Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • " Ojalá" from "The Spanish Gypsy" by Patty Stair

    Article. The piano accompaniment is also reminiscent of flamenco music. The left hand of the accompaniment provides a driving rhythmic ostinato imitating a pizzicato bass, while the right hand alternates between chords and short melodies moving in parallel thirds. Similarly, the top two choral parts are often set in moving thirds and ornamented, while the alto voices are set in a more sustained style. ...

  • "The Jumblies, Op. 68, No. 4" by Arthur Foote

    Article. Foote sets this humorous limerick by Edward Lear (1812-88) "Allegro giocoso." He chooses only the first and fourth stanzas of Lear's five-stanza poem. The music is scored in C minor, with a parenthesized note under the first measure, "preferably in C-sharp." Foote provides a dynamic scheme and articulations to capture the text's humor. "And when the sieve turned round and round, and ev'ry ...

  • "Inconstancy" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Article. In this chorus he sets Shakespeare's text "Sigh no more ladies" from Much Ado about Nothing. The opening line receives a plaintive homophonic setting before the piece launches into a buoyant free counterpoint. Chadwick's rhythms are tied closely to the agogic stress of the text. He makes use of a folk-like pentatonic melody on "Then sigh not so, but let them go," ...

  • " Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The SATB version of Burleigh's solo setting was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956). The piano accompaniment uses a repetitive, falling-chord figure throughout to create the "swing low" aural imagery. Page departs from the usual homophonic, chordal texture to introduce a brief imitation between the soprano and tenor on the second phrase of the spiritual. At the end of the opening refrain, Burleigh ...

  • Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)

    Biography. Biography. Biography. Cook also followed his own advice. Thomas Riis, in his study of early black musical theater, singles out Cook's remarkable harmonic skill and compositional sophistication. When the pursuit of his classical career was stymied, Cook brought his exceptional talent to bear on popular music, perhaps paving the way for the marriage of popular spirit and classical complexity which became jazz. Either ...

  • "The Old Man with a Beard (1907)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. In Lang's setting of Lear's The Old Man with a Beard (1907), the piano part is filled with twittering figures to represent the two owls, one hen, four larks, and a wren who built their nests in the man's beard. He relates the problem, according to Lang's musical direction, "with anguish."

  • " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    Article. Patty Stair wrote Song for a May Morning in 1914 to address the needs of the burgeoning women's musical clubs that gained popularity during the first part of the twentieth century. The piece begins with a lively duet between the upper two voices. The alto parts join the texture in close imitation of the top voices. A homophonic section follows featuring more adventurous ...

  • Septimus Winner (1827-1902)

    Biography. In addition to his music writing and publishing, Winner was a frequent contributor to Graham's Magazine, at that time edited by Edgar Allen Poe. He wrote a book of poetry, published posthumously, titled Cogitations of a Crank at Three Score Years and Ten(Philadelphia: Drexer Biddle Press, 1903). Other private writings were later published in The Mocking Bird: The Life and Diary of Its ...

  • " Cradle Song" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. The text is by MacDowell after a German poem by Peter Cornelius (1824-1874). A lullaby, this brief work is representative of a quintessential American male glee club song: a cappella, homophonic, closely voiced, regular phrases, heartfelt, and tender. Chromatic motion often occurs against pedal tones. Interest is found more in the overall harmonic effect than in the melody. MacDowell dedicated the work to ...

  • " Now Is Christ Risen from the Dead" by Harvey Bartlett Gaul

    Article. The anthem opens with a recitative-like introduction in C-major, set for soprano solo. The key modulates to A-major and a rousing 3/4 meter, as the full choir enters in declamatory octaves, "O death, where is thy sting." That music returns before a meter change to common time, Maestoso. Gaul sets "Christ being rais'd, die thee no more," to a steadily rising line in ...

  • "O How Amiable" by Dudley Buck

    Article. Buck's sacred compositions include large-scale works, four cantatas, 55 anthems and 20 sacred songs. He played a central role in the development of organ and choral music in the United States.

  • " Long, Long the Night" by Daniel Gregory Mason

    Article. The first two verses Mason sets using mildly chromatic harmonies with a few seventh and ninth chords. In the third verse, however, he suddenly injects extreme dissonance to capture the pathos of the text, "Hear me, Powers Divine. Oh, in pity hear me. Take all else of mine, but my Chloris spare me!" The chord on "Chloris" contains both an E-natural and an ...

  • "The Lonely Rose, op. 43" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. The voice parts are marked meticulously with frequent crescendo and diminuendo marks, often two per bar in several successive measures. The piano part also contains highly detailed pedal markings and even fingerings for some difficult passages. Lang's father was a student of Franz Liszt, so her piano accompaniments may contain her father's editorial suggestions that reflect Liszt's style.

  • " Come, O Thou Traveler" by Harvey Bartlett Gaul

    Article. At the second stanza, "Yield to me now, for I am weak," Gaul changes the key to C major and the texture to solo quartet. The full chorus reenters at "'Tis Love! Thou die'st for me." The work climaxes on a C-major chord in second inversion with the sopranos on a high G, "Pure universal Love, Thou art to me, Thou art to ...

  • " Dance of Gnomes" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. In dramatic contrast to Cradle Song, the song Dance of Gnomes sets a text by MacDowell that is jarring, spooky, and humorous. The Gnomes, also called "Flower Fairies," conjure up shadows, moonlight, dark forests, and magic spells. Later in the work they call themselves "ugly, hairy imps," "ugly noddles" (noddle is the nape of the neck, back of the head), and "willful hussies." ...

  • " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell orchestrated Hosanna for an extraordinary performance in Carnegie Hall by the students of the Third Street Music School Settlement in March 1918. The concert, led by the composer, featured a chorus of eight hundred and an orchestra of two hundred. The highly successful event (for which the stage had to be nearly doubled in size) not only raised a significant amount of ...

  • " Pirate Song" by Henry F. Gilbert

    Article. The present edition was issued by the H. W. Gray Co. in 1921. Gilbert adapted words from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island with added stanzas by Alice C. Hyde. The opening baritone solo, "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest," elicits the first of many pirate responses, "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum." The men's chorus sings in unison throughout except ...

  • "The Old Person of Cassel (1905)" by Margaret Ruthven Lang

    Article. In her SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass] setting with piano accompaniment of Lear's The Old Person of Cassel (1905), she humorously interjects numerous "ha, ha," responses to each line of text. The nose of the old person of Cassel was "finished off in a tassel," which Lang paints with a stuttering musical figurethat sounds like a stifled sneeze.

  • "Bedtime (1906)" by Dudley Buck

    Article. Buck's setting begins with eight chimes of the clock in the keyboard accompaniment, each chime labeled with a Roman numeral I through VIII. The mother scolds the child with a minor-mode admonition, "Why it's late! After eight! And it's time you were in bed." Buck uses the same chiming device before each succeeding verse of the strophic setting. In the coda, the chimes ...

  • John Knowles Paine (1839-1906)

    Biography. Although widely popular during his lifetime, Paine's works dwindled into obscurity as twentieth-century modernism took hold. Recent editions, writings, recordings and performances have brought Paine's music and his importance in American music history to the attention of present-day audiences and scholars.

  • Dudley Buck (1839-1909)

    Biography. Biography. Biography. In 1898, Buck was honored by election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Eleven years later, on October 6, 1909, the composer died at the age of 70.

  • "The Wind and the Day (A Sunset on Yarrow)" by Arthur Foote

    Article. This part-song, one of fifty-two composed by Foote, was dedicated to Horatio Parker (1863–1919), a fellow member of the Second New England School of composers. It sets a pastoral poem by Scottish writer Andrew Lang, who edited the poems and songs of Robert Burns in 1896. The text and music paint a picture of a sunset over the heather. Foote injects chromatic harmonies ...

  • " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The text and melody of Dig My Grave were taken from Bahama Songs and Stories by Charles L. Edwards. The opening is appropriately somber, marked Grave, and set for four-part men's voices: "Dig my grave long and narrow! Make my coffin long and strong!" At the tempo change to Andante cantabile, the women sing in parallel sixths while the men sustain an open-fifth ...

  • "The Witch, Op. 5" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. From 1896 to 1898, MacDowell published four partsongs for the Mendelssohn Glee Club under the pseudonym of Edgar Thorn, fearing the members would feel obligated to accept the songs if he revealed he had written them. Other works by "Edgar Thorn" are The Rose and the Gardener, Love and Time, and War Song. The narrative text by MacDowell is about a witch living ...

  • " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    Article. Stair sets the text in a chordal style with the melody nearly always in the first tenor voice. It is in three verses—each verse more developed harmonically—and a coda that recalls the final words of each verse: "so white, so soft, so sweet is she." Though it is set with close voicing, Stair avoids any use of "barbershop harmonies," opting instead for sonorities ...