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The night of Tuesday, July 24, 1979, shook not only the small mining community of Appin but the entire Illawarra, with the region’s families dependent on their men going underground day after day (Cox 2009). This song uses words from a poem by Sid Wright, and music written and arranged by Sarah De Jong. This arrangement, for the Illawarra Union Singers, has been transcribed with a couple of tweaks to the bass line, and guitar chords added, by Doug McPherson.
All parts: These tracks below use combinations of instruments representing the four vocal parts. It may be useful to learn your part and then sing it with the accompaniment of these instrumental parts, to test how well you have learnt the part. Of these two tracks, the string arrangement may be more in keeping with the spirit of the song.
This song is based on a somewhat earlier song, “The Nonsense Song”, written at the height of Tony Abbott’s “leadership” of Australia. This current song only has 3 verses, dealing with the 3 most recent Prime Ministers.
This arrangement, for a small mixed voice choir with guitar accompaniment, sounds like this. It is based on an SATB arrangement by C. Shaw and E. Blyth which is sung by the combined Sydney, Newcastle and Illawarra union choirs.
The key has been lowered from Bb to G.
The melody, identical to the combined choir version except for the lower key, is to be sung in unison by baritone and/or mezzo-soprano voices.
The alto part is identical to the combined choir arrangement linked to above. The end of the first verse uses the same notes from verse 2 in that arrangement. The beginning of verse 2 uses the same notes as verses 3 & 4. The pitch is lower than the combined choir version.
The tenor part contains a solo harmony line for most of the first verse, to complement the solo sung by a soprano or baritone. This could also be sung by a contralto or a soprano. The rest of the tenor line is the same as the combined choir arrangement, except for the last note of the chorus, and of the coda. The beginning of verse 2 uses the same notes as verses 3 & 4. The pitch is lower than the combined choir version.
And finally here is the sheet music in jpg format:
And the lyrics as text:
Solidarity: IUS Version
When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun,
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the Union makes us strong!
Solidarity forever, solidarity forever,
For the Union makes us strong!
Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong!
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn,
We can break their haughty power gain our freedom when we learn,
That the Union makes us strong!
In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand fold,
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old,
For the Union makes us strong!
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.
An adaptation of “Love and Justice”, a women’s anthem by independent musician and ARIA award winner Kavisha Mazzella. The Illawarra Union Singers thank Kavisha for her permission to perform the song, adapting it for a small mixed voice choir.
If you have a previous copy of the adapted sheet music or practice tracks this file documents, in part at least, changes made.
These practice tracks work closely with the adapted sheet music. The exact phrasing of the words in verses 2 and 3 may not be identical to what needs to be sung. They are all about 20% slower than the performance tempo. Good preparation might include practising your own part, and then, when confident, practice with the “All Parts” track. Click here for instructions on how to download these practice tracks.
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.