Finding the Gamelan Influences in Debussy
In the listening guide for Debussy’s piano piece, Pagodes, the introductory comments pointed out several gamelan elements that Debussy used in some way during the piece. The timing section indicates a specific gamelan influence near the beginning but does not indicate other references concretely. This assignment will let you use your knowledge of Javanese gamelan (which is what Debussy heard), along with the features of Balinese gamelan that they share, to indicate specific places in the piece that the gamelan influence can be heard. As part of this, you will also compare three of the listening pieces.
First, listen to three of the pieces from the 3-CD set: Tabuh Gari, the transcription of Lagu Delem (this is Colin McPhee’s piano transcription of a different Balinese gamelan piece, but the flavor is still there), and then the Debussy piece, Estampes, 1: Pagodes.
Write down a brief summary of your response to each of these pieces, and anything new you heard by listening to them together.
Go through the Debussy piece and indicate, by time, each gamelan element you hear in the piece. There may be more than one at a time, and having more than one thing happening at once is itself a gamelan feature. Write the specific gamelan quality that is being heard at those times, and even what gamelan instruments they might be associated with, if possible.
Tabuh Gari and the piano transcription are from Balinese gamelan and Debussy heard Javanese. From your understanding of Javanese gamelan, what difference do you think that might have made on Debussy’s piece?
Submit the written description from point 2, above, followed by a list of times, in the style they are listed in the listening guides, with an indication of the gamelan qualities next to the times. You may wish to include timing points that are not already listed in the course’s listening notes.