Hypermetric Dissonance in the Later Works of Robert Schumann

William Benjamin

in Rethinking Schumann

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393859
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894406 | DOI:
Hypermetric Dissonance in the Later Works of Robert Schumann

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This study undertakes, first, to clarify the relationship between hypermeter and grouping. Hypermeter is said to depend on grouping in a way that notated meter does not, because being the first downbeat of a group is, in itself, a source of time‐point accentuation, independent of any other accentual properties. Hypermetric dissonance is then defined as arising in situations where there are two more or less equally plausible ways of grouping the music at the same level (typically the two‐ or the four‐bar level) over the course of an extended passage, and where the context encourages, even if it does not oblige, the listener to keep both ways in mind simultaneously. Two such situations are described in detail and are illustrated in analyses of passages from instrumental and vocal works composed by Schumann between 1849 and 1851. A final analysis, of a movement from Op. 98b, the Requiem für Mignon (1849), shows how the composer represents his reading of the text's poetic content using a range of hypermetric devices: hypermetric dissonance, hypermetric elision, and an alternation between two rates of hypermeter, with hyperbars at one rate being twice as long as those at the other. The study's conclusion places Schumann's approach and achievement as a setter of texts in relation to those of other major composers of the mid‐19th century.

Keywords: hypermeter; dissonance; Schumann's late works; accent; elision; grouping; rhythmic analysis; Requiem für Mignon; Op. 98b; Der Königssohn; Op. 116; Verzweifle nicht im Schmerzensthal; Op. 93

Chapter.  9366 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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