Are songs like poetry in some way

What do poems gain by setting them to music?

  • Original by musicophil
    So you agree with me that Schubert made more of the poems than was actually implied? I'm not saying they're bad, but they're pretty "cheap". Too sentimental. But there was also young Werther ...

    Dear Paul

    I am trying to answer the question more generally and independently of the "winter trip" alone, but not to forget it.

    Poems are usually written with no intention of setting them to music. This applies to Goethe's "Ganymed" as well as to Wilhelm Müller's poems and Heine's "Ihr Bild". Some poems seem to be particularly suitable for setting to music, for example if they already have the term "song" in the title.

    Poems have a variety of linguistic and rhythmic structures. Many of them can be sensually experienced by speaking. Others are recognizable by reading. If they are put into a melody and sung, some of them are lost. That is why Goethe preferred the undemanding verse song to the thoroughly composed song, Zelter that is Schubert, where an undemanding accompaniment to an appealing melody obscures as little as possible of the linguistic work of art.

    The more demanding the composition (this applies to both the voice and the accompaniment), the less the linguistic structures of the poem come into their own - unless the composer emphasizes them, lets them correspond to musical structures or finds other ways to emphasize them.

    For this reason, at first glance, "more modest" poems, which can then be interpreted by the composer in many ways, seem closer to a song composition - just like the simple, if not undemanding poems by Wilhelm Müller, to whom we owe the two important song cycles of Schubert. Not that Schubert added anything to the poems that couldn't be found in them; their clear form makes them easy to translate into songs, their emotional content can be reflected musically.

    I even think that is the case with many songs. And that you can compare that with bad libretti, which through the music (and good singers) still develop into something.

    However, if you look at the songs that play the most important role in the reception of the art song, it is less the undemanding, from the Ronsard settings, which I reported on in a different context, to the wonderful settings of Rimbaud's "Illuminations" "Thanks to Britten and Henze, it is precisely the complex poems that inspire great song compositions. In modern times, the conscious choice of great lyric poetry has become proportionally more frequent than less frequent.

    On the other hand, the composer sometimes also "controls": he occasionally changes something. As an example I give "the violet" by Mozart, where he used the line "The poor violet! It was a sweet violet". added (it is sometimes left out, by the way, I understand).

    With Schubert too (including the order of the songs in the "Winterreise" cycle) there are changes to the text in contrast to the printed text.

    So now the question: what should be decisive for the interpretation in cases of doubt? The words of the poet or the music of the composer ?.

    The question can definitely be answered unequivocally: the composer's music as it interprets the poet's words.

    Greetings Peter

  • Hm, when I read the title: What do poems gain from their settings The first thing that comes to mind are heretical questions: Win Poems really through setting to music? To lose don't they also have something? Namely their independence and thus, in a certain way, their intrinsic value? Isn't a poem degraded to mere material, a filler for creating singable tones?

    An interjection from Carola

  • Dear Carola,
    I really have to agree with you. As Peter wrote,
    the poem has its own laws. The setting creates a
    brand new work of art. As far as I know, Goethe liked them
    Schubert did not set his poems to music. He pulled Zelter
    before who the poems mostly through simple verse songs in music
    sat. The Goethe Zelter Schubert prefers is often called unmusi =
    cality chalked up, totally wrong in my opinion. Through the
    Zelter settings kept his poems much of their own
    Metrics. However, the Goethe songs are in the setting
    far more valuable by Schubert. For me that means the singer
    should primarily follow the music when interpreting it.

    Herbert.

  • Original by Carola
    Hm, when I read the title: What do poems gain from their settings The first thing that comes to mind are heretical questions: Win Poems really by setting them to music? To lose don't they rather also something? Namely their independence and thus, in a certain way, their intrinsic value? Isn't a poem degraded to mere material, a filler for creating singable tones?

    Dear Carola,

    because I asked myself the same questions, I chose the title. Does a Wilhelm Müller win and a Goethe loses?

    Greetings Peter

  • Müller will definitely win.
    I think we have to distinguish here between the quality of a poem itself and its specific qualities, which make it suitable for setting to music or which enable a considerable increase in the effect when set to music. Müller's poems would certainly not be sensational if they were not set to music (but in my insignificant opinion they would not be outright bad either).
    But they obviously have qualities that suit the setting as a song cycle, e.g. the nature symbolism persisted in both cycles, mainly the brook in the miller's wife, various aspects of winter nature in the winter journey, etc.

    Or even Schiller: "Nänie" is, with all due respect for elegiac distiches, a bit stiff (The mocking distiches of Schiller and Goethe are much better: what they learned yesterday, they want to teach today short bowels! etc.)
    The fact that Brahms even managed to get a melodic flow here that doesn't clatter monotonously is not a bad achievement (although the beautiful work is not exactly one of his most popular works).

    Will Goethe or Eichendorff lose?

    What exactly would "lose" mean here? Probably that the poem is somehow "overwhelmed" by the music, or that it comes into its own worse than if it were performed without music. First of all, I have to admit that I rarely hear poetry recited. So I often only receive poems in their set to music (silent reading suppresses a number of relevant aspects of a poem). It may be that you can achieve great things here. But I'm afraid that my tolerance for emotional expression (or, for example, the emulation of the various people in the Erlkönig) would quickly be exhausted when a reciter gave a presentation. (I once heard "Die Bürgschaft" with Oscar Werner on the radio, unfortunately it is not available on CD, that was great, but borderline when it comes to the expression)
    In the sung version, on the other hand, I am ready to accept the intensification through the music. Therefore I believe, among other things, that a successful setting does not make the poem lose. It is not degraded to a mere material, because it is not an arbitrary material and as such an important contribution to the whole. From this intensification or heightening one could conclude that the poem that has not been set to music is still "incomplete", but that would probably go too far.

    best regards

    JR

    Struck by the sounds before the sun,
    I knew the night had gone.
    The morning breeze like a bugle blew
    Against the drums of dawn.
    (Bob Dylan)

  • Dear Johannes,

    I can only agree with you in this regard - however, I would choose different descriptions for my personal reception.

    A song like Schubert's "Winter Evening" that would fit perfectly into the image of a slippery, silk, bedclothed, smoked bourgeoisie, would be a poem for me - Karl Gottfried von Leitner (1800-1890) may forgive me - a heartfelt sniff, if I even get the expressed mood is not so strange, except for the last sentimental lines I have put down:

    "It's so quiet, so secretly around me.
    The sun is down, the day has passed.
    How quickly the evening is approaching.
    It's fine with me, otherwise it's too loud for me.
    But now it's quiet, a blacksmith is hammering
    No plumber, the people ran and are tired.
    And even that the car does not rattle,
    The snow covered the alleys.
    How good is the blessed peace!
    There I sit in the dark, completely secluded.
    So completely for me. Just the moonlight
    Come quietly into my room.
    He already knows me and keeps me silent.
    Just take his work, the spindle, the gold,
    And spinnet silently, weave, and smile sweetly,
    And then hangs his shimmering veil
    All around on the device and walls.
    Is a quiet, dear visit
    Don't worry about my house at all.
    If he wants to stay, he has a place
    If he is never happy, he goes away.
    I like to sit in the window in silence,
    And look up into the clouds and the stars.

    Think back, oh far, far far
    In a beautiful, lost time.
    Think of her, of the happiness of love
    Sigh quietly and ponder, and ponder. "

    I wouldn't even say that the music increases the intensity, it only breaks a barrier to reception for me, because the poem as such just doesn't get over my threshold of empathy. Schubert's music, however, carries it across, and lo and behold, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Especially when, surrounded by Margaret Prices like a Rubens' incarnate, soprano shimmering in all flesh tones, I jog over wet-rained leaves in the glow of street lamps through Munich's rainy West Park ...

    Of course, the whole thing also works with more cheerful moods, such as the Art Hedonist International, which Schubert so masterfully set to music, the "Lied im Grünen" by Schubert, where educated citizens rush into the green, where he "liked to be" as a boy and wrote, read "and indeed" first Horace and Plato, then Wieland and Kant "and" called himself blessed with a glowing heart ": in the country.

    The poem is rather ridiculous, but lifted by the music out of the embarrassing earthly gravity of the linguistic, the picture can spread its wings and the art hedonist run through the rain with a blissful smile.

    It is different for me with poems in which the text as such exceeds my empathy threshold: then the music disturbs me because it distorts the poem for me.

    Which - of course - is more a matter of the limitations of the recipient than a question of artistic qualities.


    Flo

    "Deconstruction is justice." (Jacques Derrida)

  • Have already had to read a lot of riding around on Müller's poems, so my opinion briefly: I think the poems are great, sometimes no boredom with symbolism and metaphor that pushes the actual message into the background.

    In addition, I think that text almost always wins through good setting alone ... the song or the opera is practically the union of all arts (as Wagner already saw it), whereby all means are needed to reach the addressee. The writer of a poem or a play renounces one component (the music) and thus also reduces his range of expression.

    "The great thing about Richard Strauss' music is that it represents and underpins an argument that goes beyond all dogmas of art - all questions of style and taste and idiom - and beyond all the vain, sterile prejudices of the chronicler. It offers us that Example of a person who enriches his own time by not belonging to any. " - Glenn Gould

  • Original by Baroque bass floo

    I wouldn't even say that the music increases intensity, it only breaks a barrier to reception for me, because the poem as such just doesn't get over my threshold of empathy. Schubert's music, however, carries it across, and lo and behold, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

    That is probably completely undisputed (at least from me). I had not explicitly mentioned this category, in which the rule is that one would not even perceive the poem without setting it to music, but it certainly includes a lot: The Shepherd on the Rock, Helmina v. Chezy "When my crickets are buzzing .." (Lappe), even the Scott transmissions and much more.

    What I am trying to understand, on the other hand, is to what extent an already good poem can in any way be enhanced by the setting or not. Or how a simpler setting a la Reichardt or Zelter could be more appropriate, why actually * at all * if the music is not on the level of the poem?


    Especially when, surrounded by Margaret Prices like a Rubens incarnate in a soprano shimmering in all flesh tones, I jog over wet, rainy leaves in the glow of street lamps through Munich's rainy West Park ...

    We are not joggers!

    (Warning, Flash and pretty slow, unfortunately I'm a jogger myself in terms of speed ... But not in terms of attitude!: D)

    JR

    Struck by the sounds before the sun,
    I knew the night had gone.
    The morning breeze like a bugle blew
    Against the drums of dawn.
    (Bob Dylan)

  • Salute,

    is a poem sealed, a song is a Setting a poem to music. So why question the independence of the individual parts? Poems are not necessarily composed for setting to music, but for reading or reciting. In most cases the composers - e. B. Schubert - from a text to such an extent Charmedthat they translate it into music had to. A completely new work of art then emerges from this, which has something more than nothing to do with the poem, but actually cannot and should not be directly associated with the original poem. After all, the setting by the composer is already an interpretation of the same that is passed on to us.

    Did all composers interpret "correctly" in our eyes / ears?

    So here you can neither speak of a profit nor of a loss, since these are completely independent things. Of course, the song wouldn't exist without the poem - but the other way around, it would.

    A completely different aspect is that, in my opinion, the music makes texts better known to the general public than they would without the music; for example Schiller's "Ode to Joy". I don't think that this would be so well known today if Beethoven hadn't added his notes. Just as naturally, almost all of the texts set by Schubert to music with a few exceptions such as Erlkönig and other ballads.

    In an opera - to come back to Rappy's statement - all the arts are more or less united. But the only art that is hardly independent here is music - because in this special case it cannot live without the text. It is different with the texts themselves [as stupid as they may be sometimes - the texts of the Ohnsörftheater are not necessarily better either] or with the sets and costumes. These things live in our thoughts without the music or they can make a statement without the assistance of the music. In the special case of opera, it should also be taken into account that the texts are intended to be set to music and are therefore not necessarily as clever as pure poems or ballads.

    Thus, in the end, the music can be dispensed with, as is the stage design and costume, as today's productions try to prove [sometimes it succeeds]. What remains is the word. After all, we only communicate with it in normal life, not through wordless music, occasionally through photos [but here a statement is very often not recognizable without explanatory words].

    Best wishes
    Ulli

    The opera must draw tears, make people shudder and let them die through singing.
    (Vincenzo Geilomato Hundini)

  • Original from rappy
    Have already had to read a lot of riding around on Müller's poems, so my opinion briefly: I think the poems are great, sometimes no boredom with symbolism and metaphor that pushes the actual message into the background.

    Nobody here rides on Müller's poems, I even agree with you that they are rather underestimated. But nobody would take note of them if they had not been set to music by Schubert, Müller was not known to his contemporaries for his beautiful Müllerin (who depend on Goethe's four romances from the Müllerin), but for his "Songs of the Greeks", which earned him the name "Greek miller" and brought many imitators. As I said, without Schubert it would be a case for literary history.

    For a setting, I agree with you again, the poems are ideal.They bring great singability with them, the framework that connects them also allows each individual poem to benefit from the cycle, they are rich in contrast, have obvious images that can be easily translated into music.

    I also think that text almost always wins through good scoring alone ...

    ... and a contemporary interpretation. If we take Goethe's "Ganymed", I see both gain and loss in the setting. The "Ganymed" is a poem that has retained its power to this day, even without the settings (in which, by the way, I consider Wolf's to be more important).

    The writer of a poem or a play renounces one component (the music) and thus also reduces his range of expression.

    That is definitely wrong in my opinion. I don't know that in Goethe's "Ganymed" I lacked a palette of expression - just as Büchner's Woyzeck contains far greater possibilities of expression when viewed in the light of reception than Berg's (at least congenial) interpretation.

    Greetings Peter

  • Hm, actually I think that this question is not a right one Answer will be able to find - simply because the question is wrong. "Poems" gain nothing by setting them to music - and neither do they lose. I think that Ulli actually hit the matter razor-sharp: The setting of a poem is no longer the poem, but an interpretation, a reading as a "new work of art" - a work of art that has completely emancipated itself from the original and must exist independently of it .

    The successful setting of a weak text does not make the text better as a "literary text" - but it can ennoble it as a suitable song text. The texts by H. Müller are not made better than "poems" by Schubert's settings. Schubert composed good (or, for my part, outstanding) songs, not poems "improved" through his music.

    Conversely, a bad setting does not make a good or a good poem worse - the result of a bad setting is a bad (art) song, but not a weak poem.

    A song text must - at least I believe - not be able to function as a poem detached from the music, and a poem need not be capable of being set to music. On the other hand, I hardly believe that a really good poem (what is it and who decides what it is? Georges' The Poet in Times of Troubles'? Goethe's' On the Lake '? Klinger's' Sword Song'? Hofmannswaldau's' To Melinden "?, Klings" Geschrebertes Idyll "?), Could win" as a poem "at all by setting it to music, because in the concrete case it is then no longer a poem at all, but a song text: wacky: ... Except if you think so is that word art is always deficient as long as it does not use music as a vehicle - which is just as nonsense as claiming that music would be deficient as long as it wants to get along without text - but what would then be with the fine arts?).

    So, actually, a poem wins everything by setting it to music and it also loses everything - if one does not accept that the "poem" and the "song" created above the text of the poem are two completely different, independent works of art.

    Very warmly,
    Medard

  • Do not despise the miller for me!
    When he was barely thirty-three he left three hundred and fifty tightly printed pages full of poetry. Winter's journey rises like a monolith beneath these poems. He has never written anything like it before or after.
    I consider his winter trip to be a great success in every respect, so that one wonders whether Müller is actually the author. The reason for this work is unknown. The motif of hiking changes into that of being driven.
    Despair reaches its limits which poetry, especially the Müller, can actually no longer cope with. Müller dares to venture into areas that don't yet know anything about poetry:
    I have moved in as a stranger, I move out again as a stranger.
    In my favorite poem (and song) "Auf dem Flusse" the refugee speaks with childlike astonishment: .... you lie stretched out in the sand, cold and motionless ....
    In my opinion, there is no poem in this cycle that has failed. Whoever interprets this unique work of Schubert and Müller should take the text as seriously as the music.
    Here shocking verses have found their congenial setting. And Müller's heartfelt wish that his poems would someday be put into notes by someone was fulfilled during his lifetime -
    through Schubert, whom he did not know and who did not know him.
    That's how it was back then, without the phone and the internet .....

    Ciao. Gioachino

  • Original by Johannes Roehl
    What exactly would "lose" mean here? Probably that the poem is somehow "overwhelmed" by the music, or that it comes into its own worse than if it were performed without music. First of all, I have to admit that I rarely hear poetry recited.


    I'm talking about 50 years ago. At that time we had a radio program "Comparative Way". And then Erlkönig was filmed. In three versions. One was from Marian Anderson; I forgot the second, but could Peter Anders be; the third was from FiDi.
    And then we were also heard how the poem was performed by an actor. That sounded spooky, I still remember. But Schubert's music, sung by FiDi and accompanied by Moore, was, in my opinion, even more dreadful.
    At least at that time I found that the poem had got an extra dimension. And that where this poem is already so impressive. Hard to believe.

    But I remember Heine's "The Two Grenadiers". In my opinion, they also got an additional value when Schumann set it to music. And this poem isn't bad either, is it ...

    LG, Paul

  • Original from Ulli

    is a poem sealed, a song is a Dubbing of a poem. So why question the independence of the individual parts? Poems are not necessarily composed for setting to music, but for reading or reciting. In most cases the composers - e. B. Schubert - from a text to such an extent Charmedthat they translate it into music had to. A completely new work of art then emerges from this, which has something more than nothing to do with the poem, but actually cannot and should not be directly associated with the original poem. After all, the setting by the composer is already an interpretation of the same that is passed on to us.

    Did all composers interpret "correctly" in our eyes / ears?

    So here you can neither speak of a profit nor of a loss, since these are completely independent things. Of course, the song wouldn't exist without the poem - but the other way around, it would.

    Show all

    A smart thread that hopefully stays that way. That's why I don't want to undermine it by taking the wordplay too far, but I think Ulli's hint is important, even if it still falls a little too short for me. Even the poem begins with a text about a story, a mental image, an emotion or even an abstract idea.

    Example: DER ERLKÖNIG

    I could well imagine that there was a short story with this content even before Goethe, which focused entirely on the flow of the horror story. Goethe did two things with it. He not only has it - in the literal sense of the word - but also verseals. There is one element that has not yet been recognized here, and that is the wordsound of the poem, which generates an admittedly limited but definitely perceptible music as soon as you read it out loud. In this respect, Ulli would have to be contradicted. Onomatopoeia is also music, so the song is only an enhancement and not necessarily something completely different. This becomes even clearer with the "Sorcerer's Apprentice", who is largely a sound composition that goes far beyond rhymes. No wonder that the best interpretation of this poem can do without the words, which are enough music in themselves and do not require any additional ones that could easily slip into Mickey Mousing.