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Title: Gabriel Fauré and l’organisation du movement : poetic prosody and rhythmic continuity in the songs (1861–1921)
Author: Bilodeau, Darquise
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 7951
Awarding Body: Birmingham City University
Current Institution: Birmingham City University
Date of Award: 2016
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The songs of Gabriel Faure form a significant part of the recitalist’s repertoire and have been the subject of in-depth musical analysis, particularly from the middle of the twentieth century to this day. However, relatively little has been written about the relationship between poetic and musical rhythm in Faure’s romances and melodies. This is especially important in light of Faure’s very personal compositional style in the songs, namely forward motion based on the musical pulse. This thesis investigates the origins of this motion from the angle of French poetics, drawing upon the work of Henri Meschonnic and Gerard Dessons as they consider l’organisation du mouvement (the organisation of motion) in poetry. In applying a similar approach to consider the way in which Faure creates, controls and sustains musical motion and intensity in his songs, this thesis sheds new light on the role of French speech rhythms and versification in the melodie. Through analysis of text, musical excerpts and discussion of select sound recordings, this thesis highlights the means by which Faure achieves expressive prosody in his songs as his settings reflect the changing poetic practice of the second half of the nineteenth century into the early twentieth century through the Romantic, Parnassian and Symbolist poetic styles. Whilst forward motion on the pulse remains central to his concept of musical motion, analysis reveals that Faure responds to poetic innovations by moving away from vocal lyricism to an expressive recitation of the poetic text using a limited number of processes; chief among them is the near neutralisation of musical metre and accentuation in order to prioritise the durational stresses in French language. By integrating speech rhythms and poetic prosody into his songs, Faure attests to his lifelong aim of accurately expressing the poet’s voice and mind into musical recitation. However, Faure’s musical organisation du mouvement bears important implications for the performance of his melodies and of French song in general, since metre and regular accentuation are replaced by irregular note values and the reduced tessitura of a declamation based melodie. More specifically, Faure achieves a complete transformation of the genre: through his understanding of poetic processes and stylistic transformations, he contributes to changing the role of the singer from that of a vocalist to a recitant, that is, one who recites.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available