Through-composed (Ger. durchkomponiert)
- Ian Rumbold
A term describing a composition with a relatively uninterrupted continuity of musical thought and invention. It is applied in particular in contexts where a more sectionalized structure might be expected, as with a Strophic song text, an opera divided into numbers or an instrumental piece divided into movements.
In the context of art song, ‘through-composed’ describes settings in which a repeating verse structure is contradicted by the use of substantially different music for each stanza, unlike most hymns and folksongs, where strophic texts are reinforced by an equivalent repeating musical structure. Das Wandern, the opening song of Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, for example, is strophic, with the same music repeated for each text stanza, while Halt! (the third song of the cycle) is through-composed, with new music for each stanza. Furthermore, a song cycle as a whole, with its potential for the complex organization of constituent songs, may, unlike a collection of independent songs, be thought of as a larger-scale example of through-composition....