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Wintersturmer's new query about two "Ring" motifs
Posted: Wed May 04, 2016 1:00 pm
I trust that everything is going well in Wagnerheim. I’m sending you this quick query to ascertain if my mind (or ear) is playing tricks, or if there is actually something here: I’m finding that there is some similarity between the “Need of the Gods” motif and Gunter’s motif (motif 152, I believe). In addition to the similarity of the ascending pairs of notes, there is a marked downward leap when the “Need” motif repeats, just as in the Gunther motif when the second segment engages. Is this the same downward leap that Cooke assigns to a part of the Sword motif, and which becomes attached to Hagan, Gunther and Gutrune? If so, I’ll have to sit back and cogitate on how this relates to Wotan’s Grand Idea, Siegfried as the hero artist (aka Wotan 2.0), and how the Gibichungs are fulfilling Wotan’s ultimate will….or whether I’m just twisting myself into knots over nothing!!
Re: Wintersturmer's new query about two "Ring" motifs
Posted: Wed May 04, 2016 1:02 pm
I listened to both motifs back to back, over and over, and I hear what you do. The Gunther Motif #152 seems similar to me except that it’s missing the central portion of the Need of the Gods Motif #83, which is the grace-note twist from Motif #81, often called Wotan’s Frustration, which of course is the motif first heard as Fricka’s argument that Siegmund is not the free hero who Wotan says he is begins to wear Wotan down. As Cooke pointed out, the other two segments of the Need of the Gods Motif seem to be based on Erda’s Motif #53 and the Twilight of the Gods Motif #54, which are both introduced when Erda rises to warn Wotan to yield the Ring to the giants, tells Wotan that she knows all things and that all things end, and that a day of darkness is dawning for the gods, respectively. Cooke argued that Erda’s rising motif is almost an inversion (I know there’s two types, but I can’t remember which one; side to side or up and down) of the Twilight of the Gods Motif, which makes both products ultimately of #1, the so-called primal nature motif with which the “Ring” begins, and which is also the main component of the Sword Motif, or the Motif of Wotan’s Great Idea, #57. If this is the case then Gunther’s Motif is to all intents and purposes the incarnation of Erda’s prophecy, and indeed, Gunther in a way seems to represent civilization in decline, an earthly parallel to the realm of the gods Valhalla which is heading for destruction, and of course Gunther collaborates with Hagen and Bruennhilde to destroy Siegfried, whose death initiates also the twilight of the gods.
But now I'm recalling that in Cooke's famous lecture on the motifs of the "Ring" he described Gunther's Motif #152 as one of a family, allegedly derived from the last 3 notes of Erda's Motif #53 (which of course is in turn derived from #1, the Primal Nature Motif which also is the source of #57, the Sword Motif, or Wotan's Great Idea Motif), which I believe Cooke called something like a family representing tragic heroism (or something like that), which according to Cooke, if I recall correctly, includes motifs such as one of the two associated with Siegmund's tragic fate, Siegfried's Motif #92, the ride of the Valkyries Motif #77, the Annunciation of Death Motif #88, etc. I was always suspicious of Cooke's including Gunther's Motif in this only because his weak character is a poor fit for the description of tragic heroism. In fact Bruennhilde mocks Gunther as unworthy to be described as a hero. However, another conceptual basis for the link between these motifs is that all those which Cooke say derive from the last 3 notes of Erda's Motif #53 represent various expedients Wotan employs to stave off the gods' day of reckoning, which has been inspired by his fear of Erda's prophecy of the twilight of the gods, and of course Gunther is an unwitting party to the twilight of the gods, representing as he does the declining civilization which is the earthly parallel to the twilight of the gods in Valhalla.
It never, never fails to amaze me how much more there is in these brief musical motifs than I have noticed, and I can’t recall having discerned what you have now shown me, how very close Gunther’s Motif is to at least the first motival segment of the Need of the Gods Motif.
I have to listen again, but I think it may also be related to the Power of the Gods Motif in its definitive form, which of course isn’t properly named because that motif in its definitive, final form, accompanies Waltraute’s description of the final, desperate days of Wotan and the gods of Valhalla.
Thank you tremendously for your observation.
Your friend from Wagnerheim,
Paul alias Alberich00