Musical Connections

Nacht

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German lieder is a type of German folk song with poetic text. Leider or Lied can be traced back to the 12th century composers who wrote poetry about love. The typical form in Leid and many German compositions in general is an AAB form, but that was expanded over time. Most Lied from before the 14th century compositions feature a monophonic line in the voice and a piano for accompaniment. These compositions can be considered virile with many leaps, attractive contours and modal scales as seen featured in the vocal line of Nacht.

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Nacht Is a Romantic era composition by Richard Strauss from 1885 . This particular composition is part of a song cycle for high voice. The lyrics of this song convey fear, anxiety and pain over the potential of a loved one being swept away by the evil personification of darkness. At the beginning of this particular song, the piano enters quietly, followed by the voice.

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The  lyrics denote a somber mood which only escalates with the fear of loss throughout the piece. There is an alteration in the musical environment in measure 18 when the caution and urgency begin to rise. This rise is also accompanied by the ascending vocal line and gradual build to a high F.

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A similar shift occurs in measure 28. The previous urgent and cautious feelings have been replaced by those of deep fear and anxiety. The soft dynamics and repeated menacing notes build to an uncomfortable dissonance as the chord progression continues to pull away from the tonic.

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The piece finally reaches an unstable finish with an inverted tonic chord. This final cadence leaves an unresolved and  menacing feel, which fits very well with the theme and lyrics.

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The Story Goes On

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The premise for this show has three couples in varying stages of life moving through the worries, thoughts and excitement of pregnancy. The Story Goes On is a piece by David Shire written in the Broadway style. There are many gradual builds in the accompaniment and belted high notes in the vocal line which is very characteristic of the style.

The song begins at a steady tempo and subdued accompaniment. This helps paint a contemplative mood for the story line. The low repeating notes support a slowly descending theme that breaks with the entrance of the vocals.

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The song continues in this contemplative, reflective fashion and builds to a place with stronger lyrics and accompaniment. The lyrics indicate that the character is starting to accept this idea and it reflects in the music.

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Halfway through the song there is a reintroduction of the B theme. This time the theme is much more dramatic and the vocal line enters with much more conviction. At this point the song has begun to ascend to the climax.

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The end of the song closes powerfully on high belted notes typical of the Broadway style with many runs in the accompaniment.

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The progression of the tone throughout the composition drastically changes from tentative contemplation to elated acceptance and joy to be part of something bigger. The ideals are clear in the song and are communicated very clearly to audiences.

 

Someone Like You

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This piece was made famous by Adele in 2011 after her almost immediate climb to fame and success. This song was featured on her album 21 and she has been known in the past to perform this song with stirring emotion. Someone Like You features lyrics of heartbreak and longing that are translated well through the music. The major theme of this piece is the arpeggiated sixteenth notes that create a nostalgic, dreamlike state.

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Adele sings over these notes and a picture begins to form from a past time. This is the major recurring sequence with the exception of the chorus. The chorus uses blocked chords in the left hand to contrast the previous arpeggiation. This causes a forward pull in the music as well as a declamatory sound. This pulls the audience back to the present where the lyrics talk about being sad, but also being determined to move on since there is no other choice.

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The overall tone of this piece stays the same. Although there was once love, it is lost, but not forgotten. Some say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, and this seems to be what this composition reflects.