The earliest known round was written in England during the thirteenth century. Though composed by a monk, the song celebrates the coming of summer and the beauty of nature. Contemporary composers give new life to the old art! Briana Rose recently wrote four gorgeous rounds.
On “You Never Can Tell” and “Sing To Me Now,” read the top staff through both systems before singing the middle staff. Read the middle staff through both systems before singing the bottom staff. The tunes on this page sound beautiful when accompanied with a Bossa Nova groove on the guitar or piano.
You could say I’m part teenager, part four year old and part crone-in-progress, a strange combination. I live a quiet life in my little cottage near Mt. Tamalpais. Songs and poems started coming to me at a time of personal crisis years ago, and I’m still fascinated by the ways love and pain shape and reshape our hearts, bodies, life choices, relationships and, of course, our art.
Earlier this year, I joined Kay Eskenazi’s Harmony Sisters Song Circle, fell in love with rounds and soon found myself exploring a new avenue for songwriting. Sometimes a chord progression can take you over for days, weeks, even months. Such was the case with the two chords that eventually became “All My Life.” I’d been singing melodies over the two chords as I practiced Bossa Nova patterns I was learning on the guitar. Something about the interplay between those two chords just thrilled me, but no lyrics came and no other chords seemed to want to join these two. Then one day, coming home to my guitar after a beautiful hike on Mt. Tam, I found myself singing, “all my life I’ve loved you,” over those chords and the song just took off from there. It was liberating to play with phrases and harmonies that interlocked in a repeating pattern rather than the more familiar verse/chorus/bridge combinations I’d worked with before.
“You Never Can Tell” evolved soon after, as I played with another beautiful chord progression. Sometimes I’ll sing lyrics mixed with gibberish/scat when writing a song, and this technique proved helpful while working out the parts for “You Never Can Tell.”
“Sing To Me Now” was a piano harmony exercise I was struggling with. I have a tendency to get impatient and frustrated at times, but the Muse can save me from myself in unexpected ways. This time, just as I was about to give up, I heard Her voice singing to me in my head: “Sing to me now my sweet baby I love you.” And sure enough, once I started singing the parts with those words I could hear the song take shape.
Recordings coming soon online.
The folknik song pages are lovingly produced by Kay Eskenazi, John Kelly, and Barbara Millikan. Kay Eskenazi produced the song pages for this issue.
If you’d like to submit a song for possible publication, please send a score, tape/CD or (preferably) both to —