A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature

By Greschner, Debra | Journal of Singing, September/October 2007 | Go to article overview

A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature


Greschner, Debra, Journal of Singing


Carol Kimball, Song. A Guide to ArtSong Style and Literature. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006. Paper, xiv, 585 pp., $24.95. ISBN 13:978-1-4234-1280-9 www.halleonard.com

If the catalogue of books about voice related subjects were viewed as a fairy tale, vocal literature would be depicted as the poor stepsister, denied attention while her sibling, voice pedagogy, basks in the limelight. This is especially true in the category of general reference books. While there are many introductory pedagogy texts, finding an all-purpose book for voice literature, whether a class text, or a reference volume for the studio, is a daunting task Or, at least, it was-until Carol Kimball's Song (Redmond, WA: Pst . . . Inc.) was published in 1996. The format of the book was suited to vocal literature courses, with the first section devoted to a discussion of style, and the second part comprised of an overview of representative song literature grouped according to nationality. Unavailable since 2005, the book has been republished by Hal Leonard.

The volume has been revised and expanded. Kimball added eighteen new composer sections, eighty-five single songs with annotations, fifteen song cycles and collections, and more information on Italian, Russian, Scandinavian, and American literature. Russian and Czechoslovakian song titles are given in their original language. (In regard to the former, transliteration from the original Cyrillic alphabet uses the system standard to the United States and the United Kingdom.)

Readers familiar with the first incarnation of Song will find much of the book intact. A brief chapter consisting of quotations pertaining to interpretation does not appear in the new edition, but an explanation of style, and how to determine the style of a particular composer, remains. The bulk of the book is devoted to annotations of songs arranged by nationality. The composers added to this edition are Korngold, Chaminade, Boulanger, Vivaldi, Handel, Burleigh, Bacon, Beach, Laitman, Clarke, Dring, Stenhammer, Alfvén, Rangström, Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich, and Szymanowski. The added composers account for over half of the new song entries, and nearly that many of the new song cycle or collection descriptions. In all, Song offers annotations for nearly 550 songs and cycles by more than 150 composers.

In her introduction, Kimball acknowledges that making lists is a subjective activity. …

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