Blackleg Miner is a 19th-century English folk song, originally from Northumberland (as can be deduced from the dialect in the song and the references in it to the villages of Seghill and Seaton Delaval).
Louis Killen writes, “At the height of the miners’ union struggles of the 1880’s and ’90’s, labourers were brought in from other areas to act as strikebreakers. Ballads of the time describe how the colliers hunted the strikebreakers “like hares upon the moor O.””
The provenance of the arrangement I have tweaked and present here is unclear. The arrangement is based in part on the Steeleye Span performances, as well as a practice track sung by Zlatko Basic. I’ve also listened to practice tracks from an arrangement by Sarah Lambert.
The first two verses could be sung slowly, 3, 4 and 5 more quickly, and the last verse slowly again, with a sense of menace! The arrangement is in 2 parts: the melody to be sung by altos and basses, and the upper harmony to be sung by sopranos and tenors. The arrangement is written out in full, verse by verse. The last notes of the upper harmony split, with the upper notes to be sung by the tenors.
Sheet Music (.pdf)
The cropped sheet music will give a bigger printout, if you make sure you make sure “Fit” is selected, after opening in Abobe Acrobat Reader. -If this doesn’t work for you, just use the regular sheet music.
* The above track is sung by a male voice; sopranos need to make the octave adjustment
Upper Voice Harmony: Sung; Tenors
Good practice would be to practice your individual part and then practice singing it along with the both parts track. For instructions on how to download practice tracks from this site, click here.
Finally, here are some performances to listen to:
Steeleye Span with a rendition that contains the essence of some of the harmonies in this arrangement.
Steeleye Span again: A very different arrangement:
And the earliest recording of the song I have found, Louis Killen…