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Practice Tracks

~A note on cultural appropriation~

•Recordings are for your ears only! Do not disseminate.  For real.  It's illegal.•

•And bare with me on some of these, they're quite imperfect.  Sometimes its flat by the end of the recording, or my voice is straining.  But I hope these rough cuts get the basic parts across!•

•If a track glitches, try refreshing the page.

To search:

                                   1.  Create a shortcut to his page on your desktop
                                   2. Use the search function to find the song you're looking                                          for.  ctrl. + F or cmmd. + F 

Rise up O Flame - Christopher Praetorius c. 1600s

An old classic fire circle song.  Great as a three part round, though you can accomplish eight parts and create a cacophonous experience!  Here I recorded it on the fly with a four part version.  For a more beautiful rendering check out Libana's version. It's originally "show to us..." but commonly sung "bring to us, or "show to us",

Rise up o flame
by thy light glowing

give to us beauty

vision and joy

Let the Circle be wide - Tommy Sands, arr. by Yuri Woodstock

Years ago, I heard a jumbled recording from a friend who had visited England and learned from some of the Natural Voice Network choir leaders out there.  In it, a very grumpy teacher was mostly yelling at his choir, but also teaching a four-part arrangement of this Tommy Sands Song.  I only vaguely remember the subtleties, and couldn't track it down, so arranged this version myself.

Practice Tracks

Let the circle be wide round the fireside
and we'll soon make room for you
let your heart have no fear
for there are no strangers here
just friends that you never knew.


All that Open Water - Laurence Cole

In this song, Laurence captures that moment of bewonderment that takes place when a vast body of water opens up before you. He has a detailed account (and his own stellar practice tracks!) on his website here, so these are kind of redundant, but enjoy!

Practice Tracks

When I saw all thet open water
something opened in my soul
I felt the peace in the beauty of all that is
reminding me all is one, all is round, all is full
all is well, all is whole.


Yes - Sheikinah Glory Ministry

This song can strike instant resonance for a lot of people.  It was introdiced to me by Laurence Cole, who simplified this arrangement.  The original is very specifically Christian, though the message of fully saying "yes!" to something is a powerful one, no matter how it lands in your own heart.


Russian Lullabye -
Winter - John Krumm

One of my favorite rounds! High energy - turning the singers into a workshop of elves... It is one of four seasonal rounds John Krumm composed on his album of nothing but rounds.  There are places to add claps that adds an extra element.  

When the Winter comes we gather,
to dance and sing together
When the winter comes we gather, 
to dance our cares away.
Everybody clap hands, Everybody sing now
Sing a song of gladness, sing a song of joy
Winter, cold Winter, blows hard upon my windowpane
dance 'round the fire, till springtime comes again!


In the Beginning Was the Seed - Annie Zylstra

At this time of the year, nature can seem really dead.  But life never sleeps.  This season of choir contains the old celebration of Imbolc, (Feb 1 this year) where we pay homage to the seeds actively germinating under the earth in late Winter.  It is a "Cross-quarter" holiday falls half way between the winter solstice and the Spring Equinox. Let's keep these magical little seeds in our hearts!

In the beginning was the seed, was the seed
and in that seed was a dream
sings "awake, arise,
begin the growing you will need,
till one day you're a seed again."

Marias's Bonus Harmonies!


I've got a mother Gone to Glory - Traditional Primitive Baptist, from Jean Ritchie

The folk musician Jean Ritchie first spread and popularized this old Baptist song in the fifties.  Northern Harmony and the Starry Mountain Singers have also done some amazing arrangements of it as well.  Super fun to sing, and a great duet to learn with a friend.  Make sure to pitch it low enough to make room for the high part!

I've got a mother Gone to Glory
 I've got a mother Gone to Glory 
Look away over yonder on the golden shore
Away up in heaven
Away up in heaven
I've got a mother Gone to Glory 
Look away over yonder on the golden shore

(...Some bright day I'll go and see her/
That Bright day may be tomorrow)

I've got a mother Gone to Glory Melody -
I've got a mother Gone to Glory Harmony -
Hangaiwa - Zimbabwe

The words to this song have been presented to me as meaning "the pigeons will die together in the nest tonight". And that it reflects the undying nature of love. It is popular among community choirs right now as a deep emotional song, and this arrangement certainly conveys that aspect of the song.  It was brought to the west by Mighael Spiro and Michael Williams's Bata Mbira album, which contains Afro Cuban music.  Here is their recording. As you can see, it's not a sad song by any measure, though their cover may have pulled the song in an upbeat direction. 

     For an ethnomusicology perspective: According to Chartwell Dutiro, “This song combines two classic musical styles – payinera guitar and jerusarema rhythm. Payinera is a style of guitar that was played by lone guitarists busking on trains and in beer halls. Payinera came to Zimbabwe with migrant workers from South Africa. Jerusarema is typical Zimbabwe rhythm from Murehwa."

    I think it's important to recognize that our experience of the version of this song we're singing is it's own thing, and probably a far cry from the various traditions that informed it's growth and spreading.  That being said, I think it's a very powerful song as it is.


Be the One - Laurence Cole

The story behind this song is a powerful one, and I highly recommend listening to this seven minute podcast by Julia Alvarez.  It is this piece of her writing that Laurence wrote the song from.  The lyrics are a direct quote from Henry James, and the overall message is one of deep acceptance of the world even in the darkest of times. 

Practice Tracks

Be the one on whom nothing is lost
and you will gain the whole world, and a soul besides.
Gracias.  Gracias.


Santo Silencio - Gretchen Sleicher

In the Winter, things quiet  down a lot.  This song reflects Gretchen's experience of being 'sanctified by silence' inside a cave. The words mean "Harmonize me with silence" and "Fill me with sacred silence"

Practice Tracks

Santo silencio llena me de...
Harmoniza me con silencio

Moonlight Over the Field - Ellison Graham

Written last Winter by our very own Ellison, the crunchy chords manage to melodically convey the coincidence of light and dark that we experience on a moonlit snowy night. 

Practice Tracks

Moonlight Over the Field
Moonlight, casting shadows on the snowy ground,

casting shadows on the ground

Sing till the Power - Arr. Arnae Batson

Also known as "Now Let Us Sing" . A traditional gospel song, the original words are "Sing till the power of the Lord comes down."  This arrangement takes it to new heights! Here is a video of Arnae leading this song with a bunch of choir directors last Winter.We'll make our way slowly with this one.  Classic irresistible gospel.  A quick youtube search will reveal that the song is almost never sang the same way.  There are zillions of different arrangements.

Practice Tracks

Now Let us Sing
Sing till the power of love comes down

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