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Traumerei - a Study on Emotion in Music

Autor:   •  December 7, 2018  •  Essay  •  852 Words (4 Pages)  •  757 Views

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Traumerei - A Study on Emotion in Music

Traumerei by Schumann has always been one of my favorite piano pieces.  My first experience with this piece was as a piano student. As a young girl I felt a sense of accomplishment when I learned this piece. Although the mechanics of the piece were not difficult to master, I think it was one of the first pieces where I began to understand how to express emotion as I played. As an adult I have listened to, played and watched performances of this piece many times. As I studied and analyzed the music, I realized that the emotions I feel when I listen to or play this piece are evoked by the musical gestures and harmonies present in the music. When I listen to Traumerei I experience a sense of peace as well as a feeling of melancholy or turmoil. The music is aptly named Reverie, because it induces in me a sense of daydreaming.  The peaceful feelings I experience in the A section, interrupted by the more turbulent B section, followed by the peaceful ending mirror what I experience sometimes as I think about past events, or people who have been in my life. In this paper, I show that certain musical gestures and harmonies evoke that sense of peace, lead into a period of turbulence, and again resolve into a sense of tranquility and peace.  

The music starts in F major, with a lyrical melody that begins with a half note on the first downbeat, followed by an arpeggiation at the end of m. 1. The melody again rests on a half note on the second beat of m. 2.  The use of the half notes at these two points evokes a feeling of rest or peace.  Following the half note on beat 2 of m. 2, the melody descends and rests once again on a half cadence. The descent to the half cadence consist of short motifs offset across bar lines ending or beginning on beats other than the first beat of the measure. This offset gives the music an ethereal feeling which reinforces the sense of a peaceful daydream. I imagine those motifs as stray thoughts drifting through my mind. I especially like the chord on the second beat of m. 6.  The borrowed chord, V/vi, which highlights the highest note of the melody surprises me. It also begins to hint in mm. 6-7, the turbulence or melancholy of the middle section. Although I’ve heard and played this music many times, the unexpected minor tonic chord, followed by the dim. vii/ii in m. 7 always captures my attention.  That chord progression foretells the turbulence to come in the B section while the repeat of the A section reinforces the feeling of peace.


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