Claude Debussy (1862-1918) is to music what Claude Monet is to painting. Debussy lifts the painting sensibility from the canvas and transforms it into musical sound. Obscured rhythms are not unlike the blurred outlines in a Monet landscape, or a splash of orchestral "color" not unlike a scumbling of color on a canvas capturing a bead of light. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun was based on a poem by Mallarme by the same title. A faun's erotic dream is captured by Debussy's lush harmonies and rich timbres.

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Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Igor Stravinsky
(1882-1971) provided a rude awakening to the early twentieth century: Romanticism was dead. With the performance of his revolutionary ballet The Rite of Spring the last vestige of Romanticism was swept aside and a new primitive Expressionism was born. Relentlessly pounding irregular meters, polytonal ostinatos, and breathtaking dissonances are but a few of the innovations Stravinsky introduced the musical world to at the century's opening. The Rite of Spring dances the story of a primitive fertility sacrifice to the gods. Though its premier would touch off a near riot due to its unconventional style, it would be mild compared to what later composers would "subject" their audiences to.

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The Rite of Spring
Dance of the Adolescents

Tod Machover (b. 1952) is a typical modern composer seeking to use the newest technology to form a wholly new musical sensibility. Staff paper and pen have been replaced with the computerized synthesizer and programming interface. In Bug-Mudra Machover uses an electronic glove ("Hand Master") to interact with the software. Movements of the hand cause a glitch in the program allowing him to create on the fly.

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