So, in the video below I am enjoying all the beautiful Swedish vowels and consonants in the poem Moonshine by Bo Bergman and set to music by Stenhammar. The stream of sounds helps sustain the soft/slow phrases which portray the slow motion travelling moonbeams. Their continued path through the song is important as the conceit of the poem is that they are to be finally halted by Puck the fairy in the last verse. He is waiting in ambush to trap beams that have lost their way in the forest!

At the end of verse one the light beam is temporarily deflected with the supernatural lustre of an enharmonic chord progression. And at this point we can actually hear Swedish tonal accent 2 being nicely used in the music. This is where Swedish does that characteristic lilting thing; a word in a sentence that has clinching significance (often the last) is given a primary emphasis on the first syllable and high pitch, and secondary stress on the final syllable and also high pitch. The word here that gets this accent is “fardas” which itself means “travels”. So the natural tonal lift built into the language, and the significance of the word combine to hoist us up into a shimmering stratosphere. Just in the same way as moonlight lifts us out of our everyday world and into an ethereal realm.

So Stenhammar uses everything at his disposal to evoke the psychological life of a poem within his music.


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