Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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Music of the Waters.           . 187
forehead, has a most extraordinary soprano, sound as a bell, strong as a trumpet, well-trained, and true to the least shade in intonation. Piero, whose rugged Neptunian features, sea-wrinkled, tell of a rough water-life, boasts a bass of resonant, almost pathetic quality. Francesco has a mezza voce, which might, by a stretch of politeness, be called baritone. ..." Then they burst into full singing, Antonio leading with a metal note that thrilled one's ears, but still was musical. Complicated contrapuntal pieces, such as we should call madrigals, with ever reviving refrains of' Venezia, gemma'Triatica, sposa del mar,' descending probably from ancient days, followed each other in quick succession. Barcaroles, serenades, love-songs, and invita­tions to the water, were interwoven for relief. One of these romantic pieces had a beautiful burden, ' Dormi, o bella, o fingi di dormir,' of which the melody was fully worthy. ' But the most successful of all the tunes were two with a sad motive. The one repeated in­cessantly, ' Ohime"! Mia madre morl;' the other was a girl's love-lament, " Perche tradirmi, perche lasciarmi! prima d' amarmi non eri cosi!' All these were purely popular songs." Mr. Symonds then goes on to speak of the passionate love for operas, which exists amongst the Venetian watermen. " These operatic reminiscences had lost something of their theatrical formality, and assumed instead the serious gravity, the quaint movement, and marked emphasis which belong to popular music in Northern and Central Italy. An antique character was communicated even to the recitative of Verdi by slight, almost indefinable, changes of rhythm and accent." In conclusion, he says, " On all these occasions I have found these gondoliers the same sympathetic, industrious, cheery, affectionate folk. They live in many respects a hard and precarious life. The winter in particular is a time of anxiety and sometimes of privation, even to the well-to-do among them. Work then is scarce, and what there is, is rendered disagreeable to them by the cold. Yet they take

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