Friday, May 7, 2010

"Old Settlers" Folk Song

Does your hometown have a theme song? As discussed in one of our earlier blogs, Mooresville, Indiana received its unofficial "town song" when the Rev. Dr. Frank C. Huston wrote Mooresville in 1935. It is a fine composition, carefully crafted by a masterful composer who earned a worldwide reputation as a writer of gospel and popular tunes.

Janet E. (née Griffin) Buckley is a native of Mooresville, Indiana. She has spent much of her life living there, and she was intrigued by the idea of composing a song that encapsulated the history and spirit of the community since its founding in 1824. She played clarinet for the Mooresville High School marching band (not quite as long ago as the town's founding), and, in recent years, she has learned guitar. Her spouse wrote the lyrics, upon which she made significant improvements, and her impromptu singing of the words gave the tune its melody line. Since neither received any music theory training, they "guess-timated" the musical notation using Finale software. The result, shown here and here, gives a rough approximation of what the song might sound like. If you can sing, give it a try, and see if it sounds good ("If it sounds good, it is good," said Duke Ellington).  An instrumental version is available here and here.

Following the song's publication, Janet suggested that the refrain lyrics "Left me here to sing you this song" should be changed to "Left me here to sing you their songs," since it is the old settlers' songs (i.e., their life stories) that are being commemorated. Make the lyrical substitution and see what you think.

For professional quality musical compositions, the couple directs readers to the works of Danny Buckley, who will be graduating from Millikin University (Decatur, IL) next Sunday. You can hear his compositions by watching the library's videos on its YouTube Channel.

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