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.
Check out all 3 versions offered here:
Please scroll down the page for the links to the free printable music.
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. The tune is fairly intuitive, with a couple of twists, but not hard. The lyrics are compelling, and kids want to sing them.
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 finger-picking.
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:
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. They will get 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 ARE BRAVE ENOUGH) 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!
Also, I have recently run across the same melody used with different lyrics, in an old book.
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!
The links to the lead sheets:
The links for the piano and vocal arrangement:
The link for the song with guitar tabs:
Thank you for a most excellent site. I am a classical guitar teacher, who endeavors to cover chords and finger style as well.
I especially liked the printable Celtic music, as some of my teenage students enjoy it! Thank you, again.
I was looking for some easy (classical) pieces to play that wouldn't require much prep.
I hit the jackpot here with classical and other, Celtic, lovely tunes! Thanks again!