Date of Degree
MA (Master of Arts)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
I would like to understand what kinds of connections exist between musical rhythm and poetic and linguistic rhythm, particularly the phenomenon of accent, so I investigated accent in art songs, examining twelve songs in an attempt to further understand how and if the accents and patterns found in poetry correlate to those found in songs based on this poetry. This study examines how the patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in Lieder by Amy Beach, Richard Strauss, and Camille Saint-Saëns correlate with musical rhythmic and accent patterns in the resulting music.
I systematically determined what kinds of accents were present, where they were present, and how they were related. I tracked nine different types of musical accents: agogic, contour, dynamic, articulation, metric, pitch, phrasing, structural, and textural. I then tracked the linguistic accents in the poems themselves, with the categories of meter, individual word stresses (if different from the meter), rhyme scheme, internal rhymes, and cadences (ends of sentences and questions). I then compared the accents found in the music to the accents found in the poetry.
I then compared the correlation of linguistic and musical accents through graphic representation of the values I found. I found significant correlation between musical and linguistic accents in the twelve different pieces I studied. These results suggest that, for at least these three composers, the text does in fact influence the accent patterns of the music. For the songs of Beach and Strauss, there is a visual pattern in the graphs, which matches the meter of the text. The linguistic and musical accent patterns in both Beach and Strauss songs tended to be regularly alternating in a binary fashion, in keeping with the iambic meter. For Saint-Saëns, there was overall close correlation as well. The main difference between graphs for Saint-Saëns and the others seems to be the lack of a pattern in the relative accent strengths, which can be found in both the English and German graphs. French poetry does not have an iambic pattern to it; correspondingly the music doesn't show the regular binary alteration of accents. This pattern or lack thereof is part of the correlation that all of the pieces share between the music and the language, and the lack of pattern seems to demonstrate a particularity in the music in the case of French.
Though showing how accents in music and text correlate in the songs of English-, German-, and French-speaking composers, this thesis does not fully determine how and if musical and linguistic accents correlate in music composers other than Amy Beach, Richard Strauss, and Camille Saint-Saëns.
I would like to understand what kinds of connections exist between musical rhythm and poetic and linguistic rhythm, particularly the phenomenon of accent, so I investigated accent in art songs, examining the music of an American, a German, and a French composer. I systematically determined what kinds of accents were present, where they were present, and how they were related. I then compared the accents found in the music to the accents found in the poems themselves. I found the amount of correlation between the two resulting patterns. Based on this significant amount of correlation, I determined that, for at least these three composers, the text does in fact influence the accent patterns of the music. Also, while the English and German songs had a pattern of strong and weak beats in a binary fashion, this did not occur in the French songs.
publicabstract, accent patterns, Amy Beach, Art Songs, Camille Saint-Saëns, Richard Strauss, text
xiii, 164 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 159-164).
Copyright 2016 Erin Marie Rich
Rich, Erin Marie. "Accent patterns in text and music in the songs of Amy Beach, Richard Strauss, and Camille Saint-Saëns." MA (Master of Arts) thesis, University of Iowa, 2016.