Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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."

  • To What You Said

    Song Collection. Bernstein's setting of Walt Whitman's unpublished poem, "To What You Said," is the fourth song in the cycle. Nearly mistaken as an abandoned scribble, the poem was discovered on the verso of page thirty of the holograph manuscript of Whitman's Democratic Vistas (1871), which is housed in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection at the Library of Congress. Bernstein was reportedly attracted to ...

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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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • 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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  • Stetson Kennedy (1911-2011)

    Biography. A founding member and past president of the Florida Folklore Society, Kennedy is a recipient of the Florida Folk Heritage Award and the Florida Governor's Heartland Award.

    • Contributor: Kennedy, Stetson
  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • Homer A. Rodeheaver

    Homer Rodeheaver (1880–1955) was a trombone-playing, baritone-voiced evangelist who served as music director for the preacher Billy Sunday. Rodeheaver was known for his charismatic nature and sense of humor. He introduced jaunty, rhythmic songs into his programs and often led choirs with his trombone playing. He began recording in 1913, making many sides for Victor. He was also a music publisher and the owner ...

  • Charles Naginski

    Biography. Charles Naginski (1909-1940) was born in Cairo, Egypt. In 1928, he won a fellowship at the Juilliard Graduate School in New York City. During his career, tragically cut short by an accidental drowning in a swimming pool at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, Naginski wrote works for orchestra, string quartet and songs for voice and piano. He did not write many songs, but the ...

  • " 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 ...

  • Aaron Copland, 1900-1990

    Biography. Further information, including holograph manuscripts, sketches, letters, and other primary resources are available through the Library of Congress's on-line presentation of the Aaron Copland Collection: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland.

  • " 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, ...

  • 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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  • Francis James Child and The English and Scottish Popular Ballads

    During his years of editing the ballads, Child gained several more distinctions. By taking up a new professorship of English established at Harvard in 1876, Child became America's first English professor. In 1888, at the founding of the American Folklore Society, Child became its first president. The greatest distinction of all, however, was the impact he had on his friends, colleagues and students. He ...

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  • 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 ...

  • " 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 ...

  • Sidney Homer

    Biography. Sidney Homer (1864-1953) studied with George Chadwick in Boston, and with others in Germany. In 1895, he married contralto Louise Beatty (Homer), a world-renown opera singer who sang often at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The two lived in New York beginning in 1900 and Sidney Homer began to write songs for his wife to include in her recitals. Homer ...

    • Contributor: Homer, Sidney
  • Nora Bayes

    Nora Bayes (1880–1928) was a tremendously popular vaudevillian and star of the Broadway musical stage. She is still remembered for the gigantic hit "Shine On, Harvest Moon," which she co-wrote with her then-husband Jack Norworth. Although the title was a success for other artists, the only recording of it made by Norworth and Bayes was never released. Bayes, whose real name was Dora Goldberg, ...