Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





William Rothstein

Committee Members

Scott Burnham

L. Poundie Burstein

Harald Krebs

Subject Categories

Music Theory


Robert Schumann; Lieder; Schenkerian analysis; text-music relationships; sunken II chords; inwardness


This dissertation advances a new approach to text-music relationships with a view to identifying and exploring a specific, recurring text-music relationship in Schuman’s Liederjahr songs. Chapter 1 proposes to update and restructure the taxonomy of possible text-music relationships. I argue that there are four categories of text-music relationships: two conjunctions, viz., correspondences and Widersprüche; and two disjunctions, viz., Gleichgültigkeiten and Eigenständigkeiten. I am principally interested in exploring how structures and tonal archetypes native to Schenkerian theory may function as musical metaphors for themes, ideas, and imagery in the text; a survey of extant literature reveals that Schenkerian analysts typically assert such correspondences using the linguistic formulations of metaphor (some variation on “M in the music IS T in the text”) or analogy (some variation on “m1 IS TO m2 in the music AS t1 IS TO t2 in the text”). A novel feature of my approach is that text-music relationships are formally expressed using a special symbolic notation. Symbolic definitions often collapse the distinction between metaphorical and analogical prose definitions, allowing analysts to compare seemingly disparate relationships on a level playing field.

In response to Agawu’s criticism that musico-poetic analyses of Lieder are usually ad hoc and one-off (1999), I argue for the possibility of families of recurring text-music relationships, which I call text-music complexes (we may further distinguish between correspondence and Widerspruch complexes). Text-music complexes are archetypes for how some element in the text is mapped onto some element in the music for the creation of musico-poetic meaning in song; text-music relationships are their individual instantiations. As text-music relationships are to individual songs, text-music complexes are to sets of songs whose membership is circumscribed in some predetermined manner (e.g., the songs in a collection or cycle, songs by a specific composer, songs written during a specific historical era, etc.).

Chapter 2 investigates the hermeneutical implications of passages where major V is followed, and prolonged, by minor II. The seeming breach of tonal syntax creates a perceived ebb in the tonal flow and gives the impression that V has somehow turned inward. By analogy to origami, I call this family of V prolongations a dominant sink fold; the Oberquintteiler here is called a sunken II chord. Because of their special voice-leading properties and inward affect, sunken IIs possess unique potential for creating text-music correspondences.

The central claim of this dissertation is for the existence of a correspondence complex in Schumann’s Liederjahr songs that is bound up with a sense of inwardness. This correspondence complex () takes sunken II as its musical element (𝕄), and any form of involution in the semantic dimension of the text as its textual element (𝕋); in symbolic notation, it is formally defined by the expression Inwardness = 𝕄Sunken II𝕋Inwardness. As evidence for an inwardness correspondence complex, Chapters 3–5 present analyses of three Schumann Lieder in which a sunken II in the music is meaningfully coordinated with some form of inward turn, introspection, or heightened subjectivity in the text. The three songs are “Der Nussbaum” (op. 25, no. 3), “Ich hab’ in mich gesogen” (op. 37, no. 5), and “Berg’ und Burgen schau’n herunter” (op. 24, no. 7).

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