• Mark Adamo
  • Matewan Music: Three Appalachian Folksongs (1995)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)
  • SATB a cappella
  • Soprano
  • 12 min
  • English

Programme Note

Traditional texts:
   1. Copper Kettle
   2. Wildwood Flower
   3. Long Black Veil

Composer note:
These were meant to be simple arrangements of three Appalachian folk songs, but they turned out to be rather intricate: simpler isn't always clearer. Certainly one could have merely embedded "Copper Kettle," a deliciously comic moonshiner's manifesto, in these or those idiomatic chords: but why stop there, if the chorus can themselves become the burbling still, the stealthy loggers, the drunken townsfolk in the pale moonlight? "Wildwood Flower," a lament so unguarded it stops the breath, needed only the plainest triads, only a sustained A-natural wandering ceaselessly from voice to voice as if in search of the abandoning lover, to frame it; but "Long Black Veil," a deadpan confession from beyond the grave of a how his married lover, by keeping silent, sent him wrongly to the gallows — and promptly went mad with grief — well, how can you set that without including the vengeful prosecutors, the whistling winds, and the deranged vocalise of the guilty woman? Or all of them at once?

— Mark Adamo