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Unformatted text preview: Paper 3 A work of literature can be set to music that arouses the same imagery and ideas in the ears of its listeners as the text does to its readers. After reading the poem "I am Lost to the World" by Friedrich Rucker, I took on the role of a composer and envisioned how I'd set it to music. Gustav Mahler composed a song based on Rucker's poem as well. Not surprisingly, I've set the text of this poem to a song that has a very different complexion than Mahler's version. "I am Lost to the World" can represent the feelings of either a man or women, but since it was written by a man, my song would feature a male singer. It might upset Ruckert if a woman were to deliver the thoughts and expressions he put into the poem. The song would also feature a slow tempo to give the listener time to absorb the deep thoughts that Ruckert's poem conveys. A triple-meter is often used for dance-like songs. Ruckert's poem doesn't display any dance-like qualities, so I would avoid using a triple meter. Instead, I would set the song to have a quadruple meter that would remain constant throughout the piece. Lastly, I would avoid the use of word-painting because a singer will deliver the literal meaning of the song. "I am dead to the world" and "I am lost to the world's commotion" are two lines in Ruckert's poem that display a somber tone that is seen throughout the text. To set this text to music, I would have a piano, violin and bassoon playing in a very dark color. The quotes also show a sense of alienation from the world. I would have the bassoon play in an uncomfortable register that sets it apart from the other instruments to represent this estrangement. "I live alone in my own heaven, In my love, in my song" are the last two lines of Ruckert's poem. The subject of the text here reflects on himself after his withdrawal from the world. The bassoon would play a solo to represent the self-reflection of living alone in heaven, love and song. The color of the bassoon would become much brighter in this part of the song. My setting of "I am Lost to the World" would be in strophic form. I chose this form because all three stanzas are similar in construction and mood. Each stanza has four lines with alternating rhymes, and displays a similar emotion. The text refers to being either lost or dead to the world in each of stanzas. I would opt for a strophic form because it would fit the repetition of this mood seen throughout the poem. Gustav Mahler composed his setting of Ruckert's poem with some features that differed from mine. One of them is the type of instruments he employed: a French horn, an oboe, a harp and violins. Another difference in Mahler's piece is that the meter is very indistinguishable. It is rather faint and unstable throughout the piece. While I chose the singer to be a male, Mahler has a women sing his version. Lastly, his use of a throughcomposed form contrasts with my strophic version. Although Gustav Mahler's setting shows these differences from my version, they don't affect my understanding of Ruckert's poem. The differences did, however, change my experience of listening to the text. The most interesting part for me was listening to a woman singing Ruckert's poem. This decision by Mahler caught me off guard, but gave me a different perspective on the text. I assumed that the poem reflected a man's troubles with the world rather than a woman's. I enjoyed comparing our two songs and learning that a poem can be set to music in more than just one way. ...
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This essay was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course MUS 15 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '07 term at UCSB.
- Spring '07