The Buckauwk Variations

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This expertly restored photograph from the 1680s, shows Cluck at his pianophone, putting the finishing touches on his first musical The Singing Frog, which would not be published until shortly after his death, later that same afternoon.

The Buckauwk Variations is a choral written by pre-eminent composer Cluck Loonie, consisting of a primary melody (sung a cappella) and a set of 30 variations. First published in 1672, the work is considered to be one of the most important examples of variation of form, and finding a healthy use for the criminally insane who would otherwise be accosting passers-by in the street with their highly intrusive and disturbing non-musical raving.

The melody, and many of its variations, survive to the present day.

Original Melody[edit]

Byauck byauck byauck byauck byauck—buckauwk!
Byauck byauck byauck byauck byauck—buckauwk!
Byauck byauck byauck byauck byauck—buckauwk!
Byauck byauck byauck byauck byauck—buckauwk!
Byau—au—au—au—au—au,
Au—au—au—au—au,
Au—au—au—au—au—buckauwk!
Byauck byauck byauck byauck byau—auck,
Byau—au—au—au—au—au,
Au—au—au—au—au,
Au—au—au—au—au—buckauwk!
Byauck byauck byauck byauck byau—au—buckauwk!

Version 19 is the variation most recognizable to today's audiences. It replaces the legato 'au' portions with very staccato repetitions of "byauck". This percussiveness, while considered offensive and terse in the 1600s, is favourably received by modern listeners.

Owing to its difficulty in being sung by the functionally sane, this piece was later adapted with more sensible lyrics into a Christmas carol[1]. Ironically, it went on to be recorded and played millions of times—in shopping malls, on the radio, by door-to-door carolers, and in those awful Time-Life "Timeless Musical Treasury" collections for sale via special TV offers—where it drove countless scores of sane people absolutely stark raving mad through constant repetition.

Reference[edit]

  1. Angels We Have Heard On High