This setting is full of musical word painting. Is a gooseberry green or red? Lear needed his gooseberries to be red because “red” rhymes with ‘bread’, the perfect accompaniment to the jam which is the outcome of this verse! So sing with a sense of purpose – making jam is serious stuff! The opening line produces a round and resonant perfect fifth – both the shape of the fruit and a hint of the next line “perfectly red”. This line works best sung staccato before coming to rest on the words “to be” then a pause (as in “to be….what?”) before launching into the jam making.

More musical word painting is then put to use for the words “made into jam” where the notes of the upper three voices are literally squashed together! Make as much of this sticky mess as possible, slowing considerably for the final squashy chord before “and eaten with bread” which can be clipped and precise in contrast (tasty!)

Finally, the coda may be firm and defined so that the astringent intervals in the harmony become both sweet and sour, just like gooseberry jam in fact!

Level: medium

"G Was A Gooseberry"

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