Written by 7:55 pm Music

Happy 151st Birthiversary, Claude Debussy!


Google have crafted a doodle for the 151st anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth so we decided to look at some of his best sampled tracks.

France had a rich history in late-Romantic and early 20th century (or impressionist) music, with world renowned composers such as Frédéric Chopin (Polish-born but gaining French citizenship in 1835), Maurice Ravel and Erik Satie pushed classical music into the 20th century with their unique brand of parallel chords, rich textures and colour and the avoidance of using traditional harmonic and tonal structures. Claude Debussy is arguably the most famous of the “impressionist” composers (a term he loathed) and is seen as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. With someone of that musical calibre, it was only a matter of time before creatives of the future used his work in their own style and that’s where sampling comes into play.

Below are some examples of covers and Claude Debussy samples used since his death in 1918.

1. Reflection Eternal feat. Res’ Too Late sample of Isao Tomita’s Reverie (a cover of Debussy’s Reverie)

Isao Tomita’s Snowflakes Are Dancing consisted of adaptations of Claude Debussy’s “tone paintings”, so that in itself was an example of a new take on some old classics. DJ Hi-Tek made a superb job of flipping the cover into Too Late, with a tribal foreboding energy.

2. Four Tet’s Warmer Places sample of Claude Debussy’s Gymnopédie No. 1

Four Tet is a master at sample manipulation, from straight loops to stretching them as far as they can go. On Warmer Places, he took Claude Debussy’s cover of fellow French composer Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 3 and threw on a trip hoppy drum break and some soft guitars.

3. Slum Village’s Climax (Girl Shit) sample of Isao Tomita’s Clair De Lune (cover of Claude Debussy’s Clair De Lune)

I don’t even need to tell you about this again. We wrote about it here.

4. Koop’s Glömd sample of Claude Debussy’s Prélude à L’après-midi D’un Faune

Swedish electronic jazz outfit Koop are probably best known for their track Koop Island Blues, which was used quite extensively in commercials and trailers. But on their debut in 1997, the group interoplated the opening flute riff from Debussy’s Prélude à L’après-midi D’un Faune for their track Glömd and to great effect.

5. Shanice’s I Love Your Smile sample of Claude Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1

Yep, that happened. Not quite in the same vein as the others but the opening arpeggios of Arabesque No. 1 were used in the middle of the track. It a testament to how far Debussy’s music had reached so long after his death.