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HUMA118- Music Appreciation - M06 Journal - Music, Movement and Memory

Please choose ONE of the two prompts to answer. You are not required to address both.

You may select based on your own interest; all that is asked is that you engage your mind and respond with insight and complete thought. Tip: The “Featured Listening” sections in your textbook may help you to apply musical terms accurately as you analyze and reflect on these prompts.

Prompt 1 (Historical):

Claude Debussy originally wrote his prelude, “La Cathédrale engloutie” (The Engulfed Cathedral) for piano. Prepare to answer the questions below by completing the following steps:

  1. Review the story (Links to an external site.) on which Debussy’s piece is based.

  2. Now listen to a recording of Debussy’s “La Cathédrale engloutie” and reflect on his depiction of the engulfed cathedral with reactive visualizer.

  3. Next, without sharing the story it is based on: have a friend or family member listen to this piece .

  4. Respond to the following two prompts:

Your Impression:



  • Did Debussy’s music give you the impression of the cathedral emerging from and then sinking back into the water?

  • How would you describe the sound of the water as Debussy put it to music?

  • What aspects of the music helped you imagine the old tale?

Your friend’s or family member’s impression:



  • Write a short explanation of their response to the piece.

  • Did another kind of story come across?

  • What mood was communicated?

Prompt 2 (Exposing Music’s Value in Unfamiliar Works):

Select two musical pieces from your course study to date that you had never heard before, and that left a memorable impression on you, to compare. Analyze and report on their musical characteristics.

Then answer the following questions:

  1. Why did you select each piece for this comparison? What made each memorable?

  2. How are the characteristics of these pieces similar or different?

  3. Have these compositions/pieces influenced you to explore other types of music in what you listen to daily?

The French composer Claude Debussy also nicknamed “impressionist," has always been one of my favorite composers, from when I first heard Clair De Lune, which has a lot of scenic imagery of the moon. Like an impressionist, though he rejected the term, Debussy has a way of composing music that has a strong visual context and creating an impression from the title of the piece to the last note played. I have listened to many Rosseau interpretations, and I was sure he would express the whole idea of the composer in both style and dynamics.

I have not heard “the engulfed cathedral” before, but even by its title, I could try to create images in my mind and then get the whole idea from the mythical story given. I could now see it when Rosseau plays it on the reactive visualizer piano with descending notes whose material texture looks like the glass windows of a cathedral, I was yet to listen to the whole piece and get the audio story of the mythical Ys city.

I could see the cathedral in my mind from the constant low notes that tend to give ideas of organ playing, from the depth of touch that gives them and the real feel, but they are playing with pianissimo dynamics because the cathedral is underwater. There are also middle notes which I believe, the harmonic structure and the impression from them is of chants, which are also played softly to visualize that they are heard from far or, in this case, underwater. The higher octaves notes are undoubtedly the bells. The whole melody is telling nothing but waves. The dynamics start to crescendo, and I could tell the cathedral is emerging from the water, the organ is played in fortissimo dynamics, and I could see the cathedral out of the water. At the same time, the bells are consistently depicted by “C and D” notes hit in mezzo Forte on the sixth to seventh octaves.

The last section displays water's sound again by playing low notes on repetitive arpeggiation like waves. Before I could tell it, my friend who listened to it mentioned that maybe the cathedral sinks in this part. Right, the dynamics decrescendo to the end and the organs, chants, and bells diminish in the water, and the tale was told of Ys by the music, which makes one imagine the whole city, flooded with water that rises and engulfs the cathedral. The texture of the music creates a melancholy and desolate mood that the city and the cathedral disappeared into.


The story of Debussy’s “The sunken cathedral”. (2017, 11). Parker Symphony Orchestra | Your Local Community Orchestra.

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