Dark As A Dungeon

Here is Doug McPherson’s arrangement of a Merle Travis song, with practice tracks, chords, lyrics, and 3 part harmony in the chorus.  The lyrics are from the Merle Travis 1946 recording on the 78 RPM box set, “Folk Songs of the Hills”.

I used the  Country Gentlemen’s arrangement, as performed at their reunion show at Woodstock in 1992, as a starting point, but the verse order of the earlier Merle Travis recording. The structure of the song is: Instrumental-verse-chorus-instrumental-2 verses-chorus.

Sheet Music: right click here to download sheet music as a single file PDF, or… click on the music below to expand, or right click, then save images to download, (2 files).dark_as_a_dungeon_page_1dark_as_a_dungeon_page_2
Practice Tracks:

These tracks are the entire arrangement, minus the repeated verse, with the targeted part a little louder, using a vocal “ah” sound, and the other vocal parts and chords using a piano sound. Voice types (alto etc.) are suggestions only. Right click on the titles to download, or click on the play icon to play.

Lead Voice: Melody, (Baritone or Alto) 


Upper Harmony: (Tenor 1 or Soprano)


Lower Harmony: ( Tenor 2 or Baritone)



Bolujem Ja / My Love is True


This is another great gypsy tune I’m arranging, at the moment for guitar and three voices.  It’s part of the repertoire of Zlatkos’ Balkan Cabaret

Practice Track: Alto, Tenor, Baritone
Practice Track: Alto, Tenor

Sheet Music: Alto, Tenor, Baritone
Sheet Music: Alto, Tenor

-And a practice performance, (some of which is in Serbian), from Zlatko’s Balkan Cabaret.

Coming Soon: Video of Zlatko’s Balkan Cabaret performing!

Here are a couple of performances from YouTube. Disclaimer: I hold no copyright on the performances below.

Klapa More – Bolujem ja

Extra Nena – Bolujem ja

Jelem Jelem: Arrangement for Two Voices and Guitar


My arrangement of Jelem Jelem:
Click here to download or view the sheet music.

Click here to stream or download a practice track: melody, harmony, and chords.
We recommend using the Music Player for Google Drive app for streaming.

Gelem, Gelem is a song composed by Žarko Jovanović, often used as the anthem of the Romani people. The title has been adapted in many countries by local Roma to match their native orthography and spoken dialect of the Romani language.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_anthem


 Up, Gypsy! Now is the time
Come with me Roma world
Dark face and dark eyes
Much as I like dark grapes

O Roma, O Romani youths!

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.