Simon Songs. Possibly a project I will be still working on when I am 80! I intend to compose 996
pieces for piano.
At least that’s the plan. I have ‘already’ finished 18 pieces.
Some years ago I came across a PDF file containing 996 short melodies, most of them not more than one or two lines. It turned out to be a modern notation by Simon Plantinga, of the ‘Old and
New Dutch farmer songs and contra dances’, a huge pile of minstrel’s music from the 18th century. The series
were published between 1701 and 1714 in Amsterdam by Estienne Roger. It’s filled with one-accord instrumental pieces, obviously including a lot of dance music and songs. The distinction is
completely artificial, since during that era countless songs were applied to dance tunes.*
I did revamp an old folk song before. In 2006 I adapted the old Groningen song ‘Ain boer wol noar zien naober tou’ to the 14 minutes piece ‘City lines’. Straight away adapting tasted Moorish.
So this is the plan. I have simply started adapting the first song and am now working through the pile in sequence. Sometimes I use a complete melody, sometimes only a few notes. Even for myself
it is surprising to discover which way the original song develops. A project in the middle of all other activities, ideas emerging between the dishes and watching the news. Sometimes they develop
into a song for piano within a few days, other times it takes weeks.
Simon Songs, they are called. If Simon Platinga had not published his enormous work on the internet, I would
never have thought of doing this. The first 16 songs are gathered on the album ‘Simon Songs’, by now song number 17 and 18 are also ready. Only 978 to go.
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