Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Six Folk Songs of the Americas

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Six Folk Songs of the Americas

Article excerpt

MABRY, GEORGE L., arr. (b. 1945). SIX FOLK SONGS OF THE AMERICAS. Medium high voice and piano. Roger Dean Publishing Company, 2002. Traditional keys/modes; B[musical flat]^sub 3^-G^sub 5^; Tess: M; regular meters; slow to moderate tempos; V/M, P/M; 38 pages. Medium high voice-mezzo soprano perhaps best.

4. "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies." [duet] E[musical flat] major; B[musical flat]^sub 3^-G^sub 5^/B[musical flat]^sub 3^-D^sub 5^; Tess: mH/M; 4/4, Slowly and gently; V/M, P/M; 5 pages.

New settings of American folk songs are always welcome, as singers of all levels enjoy exploring new interpretations of old songs. George Mabry has chosen four familiar American folk songs, one Canadian folk song, and one unfamiliar South American (Brazilian) folk song for this collection. All of the arrangements are quite different from those currently available, with the exception of "He's Gone Away," the tune and harmonies of which are so familiar and well loved as to merit being kept close to what people expect to hear.

"The Riddle Song" is set quite simply in the first stanza with a melodic change only at the end. The second stanza takes the vocal line up a third, as though singing a harmony part, and the third stanza returns to the original melody, ending with a coda vocalized on "Ah." The piano part supports the voice throughout and also spins out a countermelody much of the time.

"Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies," based on a nineteenth century American ballad, has quite a different melody from other arrangements. In addition, the text is somewhat different and uses a third stanza not commonly found. Setting the ballad as a duet is a nice touch. It seems as if two girls-or two older women-are giving this advice to a group of other "fair and tender ladies." Perhaps the two have even been jilted by the same boy? In any case, they speak from experience.

"Lullaby to the Christ Child," translated from the Portuguese by Martha Williams and George L. Mabry, and in a minor key, is a lovely song in which the mother promises to keep the sleeping child safe though surrounded by the dark night. The melody is simple and haunting, and the piano part makes use of an opening motif in a descending pattern to create the mood. These notes are then spun out into other obbligato figures throughout the song.

"The Blackbird's Courting Song," marked "Playful, whimsical," is a clever setting of this jaunty song about birds seeking a mate. …

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