Coope Boyes and Simpson
By Sam Burns
Coope, Boyes & Simpson are famed for both a powerful & uncompromising message & exquisite yet earthy arrangements. Personally, I think their constant re-invention of 3-part harmony is unparalleled. I have sung all the following transcriptions with my man choir & we never cease to marvel at their striking originality. All are quick to learn but many are amongst the most moving works that we have ever performed.
The main tune is often the middle (Baritone) part (The dominant part is clearly marked on all the scores). The Tenor & Baritone parts are always comfortable ranges, but in a few songs the Bass parts are rather low, which is flagged in the performance notes. Sometimes the tunes can be shifted up a key or two, depending on the flexibility of your tenors! Rhythms often have a speech-like quality & are awkward to notate as they are so ‘organic’. I have nonetheless attempted to write them accurately, which sometimes looks complicated on paper, but they are easy to copy by ear. I strongly recommend listening to the originals.
I have included very few dynamics in these transcriptions, as it’s either obvious or highly personal. Once again, if you wish for guidance, listen to the originals. The arrangements are mostly 3 parts, or occasionally 4 and they are all entirely ‘vertical’, i.e. all parts sing the words in sync all the time, as clarity of message is so important to the group. This means that pretty much all the CBS repertoire is fairly or very easy for any male vocal ensemble to attempt, though of course most of us can only dream of achieving the heights of subtlety that these songs really deserve.
Enjoy! Sam Burns
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