- ?Lv 51 decade agoFavorite Answer
The term ‘programme music’ was introduced by Liszt, who also invented the expression Symphonic poem to describe what is perhaps the most characteristic instance of it. He defined a programme as a ‘preface added to a piece of instrumental music, by means of which the composer intends to guard the listener against a wrong poetical interpretation, and to direct his attention to the poetical idea of the whole or to a particular part of it’. He did not regard music as a direct means of describing objects; rather he thought that music could put the listener in the same frame of mind as could the objects themselves.
Programme music, which has been contrasted with Absolute music, is distinguished by its attempt to depict objects and events. Furthermore, it claims to derive its logic from that attempt. It does not merely echo or imitate things which have an independent reality; the development of programme music is determined by the development of its theme. The music moves in time according to the logic of its subject and not according to autonomous principles of its own. As Liszt wrote: ‘In programme music … the return, change, modification, and modulation of the motifs are conditioned by their relation to a poetic idea …. All exclusively musical considerations, though they should not be neglected, have to be subordinated to the action of the given subject’ (Schriften, iv, 69).
However the term is used, it is clear that the idea of music's representing something is essential to the concept of programme music. It is important to understand, therefore, what might be meant by ‘representation’ in music.
Programme music must further be distinguished from the ‘representational’ music that accompanies words, whether in lieder, in oratorio or on the stage. While all these share devices with programme music and have influenced it continuously throughout the history of music, it is still necessary to distinguish music that purports to carry its narrative meaning within itself from music that is attached to a narrative arising independently, whether through the words of a song or through the action of a dramatic work. The distinction is not absolute, but, unless it is made, the idea of programme music as a separate genre must remain entirely illegitimate.Source(s): new grove