Date of this Version
Pirates have always been mysterious figures. They came out of nowhere, attacked their victims, plundered their goods, and vanished. Reason tells us that pirates were no more than common criminals, but over the centuries, history has come to portray them as romantic and even heroic figures. This stereotype of piracy has long been a fascination of authors, poets, and composers, and it is evident in our cultural landscape.
This document examines an area of pirate literature that has been neglected, if ever discussed: the published pirate song for solo voice and piano accompaniment. Over the past two centuries many such pirate-themed compositions have been composed, published, sold, and circulated. Yet today, much like the elusive pirates themselves, most of this musical repertoire has become obscure. It, too, has nearly vanished, remaining seldom performed, mostly forgotten, and now buried at the bottom of the proverbial musical sea.
My breadth of study is that of existing “classical” scores: published sheet music for voice and piano, either currently in print or long out-of-print, still under copyright, or now in the public domain. Based on the actual source material—the scores I have found and obtained—I have created a reference piece. Through the unearthing and reexamination of these long forgotten and seldom-heard songs, I will illustrate how this repertoire can serve as a viable performing resource for the practicing and performing singer as well as a teaching asset for the vocal educator. It is my goal to illuminate for the reader the most salient features of each piece, be they musical, pedagogical, textual, historical, or any combination thereof. The result of this examination, therefore, is a comprehensive catalogue or literature guide providing valuable detailed information about the songs found within this overlooked repertoire.
Advisor: William Shomos