I was asked for an arrangement of this song for a mixed voice ensemble, so here it is. The score is written with melody, (plus a descant in the chorus), to be sung by sopranos and/or tenors, an alto line and a bass line, with guitar chords indicated.
This seminal song was written by Florence Reece in 1931, in Harlan County, Kentucky. These arrangements for a mixed voice choir, the Illawarra Union Singers, by Doug McPherson.
“In 1931, the miners and the mine owners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle (called the Harlan County War). In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men (hired by the mining company) illegally entered their family home in search of Sam Reece. Sam had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On?” on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home.” Wikipedia
Many different performances of this song can be found. These arrangements are based on a recording made by Florence Reece later in life, recorded live in a broadcast studio, and later released on the album, “Coal Mining Women”. The arrangements presented here use Florence’s words and mostly her melody line, but open with the chorus, and repeat the chorus throughout. Neither the sheet music nor the practice tracks reflect the rhythm changes needed for the words in different verses, particularly in verses 5 and 6. The arrangements are further informed by the Almanac Singers rendition of the song in 1941. Neither the sheet music nor the practice tracks reflect the rhythm changes needed for the words in different verses, particularly in verses 5 and 6.
Harmonically, this arrangement is notated in Dm, but the melody is essentially pentatonic, and could also be considered to be in the (modern) Dorian mode of the C scale; the 6th note and 3rd notes are omitted in the melody.
This arrangement is for Melody, (Soprano and/or Tenor), Alto, Tenor and Bass. The chorus is in unison, except for a tenor harmony. In the verses, the Melody and Tenor lines are in unison, with a harmony part written for Alto voice, and a Bass line.
The melody and bass tracks are the same as in arrangement 1. The alto track is new, and the tenor track dispenses with harmony in the verse and reverts to the melody. The target voice uses a piano in each track, except the Alto which uses an oboe sound. The All Parts track is an experiment, and uses the sounds of a wind quartet: flute, oboe, clarinet and basoon.
The differences between versions 2.1 and 3, are the tenor line in the chorus and chords in the chorus, bars 3 and 7. The alto track is simplified, mirroring the melody except for the first and last bar. The practice tracks use the piano in the target voice. The all parts track uses a wind quartet.
This arrangement contains a more fully developed alto line, and one note altered in the bass line, 2nd quaver in bar 13 changed from A to F. For melody and tenor practice tracks, see arrangement 3, above.
This is a song I felt compelled to write in October 2017, aghast at Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. The second verse of our national anthem has the lines,
“For those who’ve come across the seas,
We’ve boundless plains to share;”.
We should be more compassionate.
Here is a recording of the song. It’s far from a professional recording, but just something I put together in my kitchen.
The version below, 1.3, has the alto voices doubling the bass part, except for the ends of lines 4 and 5. There is no tenor line, but there are descant notes in the melody line for the cadences, again at the ends of lines 4 and 5. These could be sung by a tenor and/or a soprano.
This song is Keith Binns’ 2014 rewrite of the lyrics to Advance Australia Fair; a commentary on the xenophobia inherent in our current policy on asylum seekers arriving by boat.
The resources below are for an arrangement of John Warner’s song, with the Alto line the same as the Bass, except for the end of each phrase. The basses of course sing an octave lower. The tenor line is identical to the melody, except for a phrase at the end of the 1st line, and a phrase in the chorus.
This is an exercise in seamlessly changing registers, moving from one part of the voice to another. The aim should be a smooth sound sliding from one note to another, and back again. The exercise is probably easier to sing than to read about, so feel free to jump in, play the sound file and sing along. DON’T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATH SUPPORT!
The first exercise is written for altos. This exercise starts with a slide from the F below middle C, to the F above middle C. It then moves up chromatically, by semitone, finishing with a slide from middle C to C above middle C. This range starts at the bottom of the alto range, as defined by the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, and finishes a tone below the top of the Alto Range
From this I transcribed individual parts. Lyrics to be sung in unison, (or by male singers only), are in bold italics. Some numbered piano fingerings are included, along with guitar chords in the melody part. These are all .pdf files. Melody/Soprano Alto Baritone I’ve also created a lead sheet, with just the melody line, transposed to Am. To get to Cm, use a capo on the 3rd fret.. Melody/Soprano Am
Here is an arrangement of Billy Bragg’s veritable anthem, “Power In A Union”, based on the American Civil War song, “The Battle Cry of Freedom”, which was written by the wonderfully named George F. Root. This arrangement by Christine Evans, with annotations including chords and the appropriate entry point for the bass voices. Aside from these annotations neither any of the arrangement, nor any of the practice tracks are my work.