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Friday, January 28, 2011

Who wrote "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"?


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Why: It is the same tune as the alphabet song, which sounds totally terrible when you pronounce Z like "zed" because it doesn't rhyme.

Answer: It was a group effort! The tune was first printed in Paris in 1761 in a book called La vielleuse habile by Fran├žois Bouin, but it may have been around as early as 1740. In the 1770s, a melodramatic love poem called "Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman" ("Ah! Will I Tell You, Mother") was set to the tune. A parody of the poem (with the same name) developed shortly thereafter, and it is still a children's favorite.

Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman / Ah! Will I tell you, Mommy

Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman / Ah! Will I tell you, Mommy
Ce qui cause mon tourment? / What is tormenting me?
Papa veut que je raisonne / Daddy wants me to reason
Comme une grande personne / Like a grown up person
Moi je dis que les bonbons / Me, I say that sweets
Valent mieux que la raison. / Are worth more than reason.

In the 1780s, Mozart wrote some variations of this tune, but he wasn't the original composer. He wasn't even born until 1756, so anyone who says he wrote it is full of total bullshit. The tune was part of the 18th century harpsichordists’ traditional directory.

Then, in England in 1806, Jane Taylor and her sister Ann wrote a book of poems for children called Rhymes for the Nursery. "The Star" went like this:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky!

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveler in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the traveller in the dark,-
Though I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

The first time the poem and the tune were known to have been combined was in an 1838 book called The Singing Master.

Source: Mama Lisa,

The More You Know: "The ABCs" song was first copyrighted - that's right, someone copyrighted the alphabet - in 1835 by Charles Bradlee, who called it "The A.B.C., a German air with variations for the flute with an easy accompaniment for the piano forte."
The musical arrangement was attributed to Louis Lemaire, an 18th century composer. This was "Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1835, by C. Bradlee, in the clerk's office of the District Court of Massachusetts" according to the Newberry Library, which also says, "The theme is that used by Mozart for his piano variations, Ah, vous dirai-je, maman."[2] This tune is more commonly recognizable as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
I also keep seeing that "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" has the same tune, but unless I'm doing it wrong, no it doesn't. As with many other harmless nursery rhymes in our modern canon, it is either political or racist.

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