Welcome back to Repertoire Corner. This week, we’re contrasting two very different songs taken from the ABRSM Grade 2 list – both with more adult ideas in them than might first meet the eye.
Anon. English – The Coventry Carol
[ABRSM 2(B), TG 2(B)]
At first listen, this sounds a like a gentle lullaby to be sung around Christmas time. Instead, if you delve into the words, this is the mothers of the baby boys massacred by Herod singing a lullaby to Jesus. Throughout this song, the singer needs to engage deeply with the agony of these women who have lost their children, and yet still urge the baby Jesus to be quiet so that Herod does not find him. Carefully chosen dynamic variation will help to keep the simple melody from becoming repetitive. Take care with the end of each verse as the shift to the major key could easily catch beginners out. This song is also very long, so needs effort to maintain interest and concentration throughout. [YouTube]
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Bart – As Long as He Needs Me
[ABRSM 2(C); TG 3(A); LCM MT 5-6]
It is all too easy to sing this song as a flowing and pretty tune. It sounds so romantic. However, this is really a song about a woman trapped in a violent relationship, and in fear of her life, but unable to leave. It’s a 1960s version of the haunting “Maybe I Like it This Way” from Lippa’s The Wild Party. Instead, the lyrical melody should be sung more haltingly as though on the brink of tears, in desperation. LCM’s music theatre rating is a lot more accurate regarding the difficulty of this song. Even without the acting challenges, there are also vocal challenges since singers should also aim for a cockney accent over the top of basic good vocal technique. [YouTube]