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FOLK MUSIC FOR THE VIOLIN LEARNER

Halamus Publishing - Archived Articles - #23, February, 2004



 

FOLK MUSIC VIOLIN

The Articles from the Monthly Newsletters

Written by

M. Lesley Halamek



February, 2004:–


SONG: "Amazing Grace" – Traditional American Folk Hymn Melody


Q: Why should Modal melodies have a Modal accompaniment?
And why should Pentatonic melodies have a Pentatonic accompaniment?

Q: What are the Modes?

A: See Below

Q: Who wrote the words to "Amazing Grace"? And who wrote the Music?

A: John Newton, born London, England, July 24th, 1725, son of a Merchant ship commander, trading in the Mediterranean. John Newton (died 1807) wrote the words of the hymn in 1779. Until his early twenties, he was an unbeliever. A decade later he had become a devout preacher. The tune was known as 'an early American Melody' and became a favorite of the Cherokee Nation. It was sung on the Trail of Tears and can be considered the Cherokee National anthem.

A: Amazing Grace is a traditional American Folk Hymn melody, arranged by Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921), son of a German Reformed Church pastor. Excell also wrote over 2,000 Gospel songs, and worked at a music publishing house in Chicago, Illinois. He founded a number of singing schools in America, and worked with evangelist Sam Jones for two decades. He died at Chicago, Illinois while on an evangelism tour.


The tune for "Amazing Grace"
appears on Pages 70 and 71 of:

"Folksongs for the Violin", Part 3: Third Position, Modes, and Pentatones
(A Graded Selection of Melodies for Beginners of All Ages).

Details on the MUSIC PAGE


Amazing Grace

This hymn was first published in "Olney Hymns" (1779) as "Hymn 41, Faith's review and expectation".

The scripture reference was:   I Chronicles 17:16-17:

["And David the King came and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God."]



Amazing Grace

The original words:




Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, hut now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The LORD has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But GOD, who called me here below,
Will be for ever mine.
 

Amazing Grace

These are the modern words, which include an additional verse and some changes to the original.


1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

2. 'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

4. The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

5. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

6. The world shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun refuse to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Shall be forever mine.

7. When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.



Listen to "Amazing Grace at: http://www.cgmusic.com/cghymnal/others/amazinggrace.htm



John Newton went to sea with his father at the age of 11, and subsequently made 6 voyages before his father's retirement (his mother had died years earlier). At the age of 19, John Newton was press-ganged into the Royal Navy, on board H. M. S. Harwich. Finding conditions on board intolerable, he deserted but was soon recaptured punished, and demoted to common seaman...

He requested an exchange to a slave ship, which took him to the coast of Sierra Leone. He then became the servant of a slave trader and was brutally abused. Early in 1748 he was rescued by a sea captain who had known John's father. John Newton ultimately became captain of his own ship, one which plied the slave trade...

On a homeward voyage, while he was attempting to steer the ship through a violent storm, he experienced what he was to refer to later as his "great deliverance." He recorded in his journal that when all seemed lost and the ship would surely sink, he exclaimed, "Lord, have mercy upon us." Later in his cabin he reflected on what he had said and began to believe that God had addressed him through the storm and that grace had begun to work for him. For the rest of his life he observed the anniversary of May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion.. ..He continued in the slave trade for a time after his conversion; however, he saw to it that the slaves under his care were treated humanely. (Obviously, his conversion wasn't yet complete).

In 1750 he married Mary Catlett, with whom he had been in love for many years. By 1755, after a serious illness, he had given up seafaring forever. During his days as a sailor he had begun to educate himself, teaching himself Latin, among other subjects. From 1755 to 1760 Newton was surveyor of tides at Liverpool, where he came to know George Whitefield, deacon in the Church of England, evangelistic preacher, and leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. ... During this period Newton also met and came to admire John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Newton's self-education continued, and he learned Greek and Hebrew.

He decided to become a minister and applied to the Archbishop of York for ordination. The Archbishop refused his request, but Newton persisted in his goal, and he was subsequently ordained by the Bishop of Lincoln and accepted the curacy of Olney, Buckinghamshire. Newton's church became so crowded during services that it had to be enlarged. He preached not only in Olney but in other parts of the country. In 1767 the poet William Cowper settled at Olney, and he and Newton became friends.

Cowper helped Newton with his religious services and on his tours to other places. They held not only a regular weekly church service but also began a series of weekly prayer meetings, for which their goal was to write a new hymn for each one. They collaborated on several editions of Olney Hymns, which achieved lasting popularity.




A few Biographies of John Newton:

http://www.joyfulheart.com/misc/newton.htm

http://www.newcreation.org.au/books/pdf/285_JohnNewton.pdf

http://www.ccel.org/cceh/archives/eee/newton.htm

http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bnewton2.html

http://reformednet.org/rbcsc/AmazingGracePg2.htm

http://www.texasfasola.org/biographies/johnnewton.html






Q: Why should Modal melodies have a Modal accompaniment?
And why should Pentatonic melodies have a Pentatonic accompaniment?

A: The harmonization of a melody should always preserve the melody's intrinsic nature.
"Amazing Grace" could be described as being both Modal and Pentatonic, i.e. Hypoionic-pentatonic, and should thus be harmonized using the notes contained in the pentatone based on the Hypoionic Mode. It is, however, allowable to use the occasional passing note from outside the pentatone, in a lower part, in order to preserve the rhythmic structure of the descending triplets.

Q: What are the Modes?

A: A Brief explanation of the Modes

The Modes ...developed from the Greek Scale worked out scientifically, in the 6th Century B.C., by Pythagoras and other Greek mathematicians... By the 2nd Century A.D., the Greeks had developed their scale into seven modes.

In the 4th Century A.D., St. Ambrose ...organized the Church music into four Modes, beginning respectively on D, E, F, and G (with no sharps or flats). At the end of the 6th Century, Pope Gregory (I) ... added four Plagal Modes to the four Ambrosian Modes, which he called the Authentic Modes.

In Modes, what we would call the Keynote, is called the Final, being the note on which the melody ends. Each Plagal Mode begins on the Dominant, four notes below the Final of its corresponding Authentic Mode (but ends on the same Final as its corresponding Authentic Mode). The range of a Mode is usually an octave. The difference between an Authentic Mode and its Plagal Mode is merely in the compass of the melody. (e.g. Authentic Mode: Final-Dominant-Final; Plagal Mode: Dominant-Final-Dominant. ...EXCEPT that a Dominant B was later changed to C...).

The Authentic and Plagal Modes (NO Sharps or Flats):-

Mode
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX
X
XI
XII
Mode
Dorian Mode
Hypodorian Mode
Phrygian Mode
Hypophrygian Mode
Lydian Mode
Hypolydian Mode
Mixolydian Mode
Hypomixolydian Mode
Aeolian Mode
Hypoaeolian Mode
Ionian Mode
Hypoionian Mode
Range
D-D
A-A
E-E
B-B (C-C)
F-F
C-C
G-G
D-D
A-A
E-E
C-C
G-G
Final
D
D
E
E
F
F
G
G
A
A
C
C

In the 16th Century Henry of Glarus (Henricus Glareanus) wrote that there should be two more Authentic Modes, with Finals A (Aeolian Mode) and C (Ionian Mode), and their corresponding Plagal Modes... The Ionian Mode (Final: C), or Major Mode, was known as the "wanton Mode". Glareanus also (incorrectly) gave the Modes the names by which we know them today. ...The Plagal Modes take the prefix Hypo (= under, or below) before the Mode's name. A Mixed Mode extends over the range of both the Authentic and Plagal Modes having the same Final. Any Mode, as long as its order of tones and semitones is maintained, can be transposed to any pitch.

The Modes dominated European Music for eleven hundred years, from about the 5th Century to the 16th Century, and were still important, to a diminishing extent, for a considerable time after that. Some modern composers have revived the use of the Modes in their music.

Much of the Folk Music of Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, is based on the Modes. Many Modal Folk melodies still exist in Western Europe and the British Isles. However, in the 18th Century, some arrangers and publishers "tidied up" or "civilized" Modal Folk tunes for "polite" Society by turning the Modes into Major or Minor Keys and regularizing the rhythm. Many of the old tunes were lost or changed forever. (For example, there are at least two different published versions of the "Tiree Bridal Song", one in the Mixolydian Mode, and the other made Major by sharpening the F; some publishers print "The Song of the Volga Boatmen" in a Minor Key with an extra flat as an accidental, instead of in its correct Phrygian Mode).

Many Folksong melodies collected in the British countryside have been found to be Modal. Those in either Major or Minor Keys are either of more recent composition, or are old tunes which have changed with the times, or are really in the Aeolian or Ionian Mode.







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