Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • "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 ...

  • " Christ is Risen" by Victor Herbert

    Article. Herbert gained fame primarily through his forty-three operettas. His output, however, also included numerous works for orchestra, band, various instruments, and some twelve choral pieces. He wrote a large-scale cantata, The Captive, op. 25, for the 1891 Worcester (Massachusetts) Festival. His extended anthem for soloists and chorus, Christ is Risen, was premiered at St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, New York, in 1908. A year ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The Southeast

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • History of Ragtime

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

  • 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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  • 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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  • " 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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.

  • "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.

  • "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," ...

  • "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 ...

  • " Southern Lullaby" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The unaccompanied work opens with the chorus providing a homophonic, hummed accompaniment to the solo soprano melody, "De night am long an' de col' win' roar, Yo' Pappy he doan come hom no mo', sleep li'l' chile, go sleep." Burleigh uses seventh chords and a greater degree of chromaticism than that found in his spiritual settings, e.g., at "An' do he hear yo' ...

  • " 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 ...

  • Christensen's Ragtime Review

    The photographs and illustrations of the "Czar" were in and of themselves telling statements. In many ads, Christensen is depicted in formal attire, seated at a grand piano. As his hands fly over the keyboard, his right foot is placed behind the stool, bracing his body as he tears through a performance. Even the tails of his tuxedo fly up from the motion of ...

  • " Home on the Range"

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

  • " 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 ...

  • " 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 West

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • 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 ...

  • Icelandic American Song

    Article. Part of a multi-format online collection entitled "California Gold: Northern California Music from the Thirties," the songs were collected as part of The WPA California Folk Music Project, a joint effort of the Work Projects Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Music Division of the University of California, Berkeley, to document folk music being actively performed in Northern California. The project, which ...

  • "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.

  • " 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."

  • "Through the House Give Glimmering Light, op. 39, no. 3" by 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 ...

  • " Summer Wind, Song of Sylphs" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. This is the last of MacDowell's original choral works to be published, written while he was teaching at Columbia University. The text's poet, Richard Hovey (1864-1900), also taught at the university. The text from Hovey's epic poem, Launcelot and Guenevere, depicts the light summer breeze and imbues it with human qualities: "Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet. / The fleet wind's footing / is light ...