Rocky Mountain

arr. Paul Jennings

We fell in love with this tune as we were working on Recorder Karate 2. It is a unique piece, and as a vocal arrangement has three thought-provoking verses.

Popular with many teachers in the Orff curriculum, this great old folk song seems to have less known about its history than any tune we've worked with for a long while. Given the lyrics, one would assume that it is about the Rocky Mountains, but there have been hints that it was from either the Northeast or from Appalachia.

The song is a bit of a dichotomy. It is in major mode, and just as a melody, it is quite uplifting. But the lyrics are sad and mournful. Oddly, though, we find that most people really enjoy singing it.

Our arrangement is straightforward vocally, and unison for most of the tune. Only on the last chord does it offer an optional divisi which occurs naturally, and sounds very impressive. If you want to make it even more special, make it a four note divisi, adding the G you see in the right hand of the piano part.

The recorded tracks are quite nice, and you will definitely want to share them with your students. They feature multiple acoustic guitars and mandolin over a richly scored orchestra.

As a separate lesson, consider letting your singers perform the song with solfege, then using Kodály hand signs. For the third verse, combine the solfege with the hand signs.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.