Blood & Gold (Romanian Song)

November 22, 2008

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.

Ah, Thou Night

November 22, 2008

SSA. Russian folksong probably written around 1900. Sad song about a woman who is an orphan, all alone in the world except for her love, but alas they don’t get along very well. Slavic love angst! Russian transliteration.


November 22, 2008

D major

SATB; can be SSA. Often attempted, never performed. This gorgeous Ukrainian folksong constantly shifts from joyful major to shimmering minor. Transliterated lyrics describe a crow in a tree over a dead Cossack, and the fair maid whose love will never come again (Slavic love angst!). Kaia has tried singing this many times but no matter what configuration we try, we can’t make it sound right. Original can be found on Unbloc[k]ed collection of Eastern European music.