Song Spotlight: The Log Driver’s Waltz | Vancouver A Cappella

This past month, Sweet Scarlet has been feverishly looking for repertoire to compete with for the upcoming Kathaumixw 2016 International Choral Competition. Although we still have a great deal of research to do, we have already begun learning some pieces. When looking at the requirements for the Folk Category (Canadian folk for us!), one particular song came to mind and it was unanimously decided – we are going to sing “The Log Driver’s Waltz”!

Log Driver's Waltz


Song: The Log Driver’s Waltz
Written by: Wade Hemsworth
Arranged by: Ron Smail
Arranged for: Elektra (an amazing women’s choir based in Vancouver and directed by the fearless Morna Edmundson)

What a fun piece! This version of “The Log Driver’s Waltz” is upbeat with intricate harmonies and a soaring descant (up in the stratosphere) that we are very excited to perform. It is written from a women’s perspective (how fitting!) regarding her desires for the burly log drivers in her town. With lyrics such as,

“If you should ask any girl from the Parish around, what pleases her most from her head to her toes. She’ll say ‘I’m not sure that it’s business of yours, but I do like to dance with a log driver’”

A log driver was someone whose job was to move the logs from the sawmill down the river using the current to help guide them. It was a dangerous and difficult task with many men losing their lives to the river and heavy logs.

The song refers to the log driver “birling” down the white water. Birling is a difficult skill which entails a log driver standing atop a log and using their feet to rotate the log so that they can stay afloat on top of it. It takes great strength and agility and often resembles a dance, hence the title of the song “The Log Driver’s Waltz”. Nowadays, birling is a competitive sport. In a more contemporary setting, if you are ever in the Vancouver area, it is well worth it to go up Grouse Mountain to see the famous Lumberjack show. You will see some amazing feats by world-renowned lumberjacks including log rolling, tree climbs, axe throwing and much more.

We are thrilled to be singing this upbeat and intricate version of “The Log Driver’s Waltz” and will be posting videos once we have practiced it a few more times. We will also be adding some choralography (our version of choral + choreography) so stay tuned! It should be fun!

Love, The Scarlettes xo

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