Friday, January 31, 2014

The Sweetest Lad Was Jamie

For details on the concert, click here.
The second Scottish song on my 2014 concert is a hybrid, like me. William Smyth, a professor at Cambridge, wrote the words for "The Sweetest Lad Was Jamie," a Scottish melody notated by the Scottish publisher, George Thomson. Thomson had Beethoven arrange over 150 Scottish, Irish and other songs.

I laughed when I first heard this song for I heard Beethoven's obvious hand in it. The melody alone could suggest a Scottish air, but with the under current of stoic German-ness, the whole sound humors me.

In the picture, I think it's my thirteenth birthday with a cake my mother made me, my part Scottish grandfather is on the left, and my Tante Erika is between me and my grandfather. Erika was born in East Prussia and moved to Frankfurt, Germany.
The song suits me verra well, no?

In singing the song, I noticed in the first verse that all the notes over "Jamie" or any pronoun that referred to him has an appogiatura, an ornamental note that precedes the main note. Instead of taking the subsequent three verses as straight, strophic repetition, I am learning to keep the appogiaturas only in reference to Jamie. That works most of the time in the first half of the verses. I've reordered the words "I huffed and tossed with saucy air" so the accents fit the music better.
It is written:               I-huf-fed-and-toss'd-with-saucy-air.
I changed it to:          I- huff'd-and-toss'd-with-sau-cy-air.

The story of the song, written in the early 1800s, still sits true today. Take a look at the lyrics. Fun song!

The sweetest lad was Jamie, the sweetest the dearest.
And well did Jamie love me, and not a fault had he.
Yet, one he had, it spoke his praise, he knew not women's wish to tease.
He knew not all our silly ways. Alas! The woe to me.

For though I loved my Jamie, sincerely and dearly,
Yet often when he wooed me, I held my head on high.
I huffed and tossed with saucy air, and danced with Donald at the fair.
I placed his ribbon in my hair, and Jamie passed him by.

So when the war pipes sounded, dear Jamie he left me.
And now another maiden, will Jamie turn to woo.
My heart will break and well it may, for who would word of pity say,
To her who threw a heart away, as faithful and so true.

Oh knew he how I loved him, sincerely and dearly.
How I would fly to meet him, oh happy were the day!
Some kind, kind friend, oh come between, and tell him of my altered mien,
that Jeannie has not Jeannie been, since Jamie went away.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Skye Boat Song

Tomoe, Roger, John, Anna, Lillian
On the right is Granny, Lillian (Davis) Doss, my grandfather's mother. She says she's part Scottish, which would make me an eighth of whatever part Scottish she was.

In my genealogical struggles to locate my Scottish ancestors, I find myself pulled to music from Scotland - fiddle tunes, Celtic harp, folk songs and a limit of bagpipe tunes.

A friend of a friend pointed me to Skye Boat Song, a Highland rowing measure. I will be singing this song at my concert. I found it in the level one book for Royal Conservatory of Music. This book lists its source: Songs of the North, Gathered from the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland.  The bottom of the page reads: After the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746, Prince Charles Edward Stuart spent five months in the highlands and islands of Scotland, on the run from British troops with a price of thirty thousand pounds on his head. In June of 1746, he escaped to the Island of Skye with Flora Macdonald and a handful of loyal highlanders. The first four measures of the melody were taken down from the singing of Hebridean boatmen. The remainder was added by A.C. Macleod.

I looked up two words in the lyrics: Culloden and Claymore.
A Claymore is a huge, two-handed sword used during the 14th - 17th century. This pre-dates the battle of Culloden. By the mid 18th century, one-handed, lighter broadswords were used. The use of the word Claymore in the song is of a romantic notion.
Culloden, pronounced  kəˈlɒd ə n the ə is a "uh" sound like in "cup" and the ɒ is the "o" sound in "odd." The accent of the cu-LODD-n is the second syllable, its position in the music fitting the beat well. Culloden is a field where a battle between the Scots and the English was fought, or more correctly, supporters of the Stuart king, Bonnie Prince Charles, and supporters of the Hanoverian King of England. The highlanders charged with their swords straight into British artillery. About two thousand Scots died with only about five hundred British.
Speed, bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that was born to be king,
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves road,
thunderclouds redn the air.
Baffled our foes stand by the shore.
Follow they will not dare.

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep.
Ocean's a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep,
watch by your weary head.

Many's the lad, fought on that day,
well the Claymore can wield.
When the night came, silently lay,
dead on Culloden's field.

Burned are their homes, exile and death,
scatter the loyal men.
Yet ere the sword, cool in the sheath,
Charlie will come again.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

March 1, 2014 Concert

I wish a recording of my grandfather existed. He sang opera and probably lots of other things. In fact, he was out with his German diction coach when he met Charlotte, my grandmother, originally from Koenigsburg.
So, in wishing I could hear him, I've decided to get myself recorded in case I have a grandchild who may want to hear me. The voice changes with age, and since I'm not getting any younger, I'm pressuring myself to commit to a concert where I prepare songs I've always wanted to sing.
Some of the songs I've selected are difficult for me. I could fail miserably. That should get my nerves up. But, what's life without risk? I'm not the complacent type.
Here's what I've selected for this concert. I am truly loving preparing and studying the songs, and am grateful for friends who help me with my diction. I'll write a post on each song.

(You can click on the links or browse the labels on the right for "concert" or "repertoire.")

  1. "The Tree" from The Me Nobody Knows by Holt & Friedman
  2. "Peter, Peter" from Peter Pan by Leonard Bernstein
  3. "It's A Raggy Waltz" by Dave Brubeck
  4. "Stranger In Paradise" from Kismet by Wright & Forrest based on Borodin
  5. "So Many People" from Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim
  6. "Till The End of Time" from In The Beginning by Maury Yeston
  7. "Skye Boat Song"     Scottish Song
  8. "The Sweetest Lad was Jamie"     Scottish air, words by William Smyth arranged by Ludwig van Beethoven
  9. "Alma del core" from La constanza in amor vince l'inganno by Antonio Caldara
  10. "Entre l'amour et le devoir" from Benvenuto Cellini by Hector Berlioz
  11. The end of "Leise, Leise" from Der Freischutz by CM von Weber
  12. "Ebben? ... N'andro lontana" from La Wally by Alfredo Catalani
  13. "Vilja's Song" from The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar
  14. "Who Is There To Love Me" from A Hand of Bridge by Samuel Barber
  15. "Bachianas Brasileira Aria" by Heitor Villa-Lobos
  16. "Atchevo eta prezhde ne znala" from Iolanta by Pyotr Tchaikovsky