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Lecture 2

MUS 365 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Serenade, Arpeggio, String Instrument

Course Code
MUS 365
Benjamin Ordaz

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Roots & Mixed Traditions
Part 4
Songs of Sentiment
o Sentimental songs dealt with very strong emotions such as the death of children,
separation from loved ones, or religious feelings
o Death of the innocent shocked and appealed powerfully to moral sentiment
o Americas 1st songwriter who made a living through the sheet music publication
of his work and probably the best known and popular American composer of the
19th century was Stephen Foster
o Foster wrote a large number of sentimental songs, including
“Open Thy Lattice Hair” in 1844
“Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair” in 1854
“Gentle Annie” in 1856
“Beautiful Dreamer” in 1862
o “Beautiful Dreamer” is a wonderful example both of Foster’s songwriting and a
fine example of 19th century sentimental song
o Certainly, on one level “Beautiful Dreamer” is a love song
o It is labeled a “serenade” by Foster, which is traditionally a love song
accompanied by a string instrument such as a guitar
o Think of Romeo serenading Juliet up in her balcony
o If you listen to the piano accompaniment to the singing it is written in imitation
of a guitar in its “plucked” arpeggiated accompaniment (or broken chord
accompaniment, where the pitches of the chords are played individually, rather
than together)
Stephen Foster, “Beautiful Dreamer”
o “Beautiful Dreamer” can be read as a tender appeal for the singer’s beloved to
awaken and return after death
o Aside from the convention of speaking of death as sleep, the third verse has the
beloved coming “out on the sea” where “over the streamlet vapors are
borne/waiting to fade at the bright coming morn” when the darkness of death
and the turbulence of this life give way to the dawn of heaven
o The love and ardor for the singer’s sleeping beloved is intensified by the change
in the melody of the first two lines of the second verse and the extension of the
verse by a repetition of the line “Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!”
o The melody of the second verse opens on the dominant (chord built on the 5th
scale degree) and by the third measure of the verse has moved to the dominant
of the dominant (a 5th relationship to the 5th scale degree)
o The result being that the second verse is much more harmonically active than
the 1st verse and heightens the intensity of the lyric’s sentiments
o The 4th verse parallels the changes introduced into the 2nd verse
Sentimental Songs & Country Music
o Sentimental songs like “Beautiful Dreamer” and others that date from the end of
the 19th century continued to be published in the South throughout the 1920’s
and 1930’s
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