The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 39, Issue 1/4, 2023

Music Issue

Michael Baker
Pages 23-46

Conceptual Blending and Mendelssohn’s Poetics of Song

Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner’s model of conceptual blending is especially helpful in illustrating the type of text-music correspondences that often occur in Felix Mendelssohn’s songs and other vocal works. It corresponds to the way he spoke of his “poetics of song” compositions in his writings on the topic. Following a comparison of the Berlin-based approach to the songwriting of Mendelssohn to that of the Vienna-based song composers, such as Schubert, this essay will examine Mendelssohn’s own writings on text-music for such correspondences with the language of conceptual blending. I conclude with a close reading of “Es weiss und räth es doch Keiner,” Op. 99 no. 6, illustrating how Mendelssohn depicts the overall structure and specific meaning of Joseph von Eichendorff’s poem through a variety of musical techniques.