Metric Freedoms in Brahms's Songs

Paul Berry

in The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Riemannian Music Theories

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195321333
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

  Metric Freedoms in Brahms's Songs

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This article focuses on Riemann's thoughts on the temporal features of music, found in his article “Metric Freedoms in Brahms's Songs”. Riemann's essay is notable, first, because it presents an almost contemporary account of Brahms's music. Second, it presents what is for Riemann a rare analytical account involving vocal music—a repertoire Riemann generally considers as inferior to absolute music. And third, its dissimilarity to Riemann's more systematic theories of rhythm and meter makes his essay interesting. In this article, the aim is to demonstrate using two examples, how in an individual case, one can clarify musical structure through detailed analysis hence opening up new sources of appreciation. Two universally known songs are used as samples in this article and these are: “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer,” op. 105/2, and “Schwalbe, sag'mir an,” op. 107/3. In addition, the article also reveals Riemann as a sensitive analyst, responding to issues of declamation, harmony, and notated meter, and offers insights not simply into the music but into Riemann's theoretical and analytical methodologies as well.

Keywords: music; Brahms's music; vocal music; musical structure; harmony; notated meter

Article.  8878 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Music Theory and Analysis

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