In the first two measures, Debussy presents the melodic and harmonic materials developed throughout the Prelude.
The key signature suggests the A major key, but the B flat adds a Phrygian color. The E at the end of the first measures establishes A as the tonal center:
The F# and the C# in the melody (measure 2) are not part of the Phrygian mode. We prefer to think that we're in A major and that the B flat is the result of a modal interchange:
Two important motives appear in these first measures: the half step between A and B flat that we will call the half step motive, and the perfect fourth between F and C sharp, the fourth motive.
But there is more:
Paavali Jumppanen, piano
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
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