Analysis of Schumann's Dichterliebe by Geert Woltjer

Analysis of song 8

In poem 8 the poet looks around and becomes aware that nature doesn't know this wounds. He thinks that if they would know, they would give him consolation. But his love does know; she has broken his heart. It is obvious that he is very angry.

Song 8 has uses the parallel minor of the C tonic of song 7, i.e. a minor. At the start the tonality is not completely clear, because only C and E are used, just as in song 2. Till the start of the second measure only two tones of chords are used; the first full a chord is at the start of m. 2. 

The melody of the start of song 8 has some resemblance to that of the start of song 7, with E-D-C-F, where the F is delayed till m. 3.

The melody of the singer and the piano right-hand are mainly parallel, while most chords have only two notes represented. This generates an open atmosphere, where not all chords are clearly defined. The first full chord is at "würden" in m. 5, a diminished chord, followed by a on the second beat and a not clearly defined interval b-d in the last quarter of the measure.

The first two lines of the song have a melody downwards, the second two lines are rising ad then downwards still the starting point a. The first line suggest a, the second Bes (or a sixth in the D chord?), the third is a again, and the fourth, starting with "Weinen" in m. 6 with a dissonant in the second beat, has a small harmonic movement (C7, F, C, b7, E7, a) that is finally solved in a, at "Schmerz" in m. 8.

The second and third strophes are copies of the first one. With respect to content and structure, all three strophes are more or less the same. The similarity in melody and harmony increases the repetition effect.

The fourth strophe gives the break: nature can't know my pain, but my love can do it! The A7 chord in m. 25 goes through d in m. 26 to g7 in m. 27, and uses again C7 to f7 and to b (instead of Bes) and finlly has a diminished chord on "zerrissen" in m. 30, going back to through Bes, a, E7 towards a clear a.  Recognize also that the melody in m. 1-2, from E to A is repeated in m. 25-26, but that it can also be heard through the starting notes of m. 24, 27, 29, and m. 31-32 (although the B has been changed into a Bes).

[The end of the voice part suggests more d than a as the tonic, and the A-G-F-E line in the left hand piano of m. 32 is consistent with this idea.??]

The piano postlude symbolizes the pain and anger with a lot appoggiaturas, movements upwards and the bass lines reminds of the water in song 6, although much more aggressively. It is as if the anger is reflected in the water. The postlude has has the structure A-A-B, where the first measure of A has a downward repetition of "rissen mir das" of the voice before and the right hand as a rising movement using two diminished chords (the second half of a tone higher). The downward movement is more clear (d7, a, E), consistent with the harmony under "rissen mir das", where the bass is has really a bass line. The Last two measures, the B-part, are simply a statement of the tonic, repeating the upward and downward movement in the melody of the A-part, but with an a-scale instead of the diminished chords and comprised in one measure.