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This website was initially created to provide resources for the Vocal Union project. All materials on the site are freely available to people working in community music and education.
We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Sage Gateshead and Sing Up.
The site is currently hosted in collaboration with BlueJam.

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Traditional songs A-J

These songs have been collected by Vocal Union, Vocal Force and other leaders as part of the process of sharing our experience and repertoire. As in any aural tradition, songs get passed around, changing either deliberately or by accident.
If you know or have made new versions we would love to include them.
We will not include any song knowingly in copyright to a composer without their consent. If you find a song that is mis-named or you have new or conflicting information about it, please contact Jilly at jillyjarman@gmail.com


Adio Mama

Traditional song from Cuba. 'Goodbye Mum, Goodbye Dad, Iím off to the carnival!'
Parts based on the clave, very few words.
Useful for introducing samba rhythms and mixing percussion and voice.
mp3 | score


Ah poor bird! / John Cooks Soul

Two traditional folk songs from England. Both are rounds with quite a large range, so as well as being lovely to sing, good for later stages of a warm-up and for encouraging head voice.
mp3 of Ah Poor Bird | score for both


Baby Has Gone Down The Plughole

Traditional music hall song from England.
mp3


Balm in Gilead

Traditional gospel song
mp3 (sung here by Bewcastle Community Choir)


Been All Around This World

Song from the Appalachian Mountain area of United States of America. Introduced by Lindsay Hannon.
mp3 | score


Bela Mama

Beautiful round: "Beautiful Mother Earth'.
score


Bobby Shaftoe

traditional folk song.
score in D | score in G


Bonny At Morn

traditional Northumbrian folk song.
score in E minor (high) | score in A minor (low)


Cluck Old Hen

As taught by Sarah Kekus. Backing track by Dave Camlin
score | backing mp3


Colours of the rainbow

Sung in French by Alison Scott at Vocal Union residential, Allendale.
mp3


Do, Do Pity My Case

A song from Louisiana, US, about having to go and do chores. Possibly sung by servants dancing in a ring round a tree.
score


E Papa Waiari - traditional titi morea Maori

Great song with fascinating stick game from Pacific songs workshop by Sarah Wall.
score and pronunciation guide


Feeling Good

This classic song, was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1965 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint. The famous version by Nina Simone moves it away from the musical genre and into blues. It is a great song for young voices because of the inspiring words, and it can be taken apart and improvised over. See some impro ideas here from Jilly Jarman.
KS 2,3 adult
score: KS3/adult | score: canon KS2/adult| (mp3 and more scores to come) |


Freedom Is Coming

Traditional gospel song. Easy harmony parts with exciting counter melody.
KS 1,2,3 adult
score | mp3s - all parts | harmony 1 | harmony 2 | harmony 3


Garai Pano

Song from Zimbabwe. Learnt by Sian Crooze from Yvonne Burgess. Sung as people come into Church. In English it means: 'Sit here the Spirit is Coming.' Short song with very few words. Lovely harmonies.
KS 1,2,3 adult
mp3 | score


Go Down, Moses

Traditional spiritual. Speaks of release from oppression and can be related to both a cry for freedom and a religous expression. This is a simple folk version.
KS 1,2,3 adult
score | mp3


Gumama

Traditional Nigerian Church song. 3-part harmony
KS 2,3 adult
score


Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

Traditional English Folk tune with a verse for each day of the week. There are many different versions and it is sung all over the world in different forms
score


Hey Ho Nobody Home

Traditional English round with three phrases Try an ending with everyone staying on the first phrase in unison.This is also a great tune to use as feeder material for group improvisations - see suggestions below.
score | score improv ideas | mp3 - SW Peninsular Music Conference warm-up session


Ho Taru Koi - Japanese song

Sung by Sian Crooze. This song has a lovely canonic effect by repeating the song 1 beat later. Definitely worth trying. See Conference reports >> Birmingham Custard Factory, for a group performance led by Beth Allen.
mp3 | score and translation


Hot Cross Buns - Traditional English Folk Song

This is a version sung as a round with chord suggestions.
score | mp3


I've Gotten A Rock

Traditional folk tune with new words by Susanna Blamire and arrangement with Dave Camlin
score


Jambo

Extremely popular song in Swahili from Kenya. 3 part harmonies - many different versions. Easy song to play on tin whistles or recorders.
There are many different versions - these are the two verses taught by Batanai Marimba, plus English words written by Beaconside Infants for their Year 6 leaving celebration.
score | words


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Juba

Beth Allen says:"This is an old African American folk song that evolved from a plantation dance. It is closely linked to Hambone and is often found together in collections. Juba became a common name for African Americans who were talented at singing or dancing in the 19th century. The most famous was William Henry Lane or Master Juba, who combined African derived and European dances in his performances, including Irish jigs. He is now seen by many as the originator of tap dance."

KS 1,2,3 score

Sasquatch - Vocal Union training day grouplet

Call and response - good fun - all about yetis etc.
Any age
mp3 | score


Saturday Night - Yr 7 Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, Cumbria

Written out of a call and response game based on a 12-bar blues - girls opposite boys! They made up great dances to go with it.
KEY STAGE 2 & upwards
mp3 | score


Say my Name - Bex Mather

4 part groove - beautiful, soulful piece. Part of a song written by Bex Mather with a regeneration project.
KEY STAGE 2 & upwards
mp3 | mp3 parts | score


School Dinner song - Dave Camlin, Bassenthwaite

KEY STAGE 1 & 2
score


Silent Night - Hannah Reid

Lovely new arrangement for two voices of this traditional carol
score | mp3


Silly Noise Song by Sarah Nicholson - jazzy and fun.

A song for Early years exploring fun sounds you can make.

score


Sing Out the Dark Light - Dave Camlin

Song about the coming of the New Year.
KEY STAGE 2 & upwards
mp3


Sinnerman - Ed Aldcroft

New arrangement of this traditional gospel song.
KEY STAGE 2 & upwards
score


Sing, Sing a Song - Jennifer Ellin

Written for the Brewery, Kendal's singing club this has four lines which are gradually added to make a full sound.
KEY STAGE 1 & 2
score


Smile and Wave - Roslyn Doak

Written by 15 year old Roslyn as part of her work experience week with BlueJam, and previewed at Penrith Singing Squad - a great song, with a catchy tune, lots of rhythm and insightful lyrics.
score (E) | piano acc (Eb) | piano acc with vocal guide


Something - Robin Horton

Written for and performed by Oakmeadow Primary School, Wolverhampton, this is a great song with a catchy tune and rhythm
mp3 backing track | mp3 (Sung here by Oakmeadow Primary School, Wolverhampton)


Sooner Than You Think- Jilly Jarman & Year 4, Montreal CE Primary School, Cleator Moor

A very easy song to sing with a catchy hook - simple to change it and add your own ideas.
score | mp3 (Sung here by Penrith National Sing Up Day teachers session)


Spin Round - Kirsten Taylor, Jilly Jarman, Cath Sewell

One of three songs commissioned for the Kendal Brewery's MOTTO project. It uses the words to a Cumbrian folk song and works them into an evocative vocal weave.
score | mp3


Spirit of Christmas - Jilly Jarman

Carol about the kindness of King Wenceslas: single line, folk/shuffle, piano. See "I come to the door" for a shortened version - lyrics by Jen Ellin
KEY STAGE 2 & upwards
score | piano accompaniment


Spooky Things - Dave Camlin, Alison Scott, Bassenthwaite

score


Spooky Song - Sharon Durant

Groove based song with piano accompaniment
KEY STAGE 1 & 2
mp3 | score


Tape Ton Pied - French song introduced by Shelley Ambury

This is a similar tune to Old Joe Clark. It is in the mixolydian mode and has a lovely melody. Section 1 and 2 fit together and you can add a lower harmony quite easily.
mp3 | score


Three Little Pigs - Belinda Wright

A lively, fun song popular with Reception, Year one and two. Great with actions!
KEY STAGE 1 & 2
mp3 | score


Throw Catch - Skura

From East London, South Africa comes this great action song written by a young composer. It has caught on with young people and at Sing Up training sessions as an immediate hit with rhythms, actions and easy optional harmonies.
See version with newly-devised written words by a local school under 'May The Force Be With You'
KEY STAGE 2 to adult
score


Toca Las Campanas - (Ring the Bells)

Carol with Spanish words by Pilar Marchori written by Jilly Jarman for North Lakes School, Penrith
score | mp3


Viking Song - Hannah Reid

Simple, rousing song in 3-parts with percussion accompaniment.
KEY STAGE 1, 2 & 3
mp3 | score | mp3 with percussion


Voulez-vous chanter? - Jilly Jarman

Greeting song - 2 part round. In French. Written for Beaconside Juniors Vocal Union assemblies
KEY STAGE 1, 2, 3
score


We Are The Ones - Venice Manley

4 part song with simple lines interweaving. Very strong and effective
KEY STAGE 2 & 3 to adult
score


We're Helping Rufus by Sarah Nicholson - ballad.

A song for Early years exploring fun sounds you can make.

score


Welcome - Jilly Jarman, Alison Scott, Gary Newman, Skelton Primary School, Penrith.

Medieval inspired carol - easy to remember and satisfying to sing
KEY STAGE 2 & 3
score

This piece has been arranged by Mary Keith for her adult SSTB choir and performed at Shrewsbury Market Hall. Brilliant!
score


While Shepherds Watched - new SATB setting by Hannah Reid

A fantastic, gospel-tinged four part arrangement of this beautiful carol, with great piano chords.
KEY STAGE 2 to adult
score | mp3 | alto part | tenor part


Windows - Fiona Clayton

Lyrical single-line melody with beautiful inflectionsbr /> KEY STAGE 2
score


Whitehouse Farm Song - Belinda Wright

Approachable, fun song about a school visit to a farm. Great tune and easy chords.
KEY STAGE 1,2
mp3 | mp3 vu training day | score |


Wind Song - Pete Moser

A beautifully simple piece with 2 note backing. Taught here with demonstration of how to bring in echoes faster or slower. From conference at HotHouse Morecambe 2007
KEY STAGE 2 & 3 upwards
mp3


Wish - Bex Mather & Simon Derbyshire

Fantastic soulful acapella song with catchy tune and multiple backing parts. Easily adapted.
KEY STAGE 2 & 3 upwards
mp3


With these hands - Em Whitfield-Brooks

Soulful song
KEY STAGE 2 & 3
score | lyrics


Wolf Chant - Dave Camlin, Alison Scott, Bassenthwaite

KEY STAGE 2
score


Yoohoo! Where are you? - Vocal Union training day, Sage Gateshead 2007

Warm-up song. Suitable for all.
mp3


Year 5 Blues - Sharon Durant & Yr 5 Canning Street Primary School, Newcastle

12-bar blues with words about homework etc. Piano accompaniment. Easily adaptable.
KEY STAGE 2
mp3


You're mean! - Jilly Jarman

Easy fun, bluesy song with piano or guitar accompaniment. Alternative ending written by Beaconside Juniors and sung to Scrooge in their version of The Christmas Carol.
KEY STAGE 1 & 2, & anyone
score: tune & acc | score: v easy acc | mp3

 





Sing Up, the Music Manifesto National Singing Programme, produced by Youth Music with AMV-BBDO, Faber Music and The Sage Gateshead supported by Government.
Vocal Union is part-funded through Sing Up and is part of its national singing programme.