Buzz, Quoth the Blue Fly

 

 

Buzz, Quoth the Blue Fly - (2010)    

Ben Jonson

for medium voice and piano


 

Buzz, quoth the blue fly,
Hum, quoth the bee,
Buzz and hum they cry,
And so do we:
In his ear, in his nose,
Thus, do you see?
He ate the dormouse,
Else it was thee.

[ 3 pages, circa 2' 00" ]


Ben Jonson

 

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, known for his satirical plays and lyric poems. The text has been regularly included in nursery rhyme anthologies, and its reference to onomatopoeia in "buzz" and "hum" are expanded by the vocal line buzzing and humming in introduction to the text.

 

 

The delicate opening gestures imply one side to the tale of these insects -- as interesting creatures in their sounds and cries. The E flat major tonality is warm and flattering to the vocal buzz and hum in its lower registers.

 

 

 

The fact that insects annoy is Jonson's little twist in the short text, and for this the piano shifts from a delicate filigree to a downward chromatic line as the vocal line rises to tell us that we "cry" at the annoyance of such insects. Still, we also characterize them as buzzing and humming, and for this the opening melodic gestures in voice and piano are reprised, lighting the mood in the end.

 

 

 

The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

Buzz, Quoth the Blue Fly