Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Clifton, Keith E. “‘Yes, It’s a Brilliant Tune’: Quotation in Contemporary American Art Song.” Journal of Singing 72 (January 2016): 279-89.

Since 1945, musical quotation of European classical music, opera in particular, has become a significant trend in contemporary American art song as exemplified by the works of William Bolcom, Tom Cipullo, and Benjamin C. Moore. Bolcom’s George, from volume 2 of his Cabaret Songs, tells the story of a drag performer who is murdered while singing Un bel di from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Throughout the song, Bolcom quotes Un bel di three times in the voice and piano, with the final quotation harmonized as a rich, dissonant lament. In his song Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House, which deals with the frustration of a neighbor’s constantly-barking dog, Cipullo quotes several Beethoven symphonies—including the Eroica funeral march and Ode to Joy—in presenting its facetious revenge fantasy. Moore’s Content to be Behind Me satirizes the rivalry between singers and accompanists by juxtaposing quotations of Schubert’s lied Die Forelle with Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, a much more interesting piece for the pianist. Sexy Lady (for mezzosoprano) and I’m Glad I’m Not a Tenor (for baritone) both quote several famous arias for soprano and tenor respectively, providing a humorous outlet for their less prestigious voice parts. Each of these examples uses existing music in unexpected ways to connect to audiences increasingly detached from classical music.

Works: William Bolcom: George (282); Tom Cipullo: Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House (283-84); Benjamin C. Moore: Content to be Behind Me (284-85), Sexy Lady (284-85), I’m Glad I’m Not a Tenor (285-86).

Sources: Puccini: Madama Butterfly (282), Tosca (285), Turandot (285-86); Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21 (283), Symphony No. 3 in E flat Major, Op. 55 (283-84), Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (283), Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 (283), Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 (283); Schubert: Die Forelle (284-85); Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 (284-85); Handel: Giulio Cesare (284); Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro (284); Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (284-85); Bizet: Carmen (285).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

Except where otherwise noted, this website is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
Creative Commons Attribution License