"Arabesque" No. 1 for Concert Harp


About this sheet music

The Two Arabesques (Deux arabesques), L. 66, is a pair of arabesques composed by Claude Debussy. They are two of Debussy's earliest works, composed between the years 1888 and 1891, when he was still in his twenties.

Although quite an early work, the arabesques contain hints of Debussy's developing musical style. The suite is one of the very early impressionistic pieces of music, following the French visual art form. Debussy seems to wander through modes and keys, and achieves evocative scenes through music.

The Arabesque No. 1 (Andantino con moto) is in the key of E major and begins with parallelism of triads in first inversion, a composition technique very much used by Debussy and the impressionist movement. It leads into a larger section beginning with a left hand arpeggio in E major and a descending right hand E major pentatonic progression.

The second quieter (Rubato) section is in A major, which starts with a gesture (E-D-E-C♯), briefly passes through E major, returns to A major and ends with a bold pronouncement of the E-D-E-C♯ gesture, but transposed to the key of C major, played forte.

In the last section (a recapitulation of the first section), the music moves to a higher register and descends, followed by a large pentatonic scale ascending and descending, and resolving back to E major.

The vocabulary of Debussy's music is rich in harmonic dimension. The composer uses 7ths, 9ths, 11th and more, while he intersperses whole tone progressions that are so characteristic of his writing. If density, or volume ever applied to musical performance, this piece meets all requirements for a slow entry into notes, and a swimming motion through them therefore although originally written for Piano (and variations thereof), I chose to create this arrangement for concert harp to accentuate these characteristics of the original work.

This piece is best played using the "GeneralUser GS.sf2" Soundfont by S. Christian Collins Software (http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php).

Comments (5)

InstrumentPlaya's picture

musescore harp is horrible ;/ lovely song tho! thanks for the videoscores

Mike Magatagan's picture

I agree! It sounds like a kids toy... That's why I have to (hint-hint developers) keep uploading the VideoScores.

Stel's picture

How does this piece differ from the original? I know that it's a standard part of harp repertoire and can be played as originally composed, but I haven't progressed to learning it yet.

Regardless, this is excellent, and I don't see anything that would prevent it from being playable. Now I wonder if you've done anything else for harp....

Mike Magatagan's picture


There is nothing fundamentally unique in this arrangement other that the way I adapted it for MuseScore. I started with the Piano 4 hands public domain score from IMSLP (http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/21973) and created the consolidated grand staff (perhaps this could have been done easier but I could only find the 4-hand score as PD). I arpeggiated the hard reach solid chords which are easy to play on the piano with 5 fingers but I understand that this is harder to play on the harp with only 4 (e.g., measure 42). Otherwise, the only other changes affect playback and print such as the transitional dynamics using MIDI controls as well as hidden variable-tempo assignments to enforce crescendo/diminuendo; all affecting playback only.

I’m glad you like it and now that it’s in MuseScore format it can be easily modified to suit the performer. For other harp arrangements, please see: "Romance Without Words" for Concert Harp, "Romance" (Opus 37) for Flute & Harp" & "Prelude and Fugue 3 (Opus 99) for Harp".

I appreciate your feedback! Please let me know if you have any suggestions for modification based on your experience.

Mike Magatagan's picture

Please click on the "VideoScore" link to the right to hear an accurate sound representation of the piece. MuseScore currently does not replicate the Orchestral (Concert) Harp soundfont correctly on the online site.

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This score appears in


Uploaded May 4, 2012
Pages 8
Duration 4:32
Measures 107
Key signature 4 sharps
Parts 1
Part names
  • Harp
License All rights reserved
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