The Origin of Love Songs
Ever wondered which song your grandparents might’ve listened to when thinking of their loved one? They didn’t have the likes of Justin Bieber or Michael Buble to swoon over, no, some may even argue they had better!
Love has been the inspiration for songs since the very beginning, in fact, it’s the subject matter that holds a significant cross over between species. Darwin was quite insistent on this theory. The birth of music, he claimed, was best understood by studying the melodic vocalizations of the animal kingdom, especially those of birds. It is thought that the early man would have imitated and built upon these vocalisations to express a variety of emotions: jealousy, triumph, even sabotage, but all linking back to the root emotion, love.
Up until 1951, it was thought the oldest melodic verse pertaining to matters of the heart was the ‘Song of Solomon’ from the Old Testament. However, when a clay tablet (unearthed in the mid-nineteenth century excavation of the Mesopotamian city of Nineveh) was examined by Sumerologist Samuel Noah Kramer, an earlier lyrical tribute to a lover was discovered. ‘Love song for Shu-Sin (c.2000 BCE) is thought to be part of an ancient annual ceremony ‘sacred marriage’. This song shatters any preconceptions of traditional views being prude as the translated lyrics are quite raunchy! A few examples are “you have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you” and “Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber”. So, long before the Bible, the Neo-Assyrians were turning their romantic feelings into poetic verses.
Moving on from historic love songs, one that joins both the old and modern worlds is the well known classic ‘Greensleeves’ composed by Henry VIII for his love interest Anne Boleyn. This melody is still recorded and performed today in many forms, from classical concerts to samples in today’s remixes.
Today, we see love songs in every style of music we experience. From the tragic romances of the opera to the crooning ballads of Frank Sinatra, the wistful longing of folk singers to the soulful sultry tones of R&B, the last 150 years have seen an exponential rise of love songs in line with the explosion of recorded music.
Identities of love songs change from time to time, from the decade of love in the '70s, through night partying in the '80s, and into the dark romance of the ‘90s. There will always be a love song that defines it’s year or sometimes even it’s decade. Some famous classic examples might include “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston, “Cant help falling in love” by Elvis, and of course “The way you look tonight” by Frank Sinatra. Nowadays, as the accessibility of music making is becoming so wide spread, there are fewer and fewer specific artists that will go down as the representative of music in their time.
There are thousands upon thousands of love songs, and from all angles, the emotion is captured in it’s complicated entirety.
If you want to learn your favourite love songs on your chosen instrument then check out our sheet music
section or give us a call on 01892 526659 and ask for your chosen piece!