O Waly Waly

Writer: 
Trad
Voices: 
Women's four part
Ranges: 

Tenor: E flat 4 - F5
Lead: B flat 3 - C5
Bari: B flat 3 - B flat 4
Bass: E flat 3 - F4

I have loved this folk song since I sang Benjamin Britten's arrangement of it for solo voice and piano in my teens. This four-part a cappella arrangement has a lilt that those who know Britten's version will find familiar, but ranges more widely harmonically, moving into a variety of different keys as it passes the melody from lead to bass and finally to tenor.

It increasingly explores both diatonic dissonance and chromatic harmonies as the emotional narrative becomes more troubled, evoking the poignancy of the lyric in both the shape of the lines and the way they rub up against each other.