9 Songs for Summer

It was the longest day last weekend, and so I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of my favourite songs about Summer as it is now, officially, the summer.

Summer Is Icummen In

A traditional, mid-13th century song that is written in the Wessex dialect of middle English. The title of the song means “Summer has arrived”. It is a round, which means that it can be sung by two or more voices. One voice will start the melody line and a second voice will come in singing the same melody line, often at the end of the first bar or phrase. This song reminds me of being at school as it is something I sang with my school choir many years ago. Like many summer songs it is joyful and has a lot of energy in it.

Summertime by George Gershwin

Summertime was originally composed by George Gershwin for the opera Porgy and Bess but has since become a jazz standard in its own right. This song has been recorded thousands of times, the first time it was featured in the American pop charts it was sung by Billie Holliday and here is her version of the song for you to have a listen to:

In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry

Something of a change of pace from the previous two songs, this song from 1970 celebrates the carefree nature of summer days. Ray Dorset, of Mungo Jerry, has said that the song only took him 10 minutes to write!

Surfin USA by Beach boys

No Summertime playlist would be complete without a song by the Beach Boys I think. Maybe because I am a child of the 70s/80s, and these songs all remind me so much of listening to them in the summer. They make me think of driving along in my parents car with the windows down and the wind in my face – sometimes having to close my eyes because the wind was too strong! The lyrics are, of course, about surfing which helps with the summer association for me, but the sound of the music is very upbeat, joyful, lively, everything you associate with carefree summer days.

The Sun Has Got His Hat On by Noel Gay and Ralph Butter

This is a very well known children’s song, known mainly for its first verse:

The sun has got his hat on

Hip, hip, hip hooray.

The sun has got his hat on

And he’s coming out to play.

However, this song has had a difficult history with the second verse using the ‘n’ word, so when looking to play this song for your children, avoid original versions of the song that contain this offensive word.

“Summer” from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi

The Four Seasons was written by Antonio Vivaldi as a set of 4 Violin concerti, each having its own seasonally inspired theme. The music is very descriptive, Vivaldi using the music to paint a picture. This is a great piece of music to listen to with your little ones and ask them to paint or draw a picture inspired by the music, or describe to you what the music makes them think of. When Vivaldi published these concerti, he wrote a set of sonnets, or programme notes really, which described what he was trying to do with each concerto, what he intended the listener to hear in his music.

Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Mendelssohn

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedy written by William Shakespeare in the late 1500s. It tells the story of events that occurred on a midsummer’s night. There are different subplots in the play – one about the love lives of 4 young people, one about a group of amateur actors putting on a play, and one about the love life of the King and Queen of the Fairies, Oberon and Titania. In 1826, at the age of just 17 years, Mendelssohn wrote the stand alone piece, the Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, intended as a concert overture and not associated with any play. It is a piece of programme music, much like the Four Seasons, in that it tells the story through the music. At one point, you can hear the braying of a donkey (one of the amateur actors in the play is turned into a donkey, for those unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s play.) Here you can hear the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra performing this work.

Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo

The Concerto de Aranjuez was written in 1939 by the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo for guitar and orchestra. It was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez. Rodrigo did not actually play the guitar himself, but this is probably one of the best known pieces of music written for guitar and orchestra. Here is the second movement, the most instantly recognisable, and one that for me instantly evokes the idea of summer and hot, balmy days.

Prelude de l’apres-midi d’un faune by Debussy

Firstly I should say here, that I have not yet worked out how on earth to add the correct accents to my text, so I am missing the correct accents in the title here. I will work that out one day! This piece of music is a symphonic poem for orchestra. Symphonic poems were pieces of orchestral music written in one continuous movement, rather than broken up into several movements. They were written, again like The Four Seasons, and the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream above, to paint a picture of the subject matter of the music. This work was based on a poem of the same title by Stephane Mallarme. It is a slow, dreamy piece of music.


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