One of the original features of Schumann's music are his 'inner voices'. The writer John Tibbetts describes the mystery of these voices, sometimes silent, sometimes distant.
At the end of Schumann's cycle of piano pieces Papillons (Butterflies), the carnival ball scene ends with the striking of the clock and the departure of some of the characters. American writer and broadcaster on music John C. Tibbetts describes this chord as 'vanishing before our ears' as the pianist removes his fingers one by one from the notes. Tibbetts explores other mysteries in Schumann's use of silence, which he likens to 'eavesdropping on some private, interior message'. In fact during his courtship of Clara, he claims Schumann used musical notes as hidden messages to his fiancee, asking her in musical disguise whether she loved him. Towards the end of his increasingly disturbed life, these inner voices became shrill and troubling, and his life and music ended in the silence that had been an intrinsic component of his music.