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Impressionistic Painting and Music Essay

Looking at the painting of the great Impressionist painter Claude Monet entitled Impression: Soleil Levant and listening to Claude Debussy’s Claire De Lune produces a potent mixture of tranquillity of the senses. This is because the eyes see a very relaxing image in Monet’s Impressions Soleil Levant; while the ears find a very relaxing tune while listening to Claire De Lune. Both works of art possess certain characteristics that made both of them an ideal tool for making the person feel relaxed, tranquil and steady.

For Monet, this is found in his style, as well as his use of color. Monet was not afraid to mix warm colors (like red, yellow and hues of orange-red) with cool colors (particularly blue and shades of white) (Web Museum, 2006). What makes it all the more relaxing as an image as a whole is the fact that the combination of these colors created an image combining land, sea and sky. The image of a tranquil and peaceful sea with very little moving ways detected by the eye only through the reflection of the light in it is often a very relaxing image.

The colors used to create the image improved the feeling. Debussy, for his part, utilized the power of slow tempo and the use of a solo piano in effectively evoking the hearts of the listener via his melodic (even dramatic) piece Clair De Lune (Last. fm, 2009). The shared similarities of the two may include the presence of something constant that do not break away from a pattern: Debussy played Claire De Lune in a consistent tempo, never going any faster or any slower in any time during the piece.

If there were any noticeable breaks from patterns, it was not a break in tempo or speed of the musical piece as it was being played. In this piece it is noticeable how Debussy often resorted to using pauses in between the playing of the slow tempo and the slow rhythm of the music; while the image made by Monet creates an image of a still water; the boat seemed to lay still somewhere in the middle; while everything else – the sky, the waters, the land in the background, all seemed unmoving, as if frozen in time or captured by a moment of peace and stillness of the soul.

Debussy’s and Monet’s work are also similar in the sense that they are neither happy nor sad. Some paintings, as well as musical pieces, instantly evoke extreme or polar emotions which the artist/composer might be looking for as effect or result, either displaying happiness or sadness. But in Impressions: Soleil Levant and Claire De Lune, the feeling is somewhere between happiness and sadness. Another similarity is the absence of textual cues to guide the audience/viewer/listener regarding what he or she should feel upon being exposed to the works of art.

In Monet’s work, there are no images or no parts of the painting that indicate anything. There are no aspects that contain text which may trigger emotions that the painter may or may have not consciously placed in the painting. It is no secret that some paintings use textual components to assist the viewer/audience in reaching the specific emotion or reaction towards the work of art. But it is not present in Monet’s work, giving the audience a freer hand with regards to reacting without the intrusion of visual textual cues.

This is the same case for Claire De Lune. While most (if not all) of the classical music pieces are focused mainly on featuring sounds coming from one or several musical instruments, still, the absence of accompanying lyrics or voice over to the musical piece allows the audience to react to the music on his/her own, in a personal way and not influenced by text or words heard during while listening to the musical piece.

An abrasive, scandalous or powerful word found in Monet’s work and a scream, shrill, or powerful utterances of vocal sounds placed inside Claire De Lune, no doubt, has the power to alter the impression that it can make compared to its original state. The beauty of these two works of art is that both relies purely on letting the audience be affected in his or her own personal way through the use of the basics of their own forms: color and image for Monet’s Impressions: Soleil Levant; and the a solo piano performance and pure musical instrument audio for Claire De Lune of Claude Debussy.

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