Analysis: Debussy Ondine II

One temporal sequencing characteristic that is common throughout Debussy's music is the immediate repetition of a short phrase either exactly or with a slight variation. There are two reasons for this I believe; it creates a short-circuit in the possible likeness to antecedent-consequent technique of classical phrase construction and it also suggests certain phenomena in nature which I call here Image/Reflection. One example of this is a wave, activated by air or a dropped stone. Ondine is a complex example of  this Image/Reflection phrase structure and the graph to the right is my attempt to map it. The music, notated in measures, is mapped on an xy grid, right to left being Experience, that is, any music heard for the first time and top to bottom, Memory, any music which has already been heard. This is also a piece which reveals Debussy's acute interest in metrical symmetry though the symmetry is not necessarily reducible to one simple ratio. Debussy is not so much concerned with symmetry but symmetries. The double bars in the piece articulate  63/126/72/63/126 eighth notes in the five sections, the exact middle of the piece, the 37th 8th note of the central section is that point where the primary
"theme" which I call "Ondine, the Beautiful", first heard  Ms. 11-13 in D, the true tonic, is heard in Eb, the false tonic.

 

January 28, 2014