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Fashionable Innovation: Debussysme in Early Twentieth-Century France
Harrison, Jane E.

2011, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Music.
This dissertation traces the development between 1890 and 1930 of a French musical trend referred to in the press of the era as debussysme. Based on analysis of over 250 pieces by more than thirty composers, I describe debussysme as a cohesive collection of techniques that emerged in the works of the earliest debussystes, such as Ravel, Debussy, and Florent Schmitt, with aesthetic roots in contemporaneous philosophy of the mind. With Debussy’s innovations as a guide, a diverse group of composers embraced techniques that made new perceptual demands of their listeners: I examine these techniques by drawing on research in the field of music cognition. This study deepens our understanding of French musical modernism, of which debussysme was a key stage.
A study of debussysme also teaches us about the nature of shared compositional practices: how they are generated, how they are diffused through social channels, and how individuals align themselves with or disavow fashionable usages. I explore the distinct phases of the debussyste movement and the social motivations of the composers who joined it, with the aid of concepts from sociological research on the diffusion of innovations. As the composers associated with debussysme gained prestige in the French musical community and on concert stages, their shared idiom became commercially viable. By 1908 salon composers such as Gabriel Dupont had developed a commodified version of debussysme that offered amateur musicians novel sounds within music that retained familiar structural norms; the development of this “pop debussyste” practice is a case study of how elite innovations are transformed into cultural products that reach broad audiences.
Danielle Fosler-Lussier, PhD (Advisor)
David Huron, PhD (Committee Member)
Arved Ashby, PhD (Committee Member)
303 p.

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Harrison, J. (2011). Fashionable Innovation: Debussysme in Early Twentieth-Century France. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Harrison, Jane. "Fashionable Innovation: Debussysme in Early Twentieth-Century France." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2011. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 15 Dec 2017.

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Harrison, Jane "Fashionable Innovation: Debussysme in Early Twentieth-Century France." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2011. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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