I Wonder as I Wander
I Wonder as I Wander is in a minor key within the whole song. The piece is abstract. The music fits with the words because the words and the music play a role in how the character is wandering and thinking which makes it a mystery. In the music, almost at the end of each phrase the tempo gradually slows down and then become slower and softer, which brings out the beauty of the song, and make it very interesting and special to me. “I Wonder as I Wander” grew out of three lines of music sung for John Jacob Niles by a girl whose name was Anne Morgan. The place was Murphy, North Carolina. The Morgan family was about to be ejected by the police for camping outside the town’s square. They were very poor and had to hold one last meeting to buy enough gas to get out of town. It was then that a poor, unwashed blond girl, who was very lovely, came out and sang three lines of verses from “I Wonder as I Wander.” She charged twenty five cents per performance. After eight times, Niles only had three lines of verses. With his writing, and other addition to the verses, and some original melodic material, “I Wonder as I Wonder” came to exist. Jacob sung it for five years in concerts before it caught on. Since then it’s been sung by soloist and choral groups. John Jacob Niles (1892-1980) was a composer and collector born in Louisville, KY, where his family was very musical. His great grandmother was a composer, organist, and cello manufacturer. His mother, Lula Sarah Niles taught him music theory. In 1914, Niles family moved to a farm in rural Jefferson County where Niles started collecting music. “I Wonder as I Wander” is from the Twentieth Century and composed in 1933. This song occurred in Jacob’s early life. The only challenge for this piece is being able to relax myself while singing this, usually I tend to become tense and occasionally speed up the tempo. Overall this is a very powerful song!
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