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Brilliant Colors Provocatively Mixed: Overtone Structures in the Music of Debussy

Gary W. Don
Music Theory Spectrum
Vol. 23, No. 1 (Spring 2001), pp. 61-73
Published by: on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
DOI: 10.1525/mts.2001.23.1.61
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mts.2001.23.1.61
Page Count: 13
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Brilliant Colors Provocatively Mixed: Overtone Structures in the Music of Debussy
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Abstract

Ben Johnston credits Debussy with the creation of a harmonic language that "approximates as well as can be in equal temperament a movement from overtone series to overtone series, with an emphasis upon higher partials." This article presents examples of overtone series and symmetrical structures in Debussy's music—some contributed by Johnston in private correspondence, and some found in the course of the author's own research. It explicates a method whereby just intonation and equal tempered realizations of these passages can be heard side by side, providing a direct comparison of the different structures that result from just intonation.

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