Cross-modal correspondences and affect in a Schubert song

Zohar Eitan, Renee Timmers, Mordechai Adler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Light, distance and motion are prominent features in Heine’s ‘Am fernen Horizonten’. A city is veiled in dusk, the sun rises from the earth and the boatman rows with sad strokes. Using empirical findings on cross-modal and affective associations with sounds, we examine Schubert’s interpretation and illustration of these metaphorical dimensions in ‘Die Stadt’. Focusing on local variations in tempo and dynamics, we analyse how the emotional and cross-modal connotations of the song are modified in three performances, provindinginsight into the interrelationship between cross-modal and affective connotations of musical sound. Such interrelationships may suggest complex and often equivocal musical meanings. For example, emotional ‘distance’ is associated with physical distance, as modulated by loudness; visual brightness, as modulated by pitch and timbre, can be painful when unveiling a ‘dark’ memory. Thus, our analysis indicates how musical structures and contours may suggest and interact with perceptual and metaphorical shape in multiple dimensions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMusic and Shape
EditorsDaniel Leech-Wilkinson, Helen M. Prior
PublisherOxford Scholarship Online (OSO)
ChapterPart 1 , 3
ISBN (Print)9780199351411
StatePublished - 2017


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