Schumann Analysis: 'Kindescenen, Op.15: Nos. 1, 3 and 11.'

Pieces from Schumann's Kinderscenen.
No.1 is 'Von Fremden Landern und Menschen'
(Of foreign lands and peoples);
No.3 'Hasche-Mann' (Catch-me-if-you-can) and;
No.11: 'Furchtenmachen' (Frightening). 

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Structure

Schumann: Structure:

1.    No.1: rounded binary form, each part repeated (ABA).

2.    No.1:  6-bar middle section, section B (9-14) consists of a short sequence.

3.    No.3:  rounded binary form (ABA).

4.    No.3:  written-out repeat of the opening four bars (5-9) notated repeat of the BA section.

5.    No.11: symmetrical Rondo form (ABACABA). Each section is 8 bars long, but, section B is 4 repeated bars instead.

6.    Nostalgic simplicity in rounded binary form, typical of Baroque dance movements. 

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Tonality

Schumann: Tonality:

1.    No.1: G major, modulation to E minor (bar 12) tonic resolution surprisingly avoided.

2.    No.1: A section doesn’t modulate, repeated almost identically (15-22).

3.    No.3: B minor. Modulation to G major (9-10). Emphatic dominant preparation bars 15-16.

4.    No.3: defined tonal centres avoided through the use of interrupted cadences in G major (13-15).

5.    No.11: E minor & G major tonality. E minor suggested by I-IVb progressions at start, blurred by lower chromatic parts.

6.    No.11: transient modulations via secondary dominants to A minor (21-22) and B minor (23-24). 

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Resources/Performing Forces

Schumann: Resources/PF:

1.    Set of piano musical miniatures, intended for the domestic market. Types of character pieces – which convey emotional experiences.

2.    Elements of Romanticism: no.1 melody ends inconclusively on the median rather than the tonic (22).

3.    2 hands generate 3 clearly identifiable textural layers, e.g. No.1 middle layers are divided between hands, creating a weird sensation for the player.

4.    Important use of the sustain pedal, e.g. unusual effect in bar 16 of No.3 is impossible to achieve without pedal.

5.    No.3 accompaniment: left-hand leaps between bass notes and chords in a ‘stride bass’ style.

6.    18th Century characteristics of music are present – left-hand bass line melodies (No.1 & No.11) and a wholly treble texture (i.e. start of No.11). 

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Texture

Schumann: Texture:

1.    No.1: 3 textural layers in the A section. Consists of an upper melody, inner quaver triplets and independent bass.

2.    No.1: B section (9-14) upper melody thickened with 3rds and triplets associate with the bass line as it adopts the melody of 1-8.

3.    No.3: 3-part texture. Most active part at the top, bass line on main beats and off-beat chordal accompaniment. Bass and accompaniment ‘stride style’.

4.    No.3: open 5th double pedal (13-15) and sustained chord with inner ascending scale (15-16), however, there are some exceptions.

5.    No.11: opening is a melody supported by 2 lower parts descending in 3rds.

6.    No.11: melody-dominated texture (25-28) uses a stride-like accompaniment reminiscent of No.3. 

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Rhythm

Schumann: Rhythm:

1.    No.1: melody features dotted rhythms. Dotted rhythms against a triplet can be played in many ways, a result of contemporary notation.

2.    No.1: typical rhythmic use of ‘rits’ and ‘ritardandos’ to pauses. Intends them as written, but fails to indicate a tempo (i.e. 12-14).

3.    No.3: each 2-bar phrase of the melody starts with a crotchet. Inner parts maintain semiquaver movement, i.e. bar 5.

4.    No.3: broad rhythm of sforzandi runs through every two bars, only interrupted in bars 13-16.

5.    No.11: each episode has its own characteristic rhythm, semiquaver pairs (B) or groups of 4 (C).

6.    No.11: offbeat rhythms feature in the B section accompaniment and aggressively on alternate quavers in the C section. 

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Melody

Schumann: Melody:

1.    No.1: thematic feature of a rising minor 6th followed by a stepwise descent (bars 1-2).

2.    No.1: bass melody (9-12) borrows features from opening bars.

3.    No.3: melody is almost entirely conjunct. Leaps onto accented notes (15), appoggiaturas (2) and sf dominant 7ths (bar 15).

4.    No.3: unusual descent of a minor 7th in bar 9.

5.    No.11: mainly diatonic apart from chromaticism in the 2nd bar of the A section.

6.    No.11: B section (9) has a very disjunct bass melody with octave leaps which is treated in sequence. 

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Harmony

Schumann: Harmony:

1.    No.1: chord V usually has an added 7th, e.g. 1st inversion (bar 2), root position (bar 7) and 3rd inversion (bar 13).

2.    No.1: root progression (9-12) follows a circle of 5ths.

3.    No.3: plagal progression (I-IV-I) is the 1st harmonic movement (bars 1-2).

4.    No.3: striking use of a prolonged Neapolitan chord in root position (13-15). This an 18th century progression reinterpreted romantically.

5.    No.11: perfect cadences close at the half bar (10 and 12) and more dramatically on the last quaver of 24.

6.    No.11: chromatic harmony – opening bars include parallel diminished chords on the 2nd and 4th quavers of bar 2. 

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