Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements” vs. Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”


You may know this song if you watch “The Big Bang Theory” since Sheldon sings it in an episode.

Anway, because you all are in this Lyrics course by choice, I am going to assume that most of you have some type of artsy quality about you. Because my fault lies in mathematics and sciences, the only reason I survived is with the art of music! No, but seriously.. I used to, and still to this day, turn studying into a music session. I simply take notes and make a song out of it. It really does help me memorize concepts when it comes time for the test. How does this fit with this weeks lesson, you ask? Well,  “Green Sleeves” was a large topic of our discussion, and this tune was sung to many songs during that time period. I took this same concept, however I would fit my notes into certain tunes of music. Anyway,  I took AP Chemistry during my sophomore year of High School, and it was the death of me… until I was able to alter my notes to fit certain tunes of music. Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements” was one song that demonstrates this “art.” Call me a nerd, but I totally had this song memorized and could recite it on the spot. Not so sure I can anymore, but you get the idea. Instead of using the tune of “Green Sleeves” for “The Elements,” Lehrer transposed the tune from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Major General’s Song” from the play “The Pirates of Penzance” (I am the very model of a modern Major -General.. I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral). This song is well-known for its fast-paced quality, much like Lehrer’s song. 

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