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Would I be able to learn Debussy’s Clair de lune ? (Read 432 times)

Offline clmz.k

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Would I be able to learn Debussy’s Clair de lune ?
« on: April 26, 2020, 08:50:50 PM »

I would love to learn how to play Clair de lune from Debussy but I’m not very sure if it is possible for me... I am currently learning the Turkish March.

I would also like to know any other pieces that would be ok for me.

Thank you for you help 😊

Offline stream

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Re: Would I be able to learn Debussy’s Clair de lune ?
«Reply #1 on: May 16, 2020, 01:51:53 AM »

I'm not too sure about giving advice since I'm not a legendary in the likes of Bernhard, but having just finished Clair De Lune I'll provide my ten cents.

I would definitely ask your teacher (if you have one) because they know you/ your repertoire better than random people on the internet.

It would also be more helpful if we know some pieces, perhaps on the more lyrical side, that you have completed.

The Turkish March is around grade Seven-ish(?) but Clair is much more difficult interpretively. I would say that a grade five student might be able to hammer out the notes with enough practice, but getting the piece to sound nice is hard.
(Source: a few months of frustration as to why the middle section sounded worse than a MIDI file)

Speaking of the middle section, I found it quite difficult to get the melody to "sing" and the part where the key signature switches to sharps to be "flowy". The beginning can be somewhat tricky to count.

I may sound conservative, but I personally would not recommend trying to play it if you don't have experience with an easier, less technically demanding piece that requires skillful interpretation to sound nice. For example, Reverie is a good gateway to Clair. (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair and Jimbo’s Lullaby are about the same difficulty).

If those are too hard, the Album Leaf, Footsteps in the Snow, The Little Shepard and the unfortunately named, uh, "Petit Nègre" are both very charming and fairly easy. Chopin's Prelude in E minor is among the easiest technically (though NOT musically). Look into Satie's Gymnopedies No. 1, 2, and 3 if you haven't already. Tchaikovsky's op. 39, Album for the Young, has some very pleasant pieces, though some are harder than they look. The first 5 pieces from Op.68 by Schumann are also relatively easy but fun.

All of the above, I believe, can be found on the divine website of IMSLP.

You could also try your hand at an arrangement of Clair if you feel like it would be worth it and if the pieces at your level don't inspire you. The simplified versions require some digging through to find one that suits your tastes, and it could end up a bit underwhelming and lacking some of the flair of the original.

Alternatively, you could take Clair as a passion project very very slowly while simultaneously working on pieces to develop your musicality and technique. I attempted something similar before but found myself struggling significantly and dropped the piece in frustration before coming back to it a year later and breezing through, so my experience with this method is not really positive.

Good luck!


Offline j_tour

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Re: Would I be able to learn Debussy’s Clair de lune ?
«Reply #2 on: May 20, 2020, 02:38:47 AM »
I'd do it, and did it probably at an early stage like it seems you are.

As long as your LH can do the arpeggios, or if not, you're willing to acquire the ability, I really don't see why not.

It's not that difficult a piece, not like some of the others from the same suite.

I doubt you're going to be playing it at Lincoln Center anytime soon, so, just do it.

A companion piece if you struggle with the LH or some of the rhythms  is the Brahms A major intermezzo from Op. 118.

In fact, I think you should do both of those:  that could be a nice brace of tunes to have in your bag.

Probably should learn them separately, but that depends on how you like to work.
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