Scarborough Fair

  • Composer: Traditional English 
  • Arranger: Stephen Smith 
  • Publisher: formerly classica Music Publishers; contact the composer through the Elektra manager
  • Canadian Composition: Yes
  • Duration: 2:47
  • Sample Track:

Program Notes:

Simon and Garfunkle gave this traditional English folk tune new life in the late ’60s, and Stephen Smith’s fine new choral arrangement is bringing it to another new generation.

Conductor Notes:

This straightforward arrangement for SSA, piano, and optional violin obbligato is very approachable by choirs of a range of skill levels. For one thing, all singers sing all the time, the texture is mostly homophonic, and the harmonies well supported in the piano part. The key of D minor can cause a few challenges in the descending melodies lines back to the tonic. I’ve conducted this with Elektra and also with a large honour choir, and both needed to be reminded to lighten the tone and be aware of pitch coming back to the D. This is a good piece for working on basic, flexible, expressive tone. The last verse splits the choir into four parts, with the top sopranos on a vocalise obbligato reminiscent of the violin part. It can be handy to handpick only the voices that can move lightly and flexibly on this line. This makes ensemble easier and also keeps the melody, which is lower than this line, audible. Another very successful arrangement by Stephen Smith. I encourage you to check out all of his music.

The recording on this site excerpted from the CD “Elektra’s Garden” (EWC0901 2009) performed by Elektra Women’s Choir, Stephen Smith, accompanist, Nancy DiNovo, violin

Composer / Arranger Notes:

The original SSAA version of this arrangement was commissioned by Pandora’s Vox vocal ensemble of North Vancouver, BC, and the accompaniment was originally written for harp, string bass, and violin. Choirs will find this arrangement quick and easy to learn, since the 1st, 2nd, and 4th verses all have the same homophonic Dorian-mode harmonization and the same rocking eighth-note accompaniment (piano-LH).

In verse 1, the violin/piano-RH adds fragmentary eighth-note figures, which coalesce in verse 2 into a full-on countermelody. Verse 3, which modulates to the dominant, treats the melody somewhat freely, and gives it a new and more contrapuntal harmonization. This is followed by an instrumental interlude (back in the home key) with its own slight variation and re-harmonization of the tune. Then in verse 4, the original harmonization of the tune returns, with the obbligato countermelody from verse 2 now given to the voices, and the accompaniment weaving new eighth-note figures around it.

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

Recordings

Collections:

Concerts:

Text:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Without no seams nor needle work.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Tell her to find me an acre of land
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Between the salt water and the sea strand.
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.