[This chapter, occupying this and the next ten Web pages, contains commentaries on individual works by Percy Grainger, consisting of notes on sources of the music, various arrangements that Grainger "dished up" of each work, and other criticism. The individual sections are taken from writings by various critics and musicologists and by Grainger himself. At the end (on the last Web page) are two Appendices, consisting of Grainger's own notes and suggestions on how his (and other) music should be composed, played, orchestrated, and interpreted.
[Works are discussed in alphabetical order, from Air and Dance to Zanzibar Boat Song.]
[To go to the next Web page, click on "Go to next page" at the bottom of the page. To find individual works, see the list of contents and directions below.
[NOTE: THIS ONLINE VERSION IS CURRENTLY "TEXT ONLY." IN THE PRINTED VERSION, THERE ARE NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS FROM MUSICAL SCORES AND OTHER MUSICAL EXAMPLES. THESE HAVE TO BE SCANNED SEPARATELY AND WILL BE ADDED AT A FUTURE DATE.
[Footnotes in the original printed version are, in this online version, embedded in the text, in [boldface, surrounded by square brackets].
To help you find individual works that are discussed, the following list shows the alphabetical range of names of works, which are in alphabetical order, described on each Web page. For example, to find Blithe Bells, click on the entry for the first page, which contains all works from Air and Dance to Carman's Whistle. You can also refer to the Table of Contents for the entire book for guidance. (Unfortunately, this method of finding the correct page is of less help for pieces that are parts of longer works. For example, Lincolnshire Posy consists of arrangements of six separate songs, Lisbon, Horkstow Grange, Rufford Park Poachers, The Brisk Young Sailor, Lord Melbourne, and The Lost Lady Found. This is a problem in the printed version, too. To find these individual entries requires a greater use of the "Search" function of your browser.)
Web page: Range:
[The following note is part of the original printed version.]
NOTE: In addition to including the composer's own descriptive program notes (and notes by many others), this section gives some of his performance directions and many of his indications for possible vocal and instrumental combinations for a given work. Although this can result in a duplication of some material (the scoring is also detailed in Chapter 2, Catalog of Works--above), the repeated mention of instrumental flexibility seems justified insofar as the stress which Grainger himself placed on writing or adapting music that nearly everyone might be able to play is, after all, such an important aspect of his compositional aesthetic (or philosophy) and style. Percy Grainger was, musically, an authentic "democrat "--one who intended to write, not for the few, but for the many; and not only for expert orchestras and soloists, but also for school and amateur groups and players. (Ed.)
AIR AND DANCE (Frederick Delius)--piano solo
"Frederick Delius was a long-standing friend of Grainger, and Grainger was a great champion of the older man's music, arranging for two pianos both the Dance Rhapsody No. 1 and the Song of the High Hills (to Delius' great delight). Just how much Delius' lush chromaticism influenced Grainger's own harmonic language is to be heard in his arrangement of Delius's Air and Dance. The piece plays continuously, the 'Dance' growing naturally out of the 'Air' and retaining the Air 's characteristic rhythmic outline of a strong first and third beat in the melody with accompanying chords on the second and fourth beats."--John Pickard (Piano 4).
ALLELUIA PSALLAT (Alleluia let us sing)--3-part motet[Edition for voices and harmonium or organ ad lib. ("8 foot tone if accompanying Women's (or Children's) voices; 16 foot tone if accompanying Men's voices; 8 & 16 foot to ne if accompanying Mixed voices"), published by G. Schirmer, 1943. (Ed.)]
English Gothic Music, edited by Dom Anselm Hughes and Percy Grainger
Grainger: "Date: Late 13th cent. Original MSS.: Bodl. MS. Lat. Liturgy d20, f 20v, and Magdalen Coll. Oxf. MS. 100, f.i. Published in Worcester Mediaeval Harmony by Dom Anselm Hughes (The Plainsong and Medi�val Society). He re presented one whole tone higher than original key. "Transcribed from the original manuscript by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B. Edited for practical music-making by Percy Aldridge Grainger. English text transcribed from the Latin original by Percy Aldridge Grainger.
"Possible combinations of voices, etc.:
for 3 single Women's (or Children's) Voices or 3-part Women's (or Children's) Chorus (S, M-S, A),
or for 3 single Men's Voices or 3-part Men's Chorus (T, Bar, Bs),
or for 6 single Mixed Voices, or 6-part Mixed Chorus (S, M-S, A, T, Bar, Bs).
"Any of the above combinations of voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by Winds, or by Combined Strings and Winds. (See Full Score for all Instruments.) When instrumentally accompanied the voices may be silent during the first measure and (if wish ed) in phrases sung on 'A' ('Ah').
"Passages with brackets above them should be sounded prominently--louder than the other voices at the moment. All smaller-printed notes are examples of the so-called plica, i.e. a note to be sounded lighter (softer) than the surrounding note s. (In English folk-singing this treatment is often given to 'scale-filling' notes--those notes that, added to a gapped scale [2-tone, 3-tone, 4-tone, 5-tone, 6-tone scale], turn it into a filled-out 7-tone scale or mode [such as the major scale, or th e Dorian or Mixolydian modes]. Apparently the folk-singer feels the gapped-scale intervals as fundamental and still regards the filling-out intervals as mere 'interlopers', auxiliaries or embellishments.)
"[Headnote:] Exultantly, with strong rhythmic pulse."
ANDANTE CON MOTO; PEACE; SAXON TWI-PLAY--piano solo
"[These] three miniatures are all juvenilia. They were written between 1897 and 1899 as `gifts to mother' and demonstrate an already highly individual attitude to harmony and piano writing."--John Pickard (Piano 1).
ANGELUS AD VIRGINEM (The Annunciation Carol)--chorus[Edition for chorus and harmonium or organ ad lib. ("8 foot tone if accompanying Women's (or Children's) Voices; 16 foot tone if accompanying Men's Voices; 8 & 16 foot ton e if accompanying Mixed Voices"), published by G. Schirmer, 1943. (Ed.)]
English Gothic Music, edited by Dom Anselm Hughes and Percy Grainger
Grainger: "Dates from c.1200, perhaps earlier. Original MSS.: 1-part (13th cent.) containing the Latin & Middle-English texts, British Museum, Arundel 248. (Facsimile published in Early English Harmony, vol. I, The Plainsong & Mediaeva l Music Society.) 2-part (13th cent.) from the British Museum, Cottonian MSS. 3-part (c.1360) from the Dublin MS in Cambridge University Library, Add. 710 (Facsimile published in Early English Harmony, vol. I). Here presented one fifth higher than original key of Arundel MS. 248.
"Transcribed from the original manuscripts by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B. Edited for practical music-making by Percy Aldridge Grainger. Modern English translation (of original Middle-English text) by Percy Aldridge Grainger and Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B.
"Possible combinations of voices, etc.
for 3 single Women's (or Children's) Voices or 3-part Women's (or Children's) Chorus (S, M-S, A. Note special staff for Verse 4.)
or for 3 single Men's Voices or 3-part Men's Chorus (T, Bar, Bs. Note special staff for Verse 4.)
or for 6 single Mixed Voices or 6-part Mixed Chorus (S, M-S, A, T, Bar, Bs. Note special staff for Verse 4.) The 'scoring' for this 6-part performance--i.e. the allotment of sections to changing groups of voices--is indicated in Capital l etters inside square brackets, as [MEN], [WOMEN or CHILDREN].
"N.B. In all the combinations the Mezzo-sopranos and/or Baritones (since they carry the melody) should be more prominent (if possible more numerous) than the other voices. "Any of the above combinations of voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by Winds, or by Combined Strings and Winds. When thus instrumentally accompanied the voices should sing one half-tone higher than here printed.
"[Headnote:] Lively, with dance-like lilt."
APRÈS UN RÊVE (Fauré): see NELL
AS SALLY SAT A-WEEPING--2 pianos (4 hands)
"In 1924 Grainger published two folk-settings culled from earlier sketches: Hermundur Illi (Hermund the Evil) from the Faeroe Islands, and As Sally Sat a-Weeping from Dorsetshire, England. Both settings are quite short and stra ightforward. As is typical with Faeroe Island folk-tunes, Hermundur Illi is made up of irregular phrase-lengths: four seven-bar phrases and one of four." --David Stanhope (Piano 2).
Version for chorus
Grainger: "For unaccompanied mixed chorus and a man's high voice single (tenor solo). Begun: October (or before) 1900. Ended: 5.7.1909.
"Verses by **** ********* and Percy Aldridge Grainger:
Away by the reefs of the Chilian Coast
where the Southern Cross hangs low,
and the sailor-folk of ev'ry land
pass afaring to and fro,
At even, when the cool sea-breeze
relieves the tropic day,
the lights of Valparaiso Town
flash beckoning 'cross the Bay.
At twilight hour, when tales are told,
the souls of men arise
that once o'er those wide waters roamed,
and flock before our eyes:
Like far-off sails, but dimly seen
through haze of distant rain,
so flit their spirits through our speech,
our tales of mirth and pain.
Ere yet their names are faded quite,
forgot their phantom ships,
we hail them o'er the gloom to live
a moment on our lips."
[Choral-vocal score for tenor solo, 2 female voices, 4 male voices and piano (pratice only) publ. by Schott & Co., 1913. (Ed.)]
Version for piano solo
[Note: This version appears to consist of the first 16 bars or so of the piano accompaniment, above--originally meant for practice only. John Pickard's notes for the recording by Martin Jones suggest that this piano solo version may have been inspired by a text other than that of the original choral version. (Ed.)]
"Like Tiger-tiger [below], At Twilight is based on a choral setting of Kipling, from the `Rhyme of the Three Sealers':
Away by the lands of the Japanese
Where the paper lanterns glow
And the crews of all the shipping drink
In the house of Blood Street Joe,
At twilight, when the landward breeze
Brings up the harbour noise,
And the ebb of Yokohama Bay
Swings chattering through the buouys...
"The work, written in 1900 and arranged in 1939, ends with a bluesy 'added sixth' chord, which, as Grainger mentions in the score, may have been the first time a composition ended in such a way."--John Pickard (Piano 4).
AUSTRALIAN UP-COUNTRY SONG--unaccompanied chorus[Edition for 2 women's voices, 4 men's voices, and harmonium or pipe organ or piano (for practice only) publ. 1920 by G. Schirmer. (Ed.)]
Grainger: "This piece (written for chorus in May, 1928) is based on a tune that I wrote in 1905, called 'Up-country song'. In that tune I had wished to voice Australian up-country feeling as Stephen Foster had voiced American country-side fe elings in his songs. I have used this same melody in my Austrlian Colonial Song and in my Australian The Gumsucker's' March [for which see suite In a Nutshell].
"This choral version was first sung at my wedding to Ella Viola Ström at the Hollywood Bowl (California), August 9, 1928, by the exquisite Smallman a Cappella Choir." Additional note (September 1934): "[The text consists of syllables 'ta ta di ra da ta di ra dam ta' etc only.] "N.B. In writing for voices without words (whether using vowels such as 'ah' as in my setting of the Irish Tune from County Derry, or using 'wordless syllables' such as those employed in this number), as I have done since about 1899, I h ave been swayed by such considerations as the following:
1. That music carries its own special message to the soul--a message that is weakened if words (with their inevitably concrete thoughts, so different from the vague, cosmic suggestions of absolute music) are set to music. Therefore, poems se t to music should form only a part (though admittedly a very delightful part) of the totality of music, if music is to exert its full spiritualising influence.
2. That it is a natural musical instinct (observable in children, living composers, native music, mediaeval European music, folk music, etc.) to sing on vowels, or to meaningless syllables. This habit is vocal in the extreme and it is misleading to describe such singing as 'using the voice like an instrument'. It should be remembered that all melodious playing on instruments (such as the opening phrase of Wagner's Parsifal Prelude) is merely an offshoot of vocal music.
3. That experience proves that choirs develop a purer, richer and more voluminous sonority and a wider range of tonal contrasts when singing without words.
"In stressing the antiquity, universality, normality and effectiveness of wordless singing, I am far from wishing to belittle the beauty and importance of vocal music with text. Surely music can only be the richer for practising both forms of v ocality--the worded and the wordless."
Glenn Cliffe Bainum version for wind band (as Australian Up-Country Tune, 1967)
"Difficulty: medium easy.
"This exquisitely beautiful lyric work, using the same tune as Colonial Song, has been well-scored by Bainum. Though short and technically rather easy, it demands great control and feeling for the slow, sustained line by both players and conduc tor. Highly recommended for development of sensitivitity, musicality and tonal finesse."--Joseph Kreines (GSJ IV/2).
BALLADE 17 (Guillaume de Machaut)--arr. for chorus (1934)[Ms. copy courtesy Dana Perna. (Ed.)]
Grainger: "From Publikationen Alterer Musik (edited by Friedrich Ludwig), I. Jahrgang, I. Teil, Breitkopf und Haertel, Leipzig, 1926.
For 3 same-pitched voices: 3 soprano (transpose up); or 3 mezzo-sopranos; or 3 altos (transpose down); or 3 tenors (transpose up); or 3 baritones; or 3 basses (transpose down)
or for 6 alike-pitched mixed voices (octave treatment): 3 sopranos & 3 tenors (sop. I & ten. I sing [Strand] A in octaves; sop. II & ten. II sing [Strand] B in octaves; sop. III & ten. III sing [Strand] C in octaves)(transpose up); or 3 mezzo-s opranos & 3 baritones (m.-sop. I & bar. I sing A in octaves; m.-sop. II & bar. II sing B in octaves; m.-sop. III & bar. III sing C in octaves); or 3 altos & 3 basses (alto I & bass I sing A in octaves; alto II & bass II sing B in octaves; alto III & bass III sing C in octaves)(transpose down).
or for mixed choir (octave treatment): sop. I & alto I (in unison) sing A; sop. II & alto II (in unison) sing B; sop. III & alto III (in unis.) sing C; ten. I & bass I (in unis.) since A; ten. II & bass II (in unison) sing B; ten. III & bass II I (in unis.) sing C. (The men's voices always sounding an octave lower than the women's, of course.)
or for women's choir (blend treatment): sop. I & alto I (in unison) sing A; sop. II & alto II (in unis.) sing B; sop. III & alto III (in unis.) sing C.
or for men's choir (blend treatment): ten. I & bass I (in unison) sing A; ten. II & bass II (in unis.) sing B; ten. III & bass III (in unis.) sing C.
"Guillaume de Machaut [French, 1300-1377] (in addition to being one of the most inspired composer-geniuses of all time) was, in his age, as great an innovator as were Monteverdi, Wagner & Arnold Sch�nberg in their day. In many of his compositions (not ably in this Ballade No. 17) we hear a deeply romantic, dreamy, love-lorn mood that recalls Chopin & Cyril Scott. de Machaut was poet as well as musician, writing the words of his songs. The present rough English version of the text reflects the main tren d of his verse, but is not an exact translation of the old French original. "N.B. May be transposed into any suitable key. "[Headnote:] Lyrically, with a slow, gentle lilt."
BEATA VISCERA (The Blessed Virgin)--3-part Conductus[Edition for chorus and harmonium or organ ad lib. published by G. Schirmer, 1943. (Ed.)]
English Gothic Music, edited by Dom Anselm Hughes and Percy Grainger
Grainger: "Date: 13th cent. Original MS: Worcester Add, 68, xix a. Published in Worcester Mediaeval Harmony by Dom Anselm Hughes (The Plainsong & Mediaeval Music Society.)
"Transcribed from the original manuscript by Dom Anselm Hughes, O.S.B. Edited for practical music-making by Percy Aldridge Grainger. Here presented in two keys. English text translated from the Latin original by Percy Aldridge Grainger.
"D MINOR VERSION (key of the original). Possible combinations of voices, etc.
for 3 single Men's Voices or 3-part Men's Chorus (High Tenor or Male Alto, T, Bs.)
or for 3 single Mixed Voices or 3-part Mixed Chorus (A, T, Bs.) (The above combinations of voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by WInds, or by Combined Strings and Winds. See Full Score for all Instruments.)
or for a single Low Voice (Woman's or Child's or Man's), singing the Alto part, accompanied by Harp (playing the Harmonium part as it stands) or Lute or Guitar (reading the Harmonium part one octave higher than it stands).
"N.B. When instrumentally accompanied the voice, or voices, may sing throughout the whole piece, or may be silent during the first 5 bars, entering on the upbeat before , from there on singing to the first note of bar 22. All the accidentals , in both versions, are added by the editors, in conformity with the supposed practices of musica ficta. As these practices, as applied to music of this kind, are largely conjectural, the accidentals should not be considered authoritative. All accidentals within brackets may be ignored by those who prefer a more restful itnervallic impression. "[Headnote:] Gently flowing, not too slowly.
"B FLAT MINOR VERSION (major third below original key). Possible combinations of voices, etc.
for 3 single Women's (or Children's) Voices or 3-part Women's (or Chidlren's) Chorus (S, M-S, A),
for 3 single Men's Voices or 3-part Men's Chorus (T, Bar, Bs.)
or for 6 single Mixed Voices or 6-part Mixed Chorus (SD, M-S, A, T, Bar, Bs.). (The above combinations of voices may be accompanied by Strings, or by WInds, or by Combined Strings and Winds. See Full Score for all Instruments.)
or for a single High Voice (Woman's or Child's or Man's), singing the Soprano part, accompanied by Harp (playing the Harmonium part as it stands or one octave lower) or Lute or Guitar (reading the Harmonium part as it stands).
"N.B. The remarks about the voices (when instrumentally accompanied) not entering until the upbeat before , and about accidentals (musica ficta), that precede the D minor Version, apply also to this B flat minor Version.
"[Headnote:] Gently flowing, not too slowly."
BEAUTIFUL FRESH FLOWER (Chinese) (1935)--arr. piano solo
"The Beautiful Fresh Flower is based on a popular Chinese song. It was composed by Grainger in the Kung scale of the Pentatonic series, and he was assisted in harmonizing this work by the organist and musicologist Joseph Yasser. The f lower referred to is a Jasmine."--Selma Epstein (Epstein 1).
"[This] is an arrangement of Joseph Yasser's harmonisation of a Chinese melody.... a delightful miniature piece of `chinoiserie' involving just the black keys of the piano."--John Pickard (Piano 2).
Version for orchestra (orch. Peter Sculthorpe) "In 1935, on reading a book by the American musicologist Joseph Yasser which gave examples of purely pentatonic harmonisation, Percy Grainger took the Chinese folk-song Beautiful Fresh Flower, harmonised it by using only the tuba's five notes, and set it for piano solo. (The melody is one of the several authentic Chinese tunes used by Puccini in Turandot, though his harmonisation is not pentatonic.) In 1985 Ronald Stevenson played Grainger's setting in China and the Chinese musicians exp ressed great admiration for it, one of them even exclaiming, 'Percy could certain speak Chinese in music!' The orchestration--strings, vibraphone and tam-tam--has been made especially for [the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra] recording by fellow Austra lian Peter Sculthorpe.--Steven Lloyd, after information supplied by Ronald Stevenson.
LA BEL' ARONDE (Claude Le Jeune)
"Claude le Jeune or Claudin was born in Valenciennes in 1528 and died in Paris in 1600, aged 72. Grainger on his scores of his arrangements questions the date of death and in some cases gives it as 1602. Le Jeune was a priest and musician of the Sainte Chapelle at Paris and of the private royal chapel. He is an important figure as a composer of chansons, madrigals, masses, motets and (being of Huguenot sympathies), metrical Psalms (Genevan Psalter, in four and five voices, published p osthumously in 1613 and used in the Reformed churches of France, Holland and Germany). Grainger's arrangements of La Bel' Aronde consist of a version for piano duet, a version for harmonium duet, one for 6 singing voices (SAT[or A]TBarB) and versions for saxophone choir, clarinet and saxophone choirs, or brass and saxophone choirs.
First concert tour of Denmark, with Herman Sandby.
Meets and begins relationship with Karen Holten.
Begins to collect folksong in England, pioneering the use of the Edison Phonograph in the field.
Meets composer Edvard Grieg, leading to an important friendship cut short by Grieg’s sudden death the following year. Grieg had praised Grainger’s interpretation of his Norwegian Peasant Dances and Grainger championed Grieg’s music for the rest of his life.
Makes first recordings with the Gramophone Company.
Sketches an arrangement of the Morris dancing tune Country Gardens, collected by Cecil Sharp. His hugely successful piano arrangement was published ten years later.
Adopts the name of Percy Aldridge Grainger, concurrently with the publication of his music by Schott & Co.
His public career as a composer and arranger begins with the series of choral and orchestral concerts organised by Henry Balfour Gardiner.
Begins writing The warriors: Music for an imaginary ballet.
Percy and Rose emigrate to the United States of America.