The Lied and Art Songs Text Page.
The Lied and Art Songs Text Page is another useful Web site that has been around for quite a long time, since 1995 in fact. It has continued to grow and expand over that time and, like the Aria Database, is linked to from many music library Web sites. The primary goal of this site is to provide the texts of lieder and art song, with the provision of translations being the secondary goal. An interesting twist was initiated in 2002 when the site's creator, Emily Ezust, began accepting translations of the texts into languages other than English. Although texts for an aria might be included along the way, Ezust does not plan to include opera librettos or texts from oratorios. She also states quite clearly that the site is in no way comprehensive.
Along with 517 volunteers, Ezust has created an archive of over 19,000 texts, nearly 5,000 of which include translations, used in more than 31,000 lieder, art songs, and choral works. The volunteer submissions account for approximately 33 percent of the texts in the collection. If there are questions regarding a volunteer's submissions, the user is provided with contact information for the volunteer. The database is still active, and is updated on an almost daily basis. Checking under "What's new this month," one sees that in the current month (June 2007), 291 settings of 233 texts were added to the database along with seventy-four translations.
Ezust, a programmer by profession and an amateur violinist, began the project while a student at McGill University, reading for the Master of Science in computer programming. With this expertise at her disposal, she has created a logical and useful database that allows the user to move seamlessly around the content. The database is browsable through five different indexes: composer (4,434 entries), poet (4,219 entries), first line, title, and language (23 entries). The indexes are accessed through alphabetical lists of entries, with slightly different implementations depending on the index. Even with such a huge database searchable from so many directions, I found no dead links. One can also do a full-text search from any page through a search box at the top of the page. Ezust includes helpful search instructions, complete with Boolean operators for the full-text search. Searching is straightforward and user-friendly. It is not case-sensitive nor is it diacritic-sensitive. Typing in "wunderschonen" in the full-text search window will produce successful results. The system connects search terms with a Boolean OR, and will not accept the regular Boolean AND, OR, NOT operators. Instead, the user must put plus signs (+) before words he would like to require in his search. Search results are presented alphabetically in groups of fifty, but unfortunately, the system does not tell the user how many results were returned or provide any mechanism for moving around in the list other than to the next fifty matches. Links to commercial sites for sheet music, CDs, and books are also featured on each page. The only other complaint about this Web site is its cluttered appearance, but it is cluttered because there is so much information right in front of the user.
The database includes only texts that are in the public domain or for which permission has been obtained. It is possible to find references to texts that are not in the public domain but they include this notice: "Please note: we believe this text is copyright under U.S. copyright law. We will not display it until we obtain permission to do so (or discover it to be public-domain)." For an example, search Ned Rorem's song, "Early in the Morning." It should be pointed out that Ezust pays meticulous attention to copyright issues throughout the database, including her "Copyright Statement" page wherein she grants permission for use of her translations in student recital programs in exchange for being given credit in the program. This page also includes a disclaimer that the texts and translations are provided "as is" and they come with no guarantee or promise of accuracy. The translations provided are literal and not word-for-word, so students should also be aware that they will need to go to other translation sources and dictionaries for those more specific translations. Students will not find International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) resources for pronunciation either. In other words, it would be to the user's advantage to verify the accuracy of the translations and the texts by consulting print resources in the music library. It is also important to remember that translations for songs are not only from the original language into English. Songs translated into other languages are indicated by a three-letter code on a blue background. Alphabetization employs the first word in the title or first line, including initial articles. Students will find Poulenc's "La belle jeunesse" in the L's, not under 'belle.' In the case of a text that has been set by several composers, the most commonly-used version of the text will be used. Variations are noted when they are known. Users will find that the Poet index will be helpful for finding a variety of settings of a particular text. The Language index will take the more adventurous person to less familiar texts from Azerbaijani to Icelandic, Occitan, and beyond.
The database is extremely well organized and, as mentioned earlier, fairly seamless as the user moves from one topic to another. Ezust has provided thorough documentation throughout, instructions and descriptions abound on every page, the FAQ is helpful, and the Partial Bibliography, which includes anthologies, scores, and books, provides a good starting place for research. Her contact information is readily available and she even has great family photos. She reminds us many times over that this database is strictly a hobby for her. Her hobby is quite a gift for many singers, teachers, and art song enthusiasts.
RUTHANN BOLES MCTYRE
University of Iowa