Bonny Wood Green

Arranged by Stephen Hatfield
Series Editor: Elaine Quilichini
Voicing: SAA
Instrumentation: a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 0326
Price: $2.10

Bonny Wood Green

“Bonny Wood Green” is a ballad from World War I, still sung in Irish pubs today. The Irish were unenthusiastic about entering the war on the British side, but once the decision had been made there were surprisingly large numbers of volunteers. The divided loyalties of the Irish soldiers cannot have made their ordeal in the trenches any easier.

I've adapted the text to a female perspective and added a final glimpse of the girl left behind, as she continues to pay tribute to an ordeal of her own.

Although the song deals with heartbreak and death, a simple, meditative delivery will be more effective than a lot of high drama. A void big vocal gestures, and keep all changes in dramatic levels gentle and understated. The audience should be left with the melancholy peace that comes long after heartbreak, not the heartbreak itself.

Whenever a downward glissando is marked, as in measure 9, do not use a bold Broadway slide, but rather a gentle falling-off from the first pitch, and only once that pitch has firmly established itself.

Breathmarks should be treated in a relaxed manner, with lots of time given for the singers to breathe.

In Celtic music, the dotted rhythms are often treated with a lot of snap. In this case, the dotted rhythms, while preserving their lilt, should be smoothed over a little, the way pebbles are rounded by the sea.

Irish balladeers frequently keep time with foot taps or by tapping their hands against their legs. It would be effective if the singers also kept gentle time with their hands against the sides of their legs, marking the dotted quarter pulse. An understated sway would also be , effective, provided the motion arises from the singers' own inner sense of rhythm. Any swaying movement should be in the interest of the singers feeling the lilt, not in showing the audience that the choir is having a good time.

Stephen Hatfield

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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