English song lyrics from a gentler era... "Beauty's But an Idle Boast" is a little-known singing round that is very beautiful.
In the key of Am (shown), this round has a comfortable range... from Middle C to high C, fine for children and also women who haven't done much singing for years!
Please scroll down the page for the download links.
Myself, I'd take this melody quite a bit higher! I would also insist that the singers carry the long notes in the second measure of each line through to the next measure, taking breaths only at the end of each line, so that the beautiful harmony of the Am chord can be heard.
Because this is a complicated melody, I've also made this song available with Alphanotes.
These are made-easy notes that make it possible for singers who are just learning musical notes to gain accuracy with this melody.
I have a singer with a lot of ability, but not the skill to EASILY read a tune with multiple skips and a few accidentals and ledger line notes, and this easy-reader note version helped her to learn this song quickly.
Please scroll down the page for the download links.
I neglected to put "1", "2", and "3" where the new voices are to begin, but I'm sure you'll figure that out! Each line of the music is one section, then at the next line, a new voice enters back at the beginning of the song...
Try the chords on piano or guitar as the group sings.
With this particular singing round, I have found that it is easier to keep the singers on their notes by using the chords than by banging out the melody.
Don't let your voice students drop the breath in the middle of the lines - look at the phrase markings in the first arrangement above (not the lettered notes version).
If they stop to take a breath after "but", and "to-day" in lines 1, 2, and 3, all the energy drops out of the line, and the harmony as well! Demonstrate this for your beginners - they will get it. (The failure to do this by the singers in the video above made their performance less exciting.)
Make them carry the sound through to the end of each line.
They can do all the breathing exercises for singing you want at the beginning of their lessons, but if they don't learn to apply it to real music, you are failing in your job. Make them HEAR themselves.
The round lyrics of this very beautiful piece are quite old-fashioned - I would have guessed they are from Elizabethan England.
However, they are of more recent vintage; a 240+ page book called Moral Emblems: With Aphorisms, Adages, And Proverbs, Of All Ages And Nations (1860) is the source of the song lyrics.
This book is only available as facsimile versions or a Kindle version on Amazon (or $499 or so for an old hardback!), or free at Google Books, if you can figure out how to download their ebooks.
I found the illustrations and moral sayings irresistible in an old-fashioned charming way. Here is a taste of the warnings from these gentlemen of a bygone era:
"Time! it is, whose stealthy wing
Throws on all alike its shade,--
Fades the bloom of ev'ry thing,
Howsoever fair 'twas made!
Time! though it so softly treads,
Silent ruin round us spreads;
And as Age has done by me,
If you live, you'll surely see --
Beauty's but an idle boast,
Your's to-day; to-morrow lost!
"But, there is a Beauty yet,
Far more lasting in the wear;
That which Virtue doth beget,
Fadeless - bright - beyond compare:
Make that Beauty your's, fair maid;
Time o'er that can cast no shade;
And when wrinkled that fair brow,
'T will be fairer far than now, -
With a Beauty that shall gain
Lasting Love in God's domain."
The links for the round:
A pretty round with a reach of an octave, slow-moving notes, and easy intervals. The scale-wise movement makes this song easy for a beginner.
With lyrics from an older time, this is more difficult than many rounds, but compensatingly more beautiful, with more complex harmonies as well!
New lyrics for an old round by Haydn - well-suited to a mix of voices, a satisfying round
Lots of big interval jumps, even octaves, make this round fun and tricky.
Originally from Germany (Kaffee), this is great fun to sing! With new English lyrics that mention mochas, lattes, and "coffee black!"
Difficult! Quite difficult for beginners, this beautiful round works best with a bigger group of singers, or even instrumentalists, unless your singers are experienced with harmony
Pretty, and fairly easy, as it moves primarily in descending steps, this is a wonderful Thanksgiving song!
Haida is vigorous and fun - there are two spots that invite a clap, adding to the rhythmic feeling of this song. Along with "Coffee," this is a favorite, frequently requested!
This brisk but pretty round from England compares a deer to a rabbit, and a man to a woman!
An unbelievably pretty round, with lyrics that DO NOT do it justice! One of my students' perennial favorites.
The first round I use with beginning singers. Very singable!
Another brisk Hebrew round, lovely and minor.
A fun 2-part round from Australia, good for classroom singing
A very pretty little tune with nice major harmonies. A quick study!
Short, and very easy. This is a sweet melody with simple harmonies.
A pretty song with lovely lyrics
A song about peace, from Israel. Very lovely.
Viva la musica
A little different - there is a bit of dissonance to learn to sing through. A joyful melody!
A pretty little round with two parts and two verses, about white coral bells flowers along a garden path.
A street-seller's cry from England.