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Thursday, February 07, 2008

"Die Mainacht" by Mo

Brahms' piece "Die Mainacht" (The May Night) is very beautiful and has great examples of text painting and modal mixture. The story is of a lonely wanderer trying to find some peace and light in a dark and cold world. The phrasing used is very interesting since it revolves around the poetry itself. Apart from the clear places to breathe, (during rests) the performer must give the feeling of a continuous line for the entire phrase to give the true feeling of what the narrator is saying. An example is in measure 13 where the first strong cadence occurs, at the end of the first stanza. The performer must give a fluid line of text for an entire stanza to make the phrase. Brahms also suggests the restlessness of the main character by avoiding the root-position tonic triad on the downbeat, as in msr. 6. This suggests to the performer that he/she must understand the restlessness and use this avoidance as a chance to express that feeling to the listener. The first clear use of text painting is in msr. 11 with the word "traurig," meaning sadly. Brahms uses mixture with the use of a D natural to give the feeling of sadness that comes with aimless wandering. This is part of a mixture that leads to a key change in msr. 15, the start of the second stanza. The key change goes well with this stanza and helps give the listener a feel for the darker mood. On the phrase "suche dunklere Schatten," the A natural and half step to G# in the melody along with the switching from F natural back to F# and use of B# and D# in the bass portray the darkness of the shadows the wanderer seeks. The harmonic tone of the piano postlude helps to close the poem as well as lead to the final authentic cadence.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Very nice introduction to the essay. I'd like to hear more details about the mode mixture, and how the key change gives a darker mood. The final cadence is a plagal cadence: iiø42 - I, the authentic cadence is at m. 48.