Personal Lesson 1: Debussy’s Pagodes

pagodesMy first official lesson with my Wonderful Teacher was awesome. It was stimulating, inspiring and just plain fun. (Read about my decision to take piano lessons here.)

I have been studying Debussy’s Pagodes from Estampes, which was inspired by Debussy’s visit to the World Fair in Paris. Debussy recreated the sound of the gamelan in this piece. We discussed how the sounds of the gamelan were duplicated in Pagodes and how to separate the different sounds. My teacher suggested playing the low gong sounds with the left fist to achieve a full, deep sound.

One of our most valuable discussions was regarding volume. How do we think of volume? Different shades of color, volumes of speaking, proximity.

The French and Japanese shared certain sensibilities, which made the French particularly interested in Japanese music at the time. One of the similarities in music was the idea of joining a piece of music that was already in progress (as you start at the beginning). It is as if you pick up the song that has been on a continuous loop, and merely join in a song already in progress. This idea really helps to clarify the beginning and end of Pagodes. 

Next piece up – Debussy’s Soiree dans Grenades from Estampes