• John McCabe
  • Three Folk Songs (1963)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

See 'Five Folk Songs'

  • cl.pf
  • High Voice
  • 8 min

Programme Note

Johnny has gone for a soldier (USA)
Hush-a-ba birdie, croon, croon (Scotland)
John Peel (England)

During the early 1960s I wrote a number of folksong arrangements, several using clarinet as well as voice and piano, and a group of these was first performed in 1963 on a tour of Scotland with two friends of mine, Catriona Gordon (soprano) and Barry Gregson (clarinet). John Peel, which then as now concluded the group, was such a success that it had to be encored at the first concert, and thus encouraged I decided on the second morning to write an extra piece to be used as an encore if needed on the remaining concerts - Hush-a-ba birdie, from a collection of Scottish folksongs, was the result. The published set of three left several arrangements over, two of which were rewritten later to produce a set of five Folksongs with horn instead of clarinet.

Not much needs to be said about the settings. Johnny has gone for a soldier, a beautiful American song, is treated more like an art song, with a few slight rhythmic dislocations. Hush-a-ba birdie is the simplest setting, with at one point a canonic treatment of the tune between voice and clarinet. In John Peel (the choice of which does not reflect any approval of hunting on my part), the clarinet and piano make reference between verses to several nautical songs, for no better reason than it seemed a good idea at the time.
© 1993 John McCabe