Jones, Nathan Allen
University of Kansas
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"Metropolis" is a German silent film directed by Fritz Lang, which premiered on January 10, 1927, in Berlin, during Germany’s Weimar Period. The film is one of the finest examples of German Expressionism and tells the dystopian story of a futuristic city in which a humanoid Robot rallies the Workers against the neglect and excesses of the ruling class. Chad Jacobsen edited the 2 hour and 15-minute film into an abridged 33-minute version for this project. "Metropolis Triptych" is structured in three large sections. These sections reflect Lang’s original division of the screenplay into three tableaux: “Prelude,” “Intermezzo,” and “Furioso.” These are also the titles I used for each movement. A triptych is a type of visual art form in which a three-panel painting or carving depicts a scene in three sections or panels. I found it appropriate to mix this visual art form with the musical form since I am using a visual element for the piece. The entire piece is written without a key center or key signature. The harmonic language is triadic and tonal and is often polychordal. The “Steam Whistle” chord provides the impetus for most of the root relationships in Metropolis Triptych. Some examples are the “City Views” music (Scene 5) which is a progression from E major to A-flat (G-sharp) minor to F major (see Part 1, mm. 293-312). Each root is related by third, albeit enharmonically. The “Robot Music” in Scene 8 uses an alternating progression of B-flat minor to G major and later B-flat major to D major (see Part 1, mm. 392-416). Again, all three roots are related by third. Freder’s theme is harmonized by alternating E-flat major and G major chords, a root relation of a third. Not only are the key relationships derived from the triadic relations in the “Steam Whistle” chord, as a practical matter, they are also key areas that are friendly to band instruments—mostly flat-key tonal centers. Throughout the work, ic6 and ic1 represent the antagonists (The Robot, Moloch, Rotwang, Joh Fredersen, the Machines) while ic5 and ic2 represent the protagonists (Freder and Maria). Freder’s theme prominently features ic5, and Maria’s theme features two ic2s joined by ic4. The Moloch theme consists largely of ic6 while the Machines, Robot, Rotwang, and Joh Fredersen all share the flat scale degree 6-5 motive (ic1) in their themes. To show the reconciliation of Fredersen to the workers, I transformed Fredersen’s theme by changing ic1 in his theme to ic2. The excerpt below shows this transformed motive in the low brass which occurs in both Parts 2 and 3. This “reconciled” Fredersen theme is simultaneously paired with Freder’s theme which demonstrates the two opposing forces finally coming together.
- Dissertations 
- Music Dissertations and Theses 
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