Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Gretchen am Spinnrade, D.118 - Schubert

In this song, Schubert depicts a woman, Gretchen, sitting at her spinning wheel, thinking of her idol Goethe's poem Faust, who apparently is not around. He depicts this in several ways - the right hand of the piano is constantly moving, creating the impression of a whirring spinning wheel. The left hand plays a constant rhythmic pattern that is supposed to be the movement of the needle.

The piece's harmonic progression is intersting. It's in d minor, but the tonal center changes every few bars in unusual ways. I made a list below:

Measures Tonal Center
1-6 d minor
7-12 C Major
13-15 d minor
16-17 a minor
18-21 e minor
22-24 E Major

I think it's unusual in that, at times (mm. 13-21), it basically progresses backwards through the circle of fifths. In other words, the tonal center follows a i-v-ii pattern.

I noticed again that this recording was about a half step flat - this isn't something I picked up on by ear, but rather using a keyboard. Any thoughts?

The piece, overall, made me feel contemplative because of the constant, pleasant motion of the right hand. It reminded me of the soundtrack to the animated movie, "The Snowman." Also, the slowly progressing harmony (most often the chord changed no more than once per measure) gave the piece a very stable sound that made me content.

1 comment:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

The pitch discrepancy could be a recording problem, or it could be that the singer requested a transposition of the song to make it easier to sing.