"Form" in a broad sense encompasses: the structure and shape of what happens in music; the manifold ways in which units begin, take shape, and end; the manifestation of separation and coherence; and the wondrous variety of ways in which units unfold contrapuntally. Because it is the study of appearance, it must take account of the cognitive structures we create when we mentally connect what happens not only with what has already happened and what will happen, but also with what might have happened and what might yet happen. Describing form thus relies, at least implicitly, on some understanding of the structures and phenomenology of cognition.
Song is an amalgam of language and music, so interpreting its formal aspects engages cognitive theories of both speech and music. This paper focuses on forms of phonological structure, a domain of linguistic structure that has received scant attention in the study of song. Phonology describes, among other things, the placement of stress, the division of an utterance into phrases, and the use of pitch contour and rhythm to group phrases into larger units of speech. The purpose of this paper is to open an inquiry into relationships between phonological and musical structures. Drawing examples from songs by Brahms, this paper describes the prosody of poetic speech, examines the musical formation of prosodic structures, and analyzes instances of counterpoint between prosodic and musical units.