Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Lost for words?

Where can you find the words to thousands of songs and poems?

A useful free database, The Lied, Art Song and Choral Texts Archive contains the words of thousands of songs. 

Take the Romantic Scottish poet, Allan Cunningham, for example.  (Well, today's his birthday, so it's a good day to focus on him!) 

Allan Cunningham (1784-1842) was a bit of a prankster, to be honest. He invented some Borders songs for Cromek's collection called Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song.  (He admitted this to close friends.)  And he was thought to have done the same for his own larger collection, Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern.  (This is a collection of poetry, not music.)  Plenty of composers have drawn upon his lyrics, all the same.  As you'll see in The Lied, Art Song and Choral Texts Archive.  Here's his page.

Looking for Scottish verse? Allan Cunningham might not be quite what you're looking for, but you can find plenty of source-material at the Scottish Poetry Library.  Here's their catalogue.  Learn a poem, or set one to music. 

  • If you're using a poem as lyrics, do remember to check if the poet is still in copyright.  Poets have feelings (and rights!), but they'll be flattered to be asked ...  
NB this post is one of Whittaker Live's 'On this day' series about Scotland's song history.

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