Don Brenneis found a great late eighteenth century tune titled “Friendship,” shared it with me, and we both wanted to bring it to Sacred Harp singing somehow. In its original form, as published in The American Musical Miscellany in 1798, there were only two parts: the melody and a bass part. I set about writing a treble and alto part with very mixed success, when I discovered that William Walker had done a setting of the tune in his 1860 tunebook The Southern and Western Pocket Harmonist: Intended as an Appendix to the Southern Harmony (published by G. G. Evans, Philadelphia).
The Walker setting appears quite simple at first. Each of the parts makes melodic sense on its own, and all the parts seem to come together sensibly. But closer examination reveals some challenging chords: at the beginning of the third and second-to-last measures there’s a major third over a minor second, and the third beat of the fifth measure has a major second over a major second over a major sixth.
The class gave a good reading of the tune, and those crunchy chords sounded great in context. This one is definitely worth singing again, and it would be fun to work on it with a small ensemble to get those strange chords sounding exactly right.