Essay: Musical Analysis of Traumerei by Schumann

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Schumann / Traumerei

Traumerei ("Dreaming") is one of Robert Schumann's best-known works. It was written for piano and is one of thirteen pieces that comprise Kinderszenen ("Scenes from Childhood"). Composed in 1838, it was written for Clara Wieck, who later became Schumann's wife. The purpose of this paper is to examine the score in detail, reflecting on the piece's form, melody, harmony, rhythm and texture.

Traumerei is a 24-bar piece written in F major. It consists of three phrases of 8-bar length in ABA form. The first (a) is repeated. The last (a) is changed slightly to bring the piece to a definitive conclusion. In the first (a), Schumann quickly builds from middle C (C4) at the beginning of the piece to the F. above C5. When the phrase repeats for the final time, beginning in Bar 20, Schumann builds to the a above C5. It makes this final repetition of the phrase sweeter, yet more melancholy, as the piece concludes. Schumann plays with a two-bar phrase that ascends, then descends the scale. Using the phrase for the second time in (a), Schumann creates tension by ascending higher (to F. instead of a) and also by lowing the a and the E. half-steps in Bar 7, and raising the F. above C4 by a half-step. It is just for one measure that he does this in the melody line; the only other occurrence of an accidental for the right hand is in Bar 23, where he again raises the F. above C4 a half step, to create some tension as it is played with the a above it and an a and a D (both below C4) with the left hand. There is tension in the harmony, though not to an uncomfortable degree in Bars 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 22 and 23, where Schumann again uses accidentals. The tension does not make the listener lean forward in his chair, eager for a resolution of the chord, but provides a more comfortable tension that contrasts nicely with the melody and adds texture and interest.

As is characteristic of the Romantic period, Traumerei is an emotionally evocative piece. In the Romantic style, 'tension and release' is frequently used to engage the listener (Almansa and Delicado 2009, p. 212). Traumerei begins in a relaxed way, climaxes on the B-flat in Bar 14, then relaxes again until the end of the piece.

During the Romantic period, there was greater use of chromatic harmony, which employs chords containing tones not found in the prevailing scale (Kamien 1998, p. 212). In Bar 7, for example, he pairs a-flat in the melody with a in the harmony; the a is a half-step up from the a-flat Schumann used to create tension in the harmony in Bar 6. In Bar 14, there is tension again with the pairing of B. above C4 with an a-sharp in the harmony line. Schumann used accidentals throughout the harmony of the piece. The harmony supports the sweet melody, sometimes mirroring the ascents and descents of the melody and sometimes in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Musical Analysis of Traumerei by Schumann.  (2012, April 2).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/musical-analysis-traumerei-schumann/1168882

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