Schubert: “The Miller and the Stream”: Transcription For Cello

From Schubert‘s song cycle “Die Schöne Müllerin” (The Pretty Miller’s Girl [1823]) here is the sheet music for “Der Müller und der Bach” (The Miller and the Stream), transcribed for cello.

No notes have been changed from Schubert’s original vocal version but many small changes have been made to the rhythm of the melody in our transcription. We can do this because, having eliminated the words, our melodic rhythm is – unlike for singers and the composer – no longer limited by the syllabic structure of the original poems, and also because we, unlike singers, don’t need to stop notes in order to breathe. In this way we can create more melodic rhythmic unity, and also more flow (see Transcribing Vocal Music).

For example, although the original melody doesn’t start with an upbeat, in the Performance Versions offered here a semiquaver upbeat has been added before the “official” start to the song in order to match the rhythmic structure of the rest of the song (which is characterised by the constant use of semiquaver upbeats). Also, the melodic rhythm of bar 3 has been applied to other bars (7, 11, 15, 20, 24 etc) in which the words were lacking that extra syllable which makes the melody so much more flowing. Although the rests have not been modified in the sheet music, in our actual playing of the song we can look on the rests as breaths rather than silences. Whereas singers need to actually stop making a sound in order to breathe, we string players can just relax the sound during the rests.

The piano score that was the source for this transcription has absolutely no dynamics, so we are free to invent our own. This has been done in the Edited Version cello part but no dynamics are written into the piano accompaniment part. The Easier Version has just a few minor fingering differences from the Edited Performance Versions.

  1. Edited Performance Version
  2.    Clean Performance Version
  3.    Easier Version
  4.    Literal Transcription
  5.   Piano Score

A play-along audio of the piano accompaniment can be found here below. If we actually download it then we can play it at different tempi with the wonderfully useful and simple Amazing Slowdowner program: