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Thursday, February 21, 2008


So what do you do when you can't sleep? BLOG! -- and probably find yourself having scary dreams of Elf Kings and Horses. It seems no matter how hard I try after I hear this song once it's stuck in my head for days.

The Chordal Analysis for Erlkönig by Franz Schubert is as follows:
m. 137 - i ii42
m. 138 - i ( with the crazy horse sound)
m. 139 - V7/iv
m. 140 - iv
m. 141-142 - the C from the previous chord ( iv ) is being held while a series of passing tones continue through the bass, a slightly more chromatic run than the eerie horse sound, but still the same concept in a more stretched out form.
m. 143 - bII
m. 144 - vii042/bII
m. 145 - bII
m. 146 - bII6
m. 147 - vii/V V
m. 148 - i

The use of the Neapolitan chord in this piece to me seems unorthodox. All though it is a very nice stylistic choice because as the listener/singer arrive at the final inversion of the bII chord there is first a sense of arrival and conclusion from the major part of the chord, but there is still the lingering feeling of sadness as we think back to the son's fear of the Elf king. In regards to its technical use the chord is quite out of place. From previous examples in the book and homework assignments we have found that the neapolitan chord is most often preceded by a iv or VI chord and followed by a V or cadential 64. In this case the bII is preceded by a iv, however, this iv chord is separated by the extended chromatic run in the bass. The bII also does not resolve immediately. Instead there is a rest in the piano and the voice continues on its own. It then continues to the vii/V, followed by a V and of course a i to bring the song to its conclusion. The words that the bII are harmonizing are " he arrives in the courtyard, with effort and distress". I think that the listener is supposed to feel the distress that is represented by the extended us of the bII along with the us of a secondary leading tone chord from that bII.

Above this harmonic analysis there are still many layers of complicated text painting. As we have heard many a time from this piece there is the haunting horse noise that is meant to reach the listener and help him or her feel the intenseness and urgency of the ride. This same feeling is transfered from the base line into the melody but is spread out over the last verse. The same general melodic shape is kept where the singer has an ascending line beginning in m. 135 that continues to 140. I feel like the rests used at the end of the piece are meant to represent the final two staccato notes of the horse's theme. They are drawn out in the end to emphasize the conclusion of the piece and the sadness of the father.


Anonymous said...

Wow...great analysis! This certainly helped my analysis of this tonicization of the Neopolitan chord at the end, as well as interpretation. Thanks for the great work!

Anonymous said...

you have some errors in your inversions of chords... but no biggy. also, indicate pedals?