Ebony and Ivory is a song written by Paul McCartney and released in March 1982. The number-one single was recorded by Paul along with Stevie Wonder and featured on McCartney’s album Tug of War. It reached number one on both the UK and the US charts. In 2013, Billboard ranked the song as the 69th biggest hit of all-time on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. This was Stevie Wonder’s first number-one single in the UK. His only other was I Just Called to Say I Love You in 1984.
At a very basic level, the song is about the black and white keys on a piano. But at a deeper level, the ebony and ivory keys are a metaphor for racial harmony, equality and integration. The song asks ‘why can’t we all live together in perfect harmony like the keys?’
The title was inspired by McCartney hearing Spike Milligan say “black notes, white notes, and you need to play the two to make harmony, folks!” Paul wrote Ebony and Ivory saying that the message was “that people of all types could live together.” He liked the piano analogy, since you can play using just the white keys or just the black keys, but to make great music, you have to combine them.
Ebony and Ivory is available in four arrangements (all with piano accompaniment) for SATB, SSA, SAB and 2-Part choirs. All are available for immediate download – simply click on the appropriate link in the right-hand sidebar.
Each arrangement begins with a classically-inspired piano accompaniment that soon modulates into the soft rock feel that made this song so popular for so many decades. Solo options are included and the well-known guitar solo has be rewritten as a scat solo with the option to ad lib over the repeated motifs.