Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Simple gifts?



Light at the end of the tunnel? Or a train coming the other way?

Something rather more chewy here.
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7 comments:

Andrew said...

The middle section sounded like a rather curious mixture of "All Creatures of Our God and King" and "Lord of the Dance". Do either of these tunes have any particular siginificance for Barack H. Obama? Or maybe they weren't in fact the tunes they sounded like?

Kyle said...

Pliable, I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. Very cryptic though. As for the John Williams piece, I rather liked it. I was fearing the worst, but I thought it was quite good.

And Andrew, it sounds like you're not familiar with "Simple Gifts" or Copland. It has the same melody as "Lord of the Dance." It's a nice tune and ever since Copland used it in Appalachian Spring it has always had a special place in Americana.

Anonymous Soprano said...

Urg urg urg, Simple Gifts was a SHAKER HYMN written by Joseph Brackett. All the other versions are arrangements or appropriations.

It's possibly one of the most American pieces of music there is -- something written by an American, for Americans.

It was a perfect and appropriate tune to arrange for the occasion. The text is as follows:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,

'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,

To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,

To turn, turn will be our delight

'Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Anonymous Soprano said...

Aaaaaaaaaaand because I can't shut up on this topic, and missed my calling as a musicologist -- Simple Gifts is also, in a way, a distillation of American music and American music history.

Our musical tradition was built and developed around religious music -- Puritan hymns, Shaker hymns, shaped Note hymn singing, spirituals, etc. There is a certain American "sound" or style that is embodied in Copland, and it is the direct influence of the music on which the US was built.

While there are many Big Names in the classical music tradition from the US, the true representatives of our musical culture are composers like Alice Parker, Moses Hogan, H.T. Burleigh, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and yes, Copland.

Pliable said...

Email received:

Hello,

Am I alone in being disturbed by how similar Williams's treatment of Simple Gifts to that of Copland? The first appearance of the tune in the clarinet in the same register; the lightly bustling accompaniment...

--
James Primosch

Andrew said...

Thank you Kyle, Pliable, and others, for the enlightenment here and in the post above. I'm not familiar enough with Copland, and my familiarity with Shaker musical tradition is limited to the adaptation of "Simple Gifts" by Sydney Carter in his hymn "Lord of the Dance". It is interesting that the opening of "Simple Gifts" is almost identical to the opening of the hymn tune "Lasst uns erfreuen" to which the hymn "All creatures of our God and King" is usually sung. A shared musical path in the distant past, perhaps?

Saint Russell said...

And now we learn the musicians were miming to a recording. I would not have planned to feature instruments that can't be played effectively in cold weather as part of an outdoor event in January.