Voicing: SSA and piano; SATB and piano; TTBB and piano
Melody: Traditional Irish melody ("Londonderry Air")
Text: Frederick Weatherly (1848-1929)
Published by: Rhythmic Trident Music Publishing
Retail: Long and McQuade;
Notes: The original version of this arrangement (SATB) was composed in 1998 for the University of Alberta Madrigal Singers, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff, conductor. The SATB setting is also published by Rhythmic Trident (RTBF-005) as is a new version for men's voices (RTBF-007). You may read a 2015 Choral Journal review of the SSA version of the work (under "Read more" below)
O Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
Performed by: Concerto Della Donna, Iwan Edwards, conductor, Pamela Reimer, piano
"...The rhythmic, melodic, and dynamic elements of the four-measure piano introduction hint of Irish bagpipes being played from a distance (dolce e lontano). The opening phrase, set in Eb Major, begins with unison singing, and then splits into two parts (SA) for much of the first verse before the soprano line divides to create a three-part sonority.
The second verse begins with a modulation to the subdominant. This transition is supported through the accompaniment, but then the listener is provided a contrast of texture through rich, unaccompanied, four-part voicing. The accompaniment reappears to undergird the return to the original tonality as well as support the dynamic climax of the piece. The ending returns to a quiet and meditative mood, reflective of the text. The piece concludes with five measures scored for piano, which is reminiscent of the introduction.
The tessitura of all vocal parts is extremely comfortable for treble singers. The singer is easily transitioned into the harmony parts through voice leading that is often scalar incorporating phrases of passing tones and which sometimes creates an element of dissonance, then resolution. The accompanying vocal lines are interesting both melodically and rhythmically, while the traditional melody is shared among all parts in the vocal writing. The arranger includes in the score very detailed expressive markings to help create an artistic performance.
Teaching elements of this arrangement could include: 1) the arch-like structure of the piece represented through the layering of parts, texture, and dynamics, 2) the development of aural skills to facilitate the modulation—function of pitches in different tonalities, and 3) expressive interpretation through dynamic range and textual nuance. "