14 November 2013

Claude Debussy Google Doodle: His 151st Birthday

Claude Debussy Google Doodle

Claude Debussy Google Doodle

Click to the image to watch the Video of the Claude Debussy Google Doodle

The 22nd August 2013 saw Google play homage to what would have been Claude Debussy’s 151th birthday with a Claude Debussy Google Doodle. Debussy is often acknowledged as one of the twentieth century’s most influential composers. Additionally, Debussy is considered a pivotal player in the development of impressionist music. His trademark of merging a harmony with a musical structure has been compared by many to the works achieved by both Impressionist and Symbolist Painters. His unique style is perhaps best explained in his own words, “music is the space between the notes.”

Debussy was born in the French town Saint-Germain-en-Laye, on the 22nd of August 1862. In 1884, aged just 22 he won the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome with his choral composition titled the L’Enfant prodigue, or the Prodigal Son. During his life he made many great and lasting contributions to classical music. Included in his major works are Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, 1894), the opera Pelléas et Mélisande (1902), and La Mer (The Sea, 1905). He died aged just 55 on March 25th 1918 as a result of colon cancer.

The Claude Debussy Google Doodle created in tribute is perhaps one of the most visibly beautiful to date. The animated doodle was set to the tune of one of Debussy’s most famous pieces, Clair du Lune or Moonlight. The Claude Debussy Google Doodle took viewers on a journey down a moonlit river. The scene featured cars moving down a road in the city backdrop and boats passing each other in the river which comprised the forefront. Additionally, white lights flashed on and off and stars twinkled in time with the piece. Smoke rises from the chimneys of buildings and rain begins to fall as the doodle progresses to its finale. As the Claude Debussy Google Doodle builds to its closure, users become aware of two rowing boats moving slowly towards each other. One contains the silhouette of a man and the other a silhouette of a women. As the Claude Debussy Google Doodle ends the boats come alongside each other and the woman raises an orange umbrella to shelter the couple from the rain.

In a blog article which accompanied the doodle’s release Leon Hong, the doodler who created the tribute, noted the difficulty of creating a doodle which did justice to both Debussy and his music. “At the outset, the task of creating and coding visual imagery that does justice to the spirit of his music seemed incredibly daunting. But, as it turned out, all I needed to do was to resurrect my trusty CD player and hit play, and the inspiration would start flooding in. I felt flickering lights, a quiet city and pouring rain set against the magical melody of Clair de Lune.” The blog post read.

Towards the end of the post Hong explains to readers the factors which influenced and inspired the Claude Debussy Google Doodle. “Visually, I drew inspiration from cities of the late 1800’s. Stylistically, I aimed for a pseudo-flat and graphic look, as influenced by an illustrator from Debussy’s time, Andre Halle. And compositionally, my goal was to make a doodle that would look nice as a French wine label.” Due to the aesthetic merits of the Claude Debussy Google Doodle it appears Hong succeeded in all these areas.