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Scruton/Heise Ring motif lists compared: Intro

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:25 pm
by alberich00
Dear members of, and visitors to, the discussion forum at

I apologize for my comparative lack of activity in this discussion forum the past few months. It's due to the fact that I'm working much of every day, seven days per week, completing my third and final revision of my book on Wagner's "Ring," "The Wound That Will Never Heal," an earlier version of which has been posted here at since the spring of 2011.

A byproduct of my final revision is that I'm creating a new and improved motif list which will eliminate some of Dr. Allen Dunning's motifs in his list of 177, which I deem unworthy of status as numbered motifs, and which will add some motifs to this numbered list previously only described by me verbally in the context of the "Ring" libretto used in my online book. These new motifs I intend to add are ones I noticed previously but which Dr. Dunning never distinguished by granting them numbered status (often because they are compounds of previously identified and numbered motifs), or which Sir Roger Scruton added to his list of 186 motifs in his 2016 book "The Ring of Truth - The Wisdom of Wagner's 'Ring of the Nibelung'," which I deem worthy of inclusion as numbered motifs.

The new and improved motif list I just posted distinguishes my new motif list from Dr. Dunning's and Sir Roger Scruton's list in this way: motifs to be included in my new, comprehensive list are identified by H#, followed by the motif's number. Those from Dunning's prior list are identified by D#, followed by the motif's number. And those from Sir Roger Scruton's recent list are identified by S, followed by the motif's number. Because I can't read music or play an instrument, in cases where Sir Roger has identified his motifs by number that don't correspond to motifs in my new improved list or to those in Dr. Dunning's list, I'm unable to specifically identify the music from the musical notation he provides except in instances in which he provides the context in the libretto in which these motifs are heard, so I can listen to a compact disk or dvd of the "Ring" to identify the music to which he refers in its proper context. For this reason it may take me awhile longer to fully determine which of Sir Roger's motifs which Dr. Dunning or I previously omitted from our lists ought to be added to my new list.

Ultimately, it's my hope to produce, through this synthesis of Sir Roger's, Dr. Dunning's, and my lists, the most comprehensive, complete, and accurate list possible, and this of course requires meditating on the questions, what constitutes a true motif, whether an embryonic form of a motif which later takes on definitive form should be identified as the inception point of that motif and given a number in chronological context with other similarly identified motifs, and under what circumstances a variant of a previously numbered motif deserves status as an entirely new numbered motif. There are not only motifs which grow organically out of other motifs, but there are also cases in which several motifs make up a new, compound motif which deserves its own number for identification. So these things need to be ironed out before I can produce my definitive new list which I'll be using in my prospective published book. Furthermore, in a few cases Dr. Dunning got the chronology of his numbered motifs' first occurrences wrong, so I'm correcting these mistakes as well. The numbers identifying motifs in my final list of numbered motifs will for these reasons not correspond precisely with either my old motif list which is still posted here at in both the introductory motif list or in Appendix 1, which was Dr. Dunning's original list, or with Sir Roger's list.

My current list of motifs identified by H#, followed by the motif's number, is the most comprehensive list I can currently offer prior to ironing out a few remaining questions. Any advice from visitors to and/or members of this discussion forum is welcome. For a quick musical identification of my new list please consult Appendix 1 of, where you can click on Dr. Allen Dunning's list of 177 motifs, identified by number, to hear their mp3 files, and simultaneously see their musical notation. Sir Roger was correct that Dr. Dunning sometimes omitted the full harmonic context of certain motifs, so it's my hope that with help from some advisors who can read musical scores and also have the technical means to reproduce orchestral scores in mp3 files so they can be heard, my final definitive list can be accompanied by new mp3 files which not only represent the entire comprehensive list, but which fully capture the full harmonic context of each numbered motif. Once this has been accomplished I could create a new Appendix 1 which represents my complete new and improved list. Ultimately, I'll have to edit the "Ring" libretto I employed in my online book posted at to reflect these changes. The software which allows one to change simultaneously every single instance in a file of, say, a given motif like #137 to #139, should be very helpful in streamlining this process. In any case, ultimately my newly published (here's hoping it will be) book's motif list and motifs identified by number within the context of the libretto at the points they occur in the score will correspond to the version of my book you find at, but this will take some time.