Haydn: My mother bids me bind my hair.

  • Background Informaion & Performance Circumstances. 
  • Vocal Setting and Instrumentation. 
  • Texture.
  • Structure. 
  • Tonality. 
  • Harmony.
  • Melody. 
  • Rhythm and Metre. 
  • Text Setting. 
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Background Information & Performance Circumstances

  • Haydn was writing songs for amateur market in England - particularly for young ladies to play and sing. 
  • This comes from a group of pieces that Haydn arranged, based on British folk songs. 

Elements typical of classical period include:

  • Predominantly in the major key, A major. 
  • Balanced phrases - the vocal tune begins with an antecedent, a 4 bar phrase ending with an imperfect cadence, followed by the consequent, a 4 bar phrase ending with a perfect cadence (in the dominant key). 
  • Mainly simple diatonic music, with some subtle chromatcism in piano introduction, and later on in the vocals. 
  • Modulations to closely related keys - only modulates to the dominant. 
  • Use of the new fortepiano, evident in crescendoes, etc. 
  • Melody dominated homophony, and heterophony in 'for why, she cries' section. 
  • Second inversion cadence at the end of the piano introduction. 
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Vocal Style & Instrumentation.

  • Designed to be playable by amateur performers. 
  • Narrow range in voice part, only an octave from E to E. 
  • Text setting is mainly syllabic with short slurs. 
  • Most difficult vocal passage occurs in brief chromatic section in bar 23. 
  • Vocal part moves mainly in conjunct motion, or simply outlining chords. 
  • Right hand of piano mainly doubles the voice part, with elaborations between phrases. 
  • Occasional moments of heterophony, e.g. in chromatic section. 
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Texture and Structure.


  • Piano right hand doubles the vioce mostly, with occasional moments of heterophony. 
  • Piano texture contains four part texture, e.g. in the opening bar of the piano introduction, which includes a tonic pedal. 
  • The left hand of piano occasionally has simple alternating broken chordal notes, for example in the introduction, and sometimes in the right hand also. 
  • There are also octaves and thirds in the piano part. 


  • Simple strophic form, second verse repeats music exactly of first verse. 
  • 8 bar piano intrduction, with foreshadows vocal part. 
  • Each verse modulates to the dominant in the middle, and then returns to tonic. 
  • Simple balances 4 bar phrases in first page, but then phrase lengths become more uneven as song progresses. 
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Tonality and Harmony.


  • Functional tonality with only one modulation to the dominant. 
  • The whole of the middle section is in the dominant, before returning to tonic at the words, 'alas I scarce can go or creep'. 
  • Diatonic music. 
  • Chromaticism in the middle section, and in the chromatic descent in the piano introduction. 
  • Key is emphasised by tonic and dominant pedal points. 


  • Functional harmony emphasis tonic and dominant chords, mainly using root and first inversion chords. 
  • Perfect cadences are used, with carefully controlled 2nd inversion chords. 
  • Simple diatonic harmony, with dissonance provided by pedal points and suspensions. 
  • Appogiaturas and double appogiaturas enliven the harmony. 
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Melody, Rhythm and Text Setting.


  • Simple diatonic, occasional chromaticism, frequent stepwise progression. 
  • Ornaments at the end of phrases, for example end of second vocal phrase.
  • Frequented appogiaturas. 

Rhythm and Metre:

  • Compound duple, 6/8. 
  • Every single phrase begins with an anacrusis of a quaver. 
  • Most rhythm consists of simple groupings of quavers and semiquavers, with occasional dotted rhythm. 
  • There is a passage of triplets at the end of the piano introduction, followed by demisemiquavers. 
  • Rests are used to illustrate sighs in the middle of each verse. 

Text Setting:

  • Compresses four verses of text into two verses of song. 
  • Some word painting in first verse. 
  • Strophic setitng works less well in second verse. 
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