This book has four very simple arrangements, that can all be taught by ear.
- The Wind And The Rain (Elizabethan song sung by Feste in Twelfth Night)
- Michael Row The Boat Ashore (Gospel)
- Blow The Wind (Folksong from the north country of England)
- Toss The Pot (Elizabethan song attributed to Ravenscroft)
Emlyn and I headed off to NSW last weekend for a stint at Uranquinty Folk Festival. We took the ad hoc festival choir, which was an absolute joy. The days leading up to it were when the storms hit South Australia and the entire state had a black out. At one stage, sitting in the dark amid the winds and rain, we didn't think we'd get there.
The parameters of festival choirs are - generally there will be one or two scheduled jams for the choir and then a performance slot. Ideally festival goers will be free to come and go from the choir at any stage. Which might mean there are different folks at each rehearsal and at the performance. It can happen that people turn up and perform without having been to the rehearsals. The festival choirs need to be open to all levels of musical and vocal proficiency and in the spirit of folk festivals - particularly welcoming for less confident folks. But the people who turn up and bring hearts, minds and voices to this experience deserve good, interesting choral music.
All this means the arrangements are paramount. I go over and over each line thinking - can this be more musically intuitive? Can this be simpler? Can this be more tuneful? Can this be more beautiful? Are the musical elements, well, musical - are they balanced and crafted? Can people feel how to find their notes? Basically - how can this arrangement scaffold a good choir experience so that the song steers people right? I've said before on this blog - this is a different way to approach arranging to the old 4 part rules. These old rules favoured simplicity for the inner parts for example. For an ad hoc choir to work - every part needs a tune. Tunes require movement. I've also said when choirs have parallel fifths they sing them joyously - it always sounds to me like choirs like this movement so pfft to cutting out P5ths.. The only rule that can't be broken is that each part is simple and as tuneful as possible.
I've previously published arrangements of three of the four songs in this book. But I've made a few little alterations and in the case of Blow The Wind, simplified the verse down to two parts.