Special Songs - Rounds

Apples and Cherries, one of the songs included in our Fiddle Collection, is one of a family of songs that are composed according to some specific musical rules, with a specific musical purpose in mind: to be singable as a “round” A round is a song that can be sung just like any song, but it can also be sung—if there is more than one person present to sing it—with each singer starting it at different times. For example, in Apples and Cherries, person A can start singing “apples and cherries” alone. When A gets to singing “peaches, blueberries”, person B starts signing the first line “apples and cherries”. When leader A starts “grapes and bananas”, and B is now singing “peaches, blueberries”, person C can start in singing “apples and cherries”. The song can keep going, as person A can loop back around and begin the song again while person C is in the middle, and person B is finishing and getting ready to loop back as well. You can hear Apples and Cherries being sung this way in the latter part of the recording on the Fiddle Collection.

Now, you can attempt this style of singing with any song, of course. The trick is, whereas if you and your spouse and friends tried singing, say, Bohemian Rhapsody this way—everybody singing one line away from everybody else—you’d experience pitches and rhythms (and words) that clash unpleasantly with each other (even more than in the original song), but with Apples and Cherries (and with any round) sung in this manner, the singers experience pleasing harmonies and complimentary note rhythms: simultaneous different musical pitches and durations that are enjoyable to experience. Singing songs in harmony with other singers is an advanced musical skill, and yet rounds are clever concoctions that help make harmony singing much easier. Everybody in the group (your family, perhaps) only needs to know how to sing the one song; when sung as a round it magically presents a more sophisticated musical experience!

No, toddlers can’t sing rounds as rounds. Your young toddler will be/is definitely singing Apples and Cherries on his or her own; nevertheless, singing in a round requires confidence in singing (“carrying a tune”) that will show up in the early school years. (Roughly speaking. I often hear of second-graders singing rounds as rounds in school music classes). So sing Apples and Cherries WITH your child (in unison) now, while you sing it as a round with your significant other, with your older children, with your parents, etc. In a few years, you can bring it back into the family repertoire during car trips and delight your child (and be delighted by your child) as you and he/she sing it as a round, challenging each other to see who messes up first, but making beautiful, harmonically-rich Music Together®.

You know other rounds too. Row, row, row your boat; Frere Jacques; Three Blind Mice (um, change the words); Farmer in the Dell; Hey Ho Nobody Home; etc. Every Music Together song collection has at least one round song. Mr. Mark’s Halloween video The Ghost of John is a round, sung as a round (Thanks to the onward drive of technology, having a group of people to sing a round is no longer a requirement, you can do it yourself with computer help: but it’s way more fun singing it with a group of real people!)