2009 Song Competition Poster

2009 Song Competition Poster

Ever wondered whether ‘Cholera!’ would have been a more entertaining Andrew Lloyd Webber musical than ‘Oliver!’? Always wanted precise zoological information from Flanders and Swann’s ‘Hippopotamus’, or felt that ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ should really have provided more details about the Apollo landings? Now’s your chance to put those thoughts into practice.

By entering our competition you’ll be following in a fine tradition of scientific music-making to well-known melodies, from the Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory’s ‘Ions Mine’ to the tune of ‘Clementine’, to a satirical celebration of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable that rewrote ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’, and Tom Lehrer’s tongue-twisting version of Gilbert and Sullivan in ‘The Elements’.

Entries will be judged on their historical content and choice of topic, on their wit and imaginative use of language and rhyme schemes, and on their fit to the original tune.

One £100 first prize will be won, alongside two £50 runners-up prizes. We’ll also be awarding two £50 prizes for the best amateur performance of a song – so why not send in an audio or video recording of you singing your entry? You can submit more than one entry, but a maximum of one prize per person in each category can be won.

How do I enter?

Pick one of the five traditional copyright-free tunes detailed below, several of which have actually been used for scientific songs, and set your own words that introduce a particular theme in the history of science. Think creatively!

  • ‘Clementine’
  • ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’
  • ‘What Shall we Do with the Drunken Sailor?’
  • ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’
  • ‘English Country Garden’

If you’re having trouble getting started, then have a look at the inspirational historical examples posted online at: http://www.historyofsciencesongs.blogspot.com/

Please provide a minimum of two verses, and a maximum of eight. Don’t forget the chorus!

It’s fine to enter with the lyrics alone but if you would like to then please do include performance directions, suggestions for instrumentation and voices, tempi and dynamics, musical genre, etc. However, please format your entry as a text file or pdf file, not one that uses specialist music-making software.

Also, why not record a version of yourself or your friends, your band, or your choir singing the song and submit it to our supplementary competition as an audio or video file, preferably as an mp3 or mp4 file?

Send your song lyrics and performances to [email protected] by FRIDAY 17 APRIL 2009. You should receive a message in reply confirming the validity of your entry within 48 hours.

Prize-winners will be announced at our Annual Conference in Leicester on Saturday 4th July 2009, and immediately thereafter on the BSHS website.

Enquiries about this competition should be sent to [email protected]

Please note that by entering this competition you guarantee that your lyrics are your own original work. The BSHS will use the winning entries in our activities to bring topics in the history of science, technology and medicine to new audiences.

These details are available at: