Printer Friendly

Music reviews.

ABBREVIATION KEY: Diff = difficulty level; V = voice; P = piano; E = easy; mE = moderately easy; M = medium; mD = moderately difficult; D = difficult; DD = very difficult; Tess = tessitura; LL = very low; L = low; mL = moderately low; M = medium; mH = moderately high; H = high; HH = very high; CR = covers range; CS = covers staff; X = no clear key center.


PATTERSON, ROBERT G. AMERICAN PIERROT. A Langston Hughes Songbook. For baritone voice and piano. First Place Winner of the NATS Art Song Composition Competition 2014. Great River Music, 2012. Tonal and X; [A[flat].sub.2]-[G[flat].sub.4] (B[flat].sub.4 falsetto); Tess: M-H; regular meters, no changes; varied tempos; V/mE-mD, P/M-mD; ca.25 minutes (34 pages). Baritone.

I. Pierrot's Passion

"When Sue Wears Red." B major; [F.sub.3]-F[sharp].sub.4]; Tess: H; 4/4, Declamatory but entirely rhythmic ([quarter note] = 80); V/M, P/M; 4 pages.

"Midnight Dancer." X; [G.sub.3]-[E.sub.4]; Tess: mH; 2/2, Rolling and passionate ([half note] = 108); V/M, P/M; 3 pages.

"Love Song for Lucinda." E[flat] major with shifting tonalities; [G.sub.3]-[G[flat].sub.4]; Tess: M-mH; 2/4, Lazy, introspective ([quarter note] = 50); V/M, P/mD; 5 pages.

"Lady's Boogie." E-F major; [B.sub.2]-[D[sharp].sub.4]; Tess: mH; 4/4, Boogie-Woogie ([quarter note] = 100); V/mE, P/M; 2 pages.

II. Pierrot's Estate

"Words Like Freedom." C with shifting altered chords; [E.sub.3]-E[flat].sub.4]; Tess: mH; 4/4, Calm, innocent ([quarter note] = 84); V/M, P/M; 1 1/2 pages.

"Go Slow." G minor with altered chords; [C.sub.3]-[F[sharp].sub.4]; Tess: mH-H; 2/4, Impatiently fast ([quarter note] = 160); V/mD, P/mD; 3 1/2 pages.

"Visitors to the Black Belt." X; [A.sub.2]-E[flat].sub.4]; Tess: M; 4/4, Biting and discontented ([quarter note] = 100); V/mD, P/M; 2 pages.

"Dream Boogie: Variation." F minor with altered chords; [F.sub.3]-[F.sub.4]; Tess: mH; 4/4, Dramatic and expectant ([quarter note] = 66); V/M, P/M; 2 pages.

"Silhouette." X; [A.sub.2]-[D[sharp].sub.4]([B[flat].sub.4] falsetto); Tess: CR; 3/4, With the ponderous gait of an 8-foot pendulum ([flat] = [flat]. = 40); V/mD, P/M; 3 pages.

III. Pierrot's Heart

"Heart." X; [A[flat].sub.2]-[E.sub.4]; Tess: M; 2/4, Biting and ironic ([quarter note] = 88); V/mD, P/M; 2 1/2 pages.

"Soledad (A Cuban Portrait)." F[sharp] natural minor; [A.sub.2]-[E.sub.4]; Tess: CR; 9/8, Extremely slow; bereft ([quarter note] = 48); V/M, P/M; 1 1/2 pages.

"Life Is Fine." B[flat] minor; [A[flat].sub.2]-[G.sub.4]; Tess: CR, H; 6/8, Brooding and unsettled ([quarter note] = 72); V/mD, P/M; 4 pages.

Robert G. Patterson, composer, horn player, and software developer (plugins for the Finale program), lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee, where he plays French horn in the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. His compositions span all instrumental categories--orchestra, solo, ensemble, many works for various woodwind ensembles, a few works for solo voice, and some choral works. His music is innovative and has been performed by many music groups in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. His solo vocal works include Songs from 'As You Like It' for tenor, flute, horn, and piano; Tanka Modern and Ancient for alto voice and piano; Life Signs: Six Songs on Texts by Emily Dickinson for horn, percussion, piano, and soprano; and Way of the River for soprano, violin, bass clarinet, and piano. The song cycle reviewed here--American Pierrot. A Langston Hughes Songbook--was performed in its entirety by baritones Robert Wells, Allen Henderson, and Tod Fitzpatrick at the 2014 Boston Conference,

The figure of Pierrot dates from the Italian commedia dell'arte of the 16th century, a form of quasi improvisational theater centered around stock characters familiar to all theater goers at that time. One of the servant or clown characters, Pierrot was often the sad clown who pines for love. Each successive era of writers and poets claimed Pierrot as its own, until the figure became synonymous with the alter-ego of the artist, especially the alienated writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was one such poet. Although living at a time when African American artists were given little respect, Hughes was determined to explore the depths of his ethnicity and to present the dark skinned individual without fear or shame. Early in his writing career, he wrote four poems centering on the character of Pierrot ("A Black Pierrot"; "Pierrot"; "For Dead Mimes"; and "Heart"), one of which is set as part of this song cycle.

The cycle is divided into three parts: I. Pierrot's Passion; II. Pierrot's Estate; and III. Pierrot's Heart. Part I begins with one of Hughes very first poems, composed when he was in high school in a style that would become known as "jazz poetry." "When Sue Wears Red" describes the effect that the beautiful Susanna Jones has on the poet. She is like an "ancient cameo" or a long dead Egyptian queen--" ...And the beauty of Susanna Jones in red/ Burns in my heart a love fire sharp like pain." Each stanza ends with a reference to trumpets and the exclamation "Jesus!" Taking his cue from the trumpet motif, the composer uses a fanfare figure twice for an introduction to the entrance of the vocal line, which declaims the text in some jazz rhythms and blue notes. The first refrain--"Come with a blast of trumpets Jesus!"--is announced by a triadic trumpet fanfare motive in both hands of the piano. The music returns to the opening figuration for the next verse. The final trumpet line--"Sweet silver trumpets, Jesus!"--is set with a sustained vocal line over repeated intervals in the right hand of the piano and a two-voice countermelody in the left.

"Midnight Dancer" begins with two measures of an arpeggio leading to a diad on the second beat in the piano, creating a fluid motion for the dancer--"Wine-maiden/ Of the jazz-tuned night"--and changing to a walking bass with jazz chords and swing 8ths between the lines of text. The smooth arpeggiation under long sustained vocal lines reflects the poet's description of the lovely dancer, while the jazzy interludes evoke the dance.

In "Love Song for Lucinda" (marked "Lazy, introspective") the poet warns against going too deeply into love lest one encounter the pain hidden there. It is a beautiful song, extremely lyric with long vocal lines over an undulating repeated pattern in the piano in groups of seven under a slow melody in the top voice.

"Lady's Boogie" describes a well dressed lady who "ain't got boogie-woogie/ On her mind" and is set, appropriately, as a Boogie-Woogie until the final text: "Be-Bach!" The sudden shift to the opening measures of Bach's Two-Part Invention No. 8 in F Major leaves the ear and mind unresolved about what the woman hears.

Part II: Pierrot's Estate comprises five poems that go to the heart of the frustrations suffered by black people in American society. The inner desire for freedom and liberty are frustrated by the insistence of white society that change must "go slow"; by the words "Across the railroad tracks," "Up in Harlem," "Jazz on the South Side" where the outsiders never "Ask me who am I"; by the black piano player who will never get on the "Freedom Train"; and, most horrifically, by the black man hung "in the dark of the moon" to protect Dixie's "white womanhood."

"Words Like Freedom" expresses the poet's inner longing for the freedom denied him in a calm musical setting with gentle syncopations and altered chords in the piano under a simple melodic vocal line that carries the text in ascending phrases. "Go Slow" begins immediately (attacca) in an Impatiently fast tempo with sixteenth note patterns in both hands leading to strong afterbeat figuration as an introduction to the agitated vocal line.--"Go slow, they say/ While the bite/ Of the dog is fast." It is a powerful, agitated song with elements of the piano part alternating in short passages under the strong, high lying vocal line.

"Visitors to the Black Belt" is a biting critique of those white folks who love to go over "Across the railroad tracks" or "Up to Harlem" or to the South Side to hear good jazz--outsiders who know nothing about the reality of living across the tracks, or in Harlem, or on the South Side. ("Ask me who am I.") Marked Biting and discontented, the music is discordant with a motivically constructed piano part that reflects the anger of the vocal line's expressive, somewhat jagged phrases. The quiet ending on a sustained [A[sharp].sub.2] in the voice sets up the contrast to the opening measure of "Dream Boogie: Variation," a tinkling ascending irregular scale pattern high on the keyboard over moving thirds in the left hand that leads to the chantlike opening vocal line: "Tinkling treble,/ Rolling bass." Immediately the piano descends to the bass clef and then begins bell peals on a [D.sub.4]-[D.sub.5] octave. The vocal line continues to chant the text--"Great long fingers/ On great big hands"--the jazz pianist who will be "A few minutes late/ For the Freedom Train." The piano ends the song with a repeated sixteenth note chord figure accelerando e cres. under a sustained [C.sub.4] in the voice.

"Silhouette" evokes the shadowy figure of a black man hanging from a tree "In the dark of the moon." The poet speaks to a "Southern gentle lady," telling her not to swoon at the sight, since the hanging is "How Dixie protects/ Its white womanhood," and further admonishes her to "Be good!" Very slow soft ponderous chords introduce the almost whispered vocal line that ascends into falsetto three times, creating a hint of menace. Alternating with the slow chords in the piano is a thirty-second note figure of three triplets, first in the bass, then in the treble, and then high on the keyboard, creating a chilling effect with the soft vocal phrases.

Part III: Pierrot's Heart speaks of the pain and indignity of exposing one's heart (as poets do) only to find that no one cares; of the deep scars and silent cries of the heart that tries to drown itself in sensual love; and of the consideration of suicide by one who, being too afraid to do the deed, decides for the sake of a child to pretend that life is fine after all. One of Hughes's most famous poems, "Heart," opens the last part of the cycle. "Pierrot/ Took his heart/ And hung it/ On a wayside wall," but no one cared, so Pierrot "Took his heart/ And hid it/ Far away./ Now people wonder/ Where his heart is/ Today." Marked Biting and ironic, the piano opens with three staccato chords setting up the vocal entrance, three notes in a motif that will be heard both in voice and piano throughout the song, like a snatch of some half familiar tune. A piano figure of sixteenth note thirds in the right hand punctuates the flow of the vocal line, ending the song after a sustained [D[flat].sub.3] in the voice.

"Soledad" is an extremely slow lament for the woman whose eyes are "So full of pain and passion,/ So full of lies . . . So deeply scarred,/ So still with silent cries." Moving slowly in eighths, dirgelike and very soft, the piano stays in the bass clef with only a brief excursion into the treble clef with thick chords at the climax of the song, returning to the bass clef for the final lines. The lament rises to a dramatic climax on [F[sharp].sub.4] in the vocal line at the lines "So full of pain and passion, Soledad," only to return to the bottom of the staff for the ending.

"Life Is Fine" begins Brooding and unsettled with a simple broken chord pattern in the left hand ascending to an open fifth in the right, with a little filigree figure announcing the entrance of the vocal line. The three stanzas are set to the same melody in the voice, ascending in pitch at each stanza. The refrains that explain why the speaker fails in each suicide attempt are rather humorous and set to a carefree tune in a faster tempo, which is also used to end the song and thus the whole cycle.

This rather long cycle would be a substantial part of a recital program for a graduate level or professional baritone who has a real understanding of the poetry. With the exception of reading chords with many accidentals, the piano score is generally not difficult, but the singer will find the various tessituras challenging and will need command of a wide range. The horn player in the composer comes out in many of the vocal lines, but this is not really a problem for the baritone with an easy technique. In all, it is a fine work that deserves many good performances.

WASSERMAN, SCOTT (b. 1988). HERITAGE: NEW SONGS FOR OLD TUNES. Medium or Low Voice. Alpha Major Publishing House, 2015. Traditional keys; [A[flat].sub.2]-[F.sub.4] (although notated mostly in treble clef, ranges are given in their sung octave); Tess: mL-mH; regular meters; varied tempos; V/M-mD, P/M-mD; 29 pages. Baritone.

1. "Edward (The Murdered Brother)" (Early American Song). B minor; [B[flat].sub.2]-[F.sub.4]; Tess: M; 4/4, Agitato [quarter note] = 96; V/M, P/M; 7 pages.

2. "Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?" (American Revolutionary War Song). Major keys modulating upward; [A[flat].sub.2]-[D.sub.4]; Tess: mL-M; 2/2, bebop-Swing 8ths [half note] = 98; V/M-mD, P/M-mD; 6 pages.

3. "The Lakes of Pontchartrain" (Creole Love Song-19th Century). D-E[flat] major; [A.sub.3]-[E[flat].sub.4]; Tess: CR; 6/8, Ballad [quarter note]. = 52; V/M, P/M; 6 pages.

4. "The Vacant Chair" (American Civil War Song). [E[flat]]-[G[flat]] major; [B[flat].sub.3]-[F.sub.5]; Tess: mL-M; 3/4, Simply [quarter note] = 76; 4 pages.

5. "Maple Sweet" (Vermont-19th Century). G major; [D.sub.3]-[D.sub.4]; Tess: mH; 4/4, Bright [quarter note] = 132; V/M, P/M; 7 pages.

Scott Wasserman, a classically trained composer, orchestrator, music director, and rehearsal pianist, holds a BFA in composition from Carnegie Mellon University and is also a singer--an excellent background for composing for the voice. These five songs are some of the most widely popular songs from America's past. Taking the original tunes, Wasserman composed new settings that are fresh and interesting.

"Edward (The Murdered Brother)" first appeared in Percy's Reliques in 1763 and was popularized by Francis J. Child in a book of ballads in 1882. "What makes that blood on the point of your knife?/ My son, now tell to me...." An agitated sixteenth-note accompaniment figure in the left hand under octave knell-like tones in the right hand creates both the suspense and the fear of the young murderer, who says he will take to the sea and never come back before his mother returns to discover her dead son. The vocal line is a straightforward presentation of the text.

"Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?" from the Revolutionary War period is perhaps the most familiar song to us today. The composer has chosen to set the text in a contemporary "bebop" style with a chordal accompaniment. Beginning in D[flat] major, each verse moves a half step higher, ending in E major. There are humorous spoken lines interjected between the stanzas.

"The Lakes of Pontchartrain," a Creole love song from the 19th century, tells the tale of a traveling young man who falls in love with a Creole girl by the lakes of Pontchartrain. A flowing ballad style with broken chord figuration and melodic material in the piano under a lyric vocal line with some lightly syncopated and ornamented figures, the song offers a nice contrast to the agitation and humor of the first two songs.

"The Vacant Chair," a Civil War song with music by George F. Root and text by Henry Washburn, is one of the many rather maudlin songs from that period. Wasserman has wisely chosen to set it with great simplicity, except for one rather dramatic passage.

"Maple Sweet" is a traditional song from Vermont about the anticipation and process of sugar making time when the sap rises in the maple trees. The composer instructs that the song is "To be sung in the style of a Gilbert & Sullivan patter song."

This set of songs would be attractive to many different audiences.

WHEELER, SCOTT (b. 1952). SERENATA (Mark Van Doren). Five Songs for Baritone and Piano. Scott Wheeler Music, 1994 (first printing CVR, 2014). Tonal; [C.sub.4]-[G.sub.5]; Tess: M; regular and irregular meters, some changes; varied tempos; V/M-mD, P/M; 17 pages. Baritone.

1. "If I had a wife." Tonal; [C.sub.4]-[E[flat].sub.5]; Tess: M; 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, Allegro [quarter note] = 116; V/M, P/M; 3 pages.

2. "Her hand in my hand." Tonal; [E.sub.4]-[E.sub.5]; Tess: M; 3/4, Andante [quarter note] = 92; V/M, P/M; 3 pages.

3. "Little Trip." Tonal; [C.sub.4]-[E.sub.5]; Tess: M; 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, Allegro [quarter note] = 108; V/M, P/M; 4 pages.

4. "Desire Like This." Tonal; [C.sub.4]-[G.sub.5]; Tess: M; 5/4, 2/4, 3/4, Adagio [quarter note] = 84; V/M-mD, P/M; 3 pages.

5. "Love me little." Tonal; [D[flat].sub.4]-[G.sub.5]; Tess: M; 5/4, 3/4, 4/4, Moderate [quarter note] = 126; V/M, P/M; 4 pages.

Scott Wheeler, co-director of the BFA program in music theater at Emerson College (Boston), composes in all vocal idioms from solo songs to opera and music theater. Of his numerous works for voice and piano, Serenata is an earlier work (1994), originally for published for tenor and piano in 2011, and first issued for baritone in 2014. These five poems by Mark Van Doren center on a love relationship. Each poem explores a small facet of life with a beloved other. In "If I had a wife" the poet describes, with a certain amount of humor and make believe, how he would show his love. "Her hand in my hand" explores the sensations of touch. "Little Trip" invites an adventure--being "somewhere awhile/ We haven't ever been before." In "Desire Like This" the poet speaks of long delayed desire. "Love me little" promises lasting love that will never "seem long."

"If I had a wife"--"If I had a wife/ I would love her as kings/ Loved queens in the old days,/ ...'How do you do, my pretty?';/ And all of

that"--is introduced in the piano by a jaunty irregular single voice staccato pattern shared between the hands that reflects the flippant humor of the line "...and all of that." The three stanzas of the poem are set with the same musical material, slightly altered for each, with the identical refrain for "and all of that." The vocal line rhythms follow the word rhythms exceptionally well in an interesting melody.

"Her hand in my hand" has a quiet, musing quality created by a melodic ostinato-like figure in the right hand of the piano over sustained open chords in the left. The vocal line murmurs above the floating figuration in short repeated phrases--"...Soft as the south wind,/ Soft as a colt's nose,/ Soft as forgetting." The music broadens into wider spacing of two voices in the piano as the voice moves into descending phrases with some two against three patterns at "Here we go round like raindrops." The opening piano figuration returns at the third stanza, and a snatch of its melody ends the song. Again, the vocal line reflects perfectly both the rhythms and the motions of the text.

"Little Trip" opens with a measure of a fast moving repeated note figure in the bass of the piano, leading to the cheerful vocal entrance--"Let's go./ Let's be somewhere awhile/ We haven't ever been before." The almost constant piano figuration sounds like the wheels of a train on the track, but the text suggests perhaps a trip by car. In any case, the motion of moving forward is clear in the music. The vocal line comments on the trip--"And we are silent mile by mile...Up and over, down and on...Here is a river, wild or tame...Next a house...There, I heard the crossing bell./ So home by dark to moth and mouse." It is an engaging song, presenting the text in speech-like melody.

"Desire Like This," set in 5/4 meter in two widely spaced single lines that move gently in the bass clef under the sustained vocal line, is hypnotic in its effect. As desire builds, the piano takes on greater density of texture, leading to rising rolled chords before subsiding through a brief descending passage to end with the opening figuration at a lower pitch. The vocal line carries the narrative in ever shorter phrases until "Like one brand ablaze,/ They broke and fell, and each went out/ As stars extinguish days," where longer phrases return, to end with a soft phrase on "days" rising from [A.sub.4] to [G.sub.5]. It is a lovely song.

"Love me little" continues with 5/4 meter, but returns to irregular, detached rhythmic patterns in the piano reminiscent of those in the first song of the cycle. There is gentle syncopation in the vocal line as it carries the text in phrases of greatly varying lengths. The overall effect is that of passing time, culminating in the last lines--"Lest it ever seem long:/ Tick, tock, ding, dong"--where the voice mimics the sound of the ticking clock, but in somewhat irregular patterns.

Well composed for both voice and piano, this cycle would be an excellent vehicle for a graduate student as well as attractive to audiences.

WEILL, KURT (1900-1950). FOUR WALT WHITMAN SONGS for Voice and Piano. Versions for high and low voice in the same volume. European American Music Corporation, 2013 (Hal Leonard Corporation).

I. "Beat! Beat! Drums!" Minor tonalities; [E.sub.3]-[F.sub.4]/[F[sharp].sub.3]-[G.sub.4]; Tess: M-mH; 4/4, Moderato assai (not fast, in strong unchanging rhythm); V/M-mD, P/ mD; 6 pages.

II. "O Captain! My Captain!" F major; [B[flat].sub.3]-[F.sub.4]/[C.sub.3]-[G.sub.4]; Tess: CR; 4/4, Moderato quasi andantino; V/M, P/M; 7 pages.

III. "Come Up from the Fields, Father." Major tonalities; [D.sub.3]-[F.sub.4]/[E.sub.3]-[G.sub.4]; Tess: M; 4/4, 3/4, 9/8, Agitato; V/M, P/M-mD; 10 pages.

IV. "Dirge for Two Veterans." G major; [C.sub.3]-[G.sub.4]/[D.sub.3]-[A.sub.4]; Tess: M-mH; 4/4, Andante non troppo; V/M, P/M-mD; 6 pages.

German composer Kurt Weill, already well established as a music theater composer, emigrated to the United States in 1935. His collaboration with various playwrights in Hollywood began his career in America, where he became well known for his highly original scores for the music theater stage. In 1941, Weill confided to Ira Gershwin that he wanted to compose "a book of songs (not popular songs but 'Lieder') for concert singers" (Foreword). After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he chose five poems of Walt Whitman for possible settings. The first was "O Captain! My Captain!" followed by "Beat! Beat! Drums!" because of its "extraordinary a passionate call to arms to everybody in the nation." Weill's first choice to sing the songs was Paul Robeson, but that apparently never came to fruition. John Charles Thomas was slated to record the songs, but the first recording ended up being by tenor William Horne. Three of the songs were published by Chappell, but there is apparently no documented performance during the composer's lifetime.

The four songs were eventually published in their original keys, which made it difficult for the same singer to sing all four of them. In this new edition edited by Kim H. Kowalke in 2013, the songs are transposed appropriately to make two versions: baritone and tenor.

Although Weill set out to compose "Lieder," the songs are actually much more akin to music theater style for the most part. Because of this, there is a certain emotional clash between the texts and the music. At the time they were composed, the artistic world was experiencing all kinds of new and experimental directions, yet the songs apparently were not performed until much later. They stand as something of an anomaly, considering the many wonderful settings of Whitman poems by 20th century American composers. Nevertheless, the set is an interesting early example of "crossover" styles.

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, RALPH (1872-1958). SONGS OF TRAVEL, Nos. 1-8 (Robert Louis Stevenson). Performing Edition for Very Low Voice and Piano by Jared Schwartz & Mary Dibbern. Classical Vocal Reprints, 2014. Keys of songs: "The Vagabond" (B minor); "Let Beauty Awake" (E minor or F[sharp] Dorian); "The Roadside Fire" (C major); "Youth and Love" (F major); "In Dreams" (B[flat] minor); "The Infinite Shining Heavens" (E[flat] major); "Whither must I Wander" (B minor); "Bright is the Ring of Words" (C major). [No. 9: "I have trod the upward and the downward slope" in the Boosey & Hawkes Complete Edition for Low Voice is in D minor/major.]

The uneven history of the publication of Songs of Travel began with the publication of "Whither Must I Wander" as a single song in 1905. Boosey & Hawkes divided the cycle into two sets of songs in 1905 and 1907, disrupting the original order of the cycle. The entire work was finally published, along with the newly discovered ninth song, "I have trod the upward and the downward slope," in 1960. The baritone keys are a bit high for lower voices, so the transposed keys of this edition by Jared Schwartz and Mary Dibbern make the entire cycle accessible to bass baritone and bass voices. The ninth song is not published here because of copyright restrictions; however, its key in the 1960 Boosey & Hawkes low voice volume is suitable to the bass voice. This publication should be invaluable to many low voices.

VERDI, GIUSEPPE (1813-1901). "Ella giammai m'amo." Philip's Aria from Don Carlo for Bass Voice with Cello Obbligato and Piano Accompaniment. Arranged by David Dillard. Piano-Vocal Score and Cello part. David Dillard, 2013 (CVR).

The publication of this famous bass aria as a single aria with cello obbligato will be useful to mature basses who wish to program it on a recital. The addition of the cello line greatly enriches the musical and aural texture.


VOCAL FOLIOS. Songs and Theory Lessons for Singers. Volume One: High Voice and Medium or Low Voice editions. Volume for Men: High Voice and Medium or Low Voice editions. Charlotte Jackson and Janet Soller. Alpha Major Publishing House, 2015.

Both Charlotte Jackson and Janet Soller have extensive backgrounds in music education. Jackson is an award winning choral director in Great Britain and also a voice teacher and performing soprano. Soller, a co-owner of Alpha Major (a publishing house dedicated to music education, teacher resources, and new music), is a pianist with extensive teaching experience. They have collaborated on this project of designing theory lessons based on specific songs.

The theory lesson for each song focuses on five areas: text, rhythm, form, scales, and harmony, and putting it all together. "America, the Beautiful" is given as a sample lesson with answers in the back of each volume. Each volume also contains "Song Analysis Instructions: Tips for Teachers" and "Theory Lesson Vocabulary."

Volume One for high female voice contains Handel: "Art Thou Troubled?"; Mendelssohn: "I Will Sing of Thy Great Mercies"; Stanford: "A Soft Day"; A. Self: "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"; and "Loch Lomond" (arranged by Scott Wasserman). Volume One for low female voice contains four of the same songs, substituting "But the Lord is Mindful of His Own" (Mendelssohn) for "I Will Sing of Thy Great Mercies." Volume for Men, high voice, contains Handel: "Silent Worship"; Haydn: "'Tis noon, and now direct the sun & distressful nature fainting sinks"; Haydn: "The Sailor's Song"; Somervell: "The Lads in Their Hundreds"; and Wasserman: "Maple Sweet." Volume for Men, low voice, contains four of the same songs with "Vouschafe [sic], Oh Lord" substituting for "'Tis noon..."

Most of us remember theory lessons that frequently accompanied beginning piano lessons, but I have not seen the concept applied to songs in quite this way. Doing these lessons for the songs will certainly lead students to a deeper understanding of what they are singing, and will perhaps set up a model for continued study of songs in this way.


Alpha Major. 15010 Vistamont Drive, Houston, TX 77083.

Classical Vocal Reprints. Toll Free (800) 298-7474.

European American Music Corporation. Hal Leonard Corporation.

Great River Music. Memphis, TN.
COPYRIGHT 2015 National Association of Teachers of Singing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Carman, Judith
Publication:Journal of Singing
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Previous Article:Bookshelf.
Next Article:To settle FTC charges, professional associations of property managers and vocal arts teachers agree to eliminate rules that restrict competition...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters