• Created by: lilac123
  • Created on: 20-02-21 15:22

What are the features of X?

-ambiguous time signature fluctuating between 6/4 and 3/2
-steady crotchets and open 5ths

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Y features

-foghorn motif

-maintains same shape, register and timbre

-doesn't achieve a clear sense of tonality

-concludes each rotation

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X rotation 1 b1-4

-sparse texture
-diatonic B minor= top line 
-octatonic in bottom line with chromatic auxiliary notes
upper line bars 3-4 spans a tritone

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Y material rotation 1 b5-10

-bar 5: double diad

-4/4 feel, metrically dissonant

-motif spans a tritone

-B drone

-G7 chords b6

-tritone clash b7

-foghorn motif

-octatonic harmony b7

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X material rotation 2 b11-16

-crotchets in strings divisi rather than woodwind

-fuller texture (increasingly rich- 3 part harmony)

-extended version of b1-10

-bar 13= link bar (chromatic ascending minor 3rds)

-parallel dominant 9ths b14

-overlapping Eb minor and G minor pentatonic b14

-falling 5th idea in bass (pizz-new sonority)

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Interpolation rotation 2 (X expanded) bar 17-20

-d minor (pentatonic flavour) b17

-harmony shifts-more chromatic

-eb 9 with dorian elements

-bar 21: acoustic scale

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Y rotation 2 bar 21-28

-oscillating crotchets in strings

-G9 chord b 21

-cor anglais motif

-acoustic scale b21 -expanded!!

-bar 23 falling tritone motif

-b25 Y is not only octatonic (whole tone and octatonic)

-b25 foghorn repeated

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X rotation 3 b29-32

-parallel chords reduced from dominant 9ths to simple triads (b29-30)

-unexpected/sustained C major chord b 31 (tonic resolution of previous G9 chord)

-melody emphasises intervals of major 2nd and perfect 4th

-hexatonic scale bar 29

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Interpolation rotation 3 b33-42

-rising melody

-reeling of 3

-sparse (2 ideas going against each other)

-whole tone scale (ambiguous)

-b33: similar texture to opening bars

-after 4 bars of triadic harmony, b.33-41 introduce tonal ambiguity, the melody is a variation of the opening diatonic figure

-b37: octatonic

-b40: more octaonic to link to y

-b42 link to y

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Y rotation 3 b43-b57

-foghorn motif expanded (double statement of melody)

-syncopation in viola and cello

-b43: alternating dissonant chords

-B drone b44

-alternating chords

-bar 47 foghorn motif confirms 6/4 for 1st time

-b50: expansion of 'y' material 

-bar 51: B pedal (sense of diatonicism), previous harmony reduced to a diminished triad

-ends ambiguosly with F pedal at bar 56, away from movement's opening tonal focus of B

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X rotation 4 b57-63

-x material in oboes

-texture of x thins out even more here

-viola melody (counterpoint), expanded accompaniment

-augmented triads at bar 57


-reduced texture

-b61 parallel dominant 7ths (bar 14)

-b 61: half diminished 'Tristan Chord'

-whole tone chords b62

-bar 63: parallel dominant 7ths

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Interpolation rotation 4 bar 67-79

-D# minor

-pentatonic melody in flute (timbral contrast)

-pentatonic scale in harp

-chord progression I,IV,I(whole tone interjection) b67

-b68 gives impression of dorian mode

-F# major b69

-stepwise modal harmonies in cello

-Eb9 chord b70

-flute melody b75

-b77 entirely octatonic except for G7

-descending pentatonic fragments b78


A (b64) A1 (b67), B (b71), A (b75)

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Y rotation 4 b80-93

-B minor
-G7 chord
-sustained chord
-C#7 chord b81
-oboe echoes horn b86
-different harmony b88, against static chords like rotation 1

-foghorn motif expands out and fades

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Rotation 5 X b94-97

-fragment of previous material

-bar 95, second half of uppermost line from bar 2 followed by a complete version of bars 3 and 4

-pedal note


-X in bassoons


-tremolando in cellos (fading out idea)

*functions as a short coda, only uses fragments of previous material

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Interpolation 5 b98

-transposed version of melody

-oscillation of B and D b98

-fragmented and shortened

-bar 98 reminder of the syncopation 'B section' pentatonic opening idea

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Y rotation 5 b99-102 (end)

-falling tritone in 99

-falling 5th b99

-G7-B chord

-no harmonic resolution

-inconclusive ending

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Examples of octatonic scales

-bar 1 (bottom line)
-bar 7-8
-bar 42
-bar 85

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Examples of Whole tone scales

-bar 33
-bar 62

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Examples of Acoustic scales

bar 21

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Examples of Pentatonic scales

-bar 14 (overlapping Eb minor and G minor)
-bar 17
-bar 65

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Example of hexatonic scale

-bar 29

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Form of Nuages

-a series of 'rotations' of two main melodic ideas X and Y.

-Another, more traditional, way of analysing it is as ABA' (loose ternary form- AꞋ is not a "real" return of A but only of selected elements standing in for A.

-In addition there are interpolated passages between X and Y in every rotation except the first - the B section is best understood as one of these interpolations

-Each of the five "rotations" begins with a variant of the movement's opening motif, and is answered by the cor anglais melody

-the B section, with its different material, tonality and texture/timbre, seems more clearly to fulfil the function of a traditional contrasting middle section.

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Orchestration and Timbre

-The strings are often divided and muted; harps are used subtly to add a distinctive colouring

-horns and trumpets, also often muted, are heard in short pianissimo phrases;

-combinations of arco and pizzicato, divisi part writing, "sul tasto" and tremolo,

-The homophonic (homorhythmic) parallel motion in the strings at b. 14 is a characteristic Debussyian texture. 

-at bar 23 Debussy also asks for cellos as basses to play over the fingerboard (sur la touche) which makes for an even more light and delicate sound.

-At bar 64 the gentle sustained string chord

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