Like nineteenth-century handwriting, Romantic melody consisted of a single unbroken, shaped curviline and was invested with the ability to evoke the ideal, maternal feminine, to evoke deeper images and specific meanings, and to function simultaneously as language and as signifier of infinite meaning. It can be fruitfully compared with stenography, a handwriting-based information technology flourishing in the middle nineteenth century. This article documents the perceived handwriting-like nature of music and the perceived musicality of stenography through writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Robert Schumann, Wagner, and the stenographer F. X. Gabelsberger. The perceptual phenomenon of auditory streaming, along with analytical approaches developed by Robert O. Gjerdingen and Eugene Narmour, makes it possible to demonstrate structural similarities between stenography and melody (in examples by Berlioz, Mendelssohn, and Wagner) and to show commonalities between the notion of the "music of the future" and the futuristic aspirations of stenography. In turn, it becomes possible to perform the shapes of handwriting in Romantic melody and hear voices and fantastic visions in those shapes.
- Copyright ©© 2006 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.