Chicken On A Raft – Learning Tracks (Jake Alexander)

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A wonderful, modern sea shanty by English singer-songwriter Cyril Tawney. Whenever I do to Chicken on a Raft with a choir for the first time, there is much debate about what the title means, followed by utter bafflement when I reveal that it’s naval slang for fried egg on toast – I might actually suggest withholding this information until the second rehearsal! Other idioms… “Dabtoes” refers to the sailors, “dustmen” are the stokers, and everything else can be left to the imagination.

Most of the song is very straightforward – the chorus is the only tricky bit. I’d suggest practicing it slowly at first, without the tempo changes.

As with many arrangements I write, this song can be done using virtually any combination of singers. As indicated in the score, the parts can be taken down an octave if necessary. Directors of mixed choirs might also wish to create mixed voice parts that span an octave. Choir leaders know their choirs’ voices far better than arrangers, so it is down to your discretion as to how you would like to organise your choir to sing this song. However, in an ideal world this is the configuration I would suggest, depending on the make up of your choir…

All women: voice 1 – soprano, voice 2 – soprano, voice 3 – alto
Women with a small number of men: voice 1 – soprano, voice 2 – soprano and tenor (an octave lower), voice 3 – alto
Two thirds women / One third men: voice 1 – soprano, voice 2 – tenor (an octave lower), voice 3 – alto
An equal number of men and women: voice 1 – soprano and tenor (an octave lower), voice 2 – alto and tenor (an octave lower), voice 3 – alto and bass (an octave lower)
Two thirds men / One third women: voice 1 – tenor (an octave lower), voice 2 – alto, voice 3 – bass (an octave lower)
Men with a small number of women: voice 1 – tenor (an octave lower), voice 2 – soprano and tenor (an octave lower), voice 3 – bass (an octave lower)
All men: voice 1 – tenor (an octave lower), voice 2 – tenor (an octave lower), voice 3 – bass (an octave lower)

Rehearsal tracks performed by Eleanor Rastall (www.eleanorrastall.co.uk).

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