23 Sep 2014

Romantics Terminology

Chromaticism, Chromatic
Using notes outside the selected major or minor scale/key. For example, the C-major scale uses the pitches C, D, E, F, G, A, and. B If a composer temporarily choses the notes C sharp, G flat, B flat, etc. while writing in the key of C major, this represents chromaticism.
Knaben Wunderhorn, Des (The Boy’s Magic Horn)
A collection of German folk poetry brought together by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano and published in three volumes between 1805 and 1808. As editors, however, Arnim and Bretano made significant alterations to the poems; they therefore no long constitute “authentic” folk materials.
The more than 700 texts in the collection inspired many composers, with Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, R. Strauss, and most notably Mahler setting individual poems as songs. Mahler, in turn, embedded these songs in his Second through Fourth Symphonies, as well as setting further Wunderhorn texts in their vocal movements.

Ländler (pl., Ländler)
An Austro-German folkdance, with some dissemination into neighboring areas (e.g., Switzerland, Bohemia, Slovenia, etc.), commonly found before the spread of the waltz, mazurka, and polka in the nineteenth century. The tempo of the ländler varies regionally, with local practice ranging from fast to slow speeds, and though the choreography usually corresponds to 3/4 time, in upper Austria the third beat lengthened enough to developed a ländler set in 4/4.
The choreography stereotypically involves couples moving their feet in a left-right-left-right-left-right pattern. This rhythmically corresponds to six beats spread across two bars of music, with every beat receiving an accent. In some areas, hand clapping accompanies the dance, as does occasional yodeling.
The stereotypical ländler band of Mahler’s time consisted of two violins, double bass, cymbal, and clarinet. Today accordions frequently accompany the dance. Throughout its history, however most performers place ländler music in major keys and incorporate a great deal of repetition.
Lied (pl., Lieder,)
A type of German-language song that began in the nineteenth century. Although German speakers use the term to embrace any kind of song, in English it designates only those written for voice and piano in the high-art tradition.
Many scholars place the “birthday” of the lied on 19 October 1914, the date Schubert composed Gretchen am Spinnrade. In this work, Schubert effected changes to amateur song designed for a single performer to simultaneously sing and play at the keyboard: Gretchen’s level of difficulty requires two accomplished performers. More importantly, the musical setting follows the subtle nuances in the text’s imagery and content rather than simply fitting them to a melody that follows the accentuation of the words.
Program, Program music
A “non-musical” inspiration behind a piece of instrumental music, normally deriving from literature, mythology, history, or nature. (In the case of Symphonie fantastique–one of the most famous examples of the genre–however, Berlioz devised an original narrative with a loose connection to his personal life.) The composer must indicate the program through a title, movement title, and/or an explanatory note; programs assigned by publishers, listeners, or anyone else do not count as authentic reflections of the composer’s intentions. Furthermore, the composer must attach the program to the published score. Consideration of a program during a work’s gestation and evolution does not render the final piece programmatic if the composer ultimately decides to discard the device; neither do programs revealed in a composer’s personal correspondence, yet not attached to the score, constitute anything more than the possibility of a “hidden” program.
Speeding up or slowing down done at a performer’s discretion–whether an instrumentalist’s, vocalist’s, or conductor’s.
Sonata form
A form developed in the eighteenth century and commonly used in the first movements of multi-movement instrumental genres (e.g., symphonies, string quartets, and piano sonatas). Because these first movements stereotypically proceed at fast tempos–often Allegro–many refer to the form as sonata-allegro form. Nevertheless, composers may set a sonata form at any speed.
Sonata form contrasts two separate themes in two differing keys. The form aims to reconcile these materials by having both melodies return in the same key at the end of the movement. Due to the workings of the major-minor system, this means the key of the first themes prevails.
The first section of the form, called the exposition, presents both themes in their diverging keys. Next comes the development, the form’s second section, in which the composer creates tension by moving through several keys; at the same time, s/he alters the primary melodies, often providing only fragments of them, in order to create a desire to hear these ideas in their original shapes. Once the resulting tension reaches a peak, the final section of the form, i.e., the recapitulation, begins. Here the composer retraces the steps of the exposition, yet does not change keys for the second theme.
Originally, composers indicated that the exposition should repeat in performances of sonata-form movements, as should the development and recapitulation as a pair. This layout would sound as follows: exposition, exposition, development, recapitulation, development, recapitulation. By the time of Mozart and Haydn, however, only the repeat of the exposition remained, and most nineteenth-century composers dispensed with it as well.
Although the piano sonata—as well as sonatas for violin or any other instrument—use sonata form within their first movements, the terms “sonata” and “sonata form” do not make a synonymous pair. By the mid-1700s, the former refers to a three-movement structure performed by either a solo piano or solo instrument with piano accompaniment, while the latter refers to the layout of sections, themes, and keys within a single movement.
Symphonic poem, Tone poem
A programmatic orchestral work in a single movement, usually taking its inspiration from literature. Developed by Liszt in the mid-nineteenth century, the genre flourished until the end of the century. Richard Strauss preferred the designation “tone poem.”