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Common poems set to music

Chris Amos 03 Sep 06 - 05:44 PM
RTim 03 Sep 06 - 01:51 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 02 Sep 06 - 10:15 PM
Gorgeous Gary 02 Sep 06 - 09:37 PM
Genie 02 Sep 06 - 03:02 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 06 - 02:51 PM
Bunnahabhain 02 Sep 06 - 02:47 PM
oggie 02 Sep 06 - 02:37 PM
Haruo 02 Sep 06 - 02:14 PM
Desert Dancer 02 Sep 06 - 12:23 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Sep 06 - 11:41 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Sep 06 - 09:42 AM
Haruo 02 Sep 06 - 03:12 AM
GrassStains 02 Sep 06 - 12:13 AM
Genie 01 Sep 06 - 11:57 PM
Genie 01 Sep 06 - 11:56 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 01 Sep 06 - 10:55 PM
Haruo 01 Sep 06 - 09:51 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 01 Sep 06 - 09:31 PM
Haruo 01 Sep 06 - 08:37 PM
Amos 01 Sep 06 - 06:05 PM
Haruo 01 Sep 06 - 06:03 PM
The Sandman 01 Sep 06 - 05:57 PM
Helen 01 Sep 06 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 01 Sep 06 - 05:24 PM
weerover 01 Sep 06 - 03:54 PM
weerover 01 Sep 06 - 03:53 PM
harpmolly 01 Sep 06 - 03:49 PM
Nigel Parsons 01 Sep 06 - 03:13 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Sep 06 - 03:12 PM
Leadfingers 01 Sep 06 - 02:33 PM
sciencegeek 01 Sep 06 - 01:39 PM
Old Grizzly 01 Sep 06 - 01:34 PM
Dan Schatz 01 Sep 06 - 12:16 PM
eechlay 01 Sep 06 - 11:55 AM
eechlay 01 Sep 06 - 11:21 AM
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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Chris Amos
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 05:44 PM

eechlay

A group of travelers, Heathens All, did a stonking version of Keats "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" if you PM me and give me a week or so I will dig out the tape and record it for you, it is worth hearing.

Chris


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: RTim
Date: 03 Sep 06 - 01:51 PM

I am surprised that no one has mentioned Thomas Hardy's poems. eg.
The Ruined Maid or Great Things or The Trampwoman's Tradedy, the later set to music so well by Tim Laycock.

Also the Dorset poet Thomas Barnes's "Linden Lea" with music written by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and much of Burns poetry has been sung.

Also - Chris Wood is putting tunes to many Hugh Lupton poems, notably - Bleary Winter and The Mari-Lwyd.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 10:15 PM

I must say that Gordon Bok's singing of Kipling's "The Sea Wife" is beyond excellent. Phil Ochs Melody to "The Lads Who Serve The Guns"
is as perfect a mix as his melody to "The Highwayman." Sorry Harpmolly, but I found Loreen McKennits melody to The Highwayman to be ponderous.      

But even at that, dull as it is, the story is so good as it is still listenable.

Don


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Gorgeous Gary
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 09:37 PM

Joe F,

Take a look at the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music up at Johns Hopkins. Typing "Kipling" into the search box got me 22 hits with viewable sheet music from the late 1890's through the 1920's. Included are things like "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" with music by Gerald F. Cobb, "Mother O' Mine" with music by Frank E. Tours, and "Boots" with music by John Phillips Sousa.

-- Gary


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Subject: Common poems set to music: America the Beautiful
From: Genie
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 03:02 PM

It's probably not commonly known that "America The Beautiful" was originally a poem, not a song. Massachusetts school teacher Katharine Lee Bates wrote the first version of the poem in 1892 IIRC (I was just a kid at the time) ;-) and for several years after its publication, people in the US set it to just about any well-known 4/4 tune they could find -- most notably and most commonly "Auld Lang Syne."   

Actually, the specific dates of the milestones in the development of this song are elusive, as different sources cite different versions thereof.

This is from Bates's own journal:
"... When we left Colorado Springs the four stanzas were penciled in my notebook …. The ... the notebook was laid aside, and I do not remember paying heed to these verses until the second summer following, when I copied them out and sent them to The Congregationalist, where they first appeared in print July 4, 1895.   The hymn attracted an unexpected amount of attention.   It was almost at once set to music by Silas G. Pratt.   Other tunes were written for the words and so many requests came to me, with still increasing frequency, that in 1904 I rewrote it, trying to make the phraseology more simple and direct."

That version was published in the Boston Evening Transcript in 1904, titled "America."   Bates kept perfecting her poem until 1911, when she published the poem in its present form, in a collection titled "America the Beautiful and Other Poems."

Samuel A. Ward, a NJ church organist, wrote the tune "Materna" in 1882. It's said that on his way home from Coney Island the melody popped into his head and he wrote the notes on a shirt-cuff.   He published it as a hymn in 1888.


In 1904 a NY Baptist minister, Dr. Clarence A Barbour, noted the fit of Bates's poem to Ward's tune and introduced the pairing as a hymn for his congregation. Its popularity quickly spread beyond his Rochester congregation. Barbour included this hymn in "Fellowship Hymns," published in 1910 (though he misspelled Bates's name as "Katherine.")

It appears that the lyricist (Bates), the melody composer (Ward), and the man who published the two as a hymn (Barbour) never met.

The rest, as they say, is history.   At least till Ray Charles put his own twist on both the tune and the lyrics. I'd say he has the best-known recording of this poem-set-to-music.

Regarding the Ray Charles version, I found this historical note about Bates's views very interesting:

"... Bates gave permission to use the poem to anyone who wanted it, requiring only that not a single word be changed, "so that we may not have as many texts as we already have tunes." ... "

Katharine Lee Bates bio, with info on history of ATB

Despite Bates's wish that "not a single word be changed," it the song seems to have undergone several modifications via "the folk process" -- probably people mis-hearing or misremembering some lines. E.g., the phrase "purple mountain majesties" often gets sung as "purple mountains' majesty."    And Ray changed "[May] God shed His grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood" to "God done shed His grace on thee and crownED thy good ... "   The former doesn't really change the meaning, but the latter really does.


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:51 PM

Captain Webb form Dawley-John Betjeman
The Bells of Rhymney-Don't know who wtote the poem nut a "hit" for Pete Seegar


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:47 PM

How about Leonard Cohen? As much an author and poet as a singer and songwriter, or doesn't your own stuff count?


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: oggie
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:37 PM

Alex Atterson set six Charles Causeley poems to music and recorded them as Side 1 of 'Pushing the Business On' (Plantlife Records, PLR005, 1977). They were, Johnny Alleluia, Three Masts, O Billy do you hear that bell, Nelson Gardens, Hawthorn White and Billy Medals.

Phil Ochs recorded 'The Highwayman' on 'I'ain't marching anymore' (Elektra EKL-7287,1968).

Here endeth my anorak moment for today.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Haruo
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:14 PM

I know I've seen Frost so set. "The Road Not Taken" and probably other pieces.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 12:23 PM

Yeats's "The Song of the Wandering Aengus" is somewhat more commonly known in song form as "The Golden Apples of the Sun".

Longfellow's "Song of Life" is in Common Meter, so it's been set more than once. A short discussion here.

John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Song of the Vermonters, 1799" has appeared in tradition with more than one tune. (It's in Helen Hartness Flanders's "New Green Mountain Songster"; I learned it from with a different tune.)

Margaret MacArthur set lots of Vermont poems to music, but they're not what you'd call "common" poems. See here, for example.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 11:41 AM

And speaking of Kipling and the Whiffenpoof business
The Road to Mandalay - Frank Sinatra


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 09:42 AM

Christy Moore mentions one in his biography/songbook The song of wandering Aongus by Yeats that he learned from Richie Havens. I haven't heard it.

There is of course the John Milton poem/hymn Let us With a Gladsome Mind. I suppose that's a song by a poet.

How confusing!


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Haruo
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 03:12 AM

Two Sails from our wedding program, a German poem by a Swiss poet, Zwei Segel in the original, was (as far as I know) first set as a song in its Esperanto version by Guido Holz, Adoru #109; the tune is by Esperanto hymnist Father Albrecht Kronenberger.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: GrassStains
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 12:13 AM

Joseph Sobel has a recording of original "songs from the poetry of W.B. Yeats" called In the Deep Heart's Core. It's really lovely. He intersperses some of them with Irish tunes. Well worth looking into.

I made a setting of When You Are Old a number of years ago. The first stanza is very hard to set.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Genie
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:57 PM

I should add that one of the first recordings I ever heard of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day was by Harry Belafonte.


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Subject: Common poems set to music
From: Genie
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:56 PM

Tennyson's poem "Crossing The Bar" has been set to music:
Lyr Add: Crossing the Bar (Tennyson, Arbo)
I believe that thread has a link to Ms. Arbo singing that song on Prairie Home Companion.

And the here's a thread with the tune: Tune Req: Crossing the bar - Tennyson

Emma Lazarus's poem "The New Colossus," which is the inscription on the Statue Of Liberty, has also been set to music, but I don't know who has recorded it.

One of the best known poems set to music is Longfellow's "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day," which is sung to at least 2 different tunes.   Both song versions are easy to find in books of Christmas carols or hymns.
The song versions, which I believe first came out about 10 years after Longfellow wrote and published the poem, leave out two of the verses with specific allusions to the cannons of the War Between The States.   (It was the juxtaposition of the cannons' roar with the Christmas day bells that inspired Longfellow to write the poem.) And the verse order is rearranged in the song, too.


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:55 PM

Re: the Highwayman - Phil Ochs adapted it to music and recorded it in the(19)60s.
A Visit From Saint Nicolas - Recited and sung by one of the big bands.


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Haruo
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:51 PM

The Whiffenpoofs (whose Song is a take-off on Kipling's "Gentleman Rankers") and other long-established collegiate singing societies may well have in their archives sheet music you might suppose now irrecoverable.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:31 PM

As to Kipling: He intended many of his poems to be songs (in the contents of his collected poems, I find 28 titles that begin with "Song", and 10 with "Ballad"), and many of them were set to music (some of them many times) in his lifetime, long before Peter Bellamy & Leslie Fish. Some became music-hall favorites. I have never succeeded in finding any of those old tunes, except for the standard one to "Mandalay", which crossed the Atlantic and was the kind of thing my grandparents would have sung in the bath, despite its having a range that is actually worse than that of the "Star-Spangled Banner". (One of my uncles used to say "Why didn't he kiss her where she *sat*?".) I spent a couple of hours once in the New York Public Library browsing in Kipling Society publications from the 1920s, and there were extensive listings of sheet music -- all, I suppose, now irrecoverable.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: Be careful what you do with your resentment. :||


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Haruo
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 08:37 PM

No, that doesn't count, it's a song text not a poem (Lowry wrote the tune himself).

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Amos
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:05 PM

"How Can I keep From Singing" performed by various artists, e.g., Enya.

A


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Haruo
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:03 PM

Most of Emily Dickinson can be readily set to standard hymn tunes, and in fact in one recent hymnal (can't recall which) I saw one of her texts set as a hymn.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 05:57 PM

Sailortown,written by c fox smith, set to music by Dick Miles. on charley nobles site.


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Helen
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 05:28 PM

The first one which came to my mind is Sea Fever, written by John Masefield but sung in the very unique style of Oz singer, Kavisha Mazzella on her Mermaids in the Well CD

But a large number of the poems of Australian poet Henry Lawson have been set to music. There is a brilliant collection of these by Chris Kempster including music notation of various versions and tunes. My favourite is:

Do You Think That I Do Not Know?

Henry Lawson

1910

They say that I never have written of love,
As a writer of songs should do;
They say that I never could touch the strings
With a touch that is firm and true;
They say I know nothing of women and men
In the fields where Love's roses grow,
And they say I must write with a halting pen
Do you think that I do not know?

etc

Helen


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 05:24 PM

Not perhaps that common, but Joan Baez's performance of Peter Schickele's setting of e.e. cummings's "All in green went my love riding" is wonderful. (On her concept album "Baptism", which I have not heard for 35 years; I've no idea if it's available).


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: weerover
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 03:54 PM

Don't know why I managed to capitalise "occasion", only my second Guinness of the evening.

wr


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: weerover
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 03:53 PM

I have wondered on Occasion if Thomas Davis's "The Sack of Baltimore" had ever been sent to music. There are a couple of tunes I know that would fit. Maybe Big Tim would know?

wr


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: harpmolly
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 03:49 PM

Eeech, you're missing one truly excellent McKennitt offering: Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman", which she did on her last album (The Book Of Secrets). It's got a wonderful dark brooding flavor to it.

I have a great love for the poem, as my grandfather used to recite it at family dinners. I was afraid Loreena would make it twinkly and pretty, but she really does it justice.

I've been flirting with the idea (don't laugh!) of setting Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee" to the tune of "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore". The meter fits perfectly, and the slightly eerie Mixolydian melody seems to complement the poem well.

BTW, ANUNA also does a lovely version of "Inisfree".

Cheers,

Molly


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 03:13 PM

There's always J G Whittier's The Brewing of Soma

The first verses of which read:

"The fagots blazed, the caldron's smoke
Up through the green wood curled;
"Bring honey from the hollow oak,
Brink milky sap," the brewers spoke,
In the childhood of the world.

And brewed they well or brewed they ill,
The priests thrust in their rods,
First tasted, and then drank their fill,
And shouted, with one voice and will,
"Behold, the drink of the gods!"

They drank, and lo! in heart and brain
A new, glad life began;
The gray of hair grew young again,
The sick man laughed away his pain,
The cripple leaped and ran.

"Drink, mortals, what the gods have sent,
Forget your long annoy."
So sang the priests, From tent to tent
The Soma's sacred madness went,
A storm of drunken joy.


Which would make a marvellous folk song, if the church hadn't already laid claim to the last six verses!

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 03:12 PM

Drink to me only - Bing Crosy/ Ben Jonson collaboration
Tell me where is fancy bred - Chris Barber and Otillie Patterson/Bard


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 02:33 PM

If you want to write , but have trouble with words , setting poems to your own tunes is as good a way as any ! I've done a couple my self !


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: sciencegeek
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 01:39 PM

check with Charlie Noble , he should know of a fair number of poems by C. Fox Smith that have been set to music.


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Old Grizzly
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 01:34 PM

Hi eechlay,

Try Peter Bellamy who recorded a lot of Rudyard Kiping's poetry, including a sizeable proportion of the 'Barrackroom Ballads'

Dave


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 12:16 PM

I don't know about Keats, but Greg Brown did an entire album of Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience," and Phil Ochs did a wonderful setting of Noyes's "The Highwayman." Any number of Kipling's poems were set by Peter Bellamy.

I've set a couple of poems, though I haven't recorded them - one is "The Song and the Sigh," by Henry Lawson. The other I did years ago, and have never sang in public - but it was a rockin' folkin' version of "The Jabberwocky," if I do say so myself!

Dan Schatz


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Subject: RE: Common poems set to music
From: eechlay
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:55 AM

I meant Keats' poems, though either way :)


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Subject: Common poems set to music
From: eechlay
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 11:21 AM

I'm looking for recorded versions of poems set to music that are not too obscure :). So far, my list goes...

Loreena McKennit - Stolen child, Lady of Shalott, The Two Trees
Maura O'Connell, Dolores Keane - Down By the Salley Gardens
Karan Casey, Judy Collins, Christy Moore - Song of Wandering Aengus
Cherish the Ladies, Bill Douglas - Lake Isle of Innisfree

Anyone know of any Keats' songs put to music?


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