Songs in Motion: Rhythm and Meter in the German Lied (Oxford Studies in Music Theory)

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9780190213275: Songs in Motion: Rhythm and Meter in the German Lied (Oxford Studies in Music Theory)

Scholars, critics, and performers alike have long been fascinated by the distinctive blend of music and text in the German Lied. Covering works by Fanny Hensel, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, and Hugo Wolf, Songs in Motion synthesizes the most recent developments in song analysis and rhythmic theory. It offers a valuable new method for understanding the extraordinary coalescense of music and text in this most-studied and frequently performed genre of vocal repertory.

Aesthetics of simplicity, songfulness, and folk-like directness fostered poetic styles with consistent meters and rhyme schemes in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Author Yonatan Malin explroes the range of rhythmic and expressive possibilities available to composers as they worked within and beyond the original aesthetic dictates of the genre. Malin shows how expressive aspects of the poetic rhythm are intensified and transformed in musical settings, and he interprets rhythmic stratification of the poem, vocal melody, and piano accompaniment as features of the lyric persona's conscious awareness and voice. Changes in musical rhythm over the course of a song are shown to be a significant element in the composer's "reading" of the poem.

Malin's innovative and thorough analyses shed light on stylistic features of individual composers while illuminating more generally the changing nature of lyric subjectivity over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Songs in Motion is a must-read for music theorists, historical musicologists, performers, and students and scholars of German studies.

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About the Author:

Yonatan Malin is Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has published articles and reviews in Music Theory Spectrum and Music Analysis, and in the edited volume Expressive Intersections in Brahms: Essays in Analysis and Meaning (Indiana University Press 2012). He is also editor of Music Theory Online, a journal of the Society for Music Theory.


"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: "This--in a nutshell--is what song analysis is about' (207). Indeed, it is." --Music Theory Online

"Malin's book is an important contribution not only to song analysis, but also to rhythmic/metric theory. Music theorists, musicologists, and performers will enjoy his penetrating, sophisticated, and innovative analyses of poetry and music, and of their interaction as they move together through time."-Harald Krebs, author of Fantasy Pieces: Metrical Dissonance in the Music of Robert Schumann

"At once a study of the ontology of the Lied and a comparative exploration of musical style, Songs in Motion lays bare the polyrhythmic foundation of song and demonstrates its workings in a variety of nineteenth-century compositions. Yonatan Malin draws on the strongest music-theoretical resources to engage listeners, performers, and thinkers in equal measure. This book significantly raises the stakes in theory-based analysis of song."-Kofi Agawu, author of Music as Discourse: Semiotic Adventures in Romantic Music

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