North American British Music Studies Association

Sounding Tennyson

Sounding Tennyson

Sounding Tennyson, a freely-available website, is now live. The website materials include the first recordings and publications of Emily Tennyson’s piano/vocal settings of “Break, Break, Break,” which preserve aspects of poet Alfred Tennyson’s recitation. The recordings were made in the drawing room at the Tennysons’ restored home, Farringford, using Queen Victoria’s piano. Sounding Tennyson uses sound as an experiential way of conceptually thinking through an archive and is the first digital archival grouping of Tennyson items. It is also the 14th project world-wide to use MEI (Music Encoding Initiative).

The music section on the site shows images of musical scores (mostly by Tennyson’s wife, Emily) and gives the option to play the songs, with each measure marked in time with the music. Users can compare any one musical setting to other musical and textual drafts. The scores can be silently examined through the music or archives tab, which includes all the digitized items featured on Sounding Tennyson. An “earwitness” section contains observers’ accounts of listening to Tennyson or his family recite and the poet’s response to hearing his poetry set to music. Following the essays link brings up short articles, both highly specific to the poem and contextual. Please visit the site at http://www.soundingtennyson.org.