This page lists original pieces by Oliver Barton, excluding Christmas pieces and choral arrangements of works by others.

The Dragon

words: late C14 English

music: Oliver Barton

A little mediaeval view of the gastronomic predelictions of dragons. There are two versions, one a little tricky rhythmically, the other with the difficulties mostly ironed out.

Forces:

Unaccompanied SATB

Duration:

about 1'30"

Length:

3 pages

Free download of entire piece: Both versions: Finale
                                          Rhythmically unchallenging:
PDF, MIDI
                                          Rhythmically challenging:
PDF, MIDI

The Joy of the Singer

words: Piuvkaq

music: Oliver Barton

The Netsilik Innuit Piuvkaq has a wistful and gently melancholic line in verse. He wants to succeed in hunting, fishing and making songs, but he's not very good at any of them. So here is a wistful and gently melancholy celebration of the not-very-successful, which is probably most of us. It makes a change from heroes and the self-important.

Forces:

Unaccompanied SATB

Duration:

about 1'45"

Length:

3 pages

Free download of the entire piece: PDF, Finale, MIDI

The Gurt Black Dog of Somerset

words: Martin Forrest

music: Oliver Barton

The absolutely true tale of a cottager who walks up the Quantock hills (in Somerset, England) only for the mist to come down. A muzzle presses into his hand - "Aha!" he cries, "'Tis my faithful sheepdog Shep come to guide me home." But when he reaches home and opens his cottage door, there is Shep inside. Who then guided him home?

Originally for choir and piano, with interesting effects to convey such things as a phantom dog growing in size and disappearing. The unaccompanied version was made for four solo voices, with the interesting effects realised somewhat differently.

Forces:

Accompanied version: SATB, piano—a bit of easy splitting

Unaccompanied version: SATB, no splitting

Duration:

about 3'30"

Length:

9 or 10 pages, depending on version

Free download of the entire piece:
              Accompanied version: Finale, PDF, MIDI
              Unaccompanied version: Finale, PDF, MIDI

Oh England!

words: Shakespeare

music: Oliver Barton

Free download of the entire piece: PDF, Finale, MIDI

Forces:

Unaccompanied S-Mezzo-A-T-Bar-B, six equally balanced parts

Duration:

about 3'30"

Length:

4 pages

An intense and emotive setting of words from the Chorus at the beginning of Act II of Henry V. Slow with silences.


Spiritual for Freedom

words & music: Oliver Barton

Free download of the entire piece:
     Full score: PDF, MIDI
     Chorus part: PDF
     Organ score: PDF

     All three: Finale

Forces:

SATB soloists, SATB choir, organ and reader

Duration:

about 9'30"

Length:

Chorus part: 10 pages, Score: 15 pages

The Spiritual was written for a concert commemorating Amnesty International’s 40th anniversary. It uses the simplicity and heavy work rhythms of spirituals to deliver a powerful plea for freedom. All the spiritual melodies are new, the words based on fragments of existing spirituals. At the heart of the piece, a reader reads a passage from the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, 1845, (though something else could be substituted) while the choir and soloists keen. The atmosphere at the end is one of ecstatic and optimistic exhaustion after a long ride of powerful emotion.


Three Fiona MacLeod Settings

words: Fiona MacLeod

music: Oliver Barton

Download a sample: MIDI       Free download of the music: PDF, Finale


Forces:

SSAATTBB, except for The Moonchild, which is: Mezzo solo, ATB divisi

Duration:

about 9'30"

Length:

20 pages

Fiona MacLeod was a creation or perhaps alter ego of the Scottish poet William Sharp (1885–1905). Some consider her his inner feminine consciousness; he himself described her as “an ancestral seeress” who came through to him. In any case, he went to tremendous lengths to conceal the connection between her and himself and there was quite a scandal when the truth came out that he was author of both his and her works. But the strange thing is that Fiona’s writings, steeped as they are in a twilight Celtic world, are so much more atmospheric and vivid, and in truth, better, than William’s. It is as though he really was possessed by a more inspired soul.


Three three settings are:
     1 The Wind — about 2'4". All parts split except the tenors

     2 Honeymouth — about 4'42". Full SSAATTBB throughout.

     3 The Moonchild — about 2'1". This is scored for a female solo (a Mezzo will probably have the right sort of tone colour) and
        STB  divisi choir, with odd solo bits for soprano and tenor. This is a bit tough on the altos. One of them could do the solo
        part; the rest could be temporary sopranos or tenors perhaps.


The settings are intended to be performed as a set, but Honeymouth and The Moonchild can be performed separately. The Wind wouldn’t really stand alone.


The complete set was first performed in 1973, I think it was, by the Westron Wynd in the Orangery, Goldney House, Bristol, conducted by Nigel Davidson.


The Moonchild has been performed in various guises, such as a solo song with piano and a recorder consort plus psaltery. Please feel free to arrange it for whatever assortments you like, but try to retain the atmospheric quality.



Early one morning

words: trad.

music: Oliver Barton

An arrangement of the folksong, growing from a single voice up to a rapturous moment when fleetingly the first sopranos touch a top Bb. This note is borrowed from Percy Grainger’s setting (except that his is up a tone I think and is therefore a C), but his version breaks into about a million parts and is too tricky for a non-audition choir. Hence this arrangement.

Forces:

Unaccompanied SATB with some splitting in the Soprano line. Bits of solo for a bass and a soprano, but they could be taken by whole sections.

Duration:

about 2'45"

Length:

6 pages

Free download of the entire piece: PDF, Finale, MIDI

Choral pieces (other than Christmas pieces) by Oliver Barton

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