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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 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?

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 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.

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, (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 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
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 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 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 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

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 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!

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 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

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