MusicReport-Erlkonig by Franz Schubert
MusicReport-Erlkonig by Franz Schubert
Thispaper analyses and reflects on Erlkonig by Franz Schubert. Erlkonigis one of the best ballads in the musical history. The song by FranzSchubert was meant for two performers. These performers are a pianistand a singer. In it play, there is a lot of tension and drama forfour minutes. While carrying out its analysis on this piece ofmusic, elements of music such as rhythm, melody, key and form of thesong will be focused on. Lastly, the paper will end with a personalreflection using different concepts that are learnt in class.
Stanzaone through bar 1 to 32, the narrator seems to use a calm melody. Themelody appears to be made of scale note steps and triad leaps.Through the singer’s voice, the melody appears clearly in themiddle register. It is clearly captured when the narrator sets thescene by the description that it is late on a windy night (Schubert,Goethe & Liszt, 2013). The attribute of calmness is clear by thesight of a father holding his son close to him and it is at night assomeone gallops past. In stanza 2, line 1, the father is moved bywhat is distressing his son. At this point, the melody appears to bein lower register as it commences with leap of 4th(D-G) and then rises slowly step by step. The son replies in line2and 3 by affirming that he sees Elrking (Schubert, Goethe &Liszt, 2013). At this juncture, melody is captured in higher registerof singer’s voice and this is witnessed by the numerous leaps of5ths and 6ths. In stanza 3, the melody appears to be tuneful andlyrical given that the boy is lured with prospect of games andflowers. The melody comes out through wide vocal range that seems tobe diverse and characterized by dotted minims as well as quavers andcrotchets.
Rhythmin musical art can allude to be musical sounds and silences as oneperforms. The rhythm of the song is vivid in the first stanza throughthe 15 bar introduction. In the introduction part, a quaver tripletrhythm is established in the song and it represents the gallopinghorse. Through their movement as well, there is creation of anagitated and rush mood which would be an indicator of the fears ofthe father that he does not share with the son (Schubert, Goethe &Liszt, 2013). Additionally, the ostinato rhythmic pattern is employedthrough the work and is evidenced by the right hand of the pianorecapping certain parts like a rapid fire, forte, triplet figurefrolicked in octaves. The ostinato rhythmic pattern is critical inthe art as it helps in the provision of a sense of tonic in themultiple key centers of the piece.
Theabove is captured in the first stanza in measure 58 (Schubert, Goethe& Liszt, 2013). At this point there is faster harmonic rhythmcharacterized by change in bar from one cord to another. In effectthere is a quick change in the feel of the entrance. At measure 87,the narrator appears to maintain triplet rhythm though shows triadwith the dynamic marking of pianississimo.
Inthe music, Schubert employs use of different keys that help to conveythe intensity of the text (Schubert, Goethe & Liszt, 2013). Inthe introduction part, Schubert uses the key of g minor and thishelps to establish the key center via a melody that uses most of themelodic range of the entire work. Through stanza 1 and 2 there is useof the g-minor key when the narrator sets the scene and the writerprogressing to show the manner in which the boy is calmed by thefather. In stanza 3, through bars 55 to 77, the author appears tomake use of Bb major (Schubert, Goethe & Liszt, 2013). In stanza4, line 71 to 84 there is use of B-minor and E-minor which iscaptured through the son’s and father’s communication. In stanza5, bars 85-95 employ the use of C-major which comes out when he triesto entice the boy to speak with him. Stanza 6 employs the use ofE-major while stanza 7 uses in bars 112 to 130 uses D minor. The laststanza makes use of G minor as it commences with both hands playing abar of unison octaves of G.
Formrefers to how a piece of music is organized across time. The formappears to be that of varying themes. The first theme acts as thebase in the composition and it appears to be engraved in the mind ofthe listener after evil Erlkönig’s tries to steal away a father’sson (Schubert, Goethe & Liszt, 2013). The second theme is a threenote theme characterized by ascending chromatic passage as capturedand listened in the bass, the accompaniment of the chords as well asthe vocal lines of the son, father and Erlkönig.
Figure1: Theme 1(Schubert, Goethe & Liszt, 2013)
Figure2: Alteration of Theme 2 (Schubert, Goethe & Liszt, 2013)
Thelesson and encounter from the song was highly rewarding and alearning experience. It was a good way to learn about the works ofSchubert. I have gained more interest and I value classical musicmore. Through this work, I have learnt how to delve deeper intoclassical work in an interesting manner. I had earlier thought thatsuch works are boring but I can attest that I have found it sointeresting to learn. Through Schubert’s works I have gained skillson decoding the elements of music such as rhythm, form, key andmelody. Through this I can effectively appreciate the works of thecomposer and get new ways of coming up with my compositions. I amindebted to the literally knowledge I learnt from this poem.
Schubert,F., von Goethe, J. W., & Liszt, F. (2013). Erlkönig. HarmoniaMundi.