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.) 

English ballad Molly Bawn free sheet music


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. 

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, metrical 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!



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

More Folk & Traditional Songs

Ae Fond Kiss - not strictly a folk melody, but it is old - and very lovely!

Ash Grove - an elegant melody that sounds more classical than folk, the lyrics are old-fashioned and poignant

Cat Came Back (for early singers) - a fun and silly song that can be pared down to JUST 5 NOTES for kids who have trouble matching pitch, there is much repetition in the melody (good for finding pitches)

Colorado Trail - a genuine cowboy song, just one verse, surprisingly lovely

Down by the Salley Gardens - this pretty song from England is a setting for a poem by William Butler Yeats about trying to hurry love

Erie Canal - a vigorous minor melody that kids like, with lots of repeating phrases

Green Bushes - a fast, light, pretty melody that speaks of false-hearted love, and feels very "English" in both lyrics and chord progressions

Grenadier and the Lady - Number One with me!  So beautiful, somewhat sad. Lots of opportunities for expressive singing.

Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier - Lovely.  Important for breath control and learning to mold a phrase.

Lavender's Blue, a pretty song that is VERY simple to sing!  Perfect for young girls.

Loch Lomond, the most famous song of all from Scotland.  Still beautiful.

Mari's Wedding - lots of energy in this Scottish tune, which sounds great with guitar and fiddle backup

The Minstrel Boy - though rather difficult with its long phrases, this Irish song about the love for one's country is very moving and beautiful

Molly Bawn - So sad, but so IRRESISTIBLE.  Lovely and evocative, and requiring good air support, it is educational as well as being satisfying to the musical soul.

Muss i denn or Abschied (Wooden Heart) - from Germany by way of Elvis, an adorable folk tune!

Once I Had a Sweetheart - another sad, pretty, and image-arousing song, once sung by Joan Baez

Parting Glass - There are many versions of this GREAT Irish melody.  Download mine free, then check out others!

Scarborough Fair - an old favorite from England, still lovely

She Moved Through the Fair - a strange, shifting melody, with almost creepy lyrics that will haunt you

Shenandoah - So pretty, and genuinely American.  Long phrases, good breath control practice.

Skye Boat Song - a singable old Scottish song with a great tune about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden

Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - boys like singing it too!

The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this song is fun to perform with a group.

Star of the County Down - LOTS of fun to sing and play!  An excellent ensemble piece.

Waltzing Matilda - an unusually pretty melody from Australia; you know this one!  Very popular with kids.

The Water is Wide - a very pretty song about disappointed love.  You might have sung this one in high school!

White, Orange and Green - though not widely known, this charming melody about fighting for the right to carry the flag of Ireland has stirring lyrics and soaring phrases. A favorite of my vocal & guitar students.






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Sara Bareilles Love Song sheet music

Danielle:
What a lovely, generous site! Many thanks from a fellow singer and music teacher in New York State. Loved the inclusion of the video for "The Ash Grove," a song I just recommended to an adult voice student today. I was pleased to be able to send her the link to not only the sheet music, but a charming performance of the song as well.

50 Great Irish Love Songs music book

Krista:
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. :)
Dana:
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. We  teachers have to learn how to teach... and you have to start somewhere.

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