7th Grade Music History
SUMMER IS ICUMEN IN
“Sumer Is Icumen In” is a traditional English song. It is written in the style of a round (also reffed to as a canon or as polyphonic). “Summer Is Icumen In” is possibly one of the oldest written and printed rounds in history (approximately 1260 AD). The title can be translated as “Summer has come in” or “Summer has arrived”. Visit the website bellow for a translation of the Old English words.
OLD ENGLISH MODERN TRANSLATION
|Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu.
|Summer is a-coming in
Loudly sing cuckoo
Groweth seed and bloweth mead
and springs the wood anew
|Awe bleteþ after lomb,
lhouþ after calue cu,
Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ.
Murie sing cuccu!
Wel singes þu cuccu.
ne swik þu nauer nu!
Sing cuccu nu, Sing cuccu!
|Ewe bleateth aft-er lamb,
Calf loweth after cow,
Bullock starteth, buck farteth,
Merry sing cuckoo!
Well singest thou cuckoo,
Nor cease thou never now!
Sing cuckoo now, Sing cuckoo!
Sing cuccu, Sing cuccu nu!
|Foot (or Bass)
Sing cuckoo, Sing cuckoo now!
“Summer Is Icumen In” is a round/canon with two different musical lines. The lower part can be called a bass line or the “foot.” The bass line/ foot can be performed in two parts and the main melody line can be performed in 4 parts. When we put these two lines together we end up with a total of 6 parts.
LISTEN TO THIS PERFORMANCE OF “SUMMER IS ICUMEN IN”
It starts with the base line being sung in two parts (the second voice starts only a couple seconds after the first) . About 9 seconds later, one more voice starts singing the main melody over the base line. The song is then repeated 2 more times in a round/ canon.
A drone is a musical pitch that is sustained, often times, throughout an entire song. Bagpipes were around even in the Renaissance, and they also have drones.
Listen to this bagpipe player perform “Summer Is Icumen In” and listen closely to the drone.
PLEASE DO YOUR BEST TO DESCRIBE WHAT YOU READ & HEARD, BY ANSWERING THE FOLLOWING QUESTION
1. About how old is the song Summer Is Icumen In?
2. Translate – What do the words ” Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ” mean?
3. “Summer Is Icumen In” is a round/canon with two different musical lines. The lower part can be called a base line. What else can it be called?
4. What is the total number of voice parts that can be used in performing this song?
FIRST LISTENING PORTION:
5. Not including the base line, how many voices sing “Sumer Is Icumen In” in canon during the first repetition at 00:35 seconds ?
6. Not including the base line, how many voices sing “Sumer Is Icumen In” in canon during the the second repetition at 1:07 ?
7. How would you describe the tone quality of the voices singing and the mood of the song?(use at least 4 descriptive words)
LISTENING FOR DRONES
8. What is a drone?
9. Name an old instrument that uses a drone
10. Based on what you heard and read, do you think it would be difficult to sing or hum a drone along with a song? Please explain your answer.