The story of the two sisters described in this murder ballad is a strange one. There are many different versions in which they come from various places (Edinburgh, County Clare, or Kentucky, for instance) and meet a variety of people (a miller, a fisherman, etc.). However, there are a few details that are almost always the same.
It’s traditionally about a jealous sister murdering her sibling in order to gain the favor of a man. The corpse is later fished out of the river by someone who then fashions a musical instrument of some sort out of her various body parts. This instrument then goes on to torment the murderous sister in her guilt by only playing one tune (represented by the refrain over and over).
The nice thing about this peculiar story is that the tune is gorgeous and strangely peaceful. I chose to use a lot of text-painting in the piano part to keep the various refrains from sounding too repetitive and, hopefully, there is plenty to listen for.