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When contrasting classical music and impressionist music, let's assume "classical" refers to the music of Haydn and Mozart's era. With that being the case, these are two very different types of music.
The most obvious difference is tonality. Classical music draws on the tonality codified by J.S. Bach, that of major and minor scales. In contrast, impressionist music uses expanded tonality, where the chords are not so clearly major or minor. These composers stack notes upon notes such that there is much less of a sense of a key center.
A second difference would be instrumentation. Orchestras of Haydn's and Mozart's time had fewer instruments, and some of the instruments were not in their final form. For example, the French horn of the classical period was a natural horn (no valves). In contrast, impressionist music makes use of a wider range of instruments and the instruments are advanced enough that they are much less acoustically limited. Impressionist orchestrations reflect this fact.
Related to the differences in orchestras between the two periods, there is a contrast between composers' approaches to tonal color. During the classical era, composers did not "paint" with sound in quite the same way as the composers of the impressionist era did. You can hear this in the opening bars of Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun," where the flute and the harp establish a rich sonority that signals the beginning of a story, the sonic equivalent of a play taking place in one of Monet's garden paintings.
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