The Songs

"Lord Jeffery Amherst"

"Paige's Horse"

"A Hymn To Amherst"

To the Fairest College"

"Hand Me Down My Bonnet"

"Alma Mater (Resound, resound ye circling hills)"


Having read what went above, you should not be surprised when these songs differ from your memories of them. Your memories are not necessarily at fault. Small, yellow, circular 'smiley face', slightly taller than a capital letter.

If you were hoping to find here recordings of live performances of Amherst College songs, then you should go instead to "Amherst Music" ("Cool Amherst Stuff" for "Amherst Alumni & Parents").

However, it must be noted that those songs are not always sung exactly as they appeared in original publications. At this site, one of the goals is to let visitors hear songs played or sung by voice synthesizer, in various ways -- whether that be as close as possible to the way they were written or in wholly new and even experimental arrangements -- and to explore song histories and origins.

Some of the files presented here might be used to help people to learn to sing the songs, although there was no original intention to present here anything like voice parts banged out separately on a piano. By saying that, I do not mean to rule out the possibility of doing that for some pieces, should a demand for that approach arise. But my original intention was to create some scores that have been digitized from original sources and have been reproduced with as much adherance to their original format as possible.

That is not to say that mistakes in original copy will be perpetuated here, if they have been recognized to be mistakes and not simply compositional quirks. Nor is it to say that I have been unafraid to present a piece with a different number of measures on a page, if such a change of format seems to be demanded by the digitizing tools available.

However, the word "digitized" is not used in the same sense that it is currently (May 2006) used at the promising Amherst College Website Amherst College Songs, Edited and Compiled by William P. Bigelow, Professor of Music, Amherst College. At that Website "digitized" essentially means scanned and presented more or less as the digital equivalent of a photocopied page of the original.

In the present work, "digitized" means that notes and all other aspects of the musical score have been created in a music-digitizing, computer-software application that permits a user who owns the software to play the music at various tempos, to change what instruments play a given line, to vary playback volumes for given voices or instruments, to have lyrics sung by voice synthsizer, and otherwise to have available a product that is changeable, moldable to current needs, and exportable to other music applications . . . each of which has its own capabilities and limitations. With such a good music-digitizing program, scores can be created and files can be recorded during playback; this is how the .PDF and .MP3 files shared at this Website -- files that are printable and playable even by visitors who do not own any music-digitizing applications at all -- have been created.

Musical compositions and songs in particular have a history of being adapted by performers and tend to evolve as various performers hear a certain way to adapt a given song and then add their own stamps of performance character to their own performances. Therefore, songs evolve through time, because people change them and some others not only accept the changes they hear but add their own changes before passing a given song along to others. Given that many song writers do not set their compositions in standard musical notation at the outset, the resulting evolution of such a song is really quite natureal and to be expected.

Historically speaking, the aural tradition preceded written notation, whether we speak of myths, poems, story telling, or music. Even The Bible shows that different people have reported the same events (or, the same myths, if such is your interpretation) with differences in detail. Otherwise, just by way of example, there would be no need for the separate accounts by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

But good historians, genealogists, musicologists, and their ilk rely most fundamentally upon the written record, whenever that is made available to them. What others do later with the information contained in original documents is really quite immaterial. For instance, we should not expect a re-writing of The Bible based upon information quite recently brought to light by the unearthing of the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls -- any more than we should expect the Catholic Church quickly to adopt the supposedly fictional suggestion (made by Amherst College graduate Dan Brown) that Jesus was married and sired children whose descendants live to this day (The da Vinci Code). There is room in the world for divergences from norms and for different people to hold beliefs that differ, whether they be described as conservative, liberal, orthodox, reform, Catholic, Protestant, atheistic, agnostic, theistic, . . . ; or even (musically speaking) secular or liturgical, original or interpreted.

When music began to be set to paper, music writers might first have been trying to capture music that was already an aural tradition. Perhaps soon thereafter, somebody started to compose completely new music and tried to write, as well as possible, sounds going through the head. There arose an understanding that written music was but a suggestion of what musicians should be expected to play beyond and in addition to the given score, as the latter was imperfect in the first place at setting to paper all that the composer wanted to convey.

By the time of Bach, Renaissance music had evolved to Baroque and to Rococo, wherein the variety of ornamentations (trills, mordents, other "turns", and even full-scale runs) were tossed off by players who were expected to go as far beyond the music on the page as was tastefully possible. But J.S. Bach not only improved musical notation but also put a clamp on such approaches to at least his own music, by writing such challenging ornamentations into his music as to leave players little time or room for further elaborations. In a very real way, I "blame" Bach for eliminating improvisational playing from later performances of Western musical art (folk music, jazz, Barbershop and other styles aside).

A primary purpose at this Website will remain: To digitize music with as close an attention as possible to details in original manuscripts or published sources. To abandon academic rigor with respect to such details would be to contribute to musicological confusion and to abandon the original task of satisfying my curiosity as to how different the way songs are now sung is from the way they were first written.

A friend, who is much more expert at genealogy than I ever hope to be, recently wrote (in that genealogical context): "Well, Steve, Is it worse to make a mistake or to repeat a mistake?". My purposefully ambiguous answer was simply: "Mistakes be damned! :-)" (all mistakes are damnable; full speed ahead; do something, even if it is wrong; humans make mistakes, live with it).

As I see things, there are three broad categories into which songs related to Amherst College can be sorted: As originally written, as sung through the years (a moving target?) by current students and by alumni, and as arranged for and sung by such specialty groups as The Zumbyes. My own primary interests lie in trying to digitize original scores with as much fidelity as possible, researching how songs were altered through time (particularly before the ©1926 publication of Amherst College Songs), correcting any obvious errors in original materials, and in arranging some songs after the Barbershop fashion. I have absolutely no interest at all in policing how anybody sings any song, and I leave it to others to document just how songs have evolved or been changed through time . . . although I hope to contribute to such efforts in passing, where possible.

There is more to be done with the music of Amherst College than any one person can do as a soloist. I sincerely hope that this effort will flower into more of a group effort than it has become to date (28 May 2006). Perhaps you are one who can help to make this Website as useful as possible to all people who love the songs of Amherst College. Or, perhaps you can think of a friend you can steer to this Website. In any case, your suggestions and offers to help in other ways will always be appreciated.

Downloadable Files:

If you have a PC-compatible platform, then please remember to right-click on hotlinks and then "Save target as...", to copy files to a subdirectory of your choice on your system. If one browser gives you trouble, try another. I guess Mac users have no such problems.

Many of the links to .MP3 files are kindly provided by dear friends at zunil.org.



"Lord Jeffery Amherst"
Words and music by James Shelley Hamilton, AC1906:

"Lord Jeffery Amherst":  161KB .PDF file for singers

"Lord Jeffery Amherst":  162KB .PDF file for keyboard

"Lord Jeffery Amherst":  0.9MB .MP3 file; 2 min. 40 sec.; played by Sibelius 2 ("Choir Aahs", no lyrics);
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sampled monophonically at 22KHz, 48KBps (other .MP3 files posted here to date are in stereo;
feedback sought on whether this file plays OK on your system)

"Lord Jeffery Amherst":  1.8MB .MP3 file, sung by voice synthesizer
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"Paige's Horse"

Animated Horse-Drawn Sleigh


Words by F. J. E.Woodbridge '89, Arr. by W. P. Bigelow '89:


"Paige's Horse":  129KB .PDF file

"Paige's Horse" sung by synthesized voices:  1.8MB .MP3 file
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As arranged by Steve Langford, AC1963:

"Paige's Horse":  129KB .PDF file



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"Paige's Horse":  601KB .MP3 file.

"NEW and Improved", 9 February 2005!

Suggestion: Save this one to your system, then play it;
discard at will, but I hope that you like it.


Origin of "Paige's Horse", with yet another arrangement.
(Please use your browser "Back" button to return to this page.)

"A Hymn To Amherst"
As composed in key of D by Henry G. Mishkin to lyrics of Janet B. Morgan:


"A Hymn To Amherst", key of D:  109KB .PDF file

"A Hymn To Amherst", key of D, played "instrumentally":  472KB .MP3 file
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"A Hymn To Amherst", key of D, sung by synthesized voice:  1.2MB .MP3 file
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As transposed to key of F and arranged by Steve Langford:

"A Hymn To Amherst", transposed to key of F:  96KB .PDF file

"A Hymn To Amherst", transposed to key of F and sung by synthesized voices:  1.3MB .MP3 file
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"To the Fairest College"
Words & Music: Draper Cooke Bartlett, AC1903:


"To the Fairest College":  108KB .PDF file

"To the Fairest College" sung by synthesized voices:  843KB .MP3 file
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As arranged by Steve Langford, AC1963:

"To the Fairest College", close harmony throughout:  143KB .PDF file

*"To the Fairest College", set for voices but played here by brass:  1.3MB .MP3 file
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Please forgive the sometimes jerky nature of this audio,
which is meant to be a hint as to what a conductor might do.
I would certainly never conduct the piece exactly as this file plays!




"Hand Me Down My Bonnet"

Arr. by N. P. Foster, AC1906:

"Hand Me Down My Bonnet":  126KB .PDF file
(Requested by Rick Goggans, M.D., AC1971,
President, Amherst Association of Maine)




"Alma Mater (Resound, resound ye circling hills)"

Words & Music by Jason N. Pierce, AC1902

"Alma Mater (Resound, resound ye circling hills)":  184KB .PDF file

"Alma Mater (Resound, resound ye circling hills)":  501KB .MP3 file
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     The above PDF and MP3 files were kindly created for and contributed to this Website
by
David A. Schwartz, AC1965, of Belmont, MA.


All suggestions for improvements to any aspect of this ongoing effort will be gratefully received and carefully considered.

Thank you!

Stephen A. "Steve" Langford, AC1963

Tel. 520 297 0448



This page last revised on 28 May 2006.