Posted in Project 8: Rounds and Catches

Round 1: Laugh and the World Laughs with You

Note: Before you take a look at my round, you can read my research about rounds in general here. The research includes the fuzzy terminology between canon, round and catch, the first round Sumer is icumen in and other. 

My first round in F major follows the first progression given in the Example 36 of the course material. Here is the whole melody written out, with numbers above denoting when the voices should join in:


Fully notated:


Click here to download audio of the melody

Click here to download audio of the round with all voices

The lyrics are based on the first two lines of Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Being one of my favorite poems, it’s no wonder I chose it for the lyrics. Rounds are also often based on proverbs, and the two lines are indeed proverbial – another reason I chose it.
In order to match the melody, I changed the lyrics a little bit, from “… weep alone” to “… weep lonely”. In order to add the third phrase/voice to the melody, I added a type of commentary to it: “For no one will seek those in sadness,” which may be one of the ways you understand the first two lines.
The melody is quite simple. I’ve written it in 3/4 using crochets, half and half dotted notes, with quavers here and there. It’s structured probably as two sentences (bars 1-8 and 9-12). As given, the harmony is the simple I – V, with some ornamental passing tones. Ending on dominant, the melody has the tendency to repeat (which most rounds do) and the last bar of the third line leads great into the repetition.
I didn’t add the directions such as tempo and articulation, since most of the rounds I looked at, also didn’t include them. I wrote the round with soprano in mind, although tenors can also sing it an octave lower. I think the melody is easy to sing, although the sixth jump – A to F, from bar 9 to bar 10, may be a bit challenging for some. Generally, melody sounds a bit Christmas carol-like to me.
I wrote canons before, so this wasn’t something completely new to me, but the idea about a single melodic line combining with itself to create counterpoint was. I also didn’t write vocal pieces which included lyrics, so I had to learn a bit about the notation in this case, for example, when the notes in words/syllables are slurred and when not.
There is one more round I wrote in g minor. It has a lot more serious tone. Take a look at it here.

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