Heave Away

Arranged by Stephen Hatfield
Voicing: SSAATB
Instrumentation: a cappella
Catalog number: AMP 0716
Price: $1.90

“Heave Away”
arranged by Stephen Hatfield

Background Notes
In many SATB groups the SA voices outnumber the TB voices, sometimes drastically — especially when several SATB groups combine in a massed choir. “Heave Away,” like its companion piece “Sarah,” also published by Alliance Music Publications, was written for situations where the upper voices are in abundance. The SA voices extend themselves through simple but rich divisi, while the men have a part with lots of spotlight that still works when the TB voices are in the minority.

“Heave Away” is an old foot–stomper from the Newfoundland docks that can be heard performed both by traditional ensembles and rock bands.

The boat “Jenny Lind” was named for the operatic soprano Johanna Maria Lind (1820–1887), better known as Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, one of the most famous and beloved celebrities of her day. It has long been the fashion to name all manner of things after celebrities, such as Melba Toast and Peach Melba, both in honour of the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931: real name Helen Porter Mitchell — she chose the stage name “Melba” in tribute to her hometown of Melbourne, Australia). Woody Allen fans may remember the fashion trend in the late 1970s where glasses, shoes, shirts, ties, skirts and jackets were named for the movie character “Annie Hall.”

Performance Notes
The four treble parts (S1, S2, A1, A2) are of equal importance. Please make sure that we do not wind up, for example, with a 2nd soprano section that is dwarfed in number by the 1st sopranos. Second soprano often has the melody or a crucial countermelody and must not be buried.

Although the piece has been notated with dotted eighths and sixteenths, the feel is that of triplet eighths with the first two eighths tied together. It is most important that the dotted rhythms not become too crisp and martial. This is not crisp music.

A frequent rhythm is the “Scotch snap” where a sixteenth precedes a dotted eighth, such as in measure 6. This figure should always be given extra snap by keeping the sixteenth accented and brief, rather as if it were an emphatic grace note.

Scooping up to a note, usually from a major second below, is very much part of the carousing style of this music. The trick is to make the scoops sound like they are alive, like they're there to energize the note and emphasize the moment, as opposed to scoops that are timidly, obediently reproduced by the choir as they follow the instructions in the music. Sometimes I have given some particular guidelines, such as measure 5, where there is no scoop in the bass or first alto because I feel that at this point they need to hit their notes smack on. However, even when I go into that kind of detail, my guidelines are still only guidelines, and as the choir rehearses they may well find some places of their own where it feels natural and good to scoop to a note or give it a bend. You'll notice that in “Heave Away” the syllable “way” repeatedly gets a scoop (see measure 7). Keep in mind that “w” is one of the very best consonants to scoop with, so see if you can turn the syllable “way” into a fine, physical pulse of vocal energy. Always keep the rhythm stoked, especially when the dynamic level is low.

A colloquial diction is appropriate here, with the final consonants dropped from words like “and” or “dancing.” A special case is the word “bound,” which gets the final “d” dropped when followed by a consonant (see measures 3 and 11). But in the refrain when “bound” is followed by a vowel in the phrase “We're all bound away,” the “d” is clearly pronounced. In fact, the phrase will have a little extra swing if the words “bound away” are pronounced more like “bounn da–way,” closing on a resonant “n” just a touch on the early side.

Stephen Hatfield

Click here to see a sample.

Click here to listen to a recording (MP3).

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