Sad Love Songs for Voice:
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.
Here is my simple arrangement. I offer it here in three keys:
Please scroll down the page for the download links.
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.
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!
The links to the vocal music:
Download sad love songs 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
More Folk Songs to Sing:
All the Pretty Little Horses - a soft and repetitious lullaby, quite pretty
Colorado Trail Song - an American tune written by a real cowboy
Come By the Hills - another popular Irish melody
Down By the Salley Gardens - a famous and pretty song, very sweet
Green Bushes - a brisk little song that is pretty while being good for breath control training
Grenadier and the Lady - my favorite folk song of all. Find out why
I Gave My Love a Cherry - The Riddle Song - very pretty, with puzzling lyrics, but ultimately a satisfying solution
Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier - very beautiful, very moving, and a chance for your young singer to learn how to let her voice soar
Keegan's Waltz - this is a traditional Gaelic tune, but the lyrics are very new, supplied by a visitor to this site!
Lavender's Blue - this simple song is not only satisfying for beginning pianists, but also young singers who need to focus on basics. With a lovely piano accompaniment.
Loch Lomond - the famous and sad song about never meeting again
Mari's Wedding - a singable tune with bouncy chords that is fun to play or sing
Minstrel Boy - a lovely and patriotic song about a warrior-poet
Molly Bawn - a sad story of a young hunter who thought he was shooting at a swan
Once I Had a Sweetheart - "but now I have none!" Very pretty, and little-known.
Parting Glass - a well-known Irish tune which my singers always love
Raggle-Taggle Gypsies - a story about a young bride who abandons her wealthy new husband to go off with the gypsies. A catchy melody!
Scarborough Fair - an old and famous tune of lost love
She Moved Through the Fair - this sounds happy, but it is actually a bit of a love story, and a bit of a ghost story!
Shenandoah - a famous and lovely American tune with ambiguous lyrics
Skye Boat Song - a pretty song from Scotland about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea
Spanish Ladies - a minor key sea chanty that swings energetically along - BOYS like singing it too!
The Spanish Lady - Upbeat and energetic, this Irish 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
For a child who is a beginner guitar player, making music can be BAFFLING. Teach them how to play guitar in small baby steps.
Frere Jacques, with lyrics in both French & English. Versions for voice (the vocal round), and for piano.
I Gave My Love a Cherry (The Riddle Song) is a very pretty folk tune with clever lyrics. Download sheet music in 3 arrangements, 4 keys.
Seek Ye First lyrics, chords, & sheet music is written for early piano. This pretty melody happens all inside 5 fingers! An optional descant is also provided.
This simple piano sheet music, Canoe Song, is high energy and singable. Just right for students who are beginning to tuck fingers under in scales, or can JUMP.
Songs Old & Songs New
All the first-year material I give my beginner students.
Piano keyboard sheets, scales, chords, note-reading exercises, and over 256 pages of music!
Queen Esther in the Bible
This beautiful song book for piano & voice "Esther, For Such a Time as This", available as a digital download, tells the riveting story of the time when Jews in ancient Persia faced a foe named Haman, and how a brave young queen risked her life to save her people.
A good choice for a singing story-teller, an operatic group, a short theater production, or a class of children!
This book is also available from Amazon as a paperback.
Just the Black Keys
This book is available as a digital download from this site. Visit this page to see some free examples from the book.
It is also available from Amazon as a paperback!
This is the perfect easy start for little pianists.
And when they start reading white-key notes on the staff, this is a fun easy resource to say each week, "Choose a new black-key song at home this week and figure it out to show me next lesson!" They will be spending more time at the piano.
The Adventures of Tonsta
A perfect read aloud storybook
for little boys or girls.
The Adventures of Tonsta highlight the travels of a very young boy with a good heart, who goes about helping folk in trouble.
With a red cap on his head and a sack of tools slung over his shoulder, Tonsta seems to meet people in distress wherever he goes.
Lots of trolls in this book - including one who gives him a Christmas gift!
Available at Amazon
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.
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. We teachers have to learn how to teach... and you have to start somewhere.
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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About the Author
Hi, I'm Dana! (Say that like "Anna".) I'm the owner of Music-for-Music-Teachers.com, and a newer site, SingTheBibleStory.com.
Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.
You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.