Voiles is a composition by Claude Debussy for solo piano from 1909. It is the 2nd piece in a set of twelve preludes published in 1910. The title of the piece may mean either veils or sails; both connotations were intended by the composer. Except for some mild localized chromaticism and a short pentatonic passage, the entire piece uses the whole tone scale.
In the original publication of this piece Debussy placed its title at the end rather than above it, therefore not to serve as a brief explanation of what he meant the piece to represent, but instead as a way to put the performer's mind in what the piece suggests: thus "Voiles" is technically known as II.
The composition studies the whole tone scale intensively, with the exception of a brief six-measure section in the pentatonic scale. The 64-bar piece can be divided into 5 sections based on figuration patterns and motivic content. Yet the boundaries within the sections, as often in musical impressionism, flow and thus do not define the exact timing.
Registrally, the piece has three well-controlled levels. At the bottom is a drone bass on B-flat. Above is a well controlled stepwise flow of mid range voices, and the uppermost freely ranges among the high harmonic partial tones of the drone bass.
One of Debussy's original achievements in this piece was creating an extended dissonant dominant that yields only slightly and briefly to the six-measure pentatonic section, a resolution of extraordinary delicacy and art.[peacock term]
- Benward & Saker (2009). Music in Theory and Practice: Volume II, p.246. Eighth Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-310188-0.
- Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p.39. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
- Benward & Saker (2009), p.245.
- pp. 133–136, The Piano Works of Claude Debussy, Elie Robert Schmitz, with foreword by Virgil Thomson, Courier Dover Publications, 1966. ISBN 0-486-21567-9.
- This article contains information translated from the corresponding article of the German Wikipedia. A list of contributors can be found there at the History section.
- Voiles music score from Préludes (Book 1) (Debussy, Claude) at IMSLP
- Notes on Voiles on Klavier-noten.de
- Preludes, Book 1 No. 2 Voiles by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli on YouTube