Songs in Motion

Songs in Motion : Rhythm and Meter in the German Lied

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Qualities of motion and emotion in song come from poetic images, melody, harmony, and voice leading, but they also come from rhythm and metre-the flow and articulation of words and music in time. This book explores rhythm and metre in the nineteenth-century German Lied, including songs for voice and piano by Fanny Hensel nee Mendelssohn, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Hugo Wolf. The Lied, as a genre, is characterized especially by the fusion of poetry and music. Poetic metre itself has expressive qualities, and rhythmic variations contribute further to the modes of signification. These features often carry over into songs, even as they are set in the more strictly determined periodicities of musical metre. A new method of declamatory-schema analysis is presented to illustrate common possibilities for setting trimeter, tetrameter, and pentameter lines. Degrees of rhythmic regularity and irregularity are also considered. There has been a wealth of new work on metric theory and analysis in the past thirty years; here this research is reviewed and applied in song analysis.
Topics include the nature of metric entrainment (drawing on music psychology), metric dissonance, hypermeter, and phrase rhythm. Whereas narrative accounts of the nineteenth-century Lied typically begin with Schubert, here forms of expansion and elision in songs by Hensel provide a point of departure. Repetition links up directly with motion in songs by Schubert, including his famous "Gretchen am Spinnrade." The doubling and reverberation of vocal melody creates a form of interiorized resonance in Schumann's songs. Brahms and Wolf are typically understood as polar opposites in the later nineteenth century; here the differences are clarified along with deeper affinities. Songs by both Brahms and Wolf may be understood as musical performances of poetic readings, and in this regard they both belong to a late period of cultural history.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 156 x 238 x 28mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 63 musical examples, 11 tables
  • 0195340051
  • 9780195340051

Table of contents

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Review quote

The book represents musicology in the best and fullest sense, as Malin makes real points regarding the historical evolution of the German Lied through his analyses of the rhythms of text, melody, and accompaniment. Moreover, Malin's analytic readings go beyond the details of how these songs work to show why they work the way they do...With Songs in Motion Malin shares both his understanding and his pleasures of these Lieder; as he aptly puts it: Thi? * in a nutshel? *
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About Yonatan Malin

Yonatan Malin is a music theorist with special interests in song analysis, embodied meaning, romanticism, and theories of rhythm and meter. He has published articles and reviews in Music Theory Spectrum and Music Analysis, and has presented papers at regional and national meetings of the Society for Music Theory. Professor Malin enjoys teaching music history and theory at Wesleyan University.
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