The Zono Minstrels recordings of 1913 were recordings of ten of the Plantation Songs of Alfred Scott Gatty. It is a desperate shame that only ten of the songs were ever recorded and released to the public, as there were 24 in all. There is really nothing I would not give to bring these world-class singers back to life, and have them record the entire series as a box set.
The four Volumes of Plantation Songs which Alfred Scott Gatty composed between 1893 and 1895 are masterpieces in their own genre. They deserve to be remembered in the same way that we remember the Mozart string quartets and the Beethoven symphonies. Tragically, they have not been remembered. These recordings by the Zono Minstrels, which are the finest possible performances of these master works by world-class singers, have been largely forgotten. They were never re-released on vinyl, tape or digital media, and it has taken me until 31st October 2016 to be able to present the full set, as the recordings are extremely difficult to obtain.
Not only that, but many of the 24 songs are unavailable in recorded form anywhere. We have the sheet music, and that is it. There is a desperate need for someone to organise a complete performance of the 24 songs by artists of the highest quality, so that they can be recorded in audio and video form, and preserved for ever. It is disgraceful that anyone who wishes to hear these masterpieces cannot do so, unless they are able to organise a pianist and four singers and have them performed live. The centenary of Alfred Scott Gatty’s passing in 2018 would seem to be the perfect time to organise such a project, so if anyone is interested, or can contribute, please contact me through the Contact page.
Even the sheet music was virtually impossible to obtain in its entirety, until earlier this year. The first three Volumes have always been easy enough to find, but the Fourth Volume was rare in the extreme. The only copy I knew of in Great Britain was the one in the British Library, and they refuse to allow it to be borrowed or scanned.
In January 2014, I noticed that the Volume was included in the library of the North East of Scotland Music School in Aberdeen. Strangely enough, the School did not have a copy of the far more common First and Second Volumes. I approached the School and made them an offer – I would donate my paper copies of the First and Second Volumes, to complete their set, in exchange for digital scans of the rare Fourth Volume, which would complete my set in digital format and allow me to present the full series on this website. The School were happy to take me up on my offer, and in May I made the trip to Aberdeen to present the scores to them. The story of that trip is told here –
So, I am now able to present the full series of 24 songs to the world in sheet music form. I am able to present the scores in a full colour version, which most closely approximates the 1900-1902 originals, a greyscale version, and a monochrome version. It is possible, in time, that I may be able to create modern republished scores with software such as MuseScore, but as the originals are perfectly playable that is not a priority, and the time it would take may well be prohibitive.
The uncompressed WAV files of the Zono Minstrels recordings which are featured on this site are available as part of the Site Member Downloads, along with JPEG images of the labels and the complete musical scores of all 24 Plantation Songs. These Site Downloads were previously available through an automated service, but due to a change in policy of the service provider this is no longer possible. If you wish to own the Downloads, please contact me through the Contact Form, and I will reply as soon as I receive your message.
The Site Member Downloads include –
* The original WAV audio transfers of the Zono Minstrels recordings which are currently available. These will allow you to hear the songs in a far higher sound quality than the YouTube versions on the public site, and also to add them to your computer file system and portable music player, and even to burn off a compact disc should you desire to do so
* The JPEG images of the record labels for the songs which are available
* The complete sheet music for all 24 Plantation Songs. This is now available in three different formats – colour, greyscale and monochrome. The scores have now been restored to the highest standard possible, which has taken many hours of work.
The scans of the extremely rare Fourth Volume were obtained courtesy of the North East of Scotland Music School in Aberdeen, who accepted a donation of my paper copies of Volumes 1 & 2 in exchange for scans of the rare volume.
The PDF files are not intended to be pixel-perfect reconstructions. They are intended to be as accurate a representation as possible of the originals published by Boosey & Co. between 1900 and 1902, as they would have been in mint condition. The colour has been added after blemish removal and repair have been carried out, to create a perfect uniform background across all scores.