Talk:String Quartet in G minor, Op.10 (Debussy, Claude)

Publication Information - Copyright?

Isn't the first one a Dover Reprint? Also, don't they have copyright on the glossary (that's how I could tell)?---SnaileyYell at me 12:53, 17 October 2008 (EDT) And also, didn't he only write one string quartet???--SnaileyYell at me 12:57, 17 October 2008 (EDT)

You're right :P He did only write one. jujimufu 19:16, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
It's been common for ages to add No. 1 to the description, though, so that's not something new added by the uploader :) (Quite a few singletons by Martinu, like his piano sonata "no. 1" never followed up by a "no. 2", are almost invariably called e.g. piano sonata or flute sonata "no. 1" in my experience similarly (edit: as with this work by Debussy). Language use making its own sense and no one else's, or none at all, would be my guess. Then there are the "no. 2"s preceded by a discarded or lost and perhaps unrecoverable no. 1, like Brian's 2nd violin concerto, but that's something else...) Eric 19:23, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Brief Analysis of the First Movement

  • The piece is in sonata form, as Debussy viewed sonata for:m.
  • Debussy uses traditional methods of theme development, such as:
sequence modulation
rhythmic transformation (m.13, m.39)
contrapunctal imitation
short melodic figures
sustained trills
colorful tremolos
repeated notes
  • The use of constant pulse and fluctuation of the speed of the rhythm by usage of triplets and sixteenths creates a kind of flowing music, and gives great potential for accelerandos and decelerandos later in the piece.
  • It gives out a feeling of rain coming; it is more or less melancholic.
  • He is translating keys into modes.


[1] -- Exposition

m.1-2: first theme exposed for the first time; what follows is loosely related to G minor
m.5: using F minor, without the leading tone; the bass creates a new context
m.11-12: reaches G linearly, though phrygian mode (G, Ab, F)
m.12: comes to a cadence on D (dominant of G)
m.13: second theme is introduced, syncopated; the theme is on D phrygian (dominant phrygian mode)
m.17: the bass takes up the second theme
m.26: first theme repeated in an Eb-ish mode (Eb ionian + Ab aeolian)
m.28: first theme repeated, in Db mixolydian
m.30: similar to m.26
m.32: again on G harmonic minor (some sort of dominant chord – he has the dominant on the upbeat, tonic on the downbeat)
m.34: Bb minor (aeolian mode), first theme again
m.37,38: precisely like :m.11-12 (1st cadence point), transposed (“copying” rhythmic pattern on other voices)
m.39: moves to Bb phrygian (median phrygian)
m.47: the mode is changing to
m.50: dorian mode on B
m.59-60: approaching G via F# and A, much like m.11-12 (where he approached G through F and Ab)

[2] to [5] -- Developmental Area (more modulations)

  • Generally, triplets are developmental of rhythm
m.75: a mode which combines the leading tones of D and A is used
m.79-82: transposition to m.82, on lydian mode (with chromaticism)
m.88-90: mixolydian on F, supported by a wholetone configuration
m.92-94: Eb resolves to D (inversed V)

[3] :: wholetone section (on C#)

m.111: moves to Bb dorian
m.118: tritone occurences
  • So far the motif has been heard in modes, wholetones, mode-likes, keys
m.132: first and second themes appear again
m.138: first theme, exactly the same, but with enriched texture, and homophonic (with double-stops)
  • Debussy substitutes IV-V-I by linearity (m.145)
m.150-152: C phrygian
m.153: chromatically transposed to C# aeolian
m.157-158: moves to D, approached chromatically from C# ( bV of G)
m.168: moves to D
  • Instead of resolving, he prolongs through chromaticism
m.171: chromaticism
m.175: V-I relationship
m.183-end: mixolydian G (G without leading tone); it is a dramatic crescendo; until m.190 there is a modulation sequence, and forced tremolo; finally, the piece ends on a homophonic G minor chord

Why "No. 1"?

I presume that the title of the work is indicated as "String Quartet No.1" because Debussy himself planned to write a second quartet. Alas, this never happened. In current editions it is always indicated as "String Quartet in G minor, op. 10". I think that you should adopt this label, as "No. 1" could be quite confusing (one could just keep waiting to see No. 2...).

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