Song: Traveling Band

“Traveling Band,” song info for the fourth track of Ilona Tipp’s 2018 album “Unadorned”

"Traveling Band"

Ilona Tipp, vocals


"Traveling Band" is unlike any other song I've ever written.

The concept for this song first came to me after a rehearsal of a community choir, in which people of all levels sang a simple round. In my years of singing much more "complicated" music, I had forgotten how delightful a round can be, to sing as well as to hear. I gave myself a compositional exercise, to try to write a round just for fun. The first line came to me intact, melody and lyrics both, when I decided I wanted to play with shifting tonality between major and minor within the same key. I had the intention for the mood before the full lyrical content came to me: I wanted it to feel quasi-medieval, sort of like a drunken "Game-of-Thrones" type tavern song, imagining a troupe of troubadours and bards singing to a rowdy crowd. As I was writing it, the theme came to me in the second lyrical line: a plea for musicians to be paid for their work! (Alas, a common trope for a common problem. Please don't ask musicians to work without compensation.) I elected to use anachronistic words like "prithee" in order to emphasize the historical yet hopefully timeless feel... because musicians and other artists have been struggling to get paid for centuries. Some things don't change.

The repetition of the last lyric in each section felt right to me, even though it brought the number of measures in each phrase to an asymmetrical 5. Sometimes it's refreshing to get away from 4-bar phrase structures...

Also unlike my other compositions, I did not write this longhand and in pencil. In order to work out the harmonies and rhythms in the framework of a round, I transcribed my first line (initially sung into a voice memo app on my phone) and directly into music notation software, and then printed drafts and marked them up in pencil. The photo shows some markings on one of my earlier drafts. 

I don't have fancy home recording software, so this song existed only in my head and in awful overdubbed iPhone recordings until I actually got into the studio in February and laid down the 4 vocal tracks. I really wasn't sure if it would work or not, but it came out better than I had expected. It's a wild experience to sing a round with yourself! 


"Traveling Band" music and lyrics by Ilona Tipp, copyright 2018 Missive Maven Music

I am a traveling band, I go where I am called
The music leads me all the way, I need no light at all - I need no light at all

Don't know where I'll go, don't know what I will say
But sometimes when I ask my fee, the audience won't pay - the audience won't pay

Some say that music be the nourishment you need
But I am earthly hungry too, my belly I must feed - my belly I must feed

So if you like my song: prithee, I exhort thee!
Kindly find it in your heart to fiscally support me - to fiscally support me

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