Blood & Gold (Romanian Song)

SSAA. First heard this on The Thistle & Shamrock and have remained in awe of it ever since. Written by Irish duo Andy Irvine and Jane Cassidy in the 1990s. It’s a punch-to-the-gut cry against the slaughter of war, specifically the holocaust-breakdown of the former Yugoslavia.

This arrangement is intended for a small ensemble rather than larger groups. Requires four very strong voices capable of handling the tight harmonies and emotional tension. English lyrics. Best in Balkan-style singing. It’s written in 3/4 with the emphasis on the 1 & 2. I believe the original is written in 13 or some such wackiness. 

Blood & Gold sample by Kaia small ensemble

On the third verse, we switch to a Western choral sound, more quiet and contemplative. After the driving Balkanesque sound, it sounds like the voices of angels or ancestors weeping. Then the fourth/final verse returns to the gut-punch.

Blood & Gold lyrics deconstructed Download this PDF for my essay (accompanied by images by Käthe Kollwitz) of the cultural milieu the songwriters may have drawn on. Or just read it for the history lesson! Note: content is all from my head, not from research with or discussion with the songwriters directly. I’m responsible for any non-facts.

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2 Responses to Blood & Gold (Romanian Song)

  1. Gerry says:

    Andy Irvine has a few things to say about this song on his website. It’s on an album he recorded in 1978, so it’s not about the breakdown of Yugoslavia. He wrote and recorded it in 5/16 time.

  2. cairril says:

    Thanks for the correction. I checked his site and was disappointed to find only a passing comment. “Thistle and Shamrock” played it on their “East and West” segment and presented it as being about the breakdown of Yugoslavia. It certainly fit the times. Sadly, it fits most times.

    The 3 arrangement more or less works because the shift of the beat from the 1 to the 2 gives a sense of a hemiola. It gives a feeling of 5. As I noted above, all errors are mine.

    Thanks again!

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