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#1059314 - 11/19/04 09:54 PM Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
How difficult is it? How many years before it is reasonable to tackle it?

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#1059315 - 11/20/04 02:22 PM Re: Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
Mathilde Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 309
Loc: Decatur, Illinois, USA
Shoot, honey, isn't that kind of like asking, "How old do I have to be before it's reasonable to tackle riding a bike?" \:D

IMO, if you're old enough to be asking the question, then you're old enough to at least try. Bolt the training wheels on and go for it.

I dunno, I don't "get" people who think there's some sort of arbitrary cutoff somewhere that says whether you're "qualified" to try to learn a piece. I say, if a piece interests you, then hey, go for it. If it turns out to be too hard, then just stick it back in the piano bench and come back to it later.

Also, I think it's important to realize that a piece doesn't have to be learned concert-hall perfect. It's okay to mosey your way through it at half-speed as long as you're happy.

To me, that's the important thing--be happy. Have fun. If it isn't fun, don't do it.

From a practical standpoint...

Well, I'm printing it out from sheetmusicarchive right now, both Arabesque 1 and 2 (BTW, thanks for the pointer, I had actually never heard of them, but they look interesting and do-able), and...

...hey, I could play them. No. 1 is just basically all arpeggios, five pages of arpeggios. Granted, they're not "Haydn" type arpeggios, they're "Debussy" type arpeggios, so they're not going to form big thumping dominant-to-tonic chord progressions, so it'll be tricky to tell whether you're playing the right note, but that's all it is. No Rachmaninoff World-Devouring "But I Can't REACH A 14th!!" Chords. No 18th Century "Are We There Yet?" eighth-note runs.

No 16th notes in No. 1; No. 2 has 16th note triplets, but once you get the rhythm right ("mother-in-law, mother-in-law") they shouldn't be a problem.

No. 1 is in the key of E which might be a little intimidating at first, but not after you get used to it.

No. 1 has a few accidentals, not a problem...hmmm...No. 2 has a lot more, but...it's important not to be afraid of accidentals. Once you get them into your fingers you won't even notice them as they go past.

Oh, and my level of expertise?

...I'm halfway through the John Thompson Fourth Grade Book.


I can play these. So can you.


P.S. Get an edition that has fingering; this public domain one doesn't.

#1059316 - 11/20/04 03:42 PM Re: Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
IMO, the difficult thing about the Arabesques is the amount of "real estate" they cover. You need to really move up and down the keyboard while maintaining that ethereal quality that makes Debussy sound so special.

This requires smooth technique and really good pedaling so it doesn't go all muddy. The notes aren't hard, but getting the mood and feel of the piece is difficult. I'm not particularly good at playing Debussy, others seem to have a real knack for it.

Give it a shot!

#1059317 - 11/22/04 07:24 AM Re: Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
mikewu99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/03
Posts: 314
Loc: Audubon, PA
FWIW, the Debussy Arabesque #1 is one of the pieces in the latest ABRSM grade 8 syllabus.

I've read through parts of it, the biggest difficulty for me is playing 3 vs. 2 smoothly.

#1059318 - 11/22/04 07:57 AM Re: Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
Jeffrey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 2948
Loc: New York
Mike - Thanks for info. I believe it is a bit beyond me, I am playing grade 2 and 3 stuff fluently after a month or so of practice. I will show it to my teacher, and develop a plan to get the skills to play it fluently. I can also play a few bars here and there for fun, but I think I should wait a bit.

#1059319 - 11/24/04 11:06 AM Re: Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
brenthoven Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 109
Loc: Alpine, WY
There is NO LAW that says you cannot read any piece of piano music your heart desires. Interestingly, I have just RE-LEARNED this piece for a presentation I had to make regarding Debussy.
I TRIED to play it when I was 10-12 years old. I did get through some of the triplet patterns and learned the first page...but, I never really LEARNED the piece and set it aside for years HOWEVER, when the need and desire presented itself to LEARN THE Arabesque No. 1, I was FAMILIAR with the THEME and harmonies and a major plus was having always loved the piece made learning it so much eaiser.
Try to sight read something every day. It is not only a wonderful BRAIN exercise but also a tool for mastry in playing and reading. Good luck.

#1059320 - 11/26/04 12:34 AM Re: Debussy's Arabesque No. 1
Roxane Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 932
This was a piece in the syllabus for the ATCL piano teaching diploma in the late 1980s, when I did the exam. I also managed to perform it at one my teacher's student concerts at that time.


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