Have You Seen The Ghost Of John?

arr. Paul Jennings

Come fall, it is the time for scary tales and spooky music. Like this well-known round. It is quite old, though the real history and origin is much debated. One tale traces it back to the time of the plague in Europe while another finds it in the hills of Kentucky, and since much Appalachian lore comes from old Europe, both may be true in part.

It's a simple, modal round, with singers starting two measures apart. It can be performed as a 2-part, 3-part, or 4-part round as you choose. Our full recording features a 4-part round with orchestra and pipe organ. As we often do with rounds, we do the first time through as a unison non-round, moving to the round for the second and third times through.

- A cappella or Orff-style might be fun - Rounds are great just by themselves. Start by singing the whole tune unison and a cappella, moving on to the round. The complexity will be fascinating to singers who are mainly used to unison singing. To give you an idea of how neat it is, we have recorded an a cappella version and put it online for downloading. (See details on page 75.) You can also set up a simple ostinato on Orff instruments, plus a simple percussion pattern, adding occasional improvised scraping or tapping percussion. It's an ideal setting for early improvisation.

- Go Latin - For a different take on the tune, try singing on a repeated Latin phrase like "Venite Adoremus" for the whole tune. It will cast the tune in a whole different light. As that phrase can be found in a favorite carol, considering also trying "video et taceo" which means "I see and keep silent," or "dona nobis pacem" (by giving the "pa" two notes), which means "give us peace."

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.