Pick Six By:

Carole Whitney

Carole Whitney

Repertoire and Resources Chair for Ethnic Music
St. Paul Como Park High School


Cara de Pingo

Traditional Michoacán
Rafael Trinidad, arranged Diana Syrse

VocalEssence Music Press, distributed by Graphite Press

SAB, piano, marimba, two guitars

Hear the ¡Cantare! performance here:  AUDIO LINK
Diana Syrse composed this piece for the Community Chorus of Mexico City and, when Ms. Syrse was a composer-in-residence for the VocalEssence ¡Cantare! project, it was performed in that concert.

This is a common folk song in the Michoacán tradition and there are ample opportunities on YouTube to see and hear some traditional performances of the piece. The 6/8 meter alternates between the flow of a doted-quarter receiving the beat and the feeling of 3/4 time. The baritone part is for changed voice but is doubled by the alto. It’s a great piece to get some older beginners singing. It also could be sung by only Sopranos and Altos. If you don’t have two guitars and marimba, never fear. This can be performed with piano only.

Lamma Badaa Yatathanna

Traditional Andalusian/Arabic Song
Arranged by Joy Ondra Hirokawa

Hal Leonard 08754586

2-Part, piano, violin, cello, dumbek

VIDEIO – Children’s Choir of the arrangement

VIDEO – Nataly Oryon & The Jewish-Arab orchestra for an accurate vocal representation

This is a beautiful melody in 10/4 meter divided 3+2+2+3. The swaying sound is hypnotic and the poetry secular. The Performance Notes included by the arranger are very helpful in the preparation of the piece.

Concepts for teaching include asymmetrical meter, slurred articulations, slides, mordents, minor mode and ornamentation to name a few. This piece is rich with opportunity to travel deeply into the Iberian Peninsula and Moorish Spain.

Muié Rendêra

Folk tunes from Northeast Brazil
Arranged by C. A. Pinto Fonseca


SATB, a cappella


Wonderfully rhythmic with lots of learnable patterns, Muié Rendêra offers an intermediate mixed choir to sound advanced. Or, an advanced choir can learn this piece fairly quickly to fill out a performance. Your singers will enjoy finding the “groove” easily in this well constructed piece.

Niska Banja

Romani Dance
Arranged by Nick Page

Boosey & Hawkes/Hal Leonard

SAAB or SSAA, piano 4 hands with optional clarinet and tambourine

VIDEO – Singing and Dancing

Another asymmetrical meter piece. This lists 9/8 but it is divided 2+2+2+3. The piano accompaniment guides this energetic piece on its rhythmic way. The opportunity play with tone color exists here as language and style have a bright, forward placement. There is information about the piece and it’s origins contained in the octavo.

San’bonani/Namhla Kudibene

Traditional IsiZulu/IsiXhosa
Arranged by Michael Barrett

Santa Barbara Music Publishing

SATB, 2 tenor solos, a cappella

VIDEO – The arranger’s ensemble performing

This is a fun to sing, easy to learn arrangement. The pairing of songs is unusual – one a “hello” and the other advice to get ready for war, but it is still remarkably satisfying. The voice leading works well, the language is easy to pronounce. Use the choreography from the video or create your own, your singers and audience alike will enjoy the experience.

Wau Bulan

Malaysian folk song in Dikir Barat style
Arranged by Tracy Wong

Cypress Choral Music

SA a cappella – CP 1537
And SAB is also available upon request

VIDEO – From young singers in Angelica Cantanti

VIDEO – From teenaged voices

This is a song about a traditional Malaysian kite shaped like a half moon. Simple to learn, the song becomes more challenging with the addition of the choreography.