Musical topic: lullaby
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This work is based on the theory of musical topics. Topic theory suggests a musical genre, style or gesture which can be defined without the aid of a verbal text or title is a true musical topos. This thesis examines the musical genre lullaby and demonstrates through historical and social research that it is indeed established as a distinct topos in the musical repertoire of Western Europe during the Romantic period (nineteenth and early twentieth centuries). The research examines the earliest preserved written musical examples of medieval religious lullaby carols and rediscovers the musical characteristics defining the topos. The study ranges from baroque religious cantatas and operatic sommeil airs, to Romantic Wiegenlieder and instrumental cradle songs. To complete the historical overview of the topic there follows an outline of the musical characteristics which make the lullaby a recognisable musical sign in addition to a sample of characteristic examples without title or text.