Schenkerian Analysis Forum
Piano Interludes as Summary in Schubert's
Throughout Schubert's incredible song literature the piano is not solely perceived as an accompanying instrument. It is conceived as an instrument in dialogue with the voice. This is one of Schubert's great contributions to Lieder. "Der Lindenbaum", song number five, from the song cycle Winterreise, is no exception. The piano introduction, interludes and postlude not only tie the piece together and set the tone for the text, rather it foreshadows or provides a summary of the piece as a whole.
In word painting terms, the triplet figure throughout the introduction is the musical representation of the wind rustling the leaves of the lime tree, but there is much more to be considered in this introduction that is related to the section that follows. There is a lot of nieghbour tone motion utilized in the first eight bars, which figures prominently throughout the piece. In the first bar there is notion from E-D#-D. To the keen ear, along with the bass support of E, the key of E major is firmly established. In measure two, arguably the most important neighbour tome motion of the introduction, C#-B is played/heard. This gesture is exposed and bare. This makes it much more prominent and memorable. The B is the high point of the introduction in terms of emphasis. The intensity disappears while there is more rustling of the leaves. The musical purpose for this rustling is to move from E to the octave below and ascend to an A. This is the next most important note in the introduction. The rustling has ended and the calmness begins. The A is sustained through a series of passing chords until the dominant seventh chord arrives in the left hand. This is the high point in terms of dynamics in the introduction. , fp. There is a no third in the dominant chord, making it sound hollow. This foreshadows the dark tone of the text. The third of the chord would make it sound warmer. Remembering the context of Winterreise, a winter's journey that is bleak and despairingly empty, there should be very little warmth in the music. In the coming verses there will be warmth, that coincides with word painting and is appropriate. It is appropriate at this point of the piece, where there has been no text and the pianist is responsible to prepare the mood, to be cold and distant. In the introduction there is a structural descent form B-F# ending the section with a little bit of tension. The ending on the F# is a growing feature that propels the music forward to the text and verse. The A section mirrors the introduction, only it completes the descent going from B-E.
In comparing the introduction with the A section (verse), there are many parallels that can be stated. Each section emphasizes the tonic, just in different ways. The introduction demonstrates the tonic by the neighbour tone motion. As the A section begins, the tonic is also emphasized. The melody outlines the tonic chord, however, the B is more prominent in this chord. This was predestined in the model of the introduction. The ascent and descent to and from the A in the introduction are found in the melody of the verses. Here too the focus rests on the A as the high point of this motion. The descent differs from the introduction. Although the emphasis is on the A, it does not have the rhythmic strength of the introduction. Also, the descent goes beyond the introduction. Rather than resting on the F# the descent continues down to the tonic in the 'a' section of the verse. In the 'b' section of the verse, there is an ascent back to the B (mm17-19). In bar 19, the C that was the short upper neighbour at the beginning of the piece is expanded. A commonality between the divisions of the verse is the deceptive cadence that serves to push the piece onwards. It is interesting to note that the introduction ends in the same manner. The answering sections are in a sense a rewrite of the previous section that settles on the tonic. Since this is a strophic setting and the sections repeat the question arises: Where is the uninterrupted descent that satisfies Schenkerian theory? I wish to put forth the argument that the piano accompaniment supplies the structure of the piece while the vocal line prolongs ideas put forth by the piano.