AMERICAN PIERROT. A Langston Hughes Songbook

By Carman, Judith | Journal of Singing, January/February 2015 | Go to article overview

AMERICAN PIERROT. A Langston Hughes Songbook


Carman, Judith, Journal of Singing


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

PATTERSON, ROBERT G. AMERICAN PIERROT. A Langston Hughes Songbook. For baritone voice and piano. First Place Winner of the NATS Art Song Composition Competition 2014. Great River Music, 2012. Tonal and X; A[musical flat]^sub 2^-G[musical flat]^sub 4^B[musical flat]^sub 4^, falsetto); Tess: M-H; regular meters, no changes; varied tempos; V/mE-mD, P/M-mD; ca.25 minutes (34 pages). Baritone.

I. Pierrot's Passion

"When Sue Wears Red." B major; F^sub 3^-F#^sub 4^; Tess: H; 4/4, Declamatory but entirely rhythmic (... = 80); V/M, P/M; 4 pages.

"Midnight Dancer." X; G^sub 3^-E^sub 4^; Tess: mH; 2/2, Rolling and passionate (... = 108); V/M, P/M; 3 pages.

"Love Song for Lucinda." E[musical flat] major with shifting tonalities; G^sub 3^-G[musical flat]^sub 4^,; Tess: M-mH; 2/4, Lazy, introspective (... = 50); V/M, P/mD; 5 pages.

"Lady's Boogie." E-F major; B^sub 2^-D#^sub 4^; Tess: mH; 4/4, Boogie-Woogie (... = 100); V/mE, P/M; 2 pages.

II. Pierrot's Estate

"Words Like Freedom." C with shifting altered chords; E^sub 3^-E[musical flat]^sub 4^; Tess: mH; 4/4, Calm, innocent (... = 84); V/M, P/M; 1½ pages.

"Go Slow." G minor with altered chords; C^sub 3^-F#^sub 4^; Tess: mH-H; 2/4, Impatiently fast (... = 160); V/mD, P/ mD; 3½ pages.

"Visitors to the Black Belt." X; A^sub 2^-E[musical flat]^sub 4; Tess: M; 4/4, Biting and discontented (... = 100); V/mD, P/M; 2 pages.

"Dream Boogie: Variation." F minor with altered chords; F^sub 3^-F^sub 4^; Tess: mH; 4/4, Dramatic and expectant (... = 66); V/M, P/M; 2 pages.

"Silhouette." X; A^sub 2^-D#^sub 4^(B[musical flat]^sub 4^ falsetto); Tess: CR; 3/4, With the ponderous gait of an 8-foot pendulum (... = .... =40);V/ mD, P/M; 3 pages.

III. Pierrot's Heart

"Heart." X; A[musical flat]^sub 2^-E^sub 4^; Tess: M; 2/4, Biting and ironic (... = 88); V/mD, P/M; 2½ pages.

"Soledad (A Cuban Portrait)." F# natural minor; A^sub 2^-E^sub 4^; Tess: CR; 9/8, Extremely slow; bereft (... = 48); V/M, P/M; 1½ pages.

"Life Is Fine." B[musical flat] minor; A[musical flat]^sub 2^-G^sub 4^; Tess: CR, H; 6/8, Brooding and unsettled (.... = 72); V/mD, P/M; 4 pages.

Robert G. Patterson, composer, horn player, and software developer (plug-ins for the Finale program), lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee, where he plays French horn in the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. His compositions span all instrumental categories-orchestra, solo, ensemble, many works for various woodwind ensembles, a few works for solo voice, and some choral works. His music is innovative and has been performed by many music groups in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. His solo vocal works include Songs from 'As You Like It' for tenor, flute, horn, and piano; Tanka Modern and Ancient for alto voice and piano; Life Signs: Six Songs on Texts by Emily Dickinson for horn, percussion, piano, and soprano; and Way of the River for soprano, violin, bass clarinet, and piano. The song cycle reviewed here-American Pierrot. A Langston Hughes Songbook-was performed in its entirety by baritones Robert Wells, Allen Henderson, and Tod Fitzpatrick at the 2014 Boston Conference,

The figure of Pierrot dates from the Italian commedia dell'arte of the 16th century, a form of quasi improvisational theater centered around stock characters familiar to all theater goers at that time. One of the servant or clown characters, Pierrot was often the sad clown who pines for love. Each successive era of writers and poets claimed Pierrot as its own, until the figure became synonymous with the alter-ego of the artist, especially the alienated writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was one such poet. Although living at a time when African American artists were given little respect, Hughes was determined to explore the depths of his ethnicity and to present the dark skinned individual without fear or shame. …

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