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Debussy: Clair de Lune (moonlight) No. 3 in D-flat Major

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Claude Debussy - Suite Bergamasque :
Clair de Lune (moonlight), No. 3
Clair de Lune (moonlight)  No. 3  in D-flat Major by Debussy piano sheet music
Key: D-flat Major Year: 1905
Level: 7 Period: Impressionism
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Instructive - all parts (543 kB)
piano sheet music Piano score: PS Urtext (598 kB)
piano sheet music Piano score: Scanned score complete collection (4060 kB)
piano music mp3 recording Clair de Lune (moonlight) No. 3 - FREE SAMPLE (mp3 file)

Mysterious masqueraders by moonlight

The poem by Verlaine which inspired Suite Bergamasque, has given its name also to the suite’s most popular piece. Indeed, Clair de Lune (Moonlight) is often said to be the most famous of all Debussy’s works.
Its name was changed from Promenade Sentimentale only shortly before publication, to indicate the connection of this music with the Symbolist movement, of which Verlaine was one of the leaders. Reacting against realism, a typical “daylight” form of literature, the Symbolists tried to illuminate more inaccessible regions of the human soul, through creating suggestive images and evoking moods. The moon naturally became their favourite symbol, spreading as it does a mysterious, indirect light on the dark side of the earth.


Your soul is a select landscape
Where charming masqueraders and bergamaskers go
Playing the lute and dancing and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

All sing in a minor key
 Of victorious love and the opportune life,
 They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight,

With the still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
That sets the birds dreaming in the trees
And the fountains sobbing in ecstasy,
The tall slender fountains among marble statues.

Paul Verlaine, 1869

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Posts in the piano forum about this piece by :

xx DEBUSSY 'Claire de Lune'
October 13, 2013, 11:17:44 PM by matterintospirit

xx Chopin op. 9 no. 2 and Debussy Claire de lune
September 07, 2012, 09:21:58 AM by furtwaengler

I've been ask to play these famous pieces for a friend's wedding. The Nocturne is in the intro, and there's a possibility a violist will actually be playing the theme. The bride wants to walk out to the Debussy, so it will be heavily cut...which putting two and two together does not make as much necessity for this thread. Ah well, what are you going to do?

Here is a recording from my practice Tuesday night. The piano is a small Yamaha grand in a classroom, and one of those irritating instruments which has a function lifting the bottom half of the dampers instead of a proper sostenuto pedal. I will never understand the use for such a feature...

As for the two famous pieces, they don't come so easily to me, but I don't dislike playing them. You'll have to give me some pointers based on what you hear.

exclamation Video: Claire de Lune, by Debussy. Played by Gergo
September 01, 2011, 08:51:21 PM by gergoooooooo

Hey guys! I'm new to this forum but i've been reading for a while. I hope you like my performance! Smiley

xx HELP-clair de lune
February 21, 2011, 11:15:08 AM by katerinaprotopsaltis

measures 35 and 36-at the end there are a group of sharps and flats-no notes following-next staves have nromal key signature-what do they mean?

xx Clair De Lune - Debussy
July 24, 2010, 06:57:18 PM by _mewzik_

I'm 14 and I do music in school. I don't do piano lessons though. I sat a Grade 1 exam when I was around 9 but that's about it. I've taught myself how to play Grade 5 and 6 pieces out of my sisters piano books though. I would love to play Clair De Lune for my junior cert so I got the sheet music and I started learning it yesterday. I can play up untill all the arpeggios, I think it's around measure 29. My hands are pretty small and I'm struggling to reach those arpeggios while still carrying the melody in the right hand. Does anybody have any tips or any advice on how I could reach them? I noticed alot of the rest of song has loads of arpeggios in it too so I'm not sure whether or not I should continue trying to learn this song or just give up. I would love to be able to play it though so I'd prefer to keep going. Anyone have any helpful tips or advice?

Also, does anybody know or could estimate around what grade or standard Clair De Lune would be considered?

xx Clair de Lune
December 28, 2009, 04:56:55 PM by quaver

In this piece of music there are irregular groupings.  I know that your play a group of 2 in the time of three. In this case 2 eighth notes in the time of 3 eighth notes.  Now what about measure 19.  I suppose this is a group of 6 eighth notes in the time of 9.  How would you play/count this accurately in order to stretch it out to be in the same time frame as a regular 9/8 measure.  I notice there are several of these irregular 6 note measures.  Should I use a metronome and listen to getting to the first beat of the next measure on time.  Any help would be appreciated.

xx [VIDEO] Debussy - Clair de Lune
October 14, 2009, 05:06:56 PM by bella_brito

Well, this is me again, playing Debussy on the competition.

Comments are apreciated.

xx Trouble with Claire de Lune
August 01, 2009, 01:42:24 AM by orangekyo

Hi I am an amateur piano student and am having trouble with the following copy of claire de lune:


At measure 10, is it just me or do I not have enough fingers in my left hand? How do i maintain the dotted half notes while playing the four finger chord? Do I have to use the pedal? Also, the dotted half note does not make up 9 beats for the measure as required by 9/8 time. I am confused.

Your help is appreciated. Thank you.

- OrangeKyo

xx Clair de Lune
May 27, 2009, 09:22:07 PM by keyboard kitty

I've been learning Clair de Lune on and off for a bit of time now and have only managed to get to about 8 bars through the arpeggio part. I have been playing piano for almost 3 years and really want to be able to learn this piece nicely. Does anyone have any tips on how to learn it? Like what fingering to use, and do I just stress the 1st beats and a bit of the 2nd and 3rd?  Undecided
Thank you!

xx Fingering for arpeggios in Clair de Lune
October 27, 2008, 12:45:49 AM by xxmynameisjohnxx

Okay ui was wanting to know what the best fingering for the arpeggios starting at the bottom of page two.  Currently, I'm using 5-2-1-3-2-1 and so on, but I didn't know if that was the best way to do that.  I've been told that you aren't supposed to put thumbs and pinkies on black notes in arpeggios....but the you haveto jump a fifth as the first interval in the arpeggios and although I could get it to work with 4-2, it's significantly easier with 5-2. Thanks for the help in advanced!

smiley Debussy - Clair de Lune
October 19, 2006, 10:49:48 AM by a1

 Smiley Hi,  I am a person who very very interested about Clair de Lune .
 Clair de Lune is a very meaningful music about moonlight. It is the 3rd
 part of suite bergamasque and also the climax. Suite bergamasque is
 original from a poem Clair de Lune by one of the Frence famous poet
 P. Velaine . ( See below )


 Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
 Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
 Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
 Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.
 Singing in minor mode of life's largesse
 And all-victorious love, they yet seem quite
 Reluctant to believe their happiness,
 And their song mingles with the pale moonlight,
 The calm, pale moonlight, whose sad beauty, beaming,
 Sets the birds softly dreaming in the trees,
 And makes the marbled fountains, gushing, streaming--
 Slender jet-fountains--sob their ecstasies.

 I am very happy to have a chance to play Clair de Lune .
 Unfortunately , i am not as good as all of you . I am not
 talented and have to struggle to play the beautiful masterpiece .
 Clair de Lune require a big hand because the music gap is big.
 This make my hand some time sore.

 Any suggestion and opinion about how to play Clair de Lune
 more  perfect i very appreciate. All of you can also go to
 my topic "Claude Debussy piano works" by me ( a1 )                                                         
 in sheet music request for voting. Thank you.

xx Chopin´s Nocturne C# and Debussy´s Claire De Lune
March 17, 2006, 06:43:22 PM by nik0

I see that people here aren´t too eager to comment those blues things, so I decided to warm up some old classical pieces..

Debussy: Claire De Lune http://koti.mbnet.fi/niko87/claire_de_lune.mp3

Chopin: Nocturne in C# minor http://koti.mbnet.fi/niko87/nocturne.mp3

xx Clair De Lune
November 03, 2005, 01:16:32 AM by justliam

Hey guys, any comments greatly appreciated, performed this for A-level, but this isn't a recorded of that particular performance. Thanks in advance.

xx Clair de Lune vs. Pathetique Adagio cantabile
August 11, 2005, 09:46:54 PM by yamagal

why are both of these considered level 7 when C de L is turning out to be easier for me to learn/play.

IOW I think I have a better shot at learning C de L right now than Path. 2nd mvmt.  It is coming to me easier.

I can play level 4-5 pieces fairly easily, but all the stuff I really love and want to learn is at least level 6.

Am also learning Bach preludes & Little Notebook for technique.  Plan to start on Scarlatti sonatas as well.  Ditched the Hanon as it was hurting my rt. hand too much.  Have bookmarked a lot of Bernhard threads pertaining to Bach and Scarlatti.

Should I forget the early advanced stuff and plug away at the easier stuff for awhile.  I was thinking I could learn one "hard" piece at a time, while continuing to work on technique w/ easier material.

p.s. I set aside Chopin 9/2 for the time being, the rt hand is easy but the left is hard for me right now (especially when playing HT). 

xx Debussy
July 18, 2005, 02:06:02 AM by saraha

This is my attempt at playing Debussy's Claire de Lune. Your comments and observations would be greatly appreciated.

xx Fingering a la Debussy
May 25, 2005, 03:31:23 PM by celticqt

My teacher assigned me Clair de lune last night (I feel like a cliche - it is such a common piece, and I've played it before, but not with this teacher).  I have the Dover edition, and there are no fingerings for the arpeggio in m. 29. 

I am just doing what's comfortable for me right now (5-3-2-1-4-2, 1-2-1-2-3-5, 1-2-3-5-2-4), but I'd like to make sure I'm doing it right before I really cement it in my head.  Does anyone use a different fingering?

Also, re: mm.42: My hands are pretty small (I can stretch to a ninth),  and there's no way I can sustain that low F# under the arpeggio.  Should I just pedal it?

Thanks guys. Smiley

xx Debussy Clair De Lune, (technical
April 02, 2005, 02:42:56 AM by RH200300

I have some question regardeing to Debussy Clair De Lune, (technical )
My question may be sound stupid.
1)Measure 1 to meas. 8 , there is no downbeat ? or not ?   
2)Measure. 1 to meas. 14, the time signature is 9/8,  it mixed with triplet and eighth notes. The rhythm of the melody is ambiguous, how to count the beat,  (mixed with the triplet and eighth notes. )
3)Measure. 15 to meas. 26 , the expression marked as ” tempo rubato “,  how to play freely in the manner ?  what is free form ?
4)Measure 14 , there are  2  eighth notes, are marked with a ‘2’ ,  2 duplet,  how to count the beat ?
5)Measure  19,   there is long sixth, marked with a ‘6’ ,  , how to count the beat?     

xx Clair de Lune help
July 12, 2004, 11:47:23 PM by Stolzing

I'm working on learning this and want to make sure I'm doing this the best way.

(changed pic to a link)

What is the best fingering for the left hand there?

Is it

5 3 2 1 4 3 2 1 2 3 4 1 4 1 2 3 2 3  ?

I'm not sure if it's that way because it's a little awkward going from 1 to 4 the first time.

And do you do it thumb under or not?

xx Debussy Clair De Lune
April 28, 2004, 07:04:32 AM by tired

Was just wondering if anyone else had real trouble getting to grips with the speed and complexity of the left hand.  

It's a real pain in the ass!  Though such a great piece I am determined to see it through.

question Clair De Lune
January 30, 2004, 02:25:29 AM by Musicisall

Can anyone help me with Debussy's Clair De lune.  I don't play piano much I'm more of a guitarist, but I can pull of some stuff with piano.  Well my problem is in measure 27 when he starts arpeggiating the chords I don't know how to go about the fingering.  It has to be done with just the left hand right?  Please any help will be greatly appriciated I must learn this song it's sooo beautiful.

xx Fingering for Claire De Lune
November 18, 2003, 10:10:45 AM by guitarwolf

Starting with the 27th measure. Just how much do I finger with my left? I read somewhere its mostly the left hand but how do I know what to play and what not to with it? Thats also a fast switch if its mostly left. Anyone have any sites or comments it will be much appreciated. Also it seems with at least 3 of my recordings they dont hit the A note in the 27th measure at the end of the bar, instead ending with the D note instead. Anyone else notice this?

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