Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Maier, Franz Michael. “The Idea of Melodic Connection in Samuel Beckett.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 61 (Summer 2008): 373-410.

The relationship between music and image, particularly understood through the idea of melodic connection, is central to Samuel Beckett’s late works. This relationship is predicated on two observations about Beckett’s work. First, deconstruction is used as a tool for constructing meaning, not as an end in itself. Second, Beckett viewed music as an “ideal art,” therefore musical form is used as an end in itself. In Beckett’s 1953 novel Watt, singing makes several appearances. In one instance, the character Watt recalls a frog concert in which a trio of frogs croak in a rhythmically organized pattern which is remarkably similar to a scene in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera Platée. Music also plays a major part in Beckett’s 1982 television play Nacht und Träume, which includes barely audible hummed and sung excerpts of Franz Schubert’s lied of the same title. By removing the harmonic context, Beckett emphasizes the melodic essence and references Schopenhauer’s philosophy of Zusammenhang (connection), or the idea of temporal coherence connecting moments to form a continuity of conscience. The music in Nacht und Träume, along with other aspects of the play, depicts a standpoint “from within” as opposed to the “from without” standpoint of the earlier Watt.

Works: Samuel Beckett: Nacht und Träume (396-405)

Sources: Franz Schubert: Nacht und Träume (396-405)

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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