My Heavy Load

Arranged by Ian David Coleman
Series Editor: Simon Carrington
Voicing: SATB a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 1107
Price: $2.30

My Heavy Load

This spiritual setting is part of a set of five, each of which explore some aspect of the ongoing struggle for racial equality in America. In each of these, two contrasting pieces are blended together. The resulting collision of different sound worlds and ideas is aimed at stimulating conversation and positive interaction around the issue of race. In this case, I have combined the traditional African-American spiritual, “By and By”, with the traditionally white hymn, “Saints Bound for Glory”. The connecting text in these two pieces is the use of the words ‘by and by’ This phrase is laden with a sense of hope that in the future, ‘by and by’, our troubles will be over and our struggles ended. The irony is, of course, that the struggles of one group seem to be taking a lot longer to end than those of the other.

Another connection between these two pieces is their pentatonic melodies. This simple five-note scale is found around the world as a basis for music in a vast variety of cultures and peoples. The use of this scale, with its internal mild dissonance, means I could more freely blend the two melodies and accompanying harmonies together in interesting ways. While I am not suggesting some trite ‘universal language’ for music in my selection of this scale form, I am perhaps suggesting that the origins of music, much like the origins of race, have done much more to join us across human culture and experience than it has done to divide us.

It is my hope that while enjoying the lively and energetic nature of this arrangement, the deeper social issues may be highlighted and discussed. If music can be the catalyst for deep discussions about who we are and how we relate, then so much the better for all involved.

Ian David Coleman

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).




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