The Lumineers and Morley

Your professor here. I’ve been having so much fun following the blog that I was moved to contribute as well. As I’m preparing for our class discussion tomorrow of Thomas Morley’s First Booke of Ayres, or Little Short Songs (1600), I’m simultaneously listening to different recordings of song VI “It was a lover and his lass,” which also appears in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and contemporary music on YouTube. Without thinking it would have any connection to class, I pulled up the Lumineers’ song “Ho Hey” and was immediately struck by how both songs (Morley’s and the Lumineers’) combine a clear and simple message with a refrain of nonsense syllables–the titular “Ho Hey” of the Lumineers’ song, and “with a hay, with a ho, and a hay nonie no” in Morley’s song. Given our discussion earlier this week of Dowland, and how he sets songs first and foremost with attention to the text, I wonder how these nonsense words affect each song’s ability to convey its meaning. Do they contribute to it? Or obscure it in some way with nonsensical, albeit catchy and fun, words? I’ll leave it up to you to decide.


About Stephanie

Early 30-something newlywed, English professor, violinist, and enthusiastic (if infrequent) transportation cyclist.
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