This vocal lesson focuses on choir practise through a medley of 2 songs: Down By The Riverside (Negro Spiritual) and A Better Place (Playing For Change). These 2 songs use a very similar chord progression and can be easily mixed together.

We will first take a look at the PFC version of Down by the Riverside, in G, through a simple three part harmony for the vocals. Each voice has its own printable music sheet and audio file for reference and practice.

We'll then focus on a three part harmony for A Better Place and transpose Down By the Riverside in F in order to combine both songs. See scores and audio files for individual and group practice.

The last part of this lesson will consist in working on writing an original verse and chorus for the medley.

DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE

Down by the Riverside is a Negro spiritual first published in 1918 The song has alternatively been known as “Study war no more”and has also been used as an anti-war protest song, especially during the Vietnam War. The song is centred on the idea of abandoning pessimism and aggression, and putting on new spiritual clothing, at the side of a river before crossing it.  The song has several lyrics variations. Here is one of the most common versions.

Verse:

I'm Gonna lay down my burden
Down by the riverside (3×)
Gonna lay down my burden
Down by the riverside

Chorus:

I ain't gonna study war no more
Study war no more
Study war no more

 

Lyrics & Chords

|G
I'm gonna lay down my burden
|G
Down by the riverside
|D7
Down by the riverside
|G
Down by the riverside
|G
I'm gonna lay down my burden
|G
Down by the riverside
              |D7                 |G
Gonna study war no more

                         |C
I ain't gonna study war no more
|G
Study war no more
|D7                   |G      |G7
Study war no more

                         |C
I ain't gonna study war no more
|G
Study war no more
|D7                   |G      |G7
Study war no more

 

A BETTER PLACE

Watch on Youtube

Composed by Enzo Buono and PFC Band.

 

Chorus:

Freedom and Justice
Is the melody that let us shine on
If you feel it through the music
You can make this world a better place

Verse:

I ain't gonna study war no more
Study war no more
Ain't gonna study war no more

 

 

The song is demonstrated here in its original tone (F) by Mermans Mosengo and Jason Tamba from the Playing For Change Band.

In order to create a medley combining Down By the Riverside and A better Place we will transpose Down By the Riverside to F.

Here is an arrangement of in three part harmony for both songs in F, as a vocal group practical exercise.

Let's start with A Better Place:

 

Voice 1 : (Main voice)

>View/Print  sheet

 

Voice 2: (A third higher)

>View/Print  sheet

 

Voice 3: (low voice)

>View/Print  sheet

LYRICS WRITING EXERCICE

 

In groups of 2 students, choose a chorus from one of the 2 songs.

Use a similar rhythmic and melodic phrasing but replace the original lyrics with your own text and using your own language instead of English.

Choose a particular theme to develop the lyrics if needed.

After each group has created its own lyrics, each group sings it with the full group.

> See example of a verse adapted to a different language in the PFC version of Down by the Riverside at 1:42