Comparison of Schubert’s "Gretchen Am Spinnrade" and Adele’s "Someone Like You"

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772 words

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For this assignment, I will be comparing Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade” and Adele’s “Someone Like You”.

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Schubert's first successful lied was “Gretchen am Spinnrade”, which was written when he was just sixteen in 1814. The text was written by the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Adele’s “Someone Like You” become a huge hit in 2011. It was written by Adele along with an American songwriter and producer Dan Wilson. For these two songs, I will be comparing and contrasting the lyrics and melodies. Even though they were written hundreds of years apart, it is interesting to see how music from the 1800s can relate to the music of today. When it comes to the lyrics of the two songs, they both are emotional and dramatic. They both convey the intense emotions of love and despair that we all feel when going through a relationship.

In the Adele song, “Someone Like You”, you hear straightforward lyrics conveying a universal emotion of loss after a relationship has ended. In analyzing the lyrics, what might seem at first to be a beautiful love song about lost love becomes a glimpse into the heart and soul of a person who will not let go of a former lover. She expresses how the man she was with moved on so quickly to another women in the lyrics, “I guess she gave you things, I didn't give to you.” In order to get over this man, she vows to get over him “Never mind I'll find someone like you.” The glimpse into a different side of the song is seen with the lyrics, “But I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it. I’d hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded that for me, it isn’t over.” This shows the despair in Adele’s lyrics that she is truly not over her ex-boyfriend as she may have sounded like before.

This is similar to the lyrics in Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade” because, in this song, Gretchen is yearning and obsessing over her lover, Faust. The intensity of her love for Faust had destroyed her ability to live any longer within the confines she had known all her life. She is young, inexperienced and has fallen madly in love, which leads to her dramatic lyrics. She exclaims, “My bosom urges itself toward him. Ah, might I grasp and hold him!” She is craving to be with him again, but that day will never come, which she is aware of. She knows this will never happen again when she cries out, “My peace is gone, My heart is heavy, I will find it never and never more.”

Both of these songs show the effects of a breakup and how emotional it can get. However, Adele tries to hide her despair and desires, while Gretchen exclaims it with all of her might. For Adele’s song, minor keys are utilized in order to create a melancholy mood for her melody. As the same stanzas are repeated, so are the same minor notes. The repetition creates the feeling of not being able to let go, which is exactly what Adele is feeling, as mentioned previously. The song, played moderately increases in volume and tone, just as a normal woman who is trying to get her lover back would sound. At first, she begins the conversation lightly, and then her voice raises as her emotions and feelings do. Adele has taken a very familiar conversation, one that has been spoken by women all over the world and has given it a musical voice. In the dying tones, you can hear the hope for a reunion falling as Adele’s voice fades away. This melody relates to Schubert’s song in that much of the song shows Gretchen overwhelmed by her love for Faust, and how it is causing her distress because of this profound infatuation. This distress is represented by the playing of the minor key which is continued for much of the text, and which is similar to that of Adele’s use of minor keys. When Gretchen sees Faust out her window, “His noble gait, His noble form”, the music decrescendos suddenly, as if she's sneaking up upon him. Also, this reduction in volume allows the song to build up. As she’s watching him, the music gains intensity and slowly rises in pitch. With the words, “And the magical flow of his speech”, the song shifts to a major key, still crescendoing, gaining more and more intensity. Gretchen's notes are also rising, representing her rising emotions.

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In both of these songs, the melodies rise and fall according to the emotions conveyed by the singer.

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Comparison Of Schubert’S “Gretchen Am Spinnrade” And Adele’S “Someone Like You”. (2019, November 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from
“Comparison Of Schubert’S “Gretchen Am Spinnrade” And Adele’S “Someone Like You”.” GradesFixer, 26 Nov. 2019,
Comparison Of Schubert’S “Gretchen Am Spinnrade” And Adele’S “Someone Like You”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Sept. 2023].
Comparison Of Schubert’S “Gretchen Am Spinnrade” And Adele’S “Someone Like You” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Nov 26 [cited 2023 Sept 29]. Available from:
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