Re: [mythsoc] Swann/Tolkien Road Goes Ever On
- The Swann settings are not really suited for singalongs, and I don't
believe I've ever heard anyone try it. A few of the Bradley/Klover/Davis
versions are possible that way, but they were so finely recorded that
nobody seems to have wanted to do them as singalongs either, outside of
invited audience participation at Broceliande concerts.
In general, art songs and singalongs are different musical genres. They
don't mix much.
As for transcribing Swann's piano accompaniment - transcription of piano
accompaniment for guitar is a standard practice with a long history: guitar
is an instrument well-suited for taking over that kind of piano music. A
violin, with its relatively narrow range and its lack of propensity for
chords, would not be.
What a violin, with its lyric quality, could play is the vocal part. You
could play Swann's songs as violin-and-piano music, no problem. The thing
is, though, that the musical style and ethos would still be entirely unlike
that of Irish fiddle folk music, and if Jack tried to judge it by the
standards appropriate to Irish fiddle music, it wouldn't come off well. It
needs to be judged by different standards.
I'm sure that, as you say, Tom Diedrich's guitar arrangements of Swann were
much more appealing than the original recording with piano. But that need
not have been because it was an arrangement. I've heard live performances
with piano (at one of the Long Beach Mythcons, as I recall) that were
better than the recording, which simply wasn't a very good performance.
When performed sympathetically, Swann's songs are much better than that.
- David Bratman
At 04:24 PM 7/8/2004 -0500, David Lenander wrote:
>One nice thing about the song cycle is that it's a common, widely
>available text and music that fans can share and sing together--even
>approved by Tolkien. I think, for any fans that want to interact with
>other fans, it's essential. There are filksongs, too, like those in the
>old _Middle-earth Song Book_, an unofficial, unapproved "
>non-publication," and some of which have appeared in varioius places,
>such as _The Tolkien Scrapbook_, or other filksong collections, but
>they're not as widely available, not "approved" and only rarely as
>lovely. Though perhaps the Marion Zimmer Bradley/Kristoph
>Klover/Margaret ______ musical settings in _The Starlit Jewel_ (also
>available as a songbook) might someday begin to approach the Swan
>music, at least in fan circles, I suppose. But this is unlikely to be
>available in public libraries or bookstore chains like the Swann book.
>(The Bradley settings originally appeared in _The Middle-earth Song
>Perhaps fiddlers may not find the Swann music helpful, but many years
>ago a classical guitar student, Tom Diedrich, played the music for us
>in the Rivendell Group (twin cities, MN, discussion group of the
>Mythopoeic Society) and I thought that the arrangements that Tom worked
>out seemed much closer to Middle-earth--or at least to Hobbiton--than
>the piano music accompaniment that we were used to--or which you may
>hear on the Caedmon recording featuring tenor William Elvin (I hope
>that was his name, I haven't had that LP out of storage in many years).
>I wish that I had a nice recording of that.