"Der Wanderer" by Franz Schubert


Analysis of "Der Wanderer"

  • Begins with an ambiguous tonality. The fact that there is a wandering tonality up to the first line may suggest the journey the persona has been on before he reached this point.
  • Tonality is first confirmed as F# minor with a scale, ascending in the vocal part, beginning on the dominant ("Ich Komme vom Gebirge her"/"From the mountains I have come"). The music here is ascending, followed by a sudden drop in pitch, perhaps illustrative of a mountain peak? The minor tonality may be seen to suggest weariness? 
  • Uses thirds to modulate (bar 15- 16 from G#m chord to E "The silence roars/ I walk in silence"). This also occurs in bar 23 (E major to Cm, as the protagonist questions "Where?"). These "floaty" key changes suggest a lack of propulsion, as though the persona is walking the same path over and over. Alternatively, one may see the use of third relations as "searching" for a new tonality, which corresponds with the persona's question.
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