Claire de Lune – Debussy’s Moonlight in a Unique Whole Tone Style

Debussy’s piano piece “Clair de Lune” illustrates the unique whole tone style of the French composer. The title translate to “moonlight” in French. In music, tone are separated by equally spaced intervals called half steps. Sit at a piano and play all of the white and black keys consecutively to play consecutive half steps. To play whole steps, play every other key. This results in a whole tone scale. Debussy is considered a part of the Impressionist movement in music that was considered a subset of music within the Romantic Period.

This simple piece for piano was started in 1880 and published 15 years later in 1905. However, the composition was significantly revised in 1890 prior to publication. Most likely, Debussy has changed his mind about the style of the piece and wanted to improve it based on his current ability. The composition is the third movement of a larger suite called the “Suite bergamasque.”

The piano piece “Clair de Lune” is tied to the other pieces with a common motive that helps to create a sense of cohesiveness. The motif consists of five notes that move down and up in a twisting motion before descending at the end. In the third movement, the motif consists of a F, E-flat, F, E-flat and down to a D beginning in the fist and second measure. The other movements replicate these intervals on differing pitch levels. For instance, the second movement starts on a G. The first movement starts on F, but instead of moving down a whole step to E-flat, Debussy moves down a half step to E.

The complete set of movements entails four distinct pieces. The first movement includes a piece in the key of F called “Prélude.” This piece is indicative of most preludes and has a festive and energetic feel. The second movement “Menuet” involves two themes that contrast between light and playful and dark and mysterious moods. “Clair de Lune” comes in at the third movement and provides a lilting lyrical contrast to the second movement. Finally, Debussy ends the suite with “Passepied” a fast-paced dance that helps end the suite on a high note.


Adele Defies the “Sophomore Jinx”

Many incredible musicians have entered our eardrums with amazing debut albums that have set the bar so high that they struggle to ever be able to reach that status again. But super singer supreme – Adele – surely defeated the music industry hex known as “the sophomore jinx” with her second album called 21. Considering that Adele’s astounding entrance into stardom and worldwide concert stages was the groundbreaking 19, success for Adele’s follow-up collection of tunes had some pretty huge shoes to fill.

Adele released 19 in 2008, and this blockbuster release sold 4 million copies in her side of the world – the UK, another 2 million in the United States, and an overall amazing total of 7 million worldwide. Critical accolades were also surrounding the juggernaut success of 19, with Adele winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist and the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her smash single “Chasing Pavements” during the 51st Grammy Awards presentation. All of these top level triumphs and financial increases are a whole lot to live up to, but Adele proved to be no one-hit wonder.

The explosion of Adele’s second album release 21 was bolstered by the strength of five huge hit songs – “Rolling in the Deep”, “Someone Like You”, “Set Fire to the Rain”, “Rumour Has It” and “Turning Tables” that were spread out during the course of November 2010 and November 2011. Being that 21 was originally released on January 19th 2011, it is pretty astounding that it continued to have legs to stand on throughout the duration of 2011. The two Grammy Awards Adele won for her first album 19 would be tripled when referring to the amount of statues awarded to 21, further burying any talk of a “sophomore jinx.” Adele’s six Grammy Awards included the coveted Album of the Year award, Record of the Year award and Song of the Year award.

On the record sales side of things, 21 also ironically became the 21st album to ever go “diamond”, or 10 times platinum, by selling 10 million copies in the Unites States according to Nielsen SoundScan, who has been tracking music sales data since 1991. As far as albums that have accomplished this diamond status in two years or less, Adele’s 21 is the 8th one to do it. The other seven of these diamond selling over-achievers include: N Sync’s No Strings Attached, Backstreet Boys’ Millennium, Santana’s Supernatural, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, Creed’s Human Clay, Shania Twain’s Come on Over and The Bodyguard soundtrack.

The famed Guinness Book of World Records also acknowledged the record-breaking record sales that Adele’s sophomore album amassed. Adele’s lucky number continued to be “21”, with 21 becoming the top selling album of the 21st century in the United Kingdom, with help from it having the longest run at the top of the UK Album Chart by a female solo artist – thanks to its 23-week stint. Also, in the United States, 21 maintained the top chart position for 24 weeks, which had not been achieved since 1985. With over 25 million copies sold worldwide, Adele’s second album 21 not only outsold her debut by an incredible 18 million copies, but it destroyed any chance of a sophomore jinx – and raised the bar even higher for Adele’s third album.