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16 Tons


A song by Merle Travis, arranged for 4 voices and guitar by Doug McPherson.  Scroll down to the link below, for the sheet music, in PDF format, or the images below that. The melody, on the top line could be sung by sopranos or tenors. The top line, the alto line and the bass line, could all stand alone as a melody for a soloist. Current version is 6.9. 

Practice Tracks: Piano on Target Voice
To Download: on  a PC, right-click on title; on Android devices, press and hold title.





And finally, after you practice your own part, see if you can sing it against the other parts.  Check out the 2nd funky keyboard arrangement.

All Parts: Scored for Strings

All Parts Scored for Piano, Harpsichord, Electric Piano & Organ

Sheet Music for Individual Parts: 

16 tons 6.9 Melody

16 tons 6.9 Alto

16 tons 6.9 Bass

16 tons 6.9 S-A-B

16 Tons 6.9 Sheet Music with words: 3 verses, 4 parts, -pdf
Right click title above to download on PC,  press and hold on Android.16 tons 6.9 all parts_Page_116 tons 6.9 all parts_Page_216 tons 6.9 all parts_Page_316 tons 6.9 all parts_Page_4

I used this arrangement, “The Weavers” 1955 Carnegie Hall Performance, as a starting point for my arrangement.

And here is Merle Travis, the composer:

And finally, the Union Singers and a rendition of the song:

Writing of the song, Wikipedia summarises:”Sixteen Tons” is a song about a coal miner, based on life in coal mines in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. It was written and first recorded by Merle Travis at the Radio Recorders Studio B in Hollywood, California on August 8, 1946. Cliffie Stone played bass on the recording. It was first released by Capital on the album Folk Songs of the Hills (July 1947).[3]

The line, “You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt,” came from a letter written by Travis’ brother John. Another line came from their father, a coal miner, who would say, “I can’t afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store.”……

This and the line, “I owe my soul to the company store”, is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay. In the United States the truck system and associated debt bondage persisted until the strikes of the newly formed United Mine Workers and affiliated unions forced an end to such practices.

Ode To Joy: Choral Arrangement

Ludwig_Van_Beethoven“Ode to Joy”
was a poem written by  German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schillerbest know for its use by Ludwig van Beethoven in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony.

The words in the version available below, arranged by Lachlan McGowan in 2005, with some adaptations by Douglas McPherson, uses very different words, origin unknown, from the original.
These words, with suggested dynamics for performance,  and the words with the original hand written SATB Lachlan McGowan notation, can be downloaded here.

A slightly modified version of this SATB arrangement, with chords and words, can be viewed or downloaded here.

The notation with chords and words for the soprano part can be viewed or downloaded here.

The notation with chords and words for the alto part can be viewed or downloaded here.

The notation with chords and words for the tenor part can be viewed or downloaded here.

The notation with chords and words for the bass part can be viewed or downloaded here.

Practice Tracks: (On a PC, Right Click to Download)

Practice your part, and then practice singing that against the “All Parts” track.




All Parts (SATB)

Any problems, leave a comment below, or try the downloadable practice tracks on Google Drive here.

Workout for the Week

1. 5 mins stretching (static will do)

2.  40 jumping jacks

3.  10 box jumps

4. 40 high knees

5.  60 secs wall squat

6.  15 push ups

7.  20 high jumps

8.  30 secs plank

9.  30 mountain climbers


Note :

1. You can do 2 sets, 3 sets, 4 sets depending on your capacity.

2. Rest for at least 2 minutes between sets.


A Statement of Belief

Belatedly, On Easter:

“If ……  Easter does not move us to empathy with refugees, concern for the large and growing gap between rich and poor, and global warming, among other Common Good issues, then I suspect that our perception of God is too small.”

Rev. Dr Brian Brown, Moderater of the NSW Uniting Church.

Alberta Hunter: Historical Footage of A Black Lesbian in her Prime, from 1935

Doing some research for the queer radio show Pink Nation, that I’ve been asked to host on tomorrow, Monday, 5:00 PM, I came across this gem! Perhaps I should more politically correctly describe Alberta as African American, except that she spent substantial periods of her life in Europe, having first gone to Paris with her lover Lottie Tyler in 1927. -They had met sometime between 1915 and 1917.


For the Bentley Blockade: A Nonsensical Verse

Most of Australia is probably unaware that a peaceful battle against a mining giant is taking place in rural NSW as we speak. -And I mean an active battle.

A Verse for the Bentley Blockade, from Uncle Dougie’s continuing Nonsensical Song of Protest:

Metgasco wants mining at Bentley,
But the people united do not,
Sing strong and sing free, in 4 part harmony,
Metgasco must simply be stopped,

And it’s nonsense, nonsense, it sounds like a whole lot of rot to me,
With joy and with glee, let’s make clean energy,
Then the mining will definitely stop!