Welcome to the Song Library!
Welcome to this ever-growing basket of 'aural' tradition songs. These songs stay alive by being sung, so we hope you will sing what you find here! These are primarily songs that have been written and passed around in recent years by folks scattered throughout North America who are growing a modern culture of group singing that connects us more deeply to ourselves, each other, and the places we belong to. These are songs to take home and sing with friends, family, and our wider communities. To help the songs travel bravely and well, we strive to keep their origins, intentions, and stories close to them as they cycle out into the world. Don't hesitate to write to us if you have any questions about any songs you find here or if you'd like to submit something of your own to the library. Most of these are homemade recordings made without professional equipment. Thanks for being here and enjoy!
Au Blog is a song from the Pirin Mountains of Bulgaria I learned from Stanka Iakova-Dautovska. In the song, some people are making a bet. And that's pretty much it!
Blessed Motion, by Annie Zylstra, is a 4-part acknowledgement of Life as an unpredictable, ever-changing movement toward itself. The melody came squatting on a rock next to a fast moving fork in the Trinity River, where salmon were in their first week of journeying to their spawning sites in northern California.
Bless the Turning, by our dear friend Gretchen Sleicher. Winter solstice, as well as the uncertain times we are in on planet Earth, call for embracing the dark while we turn toward the light, finding nourishment in our dreams. Teaching track page coming soon. I learned this song from Gretchen at a circle she was leading at Village Fire. On the last time through the chorus, you can change the word 'conceiving' to 'receiving', to help remind us of the need to listen and receive the new that is emerging in this time of reflection.
Chorus: Blessed be the winter chill, and the time of grieving.
Bless the turning toward the light, and the time of conceiving.
Verse 1: In the nest of solitude, dreams burn bright
And the darkness that is home as well feeds us through the night.
Verse 2: Are we midwives attending birth, or hospice for the dying?
In our brief time on this earth, a net of love we're tying.
Verse 3: Oh, the path we're on, we cannot know what it's bringing,
As we walk alone or hand-in-hand, we bless it with our singing.
I learned this beautiful song from the Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria from the Bulgarka quartet. Reach out for more information or arrangement.
Crickets is a three part lullaby inspired by the opening Gary Snyder poem in David Abram's book Spell of the Sensuous. It's a song-form reminder that we live in an animate world of living sentient beings who are not just there to be experienced by us, but that actually feel and experience us as well. What would a world look like that remembered and cultivated that relationship?
As the crickets soft autumn hum is to us,
so are we to the trees,
as are they to the rocks and hills.
Eyes So Soft, a poem by Hafiz, put to music by Laurence Cole. Arr. Annie Zylstra.
Your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God
Figs by Vanessa Degrassi, co-leader of Murmurations and Adventure Choir in New Orleans. This song was born out of a melancholy pocket in the stillness of winter 2016, singing and dreaming of figs, figment of the voluptuous ambrosia of summer. It's thinking about how figs grow, oh strange flower-fruit, and what they can offer us, as well as relating them to these two characters... are they lovers lying next to each other, entwined, musing? Or are they secretly longing for each other- or figs- or something else? This song came out all at once, strumming a baritone ukelele. The harmony part shortly after, with a duet in mind, and then, for our choir. Sung in her solo project Parsely, and in the Murmurations Choir, New Orleans LA. Catch more of Vanessa's stunning music at: facebook.com/parselymusic
Heart Is, by Lisa G Littlebird. A song for the heart – three simple, independent parts that overlay each other. Visit thebirdsings.com to hear more of Lisa's original music and peruse her epic library of aural-tradition songs.
“I Am Me” by Paul Barton of Toronto started out as a personal mantra. Something to keep him going on a path of personal growth. One night he was driving home from Sing For Joy in Toronto and a melody came to fit with the words. Then, while sitting around the evening fire at Village Fire in Iowa, he was having an emotional experience that made him want to sing this mantra. Since he was at a song circle, it occurred to him that he could teach this song to everyone. He added a rough draft of the harmonies on the spot, to our great astonishment, and this became the first original song I taught to a group of people in the aural tradition. This recording features all three parts, layered one at a time, followed by full teaching tracks. Hear more of Paul's music at https://paulbarton.bandcamp.com/.
As capitalism fails and uprisings continue to pop up all over our country and world, it's clear we are passing through an initiation of sorts. No one is sure where it will lead, but we do know it's time to ask hard questions and hold on as we enter the dark before the dawn.
Part 1: We've gotta hold on, hold on tight to each other.
'Cause freedom's coming in through the night.
How do we hold each other in these times?
When freedom comes she'll be coming through the night.
I can feel it coming, change is in the air.
When freedom comes she'll be coming through the night.
Part 2: The dark comes before the dawn but I won't give up, no, no, I won't give up.
Part 3: When the dark comes before the dawn, I will hold onto you.
And if freedom comes in through the night I won't give up, I won't give up.
Most Beautiful Sky was originally a haiku by Jennifer Levenhagen, an artist and musician in Milwaukee. The beautiful, subtle melody came to carry the poem one evening whilst Jennifer watched the sun as it set. Annie Zylstra arranged the melody into 3 parts for Morning Glory Choir of Viroqua, WI. Thank you, Jennifer for your soulful contributions to poetry and music in the Heartland!
Sunflower by Sam Long of Western Mass, is a 4-part round for beginnings and courage. He wrote the song after his fiancée’s godmother and a spiritual guide to him was really sick. Her favorite flower is the sunflower and there was a large community that started posting pictures of sunflowers in a Facebook group for her. He was riding my bike home and the first line came to him. He'd written a few rounds before, but this one came out so quickly. Sam always introduces it as a song for healing. See Sam's musical projects at his site: http://www.samlongmusic.com/
A song for the times, looking square in the face of all that's unknown, grieving what is no longer possible, and being open to what is.