Two Original Chinese Songs (Frontispiece)

Karl Kambra
London 1796?
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University, Mus 549.5

Click for full-size imageThis English publication includes two Chinese songs, the iconic "Jasmine Flower" (Mu Li Hua) and an antiphonal called "Higho-Highaw." Both songs are first given in simple transcription and are then supplied with harmonic accompaniment and English text, to render the songs "more agreeable to the English ear." The arrangement, dating from circa 1796, is an unassuming publication of sheet music, one among many from its time. Neither the book nor the harmonized tune it contains were meant to be everlasting: they are musical commodities, made specifically for consumption, and very much products of their time. As such, it is the kind of thing that rarely captures our attention and that consequently survives relatively rarely.

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