Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Rumph, Stephen. “Fauré and the Effable: Theatricality, Reflection, and Semiosis in the mélodies.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 68 (Winter 2015): 497-558.

Gabriel Fauré’s mélodies exemplify the fluid boundary between French salon and theatrical song and invite listeners to listen hermeneutically. They also demonstrate the importance of critical reflection in Vladimir Jankélévitch’s musical aisthesis as informed by Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic theory. One example of Fauré slipping between lyrical and theatrical poetic modes is his setting of Théophile Gautier’s La chanson du pêcheur, in which the poetic refrain is transformed into diegetic song. Fauré’s setting of Tristesse also plays with poetic modes with its detached waltz topic and allusion to J. S. Bach’s melancholic Passacaglia in C Minor, BWV 582. The song cycle La chanson d’Ève also uses the idea of performance and musical diegesis to represent Eve’s fall. For this effect, Fauré borrows from The King’s Three Blind Daughters, a ballad he composed as part of the incidental music for an 1898 production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande. The borrowed ballad is marked as diegetic music by its rigid ostinato form. Fauré additionally distinguishes different modes of diegesis through diatonic, octatonic, and chromatic harmony. Musical gestures toward performance (as seen in Fauré’s mélodies or in dance topics in Mozart’s operas) can be understood through the model of Peircian semiosis, constructed from a triadic structure of sign influencing interpretant influencing object influencing sign again. This structure allows for a chain of interpretants to be formed and for music to be understood with mixed forms of attention.

Works: Gabriel Fauré: Tristesse (525-26), La chanson d’Ève (526-43)

Sources: J. S. Bach: Passacaglia in C Minor, BWV 582 (525-26); Gabriel Fauré: The King’s Three Blind Daughters, incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande (526-531)

Index Classifications: 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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