Sad Love Songs for Voice:
Molly Bawn

Sad love songs such as Molly Bawn (or Molly Ban) draw voice students to work hard to be expressive.

Young girls seem to be fascinated by the words and the mood of Molly Bawn; the song tells a story with such clear imagery: a young hunter, a swan, the white apron, the rain shower, the bush... and Molly Bawn going to her uncle's. (I am such a softy that occasionally I still am overcome by tears even as I sit at the piano, instructing a voice student.) 

I first fell in love with this sad song when I heard Alison Kraus sing it (on her CD  A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection) ... my simple 2-chord accompaniment attempts to capture some of the feeling of the arrangement used in her recording. 

Here is Molly Bawn, very much as Alison Kraus sings it: 

English ballad Molly Bawn free sheet music

Download free printable vocal sheet music Molly Bawn in A position 

Download free printable vocal sheet music Molly Bawn in C position 

Download free vocal sheet music Molly Ban in D position 

Molly Bawn has a range of only an octave plus one note, yet learning the melody requires a bit of work for beginning singers.

Just like a real story, each verse has words with different syllables, and the accent or emphasis will shift about. This is hard for young singers who are used to regular metric phrases. So in order to sing this song convincingly, singers must go over and over each verse to craft it, allowing the emphasis of the words to match the musical emphasis, especially on beat one. The arrangement of the notes-to-words that I have here is only a match-up of the notes to verse one.

Alison Kraus sings Molly Bawn in a fairly low key, but some of my students have not been able to give the melody power down in a low register, so for them, I use a slightly higher setting to take advantage of a their voices. The main thing when singing this song is for the audience to actually be able to follow the story, so the words need to have clarity and volume!

This is a very simple arrangement of this song; I actually tend to embellish the chords here when I accompany students, filling in missing chord tones in the right hand, softly touching higher notes and octaves, playing lots of open 5ths in accord with the feeling of this folk tune. But if you understand how to use chords, you can already do this... if you don't do it easily, then an arrangement such as is written here will probably be more welcome to you!

Another video I'm kind of taken with is this fellow who pipes and sings Molly Ban:

I hope this song brings some heart-felt drama into your students' music-making! 


Do you have a story or even a question about this vocal piece? Share it!

Please note that all comments are moderated, and will not appear until I have approved them. Also, IF YOU ARE ASKING FOR MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, YOUR REQUEST WILL BE IGNORED. That's pretty much any music written in the last 75 years...

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