Tag Archives: Leonard Bernstein

Claude Debussy’s use of the tritone 

Introduction to Debussy’s Pianistic Language

Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy

This is the tritone scale.

Built by pairing two major triads a tritone apart, and then placing those notes in scale order, the tritone scale brings a nice level of tension to your lines that you can use to build energy when soloing over 7th chords in a jazz or fusion context.

Art music in the twentieth century encompasses a wide range of expression, forms, and media. The development of mass communication and easy travel throughout the twentieth-century has linked the world into a global community that allows the collection and blending of many sources. One result of this is that diverse musical sources including folk music, Classical Indian Scales, American jazz elements, and the musical forms of Asia among others, have been assimilated into the Western Musical Tradition.

Debussy-Prelude to a Fawn-Leonard Bernstein

Folk music assimilation began before the end of the nineteenth century as Western thinkers explored previously remote lands and cultures.  An important result of this travel was the use of folk modes, pentatonic scales, and whole tone scales derived from native music in works by composers such as Bartók, Stravinsky, and Debussy.  Non-diatonic scales based on modes and seemingly abstract intervals such as the half step and whole step proved tantalizing to composers during the last part of the nineteenth, and early part of the twentieth century.

See an analysis of Prelude to a Fawn by Leonard Bernstein next.

Continue reading Claude Debussy’s use of the tritone