Free Irish sheet music White, Orange, and Green is a number one favorite song in my music studio. I give it to voice, piano, and guitar students. In a beautiful and very singable melody, it tells the story of a daring young Irish girl who flaunts her country's flag before an English soldier.
This is a very special song, and in giving you this free Irish sheet music, I am giving you one of the most treasured repertoire pieces in my studio. Though this folk song is public domain music, you will not find it anywhere else... at least for a while! Here is one of my beginning voice students (singing with control and clarity, I might add) singing this lovely Irish melody:
Beginning singers really enjoy learning White, Orange, and Green.
It reminds me of another Irish song, Wearing of the Green, in which "they" (the English) have "gone and passed a law against the wearing of the green." Just as the teller of that story says that he'll keep on wearing the patriotic color until the English can stop the shamrocks from growing green, so in this song the spirited young girl declares she won't give up her banner of white, orange and green until blood has been spilt!
Whenever I have a student sing this Irish song at a recital, there's always someone in the audience whose eyes fill with tears. (It used to be me, but I've gotten tougher after playing this song some hundreds of times for lessons and performances over the years!)
For guitar players, (see farther down the page) the key of D is perfect. This song is usually how I introduce the Bm chord to them, and we play each verse with a different style of accompaniment; combination bass plus strum, and different styles of fingerpicking.
With piano students, this song presents a chord-playing challenge also. In addition to the arrangement I have written here, I have kids try to give each verse have a different feeling by using a variety of chord patterns. For that, practicing with a lead sheet is perfect.
Here is a piano arrangement of the free Irish sheet music from Ireland:
Download free vocal sheet music White Orange and Green in Key of F
Download folk sheet music in Key of Eb
Download free printout sheet music in Key of D
This free Irish sheet music tune is easy, but with good opportunities to train your voice students how to sing better. Just working on the phrasing in this song will teach them a lot about breathing for singing.
Beginning singers always want to take breaths right in the middle of sentence clauses. They're just used to it! I like to stop playing the piano, occasionally, and stare at them without a word after they have taken an inappropriate breath, and they know at once what they have done.
They might even breathe right in the middle of a word - something they would never do if they were TALKING. Imitate them, by speaking the phrase, then singing it.
The commas come frequently enough in White, Orange and Green that controlling breathing is really quite easy IF THEY THINK ABOUT IT.
Because the range is small -- only a 9th -- young singers will feel comfortable with the notes... except for one phrase. In the third line, the notes leap up a 6th, and it somehow feels like an extremely high note (by comparison). Some kids will squeak or pinch it out, imagining unreachable heights.
So we may practice that spot with sliding notes (a "siren") to show them that it is easily attainable. We do the leap on vowels, with humming, with an open back of the throat, with a swelling of the "tummy" to take the pressure off the throat... It's almost more psychological than physical. I suggest to them that on the words "her AGE was sixteen" they use the "-r" on the end of "her" to help pop them up onto that high note on the word "age." If they can roll the "r" enough to sound almost like a "d", even better.
One fun thing I ask students to try with this song (IF THEY WANT) is to put on a fake Irish accent. This may seem corny to some (and won't fool any Irish folks, certainly!) but it helps singers step outside their safety zone and imagine themselves into the story. This is good for voice students, who need to get used to laying their egos out in front of everybody. (As I tell them from time to time, "You are a singer now, so you have to be willing to look silly. It takes great courage!")
Regarding the pronunciation, encourage your students to EXAGGERATE THE CONSONANTS. Particularly with words that are unfamiliar or antiquated, such as "steed", the audience will be baffled if they can't clearly perceive the meaning. I instruct my students to pretend they are singing to a group of 3-year-old children, and must enunciate extra-clearly.
White, Orange, and Green, with easy guitar tabs:
The guitar sounds beautiful fingerpicking this song, and even your young students who prefer strumming are going to want to pick this, for at least a couple of the verses. The basic pattern I use is also the simplest: T, i, m, r, m, i, repeat. (Thumb, index, middle, ring fingers.) There are exactly 6 beats that way, instead of 3 for strumming. It's good practice for beginning guitar students to have to remember which string is the main note for each chord; every chord except Bm has a root bass note for the Thumb. (Unless you make a barre chord for Bm; my younger students don't use barre chords.)
I said you wouldn't find this free Irish sheet music White, Orange, and Green anywhere else. Well, you won't find it precisely like THIS arrangement, and with exactly these words. That's because my daughter, Elizabeth, substituted the words "black steed" for the original syllables, "machine." Yes, that's right -- the original words talk about the soldier getting off and on his MACHINE. We'd rather sing about a horse; even better, a black steed.
This is surely one of the reasons folk song variations abound! Since the original composer is nowhere to be found with this public domain music, you get to decide what you want to say and sing. Another version of this old song is titled "The Gay Galtee Mountains," with mostly similar words (and an extra verse) but a different tune.
I hope you love this free Irish sheet music as much as we do!
Do you have a story or even a question about this vocal piece? Share it!
If I publish it, I will not use your last name, and certainly never show your email address (name and address are optional, anyway).
Thank you so much for this site. I admire you so much for taking the time to reach out and share so much with others. After years of singing professionally I am finally making myself re-learn the piano in order to play for myself and to do some piano bar work. Your scales and your feedback are inspiring! Create Beauty and fill the world with LOVE!
Thank you thank you thank you!! I have recently started my own vocal studio, and though I have studied music education for years in college, a private studio is a daunting task for me. Your site has made everything seem so simple and straightforward and has helped me to really get started. It is so comprehensive and well put together. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge so that music can be shared everywhere. :)
Good for you! Yes, I know just what you mean. Every new endeavor requires a little bit of chutzpah -- not to say just brazening it out a bit, because you just can't be an expert at anything until you've done it for a while. All of us teachers have to learn how to teach... and you have to start somewhere.
... I watched your video "Wondrous Love" with your eight gals - Magnificent! So refreshing to see good harmonies sung a capella these days; it seems to be rare!
Useful Sites for Vocalists
Cantorian.org, home to free classical sheetmusic
ChoralWiki, Home of the Choral Public Domain Library
International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) Petrucci Music Library
Musicnotes.com - transpose vocal sheets up or down!
Note-Perfect.com, Resources for Choral Singers and Soloists - hear your part!
Singwise.com - Technical singing advice
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