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In the following essay, I will show a technical comparison and emotional comparison of two very different songs, the first being, “Dietrich Fischer Dieskau Der Lindenbaum Die Winterreise” by Franz Schubert, and “Not Today” by Twenty One Pilots. Then I will discuss some similarities between past and modern music. These songs, being over a century apart, have very contrasting applications, but surprisingly enough share some common themes.
While listening to these two pieces carefully, I picked up on some technicalities that each artist/composer used skillfully. The first was the use of dynamics. Both songs had obvious blissful and joyous harmonies as well as increasingly intense harmonies. The use of crescendo and decrescendo, piano and forte, and major and minor were all-important elements to each of these songs. One similarity I picked up was during the more dramatic section of the pieces. The underlining misery theme was depicted by an internal struggle of escaping bad memories/experiences. I found it kind of interesting that even though years upon years have gone by since Franz’s piece was composed, we are still writing poetry that revolve around similar ideas and hold parallel meaning.
Another technicality was the use of instruments. Franz, being a Romanic composer himself, fell into the stereotypical solo piano genre, while new-schooled Twenty One Pilots is a whole new story. Placing this band in a regular genre is like trying to get a toddler to sit still, it’s not going to happen. With that said however, it has parts indie, rock, pop, even spurts of rap. Twenty One Pilots uses instruments such as the organ, piano, electric guitar, trumpet, drums and even has some background singers. This may sound like a mess, but they somehow pull it all together to compose some pretty great music in my opinion.
Finally, I’d like to discuss rhythm, texture and lyrical structure. Franz seemed to have a homophonic texture while Twenty One Pilots had a polyrhythmic texture. Also, the use of polyharmony was present in “Not Today” because of the different instrumental background accompaniment melodies as well as the background singers in harmony with the lead. The rhythm was quite slow in Franz’s piece, which is a relative term I am aware, but in comparison to Twenty One Pilot, whose rhythm was practically jumping off the walls, it lacked luster. As for the lyrical structure, Twenty One Pilots had some apparent rhyming, but it wasn’t consistent throughout the piece. Franz’s piece didn’t seem to consistently rhyme either, but in my defense I don’t speak German. I just tried to listen to it closely and pick up on the meter, but the rhyme scheme seemed pretty scattered.
With the technicalities completed, the musical and emotional comparison ensues. After listening to Franz’s “Dietrich Fischer Dieskau Der Lindenbaum Die Winterreise” several times, and studied the translated lyrics, I personally interpreted this piece as a longing look down memory lane. As he passes the Linden Tree, he is reminded of all the most wonderful memories he did capture. But as the song progresses, his precious memories go from sweet to sour. The internal struggle fights on for a bit, until it eerily dissipates. It ends by coming to the conclusion that you just have to let go and move on from the bad. Turn from your haunted past and make a bright future for yourself down the road.
As for Twenty One Pilot’s “Not Today,” it surprisingly comes to the same conclusion. It starts with him feeling lonely and depressed, seemingly because of some bad relationship that is beating him down. This internal struggle builds until a total release of emotion happens. This is the turning point. He realizes he is strong and doesn’t have to live in those past memories, but can actually make the choice to leave that baggage behind and move on to bigger and brighter things.
Hopefully I’ve made it clear that these two pieces actually share a similar emotional goal: to turn away from those memories/experiences that haunt/disturb you, and chose to make a happier life for yourself.
Besides the similar emotional goal, there were other similarities I found between music of the past and our modern everyday music. One thing I was pondering was band names. I realized “bands” could be considered early orchestra groups or ensembles, and instead of our somewhat childish band names, such as the “Pussy Cat Dolls” or “The Wombats,” they were more posh about it, and went by academies and schools. Besides band names, there are also albums. Albums are collections of recordings/songs that are put on convenient cds or available to download which make up an entire work. This could be related to a composer’s whole work. Each work has multiple movements, such as songs, that make up the whole entire work. That is essentially what an album is without modern technology.
In summary, “Dietrich Fischer Dieskau Der Lindenbaum Die Winterreise” by Franz Schubert, and “Not Today” by Twenty One Pilots share common musical elements, such as augmented use of dynamics, expression, the use of the piano, and a seeming irregular use of rhyme in the lyrics. These two pieces also share a common emotional goal of not dwelling in the past but rather, being positive and look forward to the future. Finally, past music and modern music also have parallels, like bands and albums.
***Discloser: This is by no means a professional analysis of these pieces, but my own thought out conclusions based on my personal interpretations.
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