Popular Music Lesson

Clair de Lune by Debussy - Intermediate Version

You must be logged in to comment.

Loading comments

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 ...