Today, I added new content to Songs of the Victorians: specifically, I incorporated my analysis of Tennyson’s Maud (1855) and of Michael William Balfe’s setting (1857) of it. Some of you may have heard of Balfe’s “Come into the Garden, Maud,” since it is one of the most famous (and most parodied) Victorian songs. It was widely considered to be a fairly traditional love song in which a man waits in a garden for the woman he desires and sings of his affection for her, and many critics faulted it for being too sentimental. I’m arguing that, while the song can be performed to sound like a traditional love song, it also gives voice to the speaker’s insanity, violent tendencies, and repetitive, obsessive speech through harmonic instability. As with the “analysis” page for Caroline Norton’s “Juanita,” users can read my analysis and then click on the icon of a speaker interspersed throughout the analysis to see and hear the musical excerpts: for each excerpt, a box, highlighting each measure, will move in time with the music so that all readers, regardless of musical expertise, can follow the score and my argument.
I’m planning to add my analysis of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord” (1877) around the end of May/beginning of June, and then add my analysis of Sir Arthur Somervell’s Maud (1898) around the end of June/beginning of July. I’ll make sure to post updates or changes to that schedule here and through my twitter account (@annieswafford) to keep everyone in the loop.
In the interim, please feel free to leave a comment on my blog! I’d love to know your thoughts about Songs of the Victorians: are you enjoying it? Have you used it in a particularly interesting way? (I’ve heard from one kind reader that he used the archive page it to learn how to play one of the songs for residents in a a retirement community who had requested it.) Are you incorporating it in your classroom? I’d be curious to hear how the site is being used!