Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Under the Greenwood Tree, from As You Like It (Day 61)

Shakespeare by David LevineDay 61 of Project 194 finds us still enjoying the “peaceful, easy feeling” of the Forest of Arden. Like yesterday’s post, this is a composer’s demo of music that I created for the 1998 production of As You Like It at The University of the Arts.

Under the greenwood tree,
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i’ the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

A moment later in the scene, another character sings a sarcastic parody of this song, improvising a mocking text to fit the same melody:

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please,
Ducdamè, ducdamè, ducdamè:
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he,
An if he will come to me.

I can see how director David Howey sensed the spirit of the Woodstock generation in a song like this one. It invites the listener to “drop out” of the rat race, shunning ambition to lie under a tree and listen to the birds sing. The play is a pastorale, a fantasy of courtly characters in a rural setting, and this morning it makes me recall Alec Wilder’s lovely pop song, “It’s So Peaceful In The Country,” with its memorable bridge:

City living is a pretty living
It’s so full of unexpected thrills
But there’s too much stone
Too much telephone
There’s too much of everything but trees and hills.

If you missed them, these are the songs already posted on Project 194; the links on the right are songs chosen at random from previous posts. Want to contribute to my interactive composition, “Hear My Song?” Read more here. Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up here!

Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind, from As You Like It (Day 60)

Troop 194Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit! It’s the first of March, and that means that Project 194 has been going on for two entire months. The site has attracted more than 700 visitors since it went live at the beginning of the year, and nearly 2/3 of them come back repeatedly. That’s gotten the attention of the Philly arts blog Phindie.com. And of course, in the words of the immortal Al Jolson, “You ain’t heard nothing yet!”

I think we’ll spend some time with one of my favorite collaborators, William Shakespeare, in the coming days. I’ve had the privilege of composing music for half a dozen Shakespeare productions over the years, most recently this fall, when I created a score for Macbeth at the University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players. I’ve chosen to begin, however, with something a little more seasonal, from As You Like It:

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The Wind and the Rain (Day 26)

Things are getting a little meteorological on Project 194 this morning as I share a song with a text by one of my most cooperative collaborators, Willie the Shake. (When I add a syllable, he never complains!) This setting of The Wind and the Rain was created for the Arden Theater’s production of Twelfth Night, directed by the inimitable Whit Maclaughlin, in 2003. Whit’s idea was that Illyria was a Mediterranean resort with Sinatra platters in the jukebox at the bar, hence the ring-a-ding swing style of this track. Bev Appleton was great as Feste in this production, and not just because he gave a great rendition of this number.

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