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Clair de Lune by Debussy - Intermediate Version

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Hi, I'm Stephanie with Hoffman Academy.
Today I'm going to show you the piece "Clair de Lune".
This incredibly famous song by the french composer Claude Debussy is six pages long and very complex.
So hopefully we can learn it in 20 minutes.
Don't worry we've shortened it for you.
This is a simplified one-page version, and will give you a taste of what it would be like to play the whole song
while you build your piano skills up to that level. I'm excited to explore these gorgeous harmonies with you.
First thing to note is the time signature is 9/8.
That means nine beats per measure, and the eighth note gets the beat.
Now that's a lot to count.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.
It's also hard to see.
So, we group it into groups of 3.
If you'll notice this group of three notes is barred together, then the next group of three is barred together,
and the next group of three.
This helps us see 3 bigger beats within the 9 beats.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, and that helps us feel the general
beat of the song.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9,
but regardless,
this song is very expressive.
So you won't have to be counting the beat very strictly.
What you should be concerned more about is what order the notes are played in.
For instance, the left hand is played before the right hand for most of the song.
You'll have the left hand first.
The left hand changes.
Left hand changes again.
Left hand again.
I'll continue, the left-hand starts.
and then for the first time they play together.
And together again, but most of the time the left hand is being played first.
So if you want to you, can draw vertical lines in your music.
Where you can't really tell which hand is playing, just draw a vertical line and you'll see.
The last thing I have to tell you is ties.
When things are tied together, you don't play the second set of notes.
Now for a lot of students, this is hard to see at first. It's hard to see the tie, and even though you see those two notes,
you're not supposed to play them, right?
If you need to, take your pencil and just cross out the second set of notes just to remind yourself don't play those sets of notes,
but take notes however you want to on your music, just keep in mind that when it's tied over to the next note, you don't play the next note.
Now remember, a tie is when that arc connects two of the same note.
If the notes are different, it's no longer a tie. It becomes a slur.
You'll see slurs throughout the piece as well.
A slur means smooth and connected.
Now we're playing in C major, and that's not the original key, so you won't be able to play along to a recording,
but it'll be easier to play overall.
You'll start with your left hand in C position, and your right hand in C position.
Your left hand starts on E and G with 1 and 3 finger.
And then your right hand repeats E and G with 3 and 5 finger.
Then comes down to C and E,
1 and 3.
So we have left hand, hold.
The next measure the left hand will come up
to A-flat and F.
1 and 2 finger,
and then the right hand will shift down a step and play:
parallel thirds.
1 and 3, 4 and 2, 1 and 3.
So you play left hand.
Okay, so from the beginning left hand plays:
Thumb comes up to A-flat. Left hand comes down to E and G.
Right hand is the same thing. Comes down a step and plays parallel thirds again.
plus 5
Okay, so from the beginning.
Notice I'm playing E to C, so I'm skipping over that D with my forefinger.
Okay, now the next part left hand goes down to D and F
while the right hand plays parallel thirds again. G B
So you'll notice for this whole first section
the right hand the left hand are right next to each other.
We start an octave apart.
but then we slowly get closer and closer.
All right, pause and review as you need.
Now let's take a look at the second half.
First look at the left hand.
You'll notice a pattern.
You have kind of what looks like a flowery chord.
You could say it looks like a flower.
And then followed by a stoplight chord.
That just looks like a stoplight.
And then a flower chord, then a stoplight chord.
Then a flower, stoplight, flower,
and then a third,
and then we're going to finish with a little end section there.
But you'll notice that pattern.
So let's break it down.
We start with that flower chord.
Our thumb will be on F, then we skip down to D,
and step down to C.
So it's not a normal triad shape but it's still a lovely chord if you play them all together.
That's 1 3 4, then the next chord is 1 3 5, so instead of playing your 4 finger in C, you play your 5 finger on B.
All right, so we go from here to here, then the next measure,
you're going to shift down to bass clef notice, so your thumb is now on D.
It looks like you're going up, but you're actually going down your thumb to D,
your 2 finger on C right below that,
and then skip down to A with your forefinger.
Then for the next chord you keep your thumb where it is.
Keep your thumb where it is,
and then you play your 3 finger and your 5 finger.
Your 5 finger though will be on G-sharp. So you're going to slide your hand up
to play this diminished chord.
So we go from here
to here. The only note that's the same is the D.
So we start with our thumb on F.
Our thumb comes down to D.
And then the next chord our thumb will be on C.
Skip down to A,
step down to G.
Then the bottom note goes down to F.
And then our thumb comes down to A and we have A, step down to G, skip down to E.
And then we'll just play our 3 and our 5 finger for the last chord.
So these two fingers move down to these two fingers. Okay, let's review the left hand for the second half.
This is the hardest part of the song, so once you have this it'll get easier, I promise.
So stay with it, left thumb on f.
Bottom note moves down.
Thumb on D.
Bottom two notes move down.
Thumb on C.
Bottom note moves down.
Thumb on A.
Bottom two notes move down.
Pause that and review as many times as you need.
Let's take a look at the right hand.
You'll be in G position for this section.
You're already there so you won't have to move to get into G position.
Your hand will just already be there from the previous section.
You play 2 3 2 5 2.
1 2 3
So you have lots of upper neighbors. 2 3 2 5, 1 2 1
Then you'll bring your 3 finger over,
and your hand around, 3 4 3
Going back to G position.
And then you'll repeat your 2 finger for the same pattern
as before, as we just did just in a different position. I'll show you.
So it's the same fingers, just different notes.
Okay, putting hands together for that section, the left hand will start with thumb on F.
Right hand in G position.
Left hand first.
2 3 2
Hands together.
Left hand moves, 3 finger.
Left hand moves.
Hands together.
Left hand.
Go back and review that as many times as you need. It's the hardest part of the song, so stick with it.
Looking at the very end, and then we'll go back and play the whole thing.
the very end, your left hand is going to go all the way down to low C position.
So you have middle C,
bass C, and then low C.
You'll start with your 1 finger, and then play low C.
It's kind of fun. It has this anticipation.
Then your right hand will play E and G. Left hand comes over,
plays another E and G above that.
Right hand plays E and G with 3 and 5 finger.
And then comes down just like at the beginning.
And add another C and G with your left hand.
So together it looks like this:
And that wasn't without pedal,
but you should definitely add petal with pedal. It will sound like this:
Alright, I'm going to play this from the beginning.
When you're ready, play along with me.
This is an extra difficult song, and sometimes we think that means we shouldn't learn it.
But I'd encourage you to think of it as maybe I just need to take some more time to learn this song.
If you really take it chunk by chunk, you'd be surprised at what you can learn.
I didn't keep a strict tempo, I played it very expressively, and you should do the same.
Play some parts slower, play some parts faster.
Get louder and softer.
Do it as you feel fit.
Thanks for playing with us today.
Remember, if the song felt a little hard that's probably because it was, but that's okay just try it again.
Pause, rewind, practice on your own, and you'll get it eventually.
Like this video if you enjoyed it, and remember to subscribe to the channel if you want to see more tutorials.
Happy practicing!