Schubert’s Erlkonig employs a solo voice and piano and the song dates back to 1815. The first performance of the song was in 1820 in Vienna. The song has four characters, each with his voice. A talented vocalist can however vocalize all characters. During performances, Schubert preferred to place different vocalists in charge of each character to achieve a different vocal range. Different characters have different rhythmic nuances and vocal coloration.
Bessie Smiths’ Lost Your Head Blues unfolds in a slow and mournful tone. In spite of the tone, the song captures a strong and bold woman who is ready to stand up to her abusive husband. Smith published her song in 1926 by fusing a variety of related genres. Because of her vocal ability and emotional appeal, audiences are able to connect with her song. It is for that reason that people crowned her the Empress of the Blues.
Schubert’s Erlkonig has four characters, each with his or her vocal coronation. Schubert was however outstanding because his vocal range allowed him to sing the four voices, each with different rhythmic nuance. When singing as the narrator, the first character in the song, Shubert vocals range between the middle and minor mode.
For the father, an authority figure in the song, the voice oscillates between minor and major mode. The son is frightened and Shubert manages a high range to show the fear in the boy’s voice. For Erlking, the fourth character, Shubert strikes a major key and accentuates it with an up and down undulation.
Bessie Smiths’ Lost Your Head Blues falls within the dominant classic style of the 1920s. The song blends early blues with then contemporary jazz to produce a masterpiece that put Smith above her peers. She fuses each stanza with unmatched vocal strength that cascades genres limitations. Her emotional appeal in the song is very strong as she takes the audience through the story of a bold woman who stands up to her husband. She personalizes the song with unrivalled success. This makes the song resonate well with the audience.
Many people regard Schubert’s Erlkonig as extremely difficult to perform. The song has four characters and the performer is conscious of different vocal coronation of each character. Schubert vocal strength makes it possible for him to perform the four characters with ease. For the first four characters, he adjusts his voice appropriately from high key, middle range and minor mode.
The fifth character is a horse and Schubert performs it by rapidly playing the piano to mimic horse’s movement. The song starts with rapid and repeated piano beats to reflect urgency in the story line. The performance quickens and gets louder as the horse gallops and tension between the dad and son escalates. The song ends in an abrupt cadence to show the child’s death and the horse slowing down.
Bessie Smiths’ Lost Your Head Blues performance resembles early blues and jazz songs. She performs the song with great vocal strength that captivates and binds the audience like a spell. The song captures the audacity of a strong woman who could not bow down to her manipulative husband.
The performance is therefore slow and mournful. It brings out the pain of a woman in an emotional and convincing style that makes it easy for the audience to identify with the story line. The performance is powerful with tempo rising and falling appropriately with the character’s predicaments. Smiths’ performance is slow, serenading the audience and allowing for absorption of the meaning. Every woman can identify with the performance.
Schubert’s Erlkonig captures the story of a father, his two sons, a ghost and a horse. The horse is frantically galloping with the dad and sons on its back. The younger of the sons can see a ghost, Erlking, tempting him. Erlking’s voice is soft and sweet and hence captivates the younger boy with promises.
When the boy declines, Erlking threatens to take him by force. This prompts the boy to ask his father for assistance. The boy fights off but succumbs and dies at the end of the song. The song captures the period that people believed strongly in ghosts. It unfolds in as an informal dialogue.
Bessie Smiths’ Lost Your Head Blues is a love story gone sour. Smith captures the predicaments of a woman who is reeling in abandonment by her husband. The couple enjoyed matrimonial bliss until the man got plenty of money. The song captures jazz period after First World War. During this period, marriages were disintegrating because of a carefree attitude adopted by most Americans. The language is informal.
The two songs discussed above represent their era and genre. Schubert’s Erlkonig represents the gothic era in which belief in ghost was common. It stands out from others because of its unusual characteristics. The presence of many characters, each with different rhythmic nuances makes it a great song. Bessie Smiths’ Lost Your Head Blues captures the jazz period in America. The song stands out because of the blend of early blues and the then contemporary jazz.