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Date of Graduation
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
Beethoven’s metronome markings aroused much controversy among musicologists and performing musicians. For Beethoven, tempo is a fundamental element of the music’s character. Beethoven included metronome markings in his music to communicate his ideas concerning tempi in a more specific manner. Ironically, his metronome markings are often ignored by many performers and conductors, as evidenced in the recordings and live performance reviews. There is a group of scholars and performers who tend to disregard Beethoven’s metronome markings, while another group believes they are sensible and workable.
This paper discusses the metronome markings and the Affective Key Characteristics in the music of Beethoven, focusing specifically on his Fifth Symphony, Op.67. Listeners and performers often have their impression of how a specific key feels, but such impressions are personal and may vary. The choice of the key by any given composer could be a vital hint of how the composer wanted the music to be interpreted in terms of character.
The first chapter focuses on the discussion of issues pertaining to Beethoven’s metronome markings, including commentary from Beethoven himself, as well as other musicians and music scholars. Chapter 2 discusses issues pertaining to Affective Key Characteristics, explaining the association of meaning and emotions in different Affective Keys, followed by a brief introduction of the concept of Affektenlehre, and unequal temperament tuning. Chapters 3 and 4 contain detailed discussion on the interpretation of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with specific musical examples and frequent reference to the musical context and the Affective Key Characteristics descriptions.
In conclusion, this document demonstrates how the unique expressive properties of keys could be a significant asset for exploring various characters that are embedded within the music. By considering this, we could open up a number of interpretative possibilities that are not necessarily tied to metronome markings.
Low, Chyh Shen, "Beethoven Symphony No.5 in C minor, Op.67: Connecting tonality to tempo, character, and interpretation" (2019). Dissertations. 221.