Ständchen from Schwanengesang by Schubert, recomposed by Liszt

This is a realization of Standchen by Schubert. It is song number 4 from his Schwanengesang lieder cycle, composed in 1828 and published in 1829 just a few months after the composer’s death on 19 November 1828. The song is a setting of a poem by Ludwig Rellstab, “Leise flehen meine Lieder”, in which the singer exhorts his lover to make him happy.

Lizst recomposed the song into solo piano around 1839.

The tuning uses some otonal and utonal scales from the tonality diamond to the 31 limit.

  • 9:8 utonality contains D minor, D major, G minor and Bb major and is deployed for most of the measures
  • 32:19 otonality contains A major, the next most common tuning
  • 4:3 otonality contains F major and C major third more common
  • 32:17 otonality contains B major, used in only two measures
  • 5:4 utonality contains E minor, used only once
  • 7:4 utonality contains A# minor, used only once
  • The piece is realized using Csound on Prent’s Microtonal Slide Bosendorfer.

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    Standchen #1
    Standchen cover page

Wohin? Au Bord De La Fontaine #7

I spent some time with the tempi. I slowed down the parts that call for “un poco riten.”, which means to suddenly hold back the tempo. I changed the tempo for those indications to a quarter note = 55, and sped up the rest of the piece to q=70. There are lots of gradual tempo decreases, where he calls for “poco rallentando”, slowing down. I saved the really slow parts for the “riten.” and “smorz.”, which roughly translate to suddenly slowing down and dying away.

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Das wohin #7

Wohin? Au Bord De La Fontaine #4

For this version I made only a few subtle changes in the volumes of the five different loudness levels. Basically, I reduced the difference between the volume of the first note in a measure and the rest of the music. This reduced the kind of march-like quality that the first version had. This one has the same tuning as the previous version here.

  1. 1st beat in a measure is assigned one of the alternatives for &vol1*.
  2. 2nd quarter note in a measure is assigned one of the alternatives for &vol2*.
  3. All other notes that carry the melody other than 1st or 2nd quarter notes in a measure are assigned one of the alternatives for &vol3*.
  4. Other notes, not carrying the melody, like the arpeggios, are assigned one of the alternatives for &vol4*.
  5. Grace notes are assigned one of the alternatives for &vol5*.
  6. wohin-code2.jpg
    When the measures are assembled, the appropriate &vol*. value is called.
    Here, in measure #1, it’s all non-melody parts. Musical theorists have said that this intro is simulating a babbling brook. Ok.

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    Das wohin #4


Wohin? Au Bord De La Fontaine

Here’s another one of Liszt’s recomposition of a song from Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin. This one, in English, is called “Where To?”. The text is from a set of poems by Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Müller, about a wanderer who comes upon a brook and ends up in love with the miller’s daughter. She eventually spurns him because of his lower class.

In this recomposition, Liszt adds lots of arpeggios, but keeps the basic Schubert accompaniment to the vocal line.

This realization uses the otonality with a root of 32/21, a very sharp G major scale. Of the 16 notes in the 31-limit otonality, I chose the 12 that map well to the notes in the score. There are a few rough spots, but it is really amazing how one can chose 12 notes out of a 16 note scale derived from a 31-limit otonality or utonality, and come out with something that someone in Schubert’s time could recognize.


I couldn’t resist jazzing up the ending with a little stream sounds and some Tory Peterson recorded bird calls, including the Townsend Solitaire, White Throated Sparrow, and Hermit Thrush.

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Das wohin #1


Das Wandern #2

I took a bit more liberty with the tempos in this version. The score is full of interesting tempo markings. The heading says “moderato assai, which means very moderate. How very? How moderate? Dunno. I choose to randomly pick a tempo each measure between 90 and 95 beats per minute shifting from one to the next using the Markov Chain Drunkard’s Walk. I’m sure the maestro would approve, although he may have favored a different randomization scheme.

In measure 5 he calls for “dol. grasioso”, which means sweetly graceful. Is that faster or slower? Dunno. Measure 19 says “poco rit. con grazia”. So here I slow down to 60-65 BPM. It’s different every time I run it through the randomizer.

At measure 45 we have several requests, “elegamente” and “cantando la melodia”, which means the top part is to be played elegantly while the bottom part has the melody. I slow it down to 80-85 BPM here.

Then at 64 we have “smorz.” (tone down) and “dolce armonioso” (harmonious and sweet). So I speed it up to the original 90-95 BPM. At measure 69 we are told “piu” (more). How much more? This is clarified at measure 71, where Lizst exhorts the player to “perdendosi” which means “dying away”. So I get real quiet here, but keep up the tempo.

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Das Wandern #2


Das Wandern – Schubert Lied – Recomposed by Franz Liszt

I just learned that Franz Liszt was a serial recomposer. Wikipedia calls them “treatments”, but I prefer recomposer. He recomposed the work of over 100 composers, with the most numerous being those of Franz Schubert. I’m a real fan of Schubert, and of Liszt’s piano music. Today’s piece is a short minute and a half that captures what Liszt was able to do with a wonderful example of Schubert’s Müllerlieder (also known as Die schöne Müllerin.) number 1, Das Wandern.

The tuning is taken from the overtone series of 16/9, including the following ratios:

  • 16/09
  • 01/01
  • 19/18
  • 10/09
  • 07/06
  • 23/18
  • 04/03
  • 13/09
  • 03/02
  • 29/18
  • 05/03
  • 31/18

They provide a perfect just triad 4:5:6/4 in Bb and F, which are the primary keys in this piece. And the F major includes a perfect 7:4, for that flatted 7th.

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Das Wandern #1


Balloon Drum Music #19

This is still a work in progress. I made some alterations to increase the frequency of the c and d tetrads, those at the high end of the otonal and utonal limit, and ran several more iterations through the randomizer. The tempo is slowed a bit, and it’s now about 12 1/2 minutes long. This is the 19th iteration.

The tuning is described in this post.

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Balloon Drum Music #19