A scan of my old copy
Margaret Dylan Jones
W.A. composer, pianist,
teacher, article writer
Specialist in solving singing problems
for a wide range of musical styles
Category: Singing, speech, vocal health
Origin: Various composers
Publisher: Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (c) 1991 (MCMXCI)
Reviewed by Margaret: 22 June 2010
Rating: excellent, useful for all classical students and perhaps
An authoritative edition based on authentic sources.
Edited by John Glenn Paton
This is an amazing publication, and I'll explain why a little further
First, the basics. They've grouped together some of the most used and
classical teaching songs that were previously only available in awful
editions. This one has mostly excellent new piano accompaniments, which
are also played for you on an optional CD.
I'll pick out some of my favourites from the contents list just to give
you an idea of its scope: Caccini (ca1545-1618)--Amarilli, mia bella;
Monteverdi (1567-1643)--Lasciatemi morire!; Alessandro Scarlatti
(1660-1725)--Gia il sole dal Gange; Anonymous (ca.1749)--Nina; Fetis
(1784-1871)--Se i miei sospiri.
If you were wondering 'why publish a book of Italian songs for
teaching?' here's the short answer: the Italian language is by far the
best language to sing if you want to develop your voice to its full
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE singing in German, English and
Latin, and sometimes in French, but I have to admit that the pure
vowels of Italian, and the way some of their grammatical rules are
really based on phonetics, means that Italian is a language you HAVE to
sing if you want to develop any sort of decent classical voice.
But the reason this is such an amazing book is because of all the extra
information it gives you. If I look at any song I see the ideas and the
lyrics presented in many ways, so let me use one example to count the
ways. This is the information as given in the book (abbreviated here by
Title: O cessate di piagarmi
If this were all, it would be highly unusual book. But there's more. A
Translation of title: O relent, no more torment me
By: Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Vocal ornamentation by Arthur Schoep
Realization by John Glenn Paton
Lyrics by Nicola Minato, English version by James P. Dunn
Poetic idea: "Please stop being so hard on me..." Sesto, son of the
Roman general, Pompey the Great, sings this to Issicratea...
Background (three paragraphs): Scarlatti was 22 years old when he wrote
Pompeo...Except for a few...the stories...all come out
of ancient Roman history...Scarlatti's operas consisted of recitatives
and arias. Recitatives are sung in irregular rhythms...
Source (three paragraphs): Pompeo, Act 2, scene 5. Score in the
Original key: D minor. Metre: 3/8...
Next they provide the lyrics set out as a poem. Above the Italian
lyrics (which you sing) is a phonetic version, written using the
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which is all conveniently
explained in a cheat sheet inside the back cover. (And the page before
that gives lots of great tips for English speakers about how to sing in
Below the poetic lyrics is a word-by-word English translation. It's not
singable, it's only meant to help you understand exactly what each
Italian word means.
Now we get to the actual score. The Italian lyrics are given with
each open 'e' and 'o' printed with IPA symbols so there is no
confusion about whether to sing them open or closed. Underneath the
lyrics is a singable English version (but note that
singing it in English defeats the purpose of using Italian to develope
a good classical voice). The editor's
suggestions for dynamics etc are given in grey so you can easily tell
what is his and what is the composer's.
Pretty good, don't you think? But it doesn't end there. At the bottom
of the first page is this:
Turn the page and you get the next bit.
(First stanza) O cease to wound me, O let me die.
(Second stanza) More than a serpent, more than an asp, cruel and deaf
to my sighing.
I was going to 'count the ways,' but I've lost count--there are so many.
Oh, I nearly forgot: under the title, which is also given translated
is a stave showing the range of the vocal line. In this case, F# above
middle C to the F natural on the top line (this is the Medium High
And there are great educational resources in the front of the book
before you even get to the
music. These make a great read:
A quote from the Preface: "If you have known these arias in other
editions, you will find surprises in this one. Many errors have been
corrected. Wrong notes, wrong words, and wrong composers' names have
been set right..."
The Roots of Baroque Style
The Evolution of Classical and Romantic Styles
Good Style in Italian Singing
Good Style in Accopanying
Every song gets the full treatment, but a lucky few come with an extra
feature: a reproduction of a page of the original. Students
can see from this that the original accompaniment was no more than a
figured bass line--all the other notes in the piano part have been
added by John Paton. See it here.
There is not much of a downside to this publication. Many years ago I
did listen to the piano accompaniments on the CD and found most of them
were good, with one or two that I didn't like. From memory, a couple
too slow for my way of thinking.
And the paper quality is not the best. But that's a small quibble.
You get a singable rhymed translation, a readable prose translation and
literal translation of every Italian word. The printed accompaniments
are stylistically appropriate as are the performance directions (loud
& soft etc).
This excellent resource is highly recommended--useful for any student
of classical voice. These days that can include students of other
singing styles, unless you are unlucky enough to strike a teacher who
is not familiar with how the voice is produced in other singing styles.
(If a teacher is not comfortable with non-classical singing techniques
they should not use this book with any non-classical students, but then
they wouldn't have any, would they?)
There's no doubt any serious classical singing student should have one
How do I know this product?
While my main speciality is turning around voice problems and
fixing the vocal health issues of singers and speakers, I also teach
In 1992 I purchased both the Medium High and Medium Low versions, after
teaching many of these songs from earlier editions that were
unstylistic. Since then I've used them a great deal, particularly for
intermediate level singers, and not only for those wanting to develop a
classical voice. Similarly to many teachers, I like them because they
are excellent for student and semi-professional performances, including
Mix Margaret Dylan Jones, singing teacher.
MusB, DipEd, LTCL, ATCL,
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