Song Spotlight: “El Grillo”

Brown cricket sitting on a green leaf with a lighter green background. Song spotlights genre label reads "renaissance."
  • Mood: Humorous, Happy
  • Themes: Bugs, Humorous Classical Music
  • Tempo: Moderate, Danceable
  • Genre/Style: Renaissance, Italian frottola

Here we are in summertime. The warm temperatures revive the plants, flowers and trees. As the plants bloom and blossom, so do the bugs. While some bugs are more enjoyable than others, they have served as an inspiration for songwriters for centuries. 

El Grillo” (the cricket) is an Italian frottola that was written by Josquin des Prez. A frottola is a secular song that features unaccompanied voices or a single voice accompanied by an instrument. It was published in 1505 and is a humorous song. It tells of a cricket who is an excellent singer, singing for love. Some speculate that the song is actually about des Prez’s colleague, the singer Carlo Grillo. 

Here are some of the lyrics in Italian: 

El grillo è buon cantore

Che tiene longo verso.

Dalle beve grillo canta.

Ma non fa come gli altri uccelli

Come li han cantato un poco,

Van de fatto in altro loco

Sempre el grillo sta pur saldo,

Quando la maggior el caldo

Alhor canta sol per amore.

And here is a translation of the song lyrics:

The cricket is a good singer who can hold a long note. 

 Go on, drink, cricket, and sing. 

The cricket is a good singer.

But he is not like the other birds, 

who sing a bit then go somewhere else

The cricket stands firm.

When the weather is at its hottest

He sings alone for love.

This is a fun song to use in a 1:1 setting or group. It would go well with a collection of songs that explore the themes of bugs or Western classical music. This song represents a great opportunity for instrumental exploration, or can be used as a transition into discussion.

Try This:

Theme This song would fit well into a collection of songs about bugs or along with other humorous classical music. Other complementary songs may include “Duetto Buffo Di Due Gatti,” “Love is Like a Butterfly,” and “Glow Worm.”

Discuss the best places to hear nature sounds like chirping crickets and buzzing cicadas. Ask the group if they enjoy listening to crickets chirping in the evening.

Invite the group to discuss whether nature sounds on recordings are relaxing to them or not. 

Read the lyrics of the song and discuss what other creatures or bugs have pretty songs. 

Explore different instruments and decide which evokes the sound of a cricket best. (Frog rasps and cricket sound makers are sold online).

For more song spotlights, visit our Song Spotlights page.

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