“What A Little Moonlight Can Do”

      In the early 20th century, the advent of musical diversity flourished. One of the monumental genres during this time was the blues which played a big part in defining the American culture. Not only was it a part of American culture, but it became significant in outlining the elegance of musical genius with its unique forms. Many song writers during this century would write popular songs and singers would record them. One popular song in particular, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, was composed by Henry MacGregor Woods in 1934. Billie Holiday was the first singer to record this song a year after it had been written. Fourteen years after Billie Holiday, the singer Peggy Lee had also recorded this song in 1959. When listening to both versions of the song, an abundant amount of differences can be heard.  

                The structure of Henry MacGregor Wood’s composition, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, is of repeating form. There are two verses with similar melodies; both with the first two lines of each ending with rhyming words. The narrative of the text of this song is in third person. The lyrics of the song tells the listener this as words in the first verse include: “You’re in love; your heart’s a flutterin’ all day long; you only stutter, ’cause your poor soul just will not utter the words, “I love you”.” The second verse confirms this as it includes: “He’ll get bored; you can’t resist him, and all you say, when you have kissed him, is “Ooh, ooh, ooh, what a little moonlight can do”.”   

                 In Billie Holiday’s version of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, there is a long instrumental introduction in the beginning. Billie Holiday starts out singing at one minute in the track. In the whole entire track, Billie Holiday only sings the two verses one time each – the rest of the song is all instrument as it begins with instrumentals, and then ends with instrumentals. As the accompanying ensemble is very upbeat, Billie Holiday There are not too many 

                  Unlike Billie Holiday’s version, there is not a long instrumental introduction in Peggy Lee’s cover of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”. The instrumental introduction is very different as well as; Peggy Lee then begins singing at thirteen seconds in the track.  

Source: Brettany Tu, 2011, Sound Structures, Professor Ben Steege

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