The Swingle Singers perform Dido’s Lament (H. Purcell)

I was going to start this blog off tomorrow with a very beautiful recording of ‘Music for a while’, that being my tagline and all, but as I was wandering around YouTube looking for my own stuff, I stumbled across this deeply strange, beat-boxy version of Dido’s Lament.

Is it not both weird and wonderful?  I love the way the poor chap singing bass has that endlessly repeating ground bass * throughout.   He must be bored to tears, but he has a beautiful voice for it.  There’s nothing like a bit of basso profundo to start your week.   I’m sure Purcell would approve.  And then they add in the beat box rhythm.  I’m not entirely sure what Purcell would have thought of that, though given some of the pub songs he wrote, he’d probably be fairly amused.

I can’t quite decide what I think of it, overall.  It’s sort of the chill-out version of Dido’s Lament, and it’s pretty gorgeous in it’s own right, but I’m not convinced it packs quite the same emotional punch as, for example, this version by Xenia Meijer.  But then again, does it need to?  I completely love the idea of it, but my inner opera purist (I didn’t even know I had one) is less certain.

What do you think?

* This is me showing off my brand new musical terminology!  A ground bass, for those of you who know as little of such things as I did a few months ago, is simply a repeating riff in the bass line that continues throughout a song.  Purcell was rather fond of this device, in any case, and since I’m rather fond of Purcell, this probably won’t be the last ground bass you hear in these parts.


2 thoughts on “The Swingle Singers perform Dido’s Lament (H. Purcell)

  1. Elettaria says:

    I like. Not 100% convinced by the soloist, I must confess, but overall I do like it.

    Ah well, it’s high time the basses got to see what the altos have to experience so often! I’m trying to remember the name of a very beautiful Bach cantata I sang in at uni, where for one movement, the sopranos and tenors had the most wonderful stuff going on, and the altos just sang the chorale. Very, very slowly, with long pauses between lines. Jesu Meine Freunde, I think. Go to and pay particular attention for the movement which begins at 13:56. Any swooning experienced as a result of this music is not my fault at all.

    I’ve a feeling we got stuck with Excruciatingly Dull Alto Line In The Middle Of Everyone Else Getting Seriously Beautiful Counterpoint in the Pizzetti Requiem, too. Then there’s yer average bit of Handel where we are singing the same G on practically every note. Of course, I still loved being an alto to bits!


    • Catherine says:

      Ha, I thought Bach usually picked on the sopranos with the boring chorale stuff! He certainly does in everything we’ve done of his…

      I don’t think you are being kind enough to Handel – certainly, Lord I Trust Thee is a bit dull (but then, it’s dull for the sopranos, too), but his stuff in The Messiah and Sampson and Delilah is pretty good fun. Of course, for true alto-ish fun, you want the restoration stuff, especially Gibbons and Purcell – with no trained boy sopranos about, they always give the good bits to the male alto, and the sopranos just come in for descanty choruses.


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