Melody, Harmony, and Trinket... Oh My!

by Jordan Pyle

I have been working on the musical transcriptions and harmonic analysis of "Nacht und Traüme" and the first few songs from Die schöne Müllerin. I've been using Trinket tinyNotation to encode the vocal melody for these songs. Shown below is the vocal melody for "Nacht und Traüme."

Using this program has been very simple and easy to use. However, there are limitations due to the simplicity. When I was encoding "Wohin?" from Die schöne Müllerin, Schubert uses grace notes and turns to color the notes. Using Trinket, there is no way to input these notes. What I have done is encode them rhythmically based on singing interpretations. The obvious problem is that these interpretations vary from performer to performer. Talking with Kris, he showed me a way to enter them as grace notes, it just will not recognize the notation in Trinket. My next steps with Die schöne Müllerin is to go back and correct these passages.

I send the notation like this (see above photo) to Kris. Each line break denotes separation of phrases in the music. When I was asked to separate each line where the phrases started and stopped, I wasn't sure whether to separate based on the musical phrase or the text phrasing (based off the German poems). In many instances, the musical phrases start and end in the same places as the text, but that is not always the case. I decided to break up the phrases based on text phrasing (where line breaks occur in the poems) so we can compare the music directly to the text. Then, I write out a harmonic analysis—simply the starting and ending key of each phrase. This analysis is not encoded, I just have it on paper for reference later.

The phrase dileneation brought up another problem: the discrepency between poetic and musical text. I have 10 phrases. If you look at our poem analysis, there are only eight phrases. In Schubert's song, he repeats the lines "Die belauschen sie mit Lust" and "Holde Träume, kehret wieder." Besides just the number of phrases, Schubert also chooses to repeat certain words. This means the words per line will differ from poem to musical text. For instance, the line "Durch der Menschen stille Brust" reads "Durch der Menschen stille, stille Brust" in Schubert's song. Kris noted that we may want to start encoding the poem "Nacht und Träume" and Schubert's musical text. As we begin to analyze the patterns in text and music, it is going to be important to note these differences and I am interested to see how we will treat these discrepencies.

A big thank you to UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) for their support.