Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Hawaiian Song

    Colleges and university programs in Hawai'i participate in the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture. An example available in this presentation comes from Hawai'i Community College in Hilo, Hawai'i, where a program in traditional hula, Hālau Hula, emphasizes learning Hawaiian language, as well as dance, chants, and songs. Students and teachers of this program formed the group Unukupukupu, which performed at the Library of ...

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  • English American Song

    As new song styles developed in the United States, they often made their way to England. Following tours by American minstrels in the 1860s, blackface minstrel shows and vaudeville were adapted and presented in England, and continued there longer than in the United States, inspiring The Black and White Minstrel Show television program that ran between 1958 and 1978. With the advent of radio ...

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  • " Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The alto carries the stately melody accompanied by a mournful, falling motive in the two soprano lines on the word "oh." The top-voiced harmonization is creative, and the melodic writing is vocally demanding. The work climaxes on a high, five-part divisi chord at the penultimate statement of the text, "A long way from home." The work ends pp in augmented note values on ...

  • Songs of Women's Suffrage

    The text of what would become the Ninteenth Amendment was originally drafted by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and introduced to Congress in 1878, then rejected in 1887. The Constitutional ammendement was proposed again in 1914, in 1915, in 1918, and in February 1919, failing to win addequate votes each time, until it was proposed again in May of 1919 and passed. ...

  • Seminole and Miccosukee Songs

    "Snake Song," sung by Billy Bowlegs, Barfield Johns, John Josh, Robert Osceola, and Naha Tiger, and "Horned Owl Song," sung by John Josh, are examples of songs from the Hunting Dance, which was a Seminole and Miccosukee autumn ceremony. The Green Corn Dance continues to be celebrated today, but the Hunting Dance is no longer practiced. [2]

  • Persian American Song

    Today Loga Ramin Torkian is composing and performing as a member of the group Niyaz, which has continued to blend traditional instruments with synthesized music while also recording and performing acoustic music using traditional instruments. The group draws from many traditions, including Sufi chant and Persian Radif. As both Torkian and his wife, Niyaz lead singer Azam Ali, spent some of their youth in ...

  • "Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, op. 14" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. While he lived in New York, Parker developed many relationships with fellow musicians that led to frequent performances of his compositions. One of these relationships was with Frank Van der Stucken, the conductor of the New York Arion Society male chorus. Van der Stucken's choir performed many of Parker's works for male chorus, and may have taken his part-song Blow, Blow, Thou Winter ...

  • American Indian and Native Alaskan Song

    Over the course of time, some song genres have declined as the occasions for their use have passed, while new ones have arisen and others have been adapted in response to changing contexts. The tradition of war dance songs, for example, once used to commemorate intertribal conflict, now honors the experiences of Indian members and veterans of the armed forces.

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  • "Far awa'" by Mrs. H.H.A. (Amy) Beach

    Article. Article. Beach's thirty works for women's chorus are a significant part of her output. They include major choral/orchestra cantatas such as The Chambered Nautilus, op. 66, (1907), commissioned by the St. Cecilia Club of New York. The demand for women's chorus repertoire grew exponentially in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Women's musical clubs flourished in the years following the 1893 meeting ...

  • " Balm in Gilead" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The text of this spiritual was inspired by the biblical passage: "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" (Jeremiah 8:22). Burleigh's setting alternates three nearly identical repetitions of the refrain with two verses. The refrain features a B-flat pedal tone in the piano accompaniment underlying a ...

  • " Centennial Hymn, Op. 27" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Centennial Hymn is a setting of John Greenleaf Whittier's six-verse poem of the same name. The musical material is strophic, the text setting is syllabic, and the length is a mere twenty-four bars of choral singing. A trumpet fanfare introduces the hymn, and an optional orchestral interlude is situated between the verses. Paine marks each of the initial four-bar phrases and the final ...

  • " They that wait upon the Lord" by Arthur B. Whiting

    Article. Whiting sets this text from Isaiah (40:28-31) as an accompanied verse anthem, a form that alternates between solo and chorus to provide textural variety. In this case the musical contrast is suited to the dichotomy represented in the text. For example, he sets the narrative, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" as a lyric baritone solo. On the other ...

  • Songs of Sports and Pasttimes

    Virtually every sport or recreation has been the subject of a song at one time or another. Like the recording pioneers who sang of roller skating and circuses, the musical chroniclers of the hot rod and surfing scenes helped push music forward at the same time that they were adding to the historical record.

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  • " Barcarole, Op. 44" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. This work is unique among MacDowell's choral works for its lush vocal richness and coloristic four-hand piano display. Frequent hemiolas, grace notes, trills, and triplet patterns in the piano partner with a lyric melodic breadth and sensitive harmonic progressions in the voices. The poem is by F. M. von Bodenstedt (1819-1892), a well-known German writer whose texts were also set by Brahms, Grieg, ...

  • "While Shepherds Watched (1889)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Chadwick railed against the unschooled output of popular songwriters flooding the market to the exclusion of what he called "true music." In his 1876 paper on popular music reform, he complained about lack of originality in the popular music of the day. "Those who furnish the popular music have not paid, either in money or in mental discipline, the price of true and ...

  • "The Hawthorn Tree (1896)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. 1. W. S. B. Matthews, ed., The Great in Music: A Systematic Course of Study in the Music of Classical and Modern Composers (Chicago: Music Magazine Publishing Co., 1900), 277-79.

  • African-American Band Stocks

    Article. Article. All of these composers wrote hit music, heard in hotel restaurants as well as in the small-town bandstands of America. This music still retains its ability to delight.

  • Passamaquoddy Song

    Both Wayne Newell and Blanch Sockabasin are passionate about helping new generations stay connected to their history and culture. According to Newell, "These songs are about who we are, that we should be proud, and about our obligations to our children."

  • Sioux Song and Dance

    Some of the Sioux songs that are used in display dancing at powwows and other events reflect contacts with other Plains tribes – song genres that are shared. For example, the Sioux Omaha Dance songs were sung in honor of war heroes. In this presentation Dallas Chief Eagle of the Rosebud Lakota tribe and Jasmine Pickner of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe explain and ...

  • "Three Choruses, op. 33" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. The final piece, "Valentine," is the most rhythmically interesting of the set, with several passages of linear independence and increasingly adventurous chromatic passing tones. All three of these unaccompanied TTBB [tenor 1, tenor 2, baritone, bass] settings lie within the appropriate range of each male voice type, and they are fashioned in the mildly sentimental style of the songs and glees popular with ...

  • Songs of the Temperance Movement and Prohibition

    Many of the songs related to Prohibition are no longer sung. Some of the popular songs were recorded comercially, and preserved in that way. Others survive because folk song collectors like Stetson Kennedy, Sidney Robertson Cowell, and Alan Lomax were out documenting songs with early disc recording equipment not long after the repeal of Prohibition, when people still remembered and sang them.

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Northeast

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • " John Henry"

    Whether or not the legend has an historical basis, the story of a man whose worth and identity are measured only by his strength, which is then challenged by the advent of steam power, is one that has endured for over a century. John Henry's complaint to the work "captain," "A man ain't nothing but a man," found in most versions of the ballad, ...

  • African American Spirituals

    Freedom songs based on spirituals have also helped to define struggles for democracy in many other countries around the world including Russia, Eastern Europe, China and South Africa. Some of today's well-known pop artists continue to draw on the spirituals tradition in the creation of new protest songs. Examples include Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" and Billy Bragg's "Sing their souls back home."

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  • Concert Life in Philadelphia before the Revolutionary War

    On the theatrical stage, Philadelphia was home to one of the premiere opera companies in the colonies. The American Company of Comedians performed operas (in a style closer to Broadway musicals than to Grand Opera) in Philadelphia as early as 1750. Despite their success, by 1775 the company had decided to embark for Jamaica "where they intend exerting their justly applauded talents for the ...