An Analysis of a Selected Collection of Secular Early American Vocal Literature (Classical).

Jo Ann theresa Puissegur, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College


An interesting array of secular solo songs was composed in the United States during the years 1759-1800 by native-born and immigrant composers. Despite a diverse representation of nationalities among the colonists, the compositional style in the United States during this period reflected the English ballad. Some of the songs have been preserved, but are not readily available to the general public. Therefore, they are not part of the current song repertoire. Although a vast repertoire of eighteenth-century song literature is available in many languages, it is considered appropriate by many voice teachers that a student begin singing in his native language. The secular solo songs composed in the United States 1759-1800 were written in English, classical in style, and they range in difficulty from songs composed with the beginning singer in mind, to songs composed for the professional singer. These songs would make an interesting contribution to the current song repertoire. Chapter II contains general information on the type of secular solo song composed between the years 1759-1800 in the United States and a brief historical background of vocal music in the United States prior to 1800. The main body of the report, chapter III, contains biographical material on the composers whose works are included in the report and an analysis of one song by each composer indicating: composer's name and dates, title of composition and date, key signature, meter signature, tempo, range, tessitura, form, legato line, sustained passages, chromatic notes, chromatic passages, scale-type melodic passages, repeated notes, skips of a third, fourth, and fifth, leaps larger than a fifth, rhythmic patterns, ornamentation, textual content, and syllabic or melismatic text setting. A summary, conclusions, and recommendations are contained in chapter IV.