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Of Serpentina and Stenography: Shapes of Handwriting in Romantic Melody

Of Serpentina and Stenography: Shapes of Handwriting in Romantic Melody Like nineteenth-century handwriting, Romantic melody consisted of a single unbroken, shaped curviline and was invested with the ability to evoke the ideal, maternal feminine, to evoke deeper images and specific meanings, and to function simultaneously as language and as signifier of infinite meaning. It can be fruitfully compared with stenography, a handwriting-based information technology flourishing in the middle nineteenth century. This article documents the perceived handwriting-like nature of music and the perceived musicality of stenography through writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Robert Schumann, Wagner, and the stenographer F. X. Gabelsberger. The perceptual phenomenon of auditory streaming, along with analytical approaches developed by Robert O. Gjerdingen and Eugene Narmour, makes it possible to demonstrate structural similarities between stenography and melody (in examples by Berlioz, Mendelssohn, and Wagner) and to show commonalities between the notion of the "music of the future" and the futuristic aspirations of stenography. In turn, it becomes possible to perform the shapes of handwriting in Romantic melody and hear voices and fantastic visions in those shapes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png 19th-Century Music University of California Press

Of Serpentina and Stenography: Shapes of Handwriting in Romantic Melody

19th-Century Music , Volume 30 (2) – Oct 1, 2006

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
Copyright © by the University of California Press
ISSN
0148-2076
eISSN
1533-8606
DOI
10.1525/ncm.2006.30.2.133
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Like nineteenth-century handwriting, Romantic melody consisted of a single unbroken, shaped curviline and was invested with the ability to evoke the ideal, maternal feminine, to evoke deeper images and specific meanings, and to function simultaneously as language and as signifier of infinite meaning. It can be fruitfully compared with stenography, a handwriting-based information technology flourishing in the middle nineteenth century. This article documents the perceived handwriting-like nature of music and the perceived musicality of stenography through writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Robert Schumann, Wagner, and the stenographer F. X. Gabelsberger. The perceptual phenomenon of auditory streaming, along with analytical approaches developed by Robert O. Gjerdingen and Eugene Narmour, makes it possible to demonstrate structural similarities between stenography and melody (in examples by Berlioz, Mendelssohn, and Wagner) and to show commonalities between the notion of the "music of the future" and the futuristic aspirations of stenography. In turn, it becomes possible to perform the shapes of handwriting in Romantic melody and hear voices and fantastic visions in those shapes.

Journal

19th-Century MusicUniversity of California Press

Published: Oct 1, 2006

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