being stated in octave displacements.
The three pieces have very similar tempo markings, as each is basically and Andante, with
minor variations, which seem to imply slight differences in character rather than actual changes
in speed. A common pulse runs through and links all of them, as all move by the quaver, with the
exception of the central sections of 1 and 3, which move by the crotchet, but this is yet another
unifying factor. At transitional or cadential points within the pieces, Brahms alters this rhythmic
pulse, creating agogic accent usually through augmentation, or by introducing hemiolas. This
process both announces a significant formal or harmonic event, such as a new section or a final
cadence, or creates a smooth transition by introducing the new pulse. Brahms does the opposite
of this in the third piece with the use of fermatas, which actually take away any feeling of a pulse,
especially when preceded by a ritardando as in the 6-bar transition. The fermatas temporarily
arrest motion and add to the ambiguity of the succeeding metres.
Op.117 is an example of Brahms’s techniques in creating unity out of diversity. Although
each Intermezzo has individual traits and experiments with ternary form in a different way, all
have a song-like character (inspired by the lullaby idea), and are linked in so many other ways
that it is almost impossible not to consider the opus a ‘multi-piece,’ as Dunsby (1983)
characterized the seven Fantasien, Op. 116.