Green Bushes, 
an English Folk Song

Green Bushes is a vibrant and beautiful folk song from England...your voice students will enjoy this free vocal sheet music! 


This little song is very English sounding. You'll hear snatches of it from time to time in movies set in England, such as Jane Austen's Emma (A&E, 1997)with Kate Beckinsale as Emma, not the better-known version with Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma .

English folk song Green Bushes


Download English folk song Green Bushes in key of E 

Download printable English folk music in key of D 

Like so many cute British songs, this one starts with "As I was a-walking one morning..."

A good song for beginners

I like to use this folk song with beginners, because the vocal range stays comfortably low, yet there is one high note and two phrases that arch nicely, with opportunity for expressive phrasing.

And the challenges in this little song are...

Breathing.  And a "twisty, turny melody" as I like to tell my singers.

Green Bushes presents breathing challenges for the beginning singer. The lines move along so quickly, with so little time to snatch a breath, that the singer must plan carefully and pay attention!

Where should the breaths be?

Ideally, the singer's first breath inside the song would be after "nightingales sing." But in actual practice, the rising notes at the end of that phrase are hard to execute with ENERGY for a beginning singer when his or her air supply is almost exhausted. The problem compounds with the LONG phrase which comes immediately afterwards: "I spied...so sweetly sang she." That phrase should NOT be broken up, or the song will sound choppy!

Catch breaths

Therefore, I believe the singer should take a quick breath in the very first line between the words "spring" and "for to". Though it is an extremely quick breath and will sound like a gasp unless carefully executed, it will result in less of a "winded" feeling at the end of each verse (an out-of-breath feeling which accumulates and makes the song tiring for the singer). Besides, quick, silent breathing is excellent training for young singers! Make them do it -- it will probably take LOTS of repetition to perfect it and keep them timely on the beat.

Free folk song Green Bushes


Download song with chord accompaniment in the key of D 

Print out English folk song in the key of E 

What kind of accompaniment works with this song?

For a different texture each verse, let the simple LH (left hand) accompaniment drop down an octave, then come back up on the next verse. I suggest making the chords light and quick, especially down low, so the piano doesn't overwhelm your singer.

You may prefer your own accompaniment pattern, so I have provided two free lead sheets (top image) so that you can write your own LH part in (or make your piano students get some practice!).

If you have questions about the key signatures, read the following exchange:

Jessica:

I do love your site, I just found it today and many of the pieces and links are quite helpful. I was looking through a few beginning voice pieces and thought I might shoot you a line... Green Bushes, you call in the key of E but it is marked for the key of A. The chords in the song support this, starting on the V and going to the IV, even though the I is never played. Thought you might want to know, or maybe I'm just being a "Key Signature Nazi" LOL. Thanks again!

Dana

Hi, Jessica,

Yes, I see what you mean, but that particular piece, like many English folk songs, is a bit of a puzzle if you only think in terms of "major" and "minor".  It's in the Mixolydian mode -- the scale sound you get if you play from "G" to "G" on the piano without using the F# (sharp).

So, yes, it isn't really in A, of course, but neither does it ever use the D# that the key of E requires. I decided I didn't want to keep making the 7th step of the scale an accidental with a constantly-recurring natural sign, as that can make for hard reading. So what we have here is a bit of a compromise!

I think I'll post this note with the music, as others may have had the same thought occur to them.

Thanks for writing! 








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