Title page for ETD etd-06102009-141512

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Peiser, Sacha Alexandra Grace
URN etd-06102009-141512
Title Les Mains Désenlaceuses: Unlocking the Relationship of Text and Music in the Proses Lyriques
Degree Master of Music (M.M.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David H. Smyth Committee Chair
Jeffrey Perry Committee Member
Lori Bade Committee Member
  • pitch class
  • whole tone
  • reductive analysis
  • text and music
  • song
  • debussy
  • music theory
Date of Defense 2009-05-01
Availability unrestricted
This thesis examines Claude Debussy’s Proses Lyriques, a set of four chansons published in 1895. These songs were composed during a pivotal time in the composer’s life—concurrent with Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, the String Quartet, and the commencement of work on Pelléas et Mélisande. Also noteworthy is that out of a complete output of over 90 songs, these are the only published works with both text and music by the composer. Because of this unique property, the Proses Lyriques allows researchers, analysts, and performers to gain valuable insight into Debussy’s intertwining of music and text.

This thesis utilizes various methods of analysis, and each song is examined in great detail. The study utilizes poetic analysis, motivic and reductive analysis, and Debussy’s use of various collections and harmonies as means to tell a story. In addition, recurrent musical themes throughout the song set are highlighted and given specific narrative function. Lastly, the disparate musical and textual elements from each song are woven together in an attempt to bind all four songs into a complete unit and discover Debussy’s overarching compositional themes.

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