Songs For Children
by Emmanuel Ghent
Our Price: $9.99

Release Date: 12/14/99

"Songs For Children" is available at where you can also listen to sound clips!



EMMANUEL GHENT (b. 1925) had his early training in Montreal, Canada, both privately and at the McGill Conservatory. Later, in New York, he was deeply affected by the work of Varese, and of Ralph Shapey with whom he studied. Early on Ghent was interested in multi-tempo rhythms -- the interest created by their tensions and also by the composite rhythms that resulted. In the 1960's, in order to facilitate the realization of his rhythmic ideas, Ghent developed a system of transmitting composed signals to performers, enabling them to play at independently varying tempi and meters, yet at all times synchronized with each other and, in some instances, with prerecorded tape.

Emmanuel in Bob Moog's studio 1969

In 1968-69 he made use of a Guggenheim Fellowship to work at the Bell Telephone Laboratories on a project that used the GROOVE computer system for the control of sound-generating electronic equipment. The electronic music in HELICES was one of the first results of this experimental system. In the early 1970's Ghent put the GROOVE computer system to a new use -- using it not only to generate the music, but also the computer-controlled theatrical lighting for a number of pieces commissioned and choreographed by Mimi Garrard. PHOSPHONES, the first of these pieces, has received over a hundred performances.

Beginning in 1974, Ghent has turned his interest to teaching the computer to be his compositional assistant, or even associate. The first of the works co-composed by computer was LUSTRUM, a piece commissioned by the Fromm Foundation. It is performed by an ensemble consisting of a brass quintet, amplified string quintet and computer-generated tape. Later Ghent composed PROGRAM MUSIC 1, 2, ... 29, a series of computer music pieces varying in duration from 2 to 27 minutes. Some of these pieces have acquired other identifying titles. For example, PROGRAM MUSIC 19 No. 3 (19 min.) is also known as LITTLE CHANGES. Another piece, BAOBAB (19 min.), for computer music and film, is a collaborative work with Ken Knowlton who created the computer graphics.

In 1967, upon the birth of his third daughter, Ghent composed a series of 25 SONGS FOR CHILDREN AND ALL THEIR FRIENDS which have recently been recorded, as produced and performed by Valerie Ghent, vocalist and keyboardist.

Ghent's music has been widely performed throughout the United States, Canada and in Europe, in regular concerts, at festivals, and in numerous radio broadcasts. His work has been published by Oxford University Press, Persimmon Press and Subito Music and has been recorded on several labels. He has received many awards, grants and commissions.

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American Songwriter Magazine
March 1998

"Songs For Children" is a collection of 23 songs written for children by composer Emmanuel Ghent, recently released on West Street Records. Unlike the Raffi-style music most kids hear, these songs are art songs for children that are not only fun to sing but also contain subtle hints about melody, harmony and meter. As children sing along, they are learning about music.

Ghent, the recipient of many awards for music composition, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, composed this collection of songs shortly after his youngest of three daughters was born in 1967. "It seemed like an exciting idea to compose songs that not only were tuneful and expressive but that also taught the children something about music without, of course, drawing attention away from the pleasure of the music itself," he writes in the CDıs 20-page booklet. "And if, on top of all this, the kids learned to count to one hundred, or caught on to the days of the week, or the months of the year -- well, that was just gravy."

Songs such as "One, Two, Three, Four, Five" are an exercise in learning to count to a hundred while coursing through a circle of fifths, one of the most common harmonic patterns in music. "Now Weıre Going To Go To Spain" weaves Flamenco style rhythms and Phyrgian melody into a simple harmonic pattern. Commenting on the album, his eldest daughter, Nadia, a violinist said, "My sisters and I really did grow up singing this music. "I'm Sorry" was a real favorite, especially after nasty episodes of inter-sister warfare. It did take, though, several semesters of ear training for me to be able to sing "If You Knew How Hard I Tried", the only 12-tone one, but now it is my favorite, not only for the beauty of its arching intervals, outlining a sad resignation in the wide leaps downward, but also for the sentiment expressed to a parent from a child, a quiet request to see the effort required for a child to live up to an adult's expectations."

Skillfully arranged and produced by the 74 year-old composer and his middle daughter, Valerie, herself a pianist and singer, this is Ghentıs first children's album. His instrumental and computer-generated music, as well as, music for dance, has been widely performed. "Phosphones", perhaps his best known piece, is available on a Wergo recording, WER 2022-50. "Songs For Children" can be found at or by contacting West Street Records, POB 20086, West Village Station, New York, NY 10014 -- Brian Muni, February 2000