Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Songs of the Zionist Movement in America

    Songs of the Zionist Movement in America

    After the war, the British took control of Palestine, allowing Jewish settlements to develop and thrive. Jewish immigrants purchased land on which to settle. Among the needs for these settlers was a common language, as settlers came from various parts of Europe and North America. Hebrew, which at the time was a language used only in religious practice that many Jews did not speak ...

  • German American and Russian German American Song

    German American and Russian German American Song

    The composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) made a significant impact on both American classical and popular music culture with his musical works for the stage. Weill fled Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, eventually seeking citizenship in the United States with his wife Lotte Lenya (who originated many of her husband's most important female roles.) Works like "The Threepenny Opera," "Happy End" and "Lady in the ...

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  • Seminole and Miccosukee Songs

    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]

  • Classic Rag

    Classic Rag

    John Stark was particularly proud of the rags that his firm published. One of his advertisements read: "Why are the Stark Music Co's Rags called Classic? This is the reason: They are intellectual musical thought grounded in the emotional principle of humanity. They are the musical soul-thought of the human race."

  • " He Met Her in a Meadow" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " He Met Her in a Meadow" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. Burleigh's He Met Her in a Meadow was first published for solo male voice in 1921. G. Ricordi & Co., New York, published versions for mixed chorus, men's chorus, and women's chorus in 1922. Burleigh wrote the song's lyrics about a young farmer's late-evening flirtation. The musical setting is melodramatic and sentimental, foreshadowed in the tempo direction, Andante con molto sentimento. The ostensible ...

  • "O Holy Child of Bethlehem (1896)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    "O Holy Child of Bethlehem (1896)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. Chadwick's setting of this text is for alto solo, chorus, and organ. It uses mostly simple diatonic harmonies until the climax at the text "Come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel." He employs successive diminished chords and widely-spaced voicing at "Our Lord," after which the harmony subsides into largely subdominant/tonic alternations.

  • Bahamian American Song

    Bahamian American Song

    A relatively new style of music in the 1930s and 40s when these recordings were made was jazz, using the piano and brass instead of, or sometimes in addition to, traditional Bahamian instruments. For example, a traditional version of the Bahamian song "Hoist Up the John B Sail" is sung by Robert Butler accompanied by Theodore "Tea Roll" Rolle. Rolle, a jazz composer, singer, ...

  • Songs of the Temperance Movement and Prohibition

    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.

  • " Deep River" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Deep River" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The SSA version of Deep River was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956), a composer who frequently created choral arrangements of Burleigh's works for publisher G. Ricordi. The arrangement retains Burleigh's original melody and piano accompaniment. As the tune is shared by the lower two voices, it is embellished with occasional sixteenth notes, imitating an improvised style. Harmonies are simple diatonic triads with ...

  • Songs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Migrants

    Songs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Migrants

    "I'm Going Down this Road Feeling Bad," is a traditional song that may date from an earlier period, but that expresses sentiments surely felt by displaced workers during the Great Depression. In this presentation there are versions sung by Warde Ford, who traveled to Wisconsin to California to find work with the CCC and by Dust Bowl migrants Ruth Huber and Lois Judd.

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  • " Cradle Song" by Edward MacDowell

    " 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 ...

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

    "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 ...

  • " Ol' Marse Winter" by Gena Branscombe

    " Ol' Marse Winter" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Branscombe's SSA setting of poetry by Mary Alice Ogden (1858-1926) was published by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. Ogden's verse was used by permission of The Smart Set Co., a New York literary and cultural magazine edited by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan between 1914 and 1923. Branscombe sets the text, written in African-American dialect, to constant eighth notes, ...

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

    " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thack...

    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 ...

  • Blackfeet Song

    Blackfeet Song

    Victor recordings of two Blackfeet songs made in 1914 in Glacier Park, Montana are available in this presentation. "White Dog Song" and "Medicine Song" are the titles given on the label of the original recording.

  • "Amazing Grace" and Shape-Note Singing
  • "Three Choruses, op. 33" by Horatio William Parker

    "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 ...

  • Sit Down, Shut Up, and Listen to Ragtime: Bob Milne and the Occupational Folklore of the Traveling Piano Player

    Sit Down, Shut Up, and Listen to Ragtime: Bob Milne and the O...

    They sat down and shut up. The Potentate almost fell over backward in his chair laughing, and I just went back up on the stage and continued. But to me, that's just business as normal!

  • "The  Friends We Love" by Septimus Winner

    "The Friends We Love" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Winner wrote many such ballads during the civil war years. They were perhaps even more popular than those of his contemporary, Stephen Foster. According to Charles Claghorn, author of The Mocking Bird: The Life and Diary of Its Author, Septimus Winner, President Abraham Lincoln's favorite song was Winner's Listen to the Mockingbird, another simple ballad. The appeal of these popular songs was not ...

  • Sioux Song and Dance

    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 ...

  • Songs of Social Change

    Songs of Social Change

    Select the links from the left menu for short articles on different periods of social change and social causes from United States history illustrated with examples of songs.

  • Persian American Song

    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 ...

  • " Hosanna" by Arthur Farwell

    " 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 ...

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

    " Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" by Harry Thacker ...

    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 ...

  • History of Ragtime

    History of Ragtime

    "Real Ragtime: Disc Recordings from its Heyday" (Booklet notes by Richard Martin and David Sager). Archeophone Records, Arch. 1001A.

  • " Pretty to Me" by Septimus Winner

    " Pretty to Me" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Pretty to Me is lyrical, gentle, soft, and sentimental. Its melody is limited to an octave and consists of four verses. The melody for the second two stanzas of the verse nearly mirrors that of the first two stanzas. Each verse is followed by a homophonic choral refrain on the words "pretty to me."

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

    "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 ...

  • " O God, My Heart Is Ready, Op. 17" by Arthur B. Whiting

    " O God, My Heart Is Ready, Op. 17" by Arthur B. Whiting

    Article. Whiting's unaccompanied motet stretches over thirty-five pages. It weaves several psalm texts and begins with an intonation for baritone solo, "There is sprung up a light for the righteous, and joyful gladness for such as are true hearted." The motet quickly transitions to full chorus with frequent divisi, "O God my heart is ready. Awake thou lute and harp." The vivace choral section ...

  • "De  Gospel Train ('Git on bo'd lit'l children')" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    "De Gospel Train ('Git on bo'd lit'l children')" by Harry Th...

    Article. Burleigh's setting is an upbeat, highly rhythmic work with several harmonic surprises. His TTBB arrangement is punctuated by inspired moments of train imagery, most notably in the "chu chuck-a, chu chuck-a" sound effects of the second verse and the tenors' falsetto "toot, toot." The tenors sing a perfect fourth, F-sharp–B, against a tonic B-flat-major chord.

  • " Breathe on Us, Breath of God" by Arthur Farwell

    " Breathe on Us, Breath of God" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell's strophic setting (four verses followed by a brief "Amen") contains colorful harmonies and unexpected voice leading that beautifully embellishes the text. For example, the soprano's opening tritone leads to an unusual dissonance on the word "breath" resolving to an F-major triad on "God." The return of this striking chord at the end of each verse, as well as in the concluding "Amen," ...

  • " Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The SSA version of the spiritual was arranged by Nathaniel Clifford Page (1866-1956) and published simultaneously with the version for solo voice. Burleigh alternates quietly intense refrains with declamatory forte verses. Page cleverly moves the melody between the top two voices and gives the alto a bit of contrapuntal interest at the beginning each verse. Burleigh's startling augmented harmony on the word "seen" ...

  • Basque American Song

    Basque American Song

    Starting in the 1960s, folk bands like Ordago and Gaupasa formed to play a combination of traditional Basque music and popular songs. Since then, groups like Amuma Says No have brought a more contemporary edge to Basque music by mixing Basque and American instrumentation and rhythms. A webcast of the performance of Amuma Says No performing both traditional and contemporary songs at the Library ...

  • The  1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago

    The 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago

    There was an active and vital local and national music press in America by this time, but in the days before radio, and with the recording business in its technical and commercial infancy, no performer could wish for greater national exposure than that afforded by a succesful engagement at the Columbian Exposition.

  • " My Lady Nicotine"  by Will Marion Cook

    " My Lady Nicotine" by Will Marion Cook

    Article. A lyrical ode to the joys of smoking, My Lady, Nicotine notably features the use of syncopated, ragtime rhythm (mm. 9 and 17) and high tessitura. The melody reaches a high A at the verse climax, "She's the mad little, bad little queen of smoke." The duple meter of the verse changes to triple in m. 23, introducing an enthusiastic waltz refrain for ...

  • Portuguese American Song

    Portuguese American Song

    Traditional Portuguese vocal music forms find a contemporary expression in the music of Portuguese American rock bands. The ensembles play standard rock instruments like electric guitar, drums and electric bass, and perform at parties, showers, weddings and other social events. Their repertoire ranges from traditional Portuguese songs to rock and disco music. Acclaimed Portuguese American vocal artists include Anthony Joseph "Joe Perry" Pereira, a ...

  • Songs of Politics and Political Campaigns

    Songs of Politics and Political Campaigns

    Even without a labor party, the goal of promoting candidates that would favor the interests of working Americans continued to be a goal of labor unions in many elections through the present day. In Franklin D. Roosevelt's first campaign for president, he pledged to work to improve labor conditions. His campaign was supported by union dollars, and he established a working relationship with John ...

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  • " Spelling Bee" by Septimus Winner

    " Spelling Bee" by Septimus Winner

    Article. Though not originally considered one of Winner's more popular songs, Spelling Bee achieved immense popularity as Swinging the Alphabet, a novelty song sung by the Three Stooges in their 1938 film, Violent Is the Word for Curly. It was the only full-length song performed by the Three Stooges in their short films, and it marked the only time they mimed to their own ...

  • "Inconstancy" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    "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," ...

  • " Home on the Range"

    " Home on the Range"

    In 1947, "Home on the Range" became the state song of Kansas.

  • French American Song

    French American Song

    The worlds of French opera and French American folksong came together in the person of Eva Gauthier, a Canadian mezzo-soprano who sang operatic roles but specialized in recitals and concerts of arias and art songs. A world traveler as well as a singer, she sang throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand before World War I, and lived in the United States during ...

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

    "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."

  • Russian American Song
  • "Bow Down Thine Ear" by Horatio William Parker

    "Bow Down Thine Ear" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. G. Schirmer published the piece in 1890. (Please note that in m. 44 the soprano's E-natural may have been intended to be an E-flat, as suggested by the doubling in the accompaniment.)

  • " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1914) and refers to a mythical utopian place, a pastoral vision in which all is in harmony with nature. The poem begins, "In Arcady by moonlight (where only lovers go), there is a pool where fairest of ...

  • " Song for a May Morning" by Patty Stair

    " 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 ...

  • " Whoop Her Up!"  by Will Marion Cook

    " Whoop Her Up!" by Will Marion Cook

    Article. The piece was published in 1910 by Harry Von Tilzer, New York. The present edition, copyrighted by Cook, alters the original "Whoop 'er up" to "Whoop her up" in both the title and the lyrics. The edition is missing a glissando on the word "whoop" in the vocal and piano parts found in the original publication (m. 42).

  • Puerto Rican Song

    Puerto Rican Song

    The Puerto Rican musical theatre artists such as Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera have enjoyed long careers on the Broadway stage. Meanwhile the Puerto Rican singer-guitarist-composer José Felciano is known for many international hits including the 1970 Christmas single "Feliz navidad."

  • English American Song

    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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  • Menominee Song

    Menominee Song

    Speakers of the Menominee language dwindled to a few elderly tribal members in the late twentieth century. The tribal government established the Historic Preservation Office in 1991, in part to answer the problem of preserving the language. Today the tribe has active programs designed to teach and to revitalize the language, such as school programs and a Menominee language immersion camp for youth. Songs ...

  • "The  Morning Wind" by Gena Branscombe

    "The Morning Wind" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1944). The short piano introduction depicts the morning wind with an arpeggiated triplet figure in compound meter. The wind, the dawn, and "the land so fair" are wooing the narrator to explore "wherever roads may lead." The ...

  • Ernest Bloch and the Library of Congress

    Ernest Bloch and the Library of Congress

    Courtesy of Musical America

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

    " 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 ...

  • " Balm in Gilead" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " 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 ...

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

    "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.

  • The  American Art Song: An Introduction

    The American Art Song: An Introduction

    Article. Article. Although a full account of the American art song is beyond the scope of this introduction, it is hoped that these highlights will serve as an invitation to further explore and appreciate America's song tradition. The American art song, in its relatively brief two-hundred-year-old journey, has not yet traveled very far but it has certainly traveled wide: from the Psalm settings and ...

  • Omaha Indian Song

    Omaha Indian Song

    In addition to early cylinder recordings, this presentation includes recordings of performances of songs and speeches at Omaha powwows in the 1983 and a performance by the Hethu'shka Society at the Library of Congress in 1985. Audio recordings of interviews with members of the Omaha tribe in 1983 and 1999 help to explain the meanings and uses of the songs performed. For example, members ...

  • "I Love Thee, Lord" by William W. Gilchrist

    "I Love Thee, Lord" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. The choral writing features a dialogue between the upper three voices and the bass. Gilchrist was fond of using contrapuntal devices to enliven his choral writing. At the end of the second verse, "Our source, our centre, and our dwelling place," triplets suddenly emerge in the accompaniment. The voices remain in common time, however, creating a rhythmic tension as the sopranos climb to ...

  • Laotian American Song and Dance

    Laotian American Song and Dance

    So among both the ethnic Lao and the Hmong, community events frequently include developing styles of Americanized music and also presentations that introduce traditional songs to younger generations with the idea that the new and the old styles can exist together.

  • Passamaquoddy Song

    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."

  • Regional Sampler: The Southwest

    Regional Sampler: The Southwest

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  • "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

    "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

    Article. Beach's use of expressive devices serves to demonstrate adherence to her tenth musical commandment: "Remember that technic is valuable only as a means to an end. You must first have something to say--something which demands expression from the depths of your soul. If you feel deeply and know how to express what you feel, you make others feel."

  • Malian American Song

    Malian American Song

    There are many well-known Malian singers who tour extensively in the United States, or that have taken up more-or-less full-time residency in the country, such as Adjaratou "Tapani" Demba and Makane Kouyaté. In recent years Malian performers fled their homeland in droves as newly influential followers of an ultraconservative brand of Islamic law, in this moderate Muslim country, have violently banned most artists. This ...

  • Articles About Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America - Collections

    Articles About Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates the...

    Original essays and articles are available on this site to help provide historical context and a deeper view for those who wish to learn more about particular topics. The Library's curators have written articles on historical topics and song, musical styles, individual songs, and songs of various ethnic groups in America.

    • Date: 1759
  • " Weepin' Mary" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Weepin' Mary" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. Burleigh's setting is austere in its unvaried, quarter-note/half-note rhythm. His harmonic inventiveness is, therefore, all the more telling against such a simple backdrop. After setting the first phrase in diatonic triads in F minor, he repeats that phrase with subtle chromaticisms and one bold progression on "Call upon your Jesus, an' He'll draw near." On the word "Jesus," Burleigh moves from an F-minor ...

  • " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    " 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 ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Northwest

    Regional Song Sampler: The Northwest

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  • Jewish Song in America

    Jewish Song in America

    Composers who wrote for the Yiddish stage explored themes of Jewish history and experience. But, in the early twentieth century, those who composed songs for mainstream audiences usually felt that they needed to keep their Jewish identity private. In the later twentieth century and beyond there has been a return to themes from Jewish culture and history, presented for all audiences. For example, Leonard ...

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  • "Done Paid My Vow to the Lord" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    "Done Paid My Vow to the Lord" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. Dett arranged Done Paid My Vow to the Lord for baritone or contralto solo, women voices, and piano in 1919. It was published that year by the John Church Company. The tune did not appear in his collection Religious Folk-Song of the Negro as Sung at the Hampton Institute (1927). Rather, the spiritual came from the collection of George Lake Imes, secretary of ...

  • "O How Amiable" by Dudley Buck

    "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.

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

    "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

    "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 ...

  • " Two Northern Songs, Op. 43: No. 1, The Brook; No. 2, Slumber Song" by Edward MacDowell

    " Two Northern Songs, Op. 43: No. 1, The Brook; No. 2, Slumbe...

    Article. Setting his own text, MacDowell describes a winter scene: "Frozen is the ground, / The stream's ice bound, / Softly the north wind croons, softly croons." In the final stanza, a "flaxen head," perhaps a child's, rests on the poet's shoulder while it snows outside. The text and melody are carried by the soprano while the lower three voices hum. Harmony is chromatic ...

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  • "Don't Be Weary, Traveler" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    "Don't Be Weary, Traveler" by R. Nathaniel Dett

    Article. R. Nathaniel Dett dedicated Don't Be Weary, Traveler to philanthropist and arts patron George Foster Peabody. It was published by the John Church Company, "The House Devoted to the Progress of American Music." The publisher included it in a series titled "Negro Spirituals. Folk Songs of the South, Adaptations of Original Melodies by R. Nathaniel Dett." The publication was issued in 1921, just ...

  • " Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum, Op. 8" by John Knowles Paine

    " Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum, Op. 8" by John Knowles...

    Article. Domine salvum fac praesidem nostrum was published in 1915 by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, featuring a piano reduction of the orchestral score by Paine's student, Arthur Foote.

  • " Minuet" by Patty Stair

    " Minuet" by Patty Stair

    Article. In the opening A section, written in G major, the stage is set as Grand-aunt plays the spinet, "Thin and worn [is] the spinet's tone." The B section, in C major, takes the listener to bygone days of "ruffled lace" and handsome "Beaux with sabres hanging by their sides." The repeat of the A section marks a return to the parlor and the ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Regional Song Sampler: The West

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  • Songs of Sports and Pasttimes

    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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  • Regional Song Sampler: The Midwest

    Regional Song Sampler: The Midwest

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  • Scottish American Song

    Scottish American Song

    The most significant impact of Scottish music on American song has been its influence on American song genres, often coupled with the influence of Irish song. Scholars today are looking at the influence of the religious songs of early Scottish settlers on the development of African American spirituals and Gospel. The roots of country music come from a mixture of Americanized adaptations of Scottish ...

  • "Elfin Song (1910)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    "Elfin Song (1910)" by George Whitefield Chadwick

    Article. After a wild fairy dance round the witch hazel tree, the appearance of a beetle causes a key change and a buzzing, 16th-note figure in the accompaniment. Next, the leaf harp sings accompanied by rapid arpeggios. The opening music returns and the fairy figures "skip and gambol merrily" to a pp conclusion.

  • "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. Gilchrist's 1915 anthem Ponder My Words was one of the works chosen for a service celebrating the centennial of his birth in 1946. The service was held at New Jerusalem Church in Philadelphia. The anthem opens with a soprano solo singing an expressive setting of the Psalm-Five text. At "consider my meditation," an extended diatonic sequence leads to a choral repetition of the ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Northeast

    Regional Song Sampler: The Northeast

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

    "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.

  • " O Bless the Lord, My Soul" by John Knowles Paine

    " O Bless the Lord, My Soul" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Paine deviates from Watts's original poetry, written in 1719, several times. Watts's phrase, "And makes thee young again," appears in Paine's setting as, "And makes thee strong again." The original phrase "He that redeemed my soul from hell" appears as "And he from everlasting death." For his musical setting, Paine chose a version of Watts's text published in the 1853 Unitarian Hymns for ...

  • American Indian and Native Alaskan Song

    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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  • Blues as Protest

    Blues as Protest

    Another example of the use of blues to address social issues are found in African American songs about World War II. Bus Ezell's composition, "Obey the Ration Laws," urges people to comply with war-time rationing, but it also alludes to a difference in compliance and attitudes between poor and wealthy Americans. Buster Brown's "War Song," also performed during World War II, complains of a ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

    Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

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  • Navajo Song and Dance

    Navajo Song and Dance

    Contemporary Navajo music spans a wide variety of artists exploring various musical genres and incorporating aspects of Navajo musical expression, history, and experience. A few examples include Chucki Begay and the Mother Earth Blues Band, a group that mixes rock and roll, blues, and compositions about the Navajo experience, such as "Long Walk," a song about the Indian removal in 1864; Blackfire, an alternative ...

  • Comanche and Kiowa Song and Dance

    Comanche and Kiowa Song and Dance

    In this presentation Tom Mauchahty-Ware with Thomas Ware, III and Chester Tieyah, Jr. perform Comanche and Kiowa songs and dances at the Library of Congress, September 11, 2009. Tom Mauchahty-Ware is a Kiowa-Comanche flute player and singer. He is a descendent of Belo Cozad, a well-known Kiowa flute player. He is also the son of Wilson Ware, a fancy-dance champion and powwow singer who ...

  • Folk Singers, Social Reform, and the Red Scare

    Folk Singers, Social Reform, and the Red Scare

    At the Library of Congress in 2007, Pete Seeger performed examples of sing alongs with audience members, folk songs and activist songs. He presented a new peace song, "Don't Say it Can't be Done," inspired by the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentegon, and harking back to the Mongomery, Alabama Civil Rights bus boycott of 1955.

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  • " John Henry"

    " 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, ...

  • "Bethlehem, op. 24" by Amy Beach

    "Bethlehem, op. 24" by Amy Beach

    Article. Article. The piece sets a text by George C. Hugg, a compiler of late-nineteenth-century hymnals. Beach's hymn enjoyed great popularity, receiving performances at the First Baptist Church, Boston, in 1893 and, a few years later, in Detroit and Minneapolis. Arthur P. Schmidt published and disseminated Beach's works, serving as an early champion of women composers. Beach also was an energetic promoter of her ...

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

    " 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. ...

  • " I Bring You Heartsease" by Gena Branscombe

    " I Bring You Heartsease" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1915. The text, written by the composer, refers to a variety of flowers shared by lovers in springtime. Heartsease, the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, was most likely the flower that yielded a powerful love potion in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Branscombe's musical ...

  • Chinese American Song

    Chinese American Song

    The organization Music From China was founded in 1984 in New York City with the aim of introducing American audiences to Chinese music. The Library of Congress collection includes a webcast of instrumental Chinese music performed by members of Music From China: The Ann Yao Trio: Traditional Chinese Zheng Music from Florida, July 27, 2011.

  • Swedish American Song

    Swedish American Song

    After World War I the United States put severe limits on immigration, greatly reducing the number of new Swedish immigrants. Swedish Americans, always a highly literate and ambitious group, strove to assimilate. By the mid-twentieth century the vast majority of Swedish Americans spoke only English. Professional variety entertainment by and for Swedish speakers had largely disappeared by the1950s. Festivals and choral music also declined. ...

  • Band Stocks

    Band Stocks

    Article. Article. African-American Band Music and Recordings, 1883-1923, provides instrumental parts for a representative sampling of the enormous body of published stock arrangements. The 1920s marked the beginning of the great era of popular song and of stock arrangement publishing. However, works published in 1923 and beyond remain under copyright protection. The public domain publications included here provide a valuable foundation for appreciating the ...

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

    "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 ...

  • "The Voice of My Beloved" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels

    "The Voice of My Beloved" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels

    Article. Daniels wrote her best-known work, Exultate Deo (1929), to celebrate Radcliffe's fiftieth anniversary and A Psalm of Praise (1954) for the college's seventy-fifth anniversary. Her Song of Jael, premiered at the 1940 Worcester Festival, marked her first venture into a modern musical idiom, using daring dissonances and highly original choral effects.