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Mackenzie's Ballad

for baritone and piano

  ·  Duration:  4m

Duration:  4m

Ros Emeleus

Composer:   Ros Emeleus


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The text, by Joe Charles, tells of the legendary 1850's tale of Mackenzie and his dog who, it was claimed, were responsible for shifting one thousand sheep which had gone missing from a South Canterbury sheep station. This event was to give a region of Canterbury its Scottish name – Mackenzie Country. The story is very rustic in its yarn-style of delivery and full of delightful exaggerations presenting an attractive challenge of capturing the style of a ballad song, portraying the bold Mackenzie Country landscape whilst at the same time incorporating musical elements reminiscent of the Scottish pioneer. The text is a traditional verse-refrain structure and this setting is set in strophic format. The setting evokes the harsh life of the pioneer and the powerful landscape in its use of parallel fifths and in economical use of harmony. The Scottish influence can be heard in the bagpipe-like drone in the introduction, the dotted rhythmic motif that appears in the vocal line and accompaniment, the use of compound meter, and the occasional 'Scotch Snap' rhythm.

Text note

Text by Joe Charles

Performance history

Performed by Brendan Casey (baritone) and Lea Henderson (piano). Recorded on Contemporary Canterbury; CD KWCD9801