Article published in:Semblance and Signification
Edited by Pascal Michelucci, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 10] 2011
► pp. 389–404
Argumentative, iconic, and indexical structures in Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin
Schubert’s The Fair Miller-Maid (1823), based on a collection of lyrics by Wilhelm Müller, is characterized by piano accompaniments that consist mainly in the iconic imitation of real world sounds and of the main character’s mood, musical strategies which any listener accustomed to classical music may recognize without knowing harmonic structures. Many claim that Schubert’s music simply illustrates and heightens Müller’s original text but his interpretation of Müller’s poems cannot be reduced to a superficial illustration. The partition shows that Schubert created a simple world of iconically determined sound patterns (flowing brook, hunter’s horn, patterns signifying death), which are quoted unusually often and varied in the very first four Lieder. These iconic, musical words, created dynamically, can contradict the song texts in the following Lieder. Another iconic device uses the opposition of minor and major tonalities, tied to illusion and reality.
Published online: 23 November 2011