’ is a type of fast African American style of dance music from around 1900)

Excerpt 4 – The Sea

Excerpt 5 – Clouds

Excerpt 6 – Festivals

Listening List

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

The Sunken Cathedral

The Golliwogs Cakewalk
This recording is made from a piano roll that Debussy himself made.

Nocturnes: Clouds

Nocturnes Festivals

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