Why Schubert's Ständchen (Schwanengesang) is played in D minor in the violin instead of C minor?
Hi, I noticed the other day that Schubert's Ständchen (Schwanengesang) is in C minor, originally composed for piano and voice. Nevertheless, when it's played for piano and violin (I guess you all know this piece since it's very famous among violinists), it's played in D minor. Why?
I know one reason could be "to make it easier", but that's a very poor reason, besides it's not that hard to play in the original key.
Probably because D is a much more resonant key on the violin - the tonic, dominant and subdominant are all open strings so the violin ends up resonating much better as a result. Easier to get lovely Romantic tone in D than it is in C, particularly in the register this piece is in.
It was originally in d minor, changed to c minor to accommodate different vocal registers.
How do you know it was originally in D minor?
Tim, I looked up the sheet music on IMSLP. On the versions in c minor, the score says 'orig in d minor.'
Oh, thank you. Now my question is... Why a classical singer with the right register for the whole Schwanengesang would change the key to C minor?
Singers transpose stuff all the time. It's not unusual even in an opera to have alternate keys for certain arias.
But these two musicians I'm talking about are well known for their Schubert works, and that doesn't fit with someone that does a different thing that the original score. Besides, these songs are specifically composed for voice and piano, so:
what do you want us to tell you?
I'm just pointing out the things that don't fit for me, and we can discuss that.
I am completely unfamiliar with this piece, but will share an answer as I understand it to answer your questions, as they seem to have moved away from Schubert and into the realm of singing in general.
Hum... if that's the reason, what difference it makes if you sing something one tone (step) sharper or lower?
It can be a huge difference for a singer in terms of safety and comfort, as well as just desire. A half step might even be enough to allow them to use a different section of their vocal register and completely change the sound of the piece. (Think the difference between an open E and a fingered E, or staying on the same string instead of switching). Without being more familiar with the music I can only speculate on some of the many reasons we transpose vocal scores.
It isn't just the range, it's the tessitura (whether the notes in the song are weighted towards the low or high end) and at what pitch a particular singer might need to change from chest to head voice or vice versa. A half step can make a difference. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but I'm a violinist, not a singer.
Mary Ellen, I agree that that is likely the primary reason.
You are obsessing too much over the key change. If the range in which most of the notes appear do not change too much, then the same piece of music in different keys "sounds" the same to a listener. This is one of the fundamentals of music theory and transcription.
Play a tune in E-flat instead of D in an Irish session and you probably won't come out smelling of roses ;)
Hi, I almost never post on here, but being that the topic is voice, I can attest to what was mentioned above.
fantastic contribution Wesley, thanks very much!
I first played
Anyone who has played in the orchestra in performances of John Rutter's works for choir and orchestra will be aware that a significant number are in a large number of flats, 5 flats not being uncommon. I've never found anyone who can explain this phenomenon, but my hypothesis is that he is trying to avoid the resonances you get with open string keys.
I don't know about Rutter, but at the school ensemble level bands have a much easier time with flats and strings with sharps. It can actually be a problem when a school orchestra adds winds and brass for a full orchestra piece, but the band kids haven't ever played in an orchestra before and aren't used to string-friendly keys.
The wind instruments (typically tuned in Bb or Eb) don't see those flats on their score, though. The strings could be happily playing in A (3 sharps)
A lot of those notes which occur in those keys, like concert B natural and fingered C#’s on many woodwinds, are nasty to tune. It’s possible, but many school level ensembles don’t have extensive practice playing in those keys and making the necessary adjustments like adding alternate fingerings on woodwind, or moving out a slide or lipping down for brass. For that reason, a lot of their repertoire exists in flat keys. I don’t remember ever playing a song in high school going past concert F major really. Lots of flats, though.
Also, the key of A, Eb instruments would see the key of F# major since F# for them is concert A, Bb instruments would see B major, and F instruments would see E major, if I’m not mistaken.