Dissertation Index

Author: Hoag, Melissa E.

Title: Multiply-Directed Moments in the Music of Brahms

Institution: Indiana University

Begun: August 2006

Completed: May 2008


This dissertation studies the music of Brahms and the methodology of Schenkerian voice-leading analysis to explore alternate melodic pathways that play a significant role in the unfolding of certain works. Set in motion by a particular kind of melodic disturbance called a melodic disjunction, these alternate melodic pathways also shape and participate in events that have far-reaching consequences for the piece as a whole. The melodic disjunction, a seemingly anomalous leap or gap in an otherwise conjunct melodic passage, frequently occurs along with other conflicted or ambiguous musical parameters such as rhythm, harmony, or form, resulting in what is defined as a multiply-directed moment, an event that is at once localized in immediate experience, and at the same time has far-reaching consequences for the piece as a whole.

In Chapters II-IV the multiply-directed moment is shown to shape the narrative and dramatic course of six works by Brahms. Three songs (Schn war, das ich dir weihte, Op. 95 no. 7; Frhlingslied, Op. 85, no. 5; and Ach, wende diesen Blick, Op. 57, no. 4), two piano works (Capriccio in G minor and Intermezzo in E major, Op. 116 nos. 3 and 6), and a chamber movement (Sextet for Strings in G major, Op. 36, mvt. I) are analyzed in Chapters II-IV of this study.

The dissertations final chapter takes up implications of genre in the presentation of the multiply-directed moment, concluding that songs are less likely than pieces with more traditional formal layouts like sonata form to achieve unequivocal resolution of a melodic issue presented at the beginning of a piece. Furthermore, the presentation and prolongation of a melodic issue throughout a form such as sonata that involves strategies of return and development necessitates the challenging and restatement of conflicts throughout so that the tension created by these conflicts does not dissipate.
The conclusion also addresses the issue of multiple-directedness on a larger scale: that a work, even a tonal, normative work with relatively few detours, does not have to be closed for the listener. A practice of imagining other potential outcomes and of hearing multiple strands presents challenges and makes listening an active dialogue between potential and heard realizations.

Keywords: voice-leading, Schenker, melody, Brahms, song


Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter II: Multiply-Directed Moments in Three Songs of Brahms
Part One: Schn war, das ich dir weihte Op. 95, no. 7
Part Two: Frhlingslied, Op. 85, no. 5
Part Three: Ach, wende diesen Blick, Op. 57, no. 4

Chapter III: Multiply-Directed Moments in Two Piano Works of Brahms
Part One: Capriccio in G minor, Op. 116, no. 3
Part Two: Intermezzo in E major, Op. 116, no. 6

Chapter IV: Multiply-Directed Moments in the Sextet in G major, Op. 36, I

Chapter V: Conclusion and Directions for Further Study


Melissa Hoag
211 Varner Hall
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309


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