Charles-Archille DeBussy is a French composer that fits in the Impressionist music. His
music is noted for its sensory content and frequent usage of atonality.
The prominent French literary style of his period was known as Symbolism, and this movement directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant.
Debussy was experimental from the outset, favoring dissonances and intervals that were not taught at the Academy.
Rudolph Reti points out the following features of Debussy’s music, which “established a new concept of tonality in European music”:
- Glittering passages and webs of figurations which distract from occasional absence of tonality;
- Frequent use of parallel chords which are “in essence not harmonies at all, but rather ‘chordal melodies’, enriched unisons”, described by some writers as non-functional harmonies;
- Bitonality, or at least bitonal chords;
- Use of the whole-tone and pentatonic scale;
- Unprepared modulations, “without any harmonic bridge.”
He concludes that Debussy’s achievement was the synthesis of monophonic based “melodic tonality” with harmonies, albeit different from those of “harmonic tonality”