From the Archives: 1,2,3,4,5 by Emmanuel Ghent

This edition for our From the Archives series in tandem with PIO! Editor Brigid Finucane features the song 1,2,3,4,5 by composer and psychiatrist Emmanuel Ghent

Photo: Valerie and Emmanuel Ghent

Composer and Physciatrist Emmanuel Ghent wrote “Songs For Children (and All Their Friends)” in 1967. This song is featured with the permission of his daughter, musician Valerie Ghent.


From Valerie:

I remember singing this song endlessly as a child, it was one of our favorites along with I’m Sorry, I’m Sleepy, Our Dog Was Barking All Night, Abigail, and Just Five Minutes More. Actually we sang almost all the songs on the CD as children, but One, Two, Three, Four, Five was so endless we could sing it over and over.  This recording features myself and my good friend & fantastic singer Keith Fluitt on vocals, we had a lot of fun singing like we were kids again! We were delighted to learn that a few schools in France began using ‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five’ to teach children how to count in English.

Mr. Ghent had this to say about his song: 

‘One, Two, Three, Four, Five’ is a lot of fun for children learning to count. And at the same time they’re learning about one of the most common harmonic sequences not only in early classical music, but in many popular songs as well. It is called the sequence of fifths: the bass line harmony keeps going down by fifths (E-A-D-G-C-F-B-E). Without knowing it children will begin to recognize this sequence in other music they hear. A clarinettist can add interest by adding an accompanying tune following the series of broken chords (arpeggios) all of which flesh out the repeating harmonic sequence.

When my youngest daughter was born I took it as an opportunity to celebrate by writing a collection of songs that children from the very youngest to those who were ready to move on into adolescence would enjoy. My idea was that as they grew older they would enjoy singing songs that gradually become a little more challenging and a lot more fun. It seemed like an exciting idea to compose songs that were not only 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. And if, on top of all this, the younger 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. Above all ,the songs are to be enjoyed for the sheer pleasure that the music provides, and these songs are no exception. Don’t for a minute think of these songs as etudes (although, without knowing it, they may function that way as well), they are songs for fun!

For lyrics and music, click here.

To hear and purchase this song, or the rest of the album, click here.