I made a couple improvements to the sheet music for Kristen Hersh’s song “Elizabeth June”: I fixed a typo where I named a chord G rather than F, and I added chord fingering diagrams.
For what it’s worth, the reason why I’m posting this modern music on this blog is that it’s a case of open and participatory music, parlor style.
This is my transcription of Kristen Hersh’s song Elizabeth June. This is a lead sheet with the chords, melody, and lyrics together. I don’t have a good transcription of the guitar picking patterns.
I got to know this song well by transcribing it, which is a great thing about transcription. The engine of the song is the way that she handles variation. The left and right picking patterns are closely related but clearly distinct; for example they have contrary motion within a narrow range of pitches to produce enough complexity to keep the song from sounding like a Joan Baez accompaniment. The melody is about balance between repetition and invention. Economy is a big issue. The thinking in this piece me of Morton Feldman’s piece “For Bunita Marcos.” If you listen to the MP3 of the MIDI of the vocal line by itself, as if there wasn’t supposed to be anything else, it sounds a *lot* like that.
At first my least favorite line in the lyrics was “your new moguls: trees”, which struck me as trying too hard. Now it’s my favorite line because it’s funny.
Here’s what the sheet music looks like:
To help people play Frog in the Well for themselves, here’s guitar tablature and sheet music:
Jay Fienberg tracked down a lot more info about the song
I know this tune as “King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O” by Chubby Parker & His Old Time Banjo, from Harry Smith’s Anthology Of American Folk Music. So, I was a little curious about some of the history around this tune, was poking around the web, and found that Roger McGuinn has a whole post on the history of King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O:
“King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O” is a version of the old English song “Frog Went A-Courting.” Its first known appearance is in Wedderburn’s Complaynt of Scotland (1548) under the name “The frog came to the myl dur.” There is a reference in the London Company of Stationer’s Register of 1580 to “A Moste Strange Weddinge of the Frogge and the Mouse.” The oldest known musical version is in Thomas Ravenscroft’s Melismata in 1611.
There’s more in McGuinn’s post, including the lyrics and an mp3 of a performance of the song by McGuinn himself, I think.
For people who aren’t going to dowload the tablature, here’s a quick look at it: