Parting the veils of Debussy's 'Voiles'

Code, D.J. (2007) Parting the veils of Debussy's 'Voiles'. Scottish Music Review (Online), 1(1),

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Restricted to whole-tone and pentatonic scales, Debussy’s second piano prelude, Voiles, often serves merely to exemplify both his early modernist musical language and his musical ‘Impressionism’. Rejecting both arid theoretical schemes and vague painterly visions, this article reconsiders the piece as an outgrowth of the particular Mallarméan lessons first instantiated years earlier in the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. In developing a conjecture by Renato di Benedetto, and taking Mallarmé’s dance criticism as stimulus to interpretation, the analysis makes distinctive use of video-recorded performance to trace the piece’s choreography of hands and fingers on the keyboard’s music-historical stage. A contribution by example to recent debates about the promises and pitfalls of performative or ‘drastic’ analysis (to use the term Carolyn Abbate adopted from Vladimir Jankélévitch), the article ultimately adumbrates, against the background of writings by Dukas and Laloy, a new sense of Debussy’s pianistic engagement with the pressing questions of his moment in the history of modernism.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Code, Dr David
Authors: Code, D.J.
Subjects:M Music and Books on Music > M Music
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Journal Name:Scottish Music Review (Online)
ISSN (Online):1755-4934
Published Online:01 January 2007

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