In Flanders Fields

To my great surprise, a few weeks ago I got an e-mail from the composer Barry Taylor, who lives in British Columbia, Canada. He informed me that he has a new choral arrangement for the tune and he is happy to share this melody and arrangement with us, and so I transformed it to be read and played by a concertina band as a slow air.


Download the sheet music

The story behind the tune…

“In 1997 I created a website to share my multi-track midi sequences of traditional tunes of the British Isles. That collection, which grew to over 500 tunes, was soon followed by a supplementary collection of about 200 traditional tunes of Canada, my home. This hobby of making electronic music eventually inspired me to try my hand at writing. Usually this involved writing lyrics, but occasionally I attempted original composition. Such was the case with the melody for ‘In Flanders Fields’.

This poem, written by John McCrae, is arguably the most famous of all Canadian poems. I knew that there were musical settings for it, and I set out to find one suitable for my Canadian tune collection. I discovered that there were at least 60 settings published, but all but a couple were protected by copyright. I could not include any of the good ones on my site without infringing copyright. To deal with the situation I became determined to write my own. The initial version was created in 2003.

The melody has been enhanced twice since. The first instance was by Matthew Ackroyd, a school teacher from Edmonton, Canada, who arranged four-part harmony for choir. The second enhancement came from Denis Khvatov, a personal friend and highly educated music teacher from Richmond, Canada, who polished the arrangement and published the notation. The wonderful final arrangement was the result of a month long three-way collaboration.” – Barry Taylor