Knütpftechnik: Coding Narrative in the Music of Brahms and the Experimental Fiction of Robbe-Grillet

Steven Rahn, University of Texas

Linkage technique, or Knütpftechnik, describes a musical event where the beginning of a new phrase or formal section takes as its initial idea the conclusion of the immediately preceding one. I argue that the transformation of a concluding gesture into one of initiation offers analysts the opportunity for further research in musical narrative. Drawing from Robert Hatten's theory of musical meaning, I analyze Brahms's Liebesglut, op. 47, no. 2 and construct an expressive interpretation around moments of linkage. In order to fully demonstrate the expressive ramifications of linkage as a transitional narrative device, I turn to an analogue in literary prose. Alain Robbe-Grillet's experimental fiction, a representative example of the nouveau roman, often features visual motifs that link disparate temporal locations in a narrative -- similar to the graphic match cut technique found in the cinema. To demonstrate the unique expressive consequences of linkage technique in Robbe-Grillet's work, I present analyses of selected passages from his 1955 novel Le Voyeur. The effects of confusion and disorientation created by Robbe-Grillet's prose add an expressive dimension to linkage events in Brahms's music that cause temporal disruption.