Paul Heise's quick & dirty Ring motif list

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

Moderators: alberich00, Justin Jeffrey

Post Reply
Site Admin
Posts: 464
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Paul Heise's quick & dirty Ring motif list

Post by alberich00 » Fri May 18, 2018 2:14 pm

Dear members of, and visitors to, the discussion forum:

New member Donald Sauter suggested that in Appendix 1 of, on pages 1011-1015, where visitors can quickly look up specific motifs in the complete list of Ring motifs produced by Dr. Allen Dunning, 1-178, click on them, listen to them, and see their musical notation, that I identify those motifs not only by number but also by name or a brief description so visitors can more easily identify these motifs and where they originate in the "Ring." Of course the comprehensive motif list at the beginning of this online "Ring" book contains all that information in detail, but being about 100 pages long with pages difficult to turn, it's cumbersome to look up specific motifs and their names and/or descriptions. Also, I'm not now in a position to edit the motif list in Appendix 1, but I have a solution.

What follows is my new, quick and dirty version of Allen Dunning's list of 177 motifs identified by both number and name, and sometimes a description where a name alone won't do, which you can print out as a key for looking up and listening to the 177 motifs at the beginning of Appendix 1 on pages 1011-1015. All motif numbers preceded by a hashtag "#" are from Allen Dunning's original list. I've also added 16 new motifs, distinguished from Allen Dunning's original list of 177 by being preceded by an "H" for Heise, and interpolated them into Dunning's original list in their approximate chronological position of first occurrence in the "Ring." However, I'm not yet able to post their musical notation or sound files to, so I've integrated them into Dunning's original list merely to satisfy your curiosity about the new motifs I'll be including in my final revision of my online "Ring" book in preparation for possible publication in hardcopy and/or an e-book. I originally used a color code to make it easier not to confuse my 16 new motifs from Dunning's original one, but this coding was lost in transmission to this discussion forum.


#1 Primal Nature Motif
#2 Primal Nature Motif variant
#3 Rhine River
#4 Rhinedaughter Woglinde's Lullabye
#5ab Alberich's Woe at being rejected by the Rhinedaughters
#6 Alberich's lurching, clumsy motion
#7 Alberich's Futile Wooing of the Rhinedaughters
#8 Rhinedaughter Wellgunde leads Alberich on
#9 Omitted: not a true motif
#10 Omitted: not a true motif
#11 Rhine River shimmers with golden light
#12ab Rhinegold
#13 Rhinedaughters cry: 'Heiajaheia! Heiajaheia!' Extolling the Rhinegold
#14 Rhinedaughters' Jubilant Swimming (first version) in the golden light of the Rhinegold
#15 Rhinedaughters' cry: "Rhinegold! Rhinegold!
#16 Rhinedaughters' Praise of the Rhinegold in song, verse, and dance
#17ab World-Mastery (you can rule the world if you make a Ring from the Rhinegold)
#18 Renunciation (and Need) of Love (The Ring can be forged only be renouncing love)
#19ab Ring (Alberich's Ring of worldly power)
#20abcde Valhalla (the heavenly abode of the Gods)
#21 Wotan's Spear of law/authority
#22 Fricka's longing for Wotan's fidelity to be preserved by residing in Valhalla
#23 Fricka's longing for Valhalla's domestic bliss in Valhalla
#24 Freia, goddess of sensuous love
#25 Freia, goddess of higher love
#26ab Giants (builders of Valhalla who expect Wotan to honor his contract to pay them Freia)
#27 Irrevocable law (the Gods rule by social contract)
#28 Treaty (The Gods' rule depends on keeping their agreements)
#29 Freia's golden apples of sorrowless youth eternal
#30ab Godhead lost (Fafner warns: without Freia's golden apples the Gods will wither away)
#31 Froh - Freia's grateful, optimistic brother
#32ab Donner - Freia's threatening brother Donner (Thunder God), the Gods' enforcer
#33ab Loge the Fire God (the Trickster who persuaded Wotan to contract with the Giants)
#34 Loge's flickering flames
#35 Loge's Transformations
#36 Loge's Deceptions
#37 Woman's Worth; Lovelessness (derived from #18, Renunciation of Love)
#38 Nature's Weaving (Loge explains that no living being will renounce love: he lies)
#39 Alberich's unbearable anguish at his loss of love
#40 Tragic Love (Love lost from the world)
#41 Nibelung Forging
#42 Tarnhelm's Wonder
#43 Tarnhelm's Transformations
H41 Servitude Motif (#5 variant: Mime's abasement before his brother Alberich)
#44 Mime's scheming (first version)
#45ab Coercive "Power of Alberich's Ring"
H46ab Arrogance of Power (#20b/#35: Loge mocks Alberich's bid for power with false praise)
#46 Nibelung Hoard
#47 Alberich's Rebellion against the Gods
#48 Dragon (Fear)
#49 Alberich transformed into a Toad
#50 Envy/Resentment (Alberich's fury that Wotan stole his Ring without paying its price)
#51 Alberich's Ring Curse (all will seek the Ring, but will obtain only misery)
#52 Ring curse dooms those (besides Alberich) who possess his Ring to foresee death
H? Foreshadowing of Erda's appearance (#19ab/#20ab hybrid?) Possibly a true motif
#53 Erda (Mother Nature)
#54 Twilight of the Gods
#55 Donner: Heda! Heda, hedo! (He calls forth storm clouds to clear the heavens of taint)
#56 Rainbow Bridge (over the Rhine to Valhalla)
#57ab Sword (Wotan's Grand Idea of redemption): Wotan will produce a race of heroes
#58ab Wotan's Salute to Valhalla (free from dread and dismay)
#59abcd Rhinedaughters' Lament for the lost Rhinegold (First Lament)


#60 Wotan's Storm
#61 Donner's Lightning
#62 Siegmund (son of Wotan/Waelse)
#63 Sieglinde, Siegmund's twin sister
#64 Love Motif (Definitive)
#65 Siegmund's Ill-fortune
#66 The Waelsungs' (Siegmund's and Sieglinde's) mutual bond in the face of sorrow
#67 Hunding (the brutal husband who forced Sieglinde into an unloving marriage)
#68 Hunding's Honor/Rights
#69 Innocent, unloved bride's weeping (Siegmund's aid to her well-meaning, but tragic)
#70 Infinite Sorrow of the Waelsungs (Siegmund and Sieglinde)
#71 The Tragic Waelsung Race
#72 Siegmund destined to win Wotan's sword and wed Sieglinde
#73 Siegmund's "Winter's storm has waned" aria
#74AB Waelsung's love-longing
#75 Siegmund's and Sieglinde's delight in their love ("united are love and spring")
#76 Siegmund's and Sieglinde's Remembrance (they gradually realize they're siblings)
#77 Valkyries (muses of inspiration to martyred heroes)
#78abc Bruennhilde's War-Cry: "Hoyotoho! Hoyotoho! Hoyo ho! Hoyo ho! Etc.
#79 Fricka's Indictment of the Waelsung twins for adultery/incest
#80ab Fricka's Indictment of Wotan for infidelity
#81A Wotan's Frustration (Fricka forces Wotan to acknowledge Siegmund isn't a free hero)
#82 Wotan's Revolt (against his fate, that he can't find a free hero to redeem the gods)
#83ab Need of the Gods (for a free hero who can keep Alberich from regaining his Ring)
#84 Wotan's Anger (First Anger Motif: I find with loathing always only myself in all I do)
H84 Wotan's First Bequest (#20b vari/#12b) Wotan, broken, leaves his world to Alberich's son
#85 Wotan's Anger (Second Anger Motif: against Bruennhilde for disobedience)
#86 Hunding's (vengeful) Pursuit of the Waelsung twins
#87 Fate
#88 Bruennhilde's Annunciation of Siegmund's fated doom
#89 Siegmund's Resistance to Bruennhilde's annunciation of his fate
#90ab Bruennhilde's Compassionate Intervention to save the Waelsung twins from Wotan
H91 Sieglinde's Nightmare (tune based on "Faust" theme from Liszt's Faust Symphony)
#91 Valkyrie Ride
#92abc Siegfried, Noblest of Heroes
#93 Sieglinde's Blessing of Bruennhilde: "Sublimest Wonder!"
H95 Wotan's Intent to Punish Bruennhilde for disobedience (#81B)
H96 Wotan's Reproach to Bruennhilde for disobedience
#94 Wotan's Punishment of Bruennhilde (he'll put her to sleep to be woken by any man)
#95 The Valkyries' Plea to Wotan: don't leave Bruennhilde vulnerable to a man
#96ab Bruennhilde's Plea to Wotan not to debase her by leaving her for any man to wake
H100 Bruennhilde's Appeal to Wotan to see what she saw, Siegmund's sorrow (#81/#89)
#97 Bruennhilde's Magic Sleep (Wotan's punishment: she'll sleep, to be woken by a man)
#98 Bruennhilde's Plea: protect my sleep with terror so only a fearless hero can win me
H103 Wotan's Aria in Praise of Bruennhilde's Radiant Pair of Eyes
#99 Wotan's Farewell to Bruennhilde (for one last time let your eyes delight me today)
#100 Magic Fire (Wotan orders Loge to make a protective ring of fire around Bruennhilde)


#101 Mime's scheming (second version)
#102 Mime: I can't forge Nothung, the sword
#103 Siegfried's Youthful Horncall (he blows it it to seek a true friend)
#104 Siegfried's Contempt for Mime
H110 Mime's Mercenary Nibelung Nature (#5 duple variant)
H111AB Siegfried's authentic debt to Mother Nature (Erda)
#105 Mime's Starling Song (Mime claims Siegfried owes him a debt of gratitude)
#106 Siegfried's Longing for his authentic parents
#107 A child longs for its Parents' Nest
#108 Siegfried to Mime: all animals have loving fathers/mothers: so where's your wife?
#109 Broken sword Nothung restores Siegfried's lost link with his Waelsung heritage
#110 Siegfried's Joyful Emancipation from Mime, who isn't his father
#111 Siegfried's Mission: his declaration of independence from Mime
#112 Wotan as Wanderer (first Wanderer motif, descending)
#113 Wotan as Wanderer (second Wanderer motif, ascending)
#114ab Wotan's Contest of Knowledge with Mime: Wotan stakes his (i.e., Mime's) head
H122 First World-Ash Tree Motif (#2/#53 swaying in 3/4 time)
#115 Power of the Gods (present), and future destruction of the Gods, foretold by Norns
#116 Hallowed Contracts' Binding Runes (not!)
#117 Mime's Conspiracy of one: he'll outwit the wanderer; Siegfried will win Ring for him
#118 Mime's 'wise' head forfeit to the fearless hero who alone can re-forge Nothung
H127 Siegfried's Heroic Labor (#103 fragment: he prepares to re-forge Nothung)
#119 Siegfried reclaims his father Siegmund's sword Nothung, and its name
#120 Siegfried's Smelting Song
#121 Siegfried's Invocation of his Bellows while smelting Nothung
#122 Nothung as Siegfried's Fiery Phallus
#123 Mime prepares Siegfried's sleep-of-death potion, while Siegfried re-forges Nothung
#124 Siegfried's Forging Song
#125 Siegfried's Triumph in re-forging Nothung
#126ab "Fear": Fafner, as a dragon, guards Alberich's Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard
#127 Wotan (to Alberich): Siegfried stands or falls on his own; his own master he
H136 Siegfried's Forest Murmurs (#2/#11: Siegfried longs to see his mother, Nature)
#128ab First Woodbird's Song
#129ab Second Woodbird's Song (dead Fafner's blood allows Siegfried to understand it)
#130 omitted: not a true motif
H139 The Dying Fafner Speaks (#126a variant) to Siegfried
#131 Mime's False (Gibichung-like) Friendship/love for Siegfried
#132ab Lonely Siegfried appeals to the Woodbird: I'm lonely and need a boon companion
#133 Wotan wakes Erda, allegedly to gain her knowledge (but really to renounce it)
#134 World Inheritance - Wotan: my heirs Siegfried/Bruennhilde will redeem the world
H144 Siegfried's ignorance of his kinship to the Wanderer/Wotan who blocks his way
#135 Wotan/Wanderer questions Siegfried to insure he's free from the gods' influence
#136 Wotan invokes Loge's rolling fire to block Siegfried's way to Bruennhilde
#137ab Siegfried learns fear from sleeping Bruennhilde (what Fafner failed to teach him)
#138 sleeping Bruennhilde opens her eyes at Siegfried's kiss
#139 Siegfried stands before Bruennhilde, awakened
#140 Siegfried's and Bruennhilde's Loving Salute to each other
#141 What Siegfried doesn't know, Bruennhilde knows for him
H152 Bruennhilde's rising fear of consummating her love for Siegfried (#77, #40, #81 frag)
#142 Siegfried's Immortal Beloved, Bruennhilde: Please don't coerce my love!
#143 Bruennhilde calls Siegfried "Hoard of the World": another Siegfried Idyll melody
#144 omitted: not a true motif
#145 Love's Resolution: out of Valhalla's destruction comes our love's laughing death


H156 Norns Spinning their Rope of Fate (#3 diminished inversion)
#146 Second World Ash Tree Motif
#147 The Norns' Song of Fate
#148 Mature Siegfried's Horncall
#149 Siegfried's Muse Bruennhilde inspires him to new adventures
#150 Siegfried unwittingly guards Wotan's Hoard of Runes (his secret Confession)
#151 Hagen (Alberich's son, destined to bring the twilight of the gods)
#152 Gunther (Hagen's half-brother, Chief of the Gibichungs)
#153 Seduction (Hagen, Gunther, and his sister Gutrune plan to manipulate Siegfried)
#154 Hagen's Potion: it makes Siegfried forget Bruennhilde, love Gutrune
H166 Siegfried rows up the Rhine to meet his fate at Gibichung Hall (#40 vari/#59a/##103)
#155 Gunther's False Friendship to Siegfried (we're reminded of Mime's deceit)
#156ab Gutrune (Gunther's sister and Hagen's half-sister), Siegfried's false muse
#157 Blood-brotherhood Oath between Siegfried and Gunther
#158 Siegfried's/Gunther's blood mixes in the bowl from which they drink
#159 Oath of Atonement (between Siegfried and Gunther)
#160 Siegfried and Gunther drink faith to each other
#161 Hagen's Watch (he guards Gibichung Hall as Siegfried/Gunther seek Bruennhilde)
#162 Hagen's Envy of Gunther and Siegfried, and intent to win back his father's Ring
#163 Bruennhilde questions Waltraute: has Wotan forgiven her, or is he still angry?
#164 Bruennhilde reinterprets Siegfried's (unfaithful) love as Wotan's punishment of her
H177 Wotan redeemed if Bruennhilde restores the Ring to the Rhine? (#15/#20c)
#165 Honor - Siegfried (as Gunther) lays Nothung between himself and Bruennhilde
#166 Hagen's Anguish: he's unhappy as Alberich's son
#167 Murder (Alberich tells Hagen only Siegfried's death can help them win world power)
#168ab Hagen's Day (the dawn rises and Siegfried appears suddenly before Hagen)
#169 Gutrune's Festive Welcome to her prospective husband Siegfried upon his return
#170ab Hagen's Rallying Cry to the Gibichungs: Danger ("Noth") is here! Ho ho! Ho ho!
#171 Gibichung Horncall announcing the double marriage (Gunther/Bruennhilde)
#172 Gibichung chorus celebrating the expected arrival of Gunther with Bruennhilde'
H186 Hagen, Bruennhilde's agent of vengeance against Siegfried for betrayal (#164/#170)
#173 Siegfried and Bruennhilde swear oaths against each other
H188 Bruennhilde protects Siegfried's front from wounds, not his back (#15/#150)
#174abc Rhinedaughters' Second Lament for the Lost Rhinegold: will a hero return it?
#175 Rhinedaughters' second motif of jubilant swimming in celebration of the Rhinegold
#176 Siegfried Has Lost His Way (back to Bruennhilde), having been tricked by an elf.
H192 Siegfried's Motif of Remembrance: I'll tell you how I learned the meaning of birdsong
#177 Siegfried's Death-Stroke: Hagen spears him in the back for breaking his oath
Site Admin
Posts: 464
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Re: Paul Heise's quick & dirty Ring motif list

Post by alberich00 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:54 am

Post Reply