Danny Boy

arr. John Riggio

When arranging a piece as classic and familiar as "Danny Boy," there are many questions that come to mind. What style? What key? What tempo? What instrumentation? This arranger decided to use a rhythm section (piano, guitar, drums, bass) with a lush string orchestration, suspended cymbal, and an ethereal synth pad. Of course, this is all written with children's voices in mind, what with this being Music K-8 and all. The result is a tasteful and sophisticated arrangement that also happens to be accessible for young singers. It's even in unison throughout.

The tune begins with the aforementioned ethereal synth pad and low strings, which help evoke a Celtic/Irish feeling, then three cymbal "tings" indicate where singers are to enter. We set the piece up with vocal "oohs" and a fiddle solo, then break into the well-known lyrics at the pick-up to measure 12. The song is sung as you remember it at this point, with our "oohs" and fiddle solo (up an octave this time) returning at the recapitulation beginning with the pick-up to measure 28. The piece reaches its legendary climactic moment at measure 32, and comes to a close with some lovely chord progressions, complete with tremolo strings four bars from the end, and a tender fiddle solo that finishes the song.

While it is very important for the students to try to sing the correct pitches, they also need to feel this song, which means paying close attention to dynamic markings as well as the ritards at the pick-up to measure 32 and three bars from the end. If you intend to conduct the performance, so much the better, as you can help them emote and breathe life into the performance.

Special thanks to Davis Brooks for his outstanding fiddle solo on this piece.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.