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This song was written in 1949 by Les Rice, a farmer from New York State, USA. It deals with the perverse injustice, exploitation and inequality Rice saw all around him. Pete Seeger wrote about Les Rice and this song: “Like most small farmers, he was getting intolerably squeezed by the big companies which sold him all his fertilizer, insecticide and equipment, and the big companies that dictated to him the prices he would get for his produce. Out of that squeeze came this song.” https://mainlynorfolk.info/folk/songs/banksofmarble.html
It seems to me that the song has particular resonance and currency in Australia at the moment, following the largely ineffectual Royal Commission into Banking. This arrangement is based on an earlier Michael Roper arrangement.
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 2 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 2 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 only difference between versions 2.1 and 3, are the tenor line in the chorus and chords in the chorus, bars 3 and 7. The practice tracks use the piano in the target voice. The all parts track uses a wind quartet.
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.
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.
This version has each verse written out, with music, words and dynamic markings. This arrangement, in particular the phrasing, is based on a live performance originally released on a 1964 album, “I Can See A New Day”.
I don’t know the provenance of this song. The two bits of sheet music I have found have the attribution, “Devised by Raised Voices of Climate Change Demonstration”, London December 3rd 2005. Tune: “Mayenziwe ‘Ntando Yakho”.
Version 1.ii contains a couple of piano fingering numbers, and the pickup measure is just the single quaver.
Simplified SATB Version
This version, for a smaller group of mixed voices has the tenor singing the melody, along with the soprano, and the basses singing the alto line, (obviously an octave lower), with the exception of 3 notes at the end of lines 1 & 2, and the last line.
Scroll down for lyrics, sheet music and practice tracks.
Joe Hill, born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden, and also known as Joseph Hillström (October 7, 1879– November 19, 1915) was a songwriter, itinerant laborer, and union organizer, who became famous around the world after a Utah court (wrongly) convicted him of murder. Even before the international campaign to have his conviction reversed, however, Joe Hill was well known in hobo jungles, on picket lines and at workers’ rallies as the author of popular labor songs and as an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator. Continue reading “Joe Hill: The Song”