ART SONG: Bredon Hill (1912) by George Butterworth

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  • Created by: Zoe5
  • Created on: 12-06-16 17:36

"Bredon Hill" (1912) by George Butterworth


  • Voice and piano, from a song cycle
  • Takes texts from A.E. Housman's poems of young men facing death
  • Bredon Hill describes a lover reflecting on the sounds of English country church bells at times of love, hope and sadness in life

Text setting

  • Opening triads suggest chime of bells
  • Accompaniment in middle range allows melody to come through
  • Constant quaver figures inc. scales/arpeggios evocative of church bells

How the accompaniment responds to the text

  • Rhythmic drive, support for voice, opening motif links verses together
  • V5&6: held semibreve chords are tonally ambiguous (numbness of death)
  • V5: repeated four-chord sequence is monotonous
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"Bredon Hill" (1912) by George Butterworth


  • V1-4 open the same but endings are altered for modulations- heightens tension
  • V1: simple, diatonic, F major, happy pastoral summer mood, based on triad notes, folky
  • V2: modulates to F# major
  • V3: ends in G major
  • V5&6: held semibreve chords are tonally ambiguous (numbness of death)
  • V5: vocal melody begins as before in opening F major key- unexpected
  • V6 same as V5 but G minor
  • Repeated G in piano = death knell tolling
  • V6: whole tone in all parts = desolate emptiness, death and loss
  • V6: B pedal creates tritone with vocals- death

Use of motifs

  • V6 uses opening bell motif augmented
  • Last 3 bars use quaver bell motif from b14
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"Bredon Hill" (1912) by George Butterworth

Features of vocal melody

  • Often a climax on leading note falls back rather than leading to tonic
  • V2: mostly syllabic- youthful innocence
  • V2: rests on mediant "would"- quiet/tender contrasts with loud endings of other verses
  • V3: some mellisma- "come"


  • V6: begins with moderate pace of previous section- links with sadness of that verse
  • Speed increases as accompaniment returns to original quavers & more impassioned mood


  • Strophic, 4-bar balanced phrases, three phrases per verse
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