Triangles of Soul—Schubert the “Wanderer” and His Music Explained by Neo-Riemannian Graphs
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In Schubert’s music, the theme “wandering” is used frequently, closely related to human life and death. I presume that, being stricken by serious illness and facing challenging relationships, Schubert lived his short life with agony and dismay, confronting the life theme “death.” In that sense, Schubert himself was probably the wanderer who kept trudging throughout his life journey. In 1822, Schubert composed the allegorical tale “My Dream,” and in that tale, he writes as follows; “when I attempted to sing of love, it turned to pain. And again, when I tried to sing of pain, it turned to love. Thus were love and pain divided in me” (Deutsch 1977, 227). Schubert lived his life, struggling between love and pain, and between life and death. Human life and death conflict with each other, but exist together in the same place. In other words, death is a root of life. If one can perceive that life and death both exist at the root of one’s life, the form of life should be represented by a circular path, not by a linear formation. This notion accords with Schubert’s musical style, where the same material comes back again and again in a circular formation. I assume that the notion—death as a root of life—is the essential conception of “wandering” that Schubert’s music expresses. In this dissertation, I would like to offer several Neo-Riemannian analyses and graphs of Schubert’s piano compositions; Impromptus D. 899, Moments Musical D. 780, Sonata in C-minor D. 958, and the “Wanderer” Fantasy D. 760. For each work and movement, I will map out the harmonic structure and key progressions on a Tonnetz graph, and suggest a new way to comprehend the nature of “wandering” that Schubert’s music portrays. Through the configurations and harmonic motions on the Tonnetz graphs, I will establish a way to comprehend Schubert’s concept of circular “wandering” visually and geometrically.