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I've recently completed an English Folk Song Suite for orchestra which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. So much so that I'd like to have a crack at arranging an American Folk Song Suite.

I have a list (following) of some likely songs that might be appropriate but seek advice from the USA...if anyone has thoughts on a list of what they think would constitute either the most popular or most appropriate (or both) I'd be keen to hear them (your thoughts that is!)

Wabash Cannonball; The Water is Wide; Go Tell It On The Mountains; The House Of The Rising Sun; Where have all the flowers gone; Freight Train; Prairie Lullaby; My Gal; Tom Dooley; Pretty Boy Floyd.

The list isn't exhaustive of course and I'll only need maybe four complementary and contrasting pieces in all.

If anyone's interested the English Folk Song Suite is here:

https://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/184944.html

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Hi Stephen, sounds like a good project. Well there's lots of folk songs and you have a bunch of good ones there to be sure. You might also consider these which have been very popular at one time or another.

"This Land is Your Land", "Blowin' in the Wind", "The Long Black Veil", "Leavin' on a Jet Plane", "Red River Valley", "Ballad of John Henry", "If I Had a Hammer", "Turn, Turn, Turn", "Streets of Laredo", "Early Mornin' Rain", "Both Sides Now", "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"

Heck, I could go on!

Thanks for your help Ingo - I'll have a look/listen to these and see what fits and also, based on Bob's observations, I'll check out those that are pre-1900.

If you can find the time I'd appreciate your thoughts on my English Folk Song Suite (link on my first post above). I'd be interested to know if any of the folk tunes in it are also known in the US of A.

In anticipation, many thanks.

Ingo Lee said:

Hi Stephen, sounds like a good project. Well there's lots of folk songs and you have a bunch of good ones there to be sure. You might also consider these which have been very popular at one time or another.

"This Land is Your Land", "Blowin' in the Wind", "The Long Black Veil", "Leavin' on a Jet Plane", "Red River Valley", "Ballad of John Henry", "If I Had a Hammer", "Turn, Turn, Turn", "Streets of Laredo", "Early Mornin' Rain", "Both Sides Now", "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"

Heck, I could go on!

I listened to your English Folk Song Suite and enjoyed it very much, I think you did an excellent job with this. The recording is very good quality also, I assume it is a live recording? I'm embarrassed to say I can't name any of the folk songs; I don't know if I'm a cultural jingoist or just tone deaf!  Seriously though, several were familiar so I probably have heard them before.

Your orchestration and arranging skills are impressive here, very conservative, not breaking new ground, but a very nice presentation of the material. Lots of dynamics and variations of instrumentation and good pacing as well. This would work with any audience, and that's important.

I look forward to the American version, by golly I'll name some of those, unless Bob talks you into going into the pre 1900 material. Just kidding! "Red River Valley" and "The Streets of Laredo" are pre 1900.  You could also do "Yellow Rose of Texas", "Dixie", "Clementine", "Sweet Betsy from Pike", "Turkey in the Straw", all older but very well known over here at least.

Some of these are European, but these songs are still considered in the American Tradition. This list will help get you started though: 1. All the Pretty Little Horses
2. Alouette (French)
3. Alphabet Song, The
4. Amazing Grace (The melody was American!)
5. America (or “My Country, ’Tis of Thee”)
6. America the Beautiful
7. Anchors Aweigh
8. And the Band Played On
9. Animal Fair
10. Ants Go Marching In, The
11. Apples and Bananas
12. Army Goes [Caissons Go] Rolling Along,
The
13. A-Tisket, A-Tasket
14. Auld Lang Syne
15. (Go Tell) Aunt Rhody (or “The Old Gray
Goose”)
16. Aura Lee (or “Aura Lea”) (Scotish?)
17. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
18. Barbara Allen
19. Barges
20. Battle Hymn of the Republic (with “John
Brown’s Baby”)
21. Bear Went over the Mountain, The (see
“For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”)
22. Bicycle Built for Two, A (or “Daisy Bell”)
23. Big Rock Candy Mountain
24. Billy Boy
25. Bingo
26. Blow the Man Down
27. Blue-Tail Fly (or “Jimmie Crack Corn”)
28. Boll Weevil
29. Bonnie at Morn
30. Buffalo Gals
31. Camptown Races
32. Carrickfergus
33. Casey Jones
34. Cielito Lindo
35. Cindy
36. Clementine
37. Cockles and Mussels
38. Colores, De
39. Comin’ Thro’ the Rye
40. Condor Pasa, El
41. Crawdad Song, The
42. Cucaracha, La (Spanish)
43. Danny Boy (Celtic)
44. Did You Ever See a Lassie?
45. Dixie’s Land (or “Dixie”)
46. Dona Nobis Pacem (round)
47. Down by the Riverside
48. Down in the Valley
49. Do Your Ears Hang Low?
50. Drill, Ye Terriers, Drill!
51. Dry Bones
52. Eensy, Weensy Spider
53. Erie Canal, The
54. Farmer in the Dell, The
55. First Noel, The (or “The First Nowell”)
56. Five Little Ducks That I Once Knew
57. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
58. Foggy Dew, The
59. Follow the Drinking Gourd
60. For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow (With “The
Bear Went Over the Mountain”)
61. Frère Jacques (or “Are You Sleeping?”)
62. Froggie Went A-Courtin’
63. Git Along, Little Dogies
64. God Bless America
65. Go Down, Moses
66. Goober Peas
67. Good Bye Old Paint
68. Go Tell It on the Mountain
69. Great Silkie of Shule Skerrie, The
70. Green (Bein’ Green)
71. Green Grass Grows All Around, The
72. Greensleeves (with “What Child Is This?)
73. Happy Birthday to You
74. Happy Wanderer, The
75. Havah Nagilah
76. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
77. Here Is the Beehive
78. Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush
79. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
80. Hey, Ho, Nobody Home (round)
81. Hickory, Dickory, Dock
82. Hokey Pokey, The
83. Home on the Range
84. Hot Cross Buns
85. Hush Little Baby
86. If I Had a Hammer
87. If You’re Happy and You Know It
88. I Know an Old Lady
89. I Love the Mountains (round)
90. I’m a Little Teapot
91. In the Good Old Summertime
92. It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
93. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
94. Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair (or “I
Dream of Jeanie”)
95. Jingle Bells
96. John Brown’s Baby (See “Battle Hymn of
the Republic”)
97. John Henry
98. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
99. Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
100. Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
101. Joy to the World
102. Kookaburra
103. Kumbayah
104. Lazy Mary (Will You Get Up)
105. Leezie Lindsay
106. Li’l Liza Jane
107. Loch Lomond
108. London Bridge (Is Falling Down)
109. Looby Loo
110. Make New Friends
111. Marine’s Hymn, The
112. Mary Had a Little Lamb
113. Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
114. Muffin Man, The
115. My Bonnie (Lies over the Ocean)
116. My Country ’Tis of Thee (See “America”)
117. My Dreydl
118. My Grandfather’s Clock
119. Nick, Nack, Paddy, Wack (or “This Old
Man”)
120. Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow
121. Oh! Susanna
122. Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
123. Oh, John the Rabbit
124. Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog
Gone?
125. Old Chisholm Trail
126. Old Dan Tucker
127. Old King Cole
128. Old MacDonald Had a Farm
129. One Potato, Two Potato
130. On Top of Old Smokey
131. Open, Shut Them
132. Over the Rainbow
133. Over the River and Through the Woods
(or “Thanksgiving Day”)
134. Peter Cottontail
135. Polly Wolly Doodle
136. Pop Goes the Weasel
137. Red River Valley
138. Rock-a-bye, Baby
139. Rock of Ages
140. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
141. Rubber Duckie
142. Sakura
143. Santa Lucia
144. Shady Grove
145. She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain
146. Shenandoah
147. Shoo, Fly (Don’t Bother Me)
148. Shortnin’ Bread
149. Sidewalks of New York, The
150. Silent Night
151. Simple Gifts (or “’Tis a Gift to Be
Simple”)
152. Sing a Song of Sixpence
153. Skip to My Lou
154. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
155. Star-Spangled Banner, The
156. Sweet Betsy from Pike
157. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
158. Take Me Out to the Ball Game
159. Taps
160. Teddy Bears’ Picnic
161. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around
162. There’s a Hole in the Bucket
163. This Land Is Your Land
164. This Little Light of Mine
165. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (with
“The Alphabet Song”)
166. Waltzing Matilda
167. Wayfaring Stranger
168. We Shall Overcome
169. What Child Is This? (See “Greensleeves”)
170. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
171. When the Saints Go Marching In
172. Where Is Thumbkin?
173. Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie
Jar?
174. Yankee Doodle
175. Yellow Rose of Texas, The
176. You Are My Sunshine
177. You’re a Grand Old Flag
And here is a list of old American Hymns: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:American_Christian_hymns

Rodney, "...I'll only need maybe four complementary and contrasting pieces in all". is what I asked for.....If I attempt to look up and listen to all of these you've listed I'll be 6 feet under before reaching half way!

I'm looking for some folk tunes that express what America is....which means perhaps showing a progression of music from the roots up....say indigenous Indian through negro spirituals (I hope I'm still able to call them by that designation without causing offence) through wild west to relatively modern day music...at least that will have a logical progression to it and then it's up to me to treat the themes in a musically logical and entertaining fashion. (That's what I did with my English Folk Song Suite - nothing new or innovative....just enjoyable music that I think meets the needs of the average audience - have a listen and see what I mean). https://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/184944.html

Anyhow, many thanks for your interest and for all the work you've put into your response.

Rodney Carlyle Money said:

Some of these are European, but these songs are still considered in the American Tradition. This list will help get you started though: 1. All the Pretty Little Horses
2. Alouette (French)
3. Alphabet Song, The
4. Amazing Grace (The melody was American!)
5. America (or “My Country, ’Tis of Thee”)
6. America the Beautiful
7. Anchors Aweigh
8. And the Band Played On
9. Animal Fair
10. Ants Go Marching In, The
11. Apples and Bananas
12. Army Goes [Caissons Go] Rolling Along,
The
13. A-Tisket, A-Tasket
14. Auld Lang Syne
15. (Go Tell) Aunt Rhody (or “The Old Gray
Goose”)
16. Aura Lee (or “Aura Lea”) (Scotish?)
17. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
18. Barbara Allen
19. Barges
20. Battle Hymn of the Republic (with “John
Brown’s Baby”)
21. Bear Went over the Mountain, The (see
“For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”)
22. Bicycle Built for Two, A (or “Daisy Bell”)
23. Big Rock Candy Mountain
24. Billy Boy
25. Bingo
26. Blow the Man Down
27. Blue-Tail Fly (or “Jimmie Crack Corn”)
28. Boll Weevil
29. Bonnie at Morn
30. Buffalo Gals
31. Camptown Races
32. Carrickfergus
33. Casey Jones
34. Cielito Lindo
35. Cindy
36. Clementine
37. Cockles and Mussels
38. Colores, De
39. Comin’ Thro’ the Rye
40. Condor Pasa, El
41. Crawdad Song, The
42. Cucaracha, La (Spanish)
43. Danny Boy (Celtic)
44. Did You Ever See a Lassie?
45. Dixie’s Land (or “Dixie”)
46. Dona Nobis Pacem (round)
47. Down by the Riverside
48. Down in the Valley
49. Do Your Ears Hang Low?
50. Drill, Ye Terriers, Drill!
51. Dry Bones
52. Eensy, Weensy Spider
53. Erie Canal, The
54. Farmer in the Dell, The
55. First Noel, The (or “The First Nowell”)
56. Five Little Ducks That I Once Knew
57. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
58. Foggy Dew, The
59. Follow the Drinking Gourd
60. For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow (With “The
Bear Went Over the Mountain”)
61. Frère Jacques (or “Are You Sleeping?”)
62. Froggie Went A-Courtin’
63. Git Along, Little Dogies
64. God Bless America
65. Go Down, Moses
66. Goober Peas
67. Good Bye Old Paint
68. Go Tell It on the Mountain
69. Great Silkie of Shule Skerrie, The
70. Green (Bein’ Green)
71. Green Grass Grows All Around, The
72. Greensleeves (with “What Child Is This?)
73. Happy Birthday to You
74. Happy Wanderer, The
75. Havah Nagilah
76. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
77. Here Is the Beehive
78. Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush
79. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
80. Hey, Ho, Nobody Home (round)
81. Hickory, Dickory, Dock
82. Hokey Pokey, The
83. Home on the Range
84. Hot Cross Buns
85. Hush Little Baby
86. If I Had a Hammer
87. If You’re Happy and You Know It
88. I Know an Old Lady
89. I Love the Mountains (round)
90. I’m a Little Teapot
91. In the Good Old Summertime
92. It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
93. I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
94. Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair (or “I
Dream of Jeanie”)
95. Jingle Bells
96. John Brown’s Baby (See “Battle Hymn of
the Republic”)
97. John Henry
98. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
99. Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier
100. Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
101. Joy to the World
102. Kookaburra
103. Kumbayah
104. Lazy Mary (Will You Get Up)
105. Leezie Lindsay
106. Li’l Liza Jane
107. Loch Lomond
108. London Bridge (Is Falling Down)
109. Looby Loo
110. Make New Friends
111. Marine’s Hymn, The
112. Mary Had a Little Lamb
113. Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
114. Muffin Man, The
115. My Bonnie (Lies over the Ocean)
116. My Country ’Tis of Thee (See “America”)
117. My Dreydl
118. My Grandfather’s Clock
119. Nick, Nack, Paddy, Wack (or “This Old
Man”)
120. Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow
121. Oh! Susanna
122. Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
123. Oh, John the Rabbit
124. Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog
Gone?
125. Old Chisholm Trail
126. Old Dan Tucker
127. Old King Cole
128. Old MacDonald Had a Farm
129. One Potato, Two Potato
130. On Top of Old Smokey
131. Open, Shut Them
132. Over the Rainbow
133. Over the River and Through the Woods
(or “Thanksgiving Day”)
134. Peter Cottontail
135. Polly Wolly Doodle
136. Pop Goes the Weasel
137. Red River Valley
138. Rock-a-bye, Baby
139. Rock of Ages
140. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
141. Rubber Duckie
142. Sakura
143. Santa Lucia
144. Shady Grove
145. She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain
146. Shenandoah
147. Shoo, Fly (Don’t Bother Me)
148. Shortnin’ Bread
149. Sidewalks of New York, The
150. Silent Night
151. Simple Gifts (or “’Tis a Gift to Be
Simple”)
152. Sing a Song of Sixpence
153. Skip to My Lou
154. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
155. Star-Spangled Banner, The
156. Sweet Betsy from Pike
157. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
158. Take Me Out to the Ball Game
159. Taps
160. Teddy Bears’ Picnic
161. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around
162. There’s a Hole in the Bucket
163. This Land Is Your Land
164. This Little Light of Mine
165. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (with
“The Alphabet Song”)
166. Waltzing Matilda
167. Wayfaring Stranger
168. We Shall Overcome
169. What Child Is This? (See “Greensleeves”)
170. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
171. When the Saints Go Marching In
172. Where Is Thumbkin?
173. Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie
Jar?
174. Yankee Doodle
175. Yellow Rose of Texas, The
176. You Are My Sunshine
177. You’re a Grand Old Flag

Ingo, Thanks for your comments; I'm pleased you enjoyed the piece. Incidentally, it's not a live recording....just Sibelius and Note Performer software (the latter I decided to buy after researching DAWs - it's a very inexpensive, simple to use and effective bit of kit....most DAWs seem to me to need a lot of cash to buy and hours and hours of study to learn how to use them effectively).

Thank you also for your suggested list of songs - I'll look them up and have a good listen. 

Ingo Lee said:

I listened to your English Folk Song Suite and enjoyed it very much, I think you did an excellent job with this. The recording is very good quality also, I assume it is a live recording? I'm embarrassed to say I can't name any of the folk songs; I don't know if I'm a cultural jingoist or just tone deaf!  Seriously though, several were familiar so I probably have heard them before.

Your orchestration and arranging skills are impressive here, very conservative, not breaking new ground, but a very nice presentation of the material. Lots of dynamics and variations of instrumentation and good pacing as well. This would work with any audience, and that's important.

I look forward to the American version, by golly I'll name some of those, unless Bob talks you into going into the pre 1900 material. Just kidding! "Red River Valley" and "The Streets of Laredo" are pre 1900.  You could also do "Yellow Rose of Texas", "Dixie", "Clementine", "Sweet Betsy from Pike", "Turkey in the Straw", all older but very well known over here at least.

Can't really add to the list you've already received, but wanted to tell you I enjoyed your "English Folk Song Suite".

Very nicely done!

This is what I would personally pick then:

1. Shenandoah which is about a white man asking the hand of the chief's daughter.
2. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot for your negro spiritual.
3. Home on the Range for the Wild West expansion.
4. America, the Beautiful for your finale.
Thank you Tim for listening and for your very kind comments.

Tim Marko said:

Can't really add to the list you've already received, but wanted to tell you I enjoyed your "English Folk Song Suite".

Very nicely done!

Sounds good to me Rodney and gives me food for thought. I'll let you know what I eventually decide to do (after first listening to them in sequence to see if I can achieve a good, well balanced result).

Rodney Carlyle Money said:
This is what I would personally pick then:

1. Shenandoah which is about a white man asking the hand of the chief's daughter.
2. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot for your negro spiritual.
3. Home on the Range for the Wild West expansion.
4. America, the Beautiful for your finale.
The one I might would try to find an alternative would be Home on the Range simply because of it's corniness.

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