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Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking

Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 13 May 14 - 01:45 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 02:23 PM
Brian Peters 13 May 14 - 02:29 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 02:59 PM
Brian Peters 13 May 14 - 03:47 PM
GUEST 13 May 14 - 04:26 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 05:25 PM
meself 13 May 14 - 09:35 PM
Richard Mellish 14 May 14 - 04:56 AM
Brian Peters 14 May 14 - 06:24 AM
Brian Peters 14 May 14 - 06:40 AM
Lighter 14 May 14 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 14 May 14 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 May 14 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 14 May 14 - 01:10 PM
Vic Smith 15 May 14 - 09:26 AM
Lighter 15 May 14 - 09:51 AM
The Sandman 15 May 14 - 01:01 PM
Richard Mellish 16 May 14 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 16 May 14 - 07:06 PM
Brian Peters 16 May 14 - 07:54 PM
Bert 17 May 14 - 03:00 AM
Jim Carroll 17 May 14 - 12:39 PM
Lighter 17 May 14 - 01:00 PM
The Sandman 17 May 14 - 08:17 PM
The Sandman 17 May 14 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 17 May 14 - 09:17 PM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 03:51 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 06:20 AM
Vic Smith 18 May 14 - 06:23 AM
Brian Peters 18 May 14 - 06:56 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 07:26 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 07:35 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 07:55 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 08:32 AM
Vic Smith 18 May 14 - 08:39 AM
Lighter 18 May 14 - 10:36 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 10:49 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 01:01 PM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 01:11 PM
Vic Smith 18 May 14 - 04:17 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 03:28 AM
Richard Mellish 19 May 14 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 19 May 14 - 05:44 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 06:04 AM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 06:42 AM
Uncle_DaveO 19 May 14 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,CS 19 May 14 - 10:09 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 10:14 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 12:06 PM

For the last thirty-odd years Pat Mackenzie and I have been recording traditional singers in Britain and Ireland and a large part of that has been gathering information on what they felt about the songs they sang, how they identified with them and what they menat to their various communities (rural East Anglia, the west of Ireland and the Irish Traveller community).
We have been asked to give a talk on our work by the Irish Pipers Organisation, Na Píobairí Uilleann, which can be viewed live on this coming Friday, 16th May, on their website.   
PUTTING THE BLÁS ON IT
The talk will include experts from conversations with Walter Pardon (Norfolk), Tom Lenihan (West Clare) and Irish Travellers, 'Pop's' Johnny Connors (Wexford) and Mikeen McCarthy (Kerry)
In the course of putting the together, we tried to search out information of other source singers talking about their songs, without too much success.
The two best examples we could find were from early 20th century England and from America (where the best of this type of work seems to have been done.

"Cecil Sharp had heard that a song which he had not hitherto recorded was known in an out-of-the-way corner of England. Accordingly he rushed off to secure it. On arriving at the place he was told there was only one person who knew it and this was an aged woman. On arriving at her cottage he found she had gone out to work in the fields. After much difficulty he discovered her, engaged in gathering stones off the land. The day was bleak and there was a cutting wind; when the old woman heard Cecil Sharp's enquiry, she replied that she knew the song. 'Shall I sing it to you?', she said; and raising her old weather-worn face to his, taking the lapels of his coat in her hands, and closing her eyes, she sang 'The Lark in the Morn' in her quavering yet beautiful voice, while he rapidly made notes. When the song was finished, she gazed into his eyes in a sort of ecstasy, and, in perfect detachment from herself, exclaimed, 'Isn't it lovely!"
Cecil Sharp - a biography -AH Fox Strangeways, 1933

"I have a perfect mental picture of every song I sing. I have a perfect picture of every person I learned it from, very few people I don't remember. When I sing a song, a person pops up, and it's a very beautiful story. I can see Mary Hamilton, I can see where the old Queen came down to the kitchen, can see them all gathered around, and I can hear her tell Mary Hamilton to get ready. I can see the whole story, I can see them as they pass through the gate, I can see the ladies looking over their casements, I can see her when she goes up the Parliament steps, and I can see her when she goes to the gallows. I can hear her last words, and I can see all, just the most beautiful picture."
Texas Gladden, Virginia 1941

There has been some excellent work published on the background of the singers; John Maguire (Fermanagh), Eddie Butcher (Derry) Jeannie Robertson (Aberdeenshire), Tom Lenihan (Clare), and a number of excellent books on the singing traditions and lore of one community in Fermanagh, by American, Henry Glassie. And of course, the two excellent autobiographical accounts of Perthshire Travelling life by Betsey Whyte, but these include hardly anything on the songs themselves from the point of view of the singers.
It seems to me to be a huge black hole in our understanding of the song traditions – I wonder if we've been looking in the wrong places
I'd quite like to compile a list of reference to such information and would appreciate anything anybody would like to pass on.
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 13 May 14 - 01:45 PM

Jim, if you look on the Kist o Riches site (School of Scottish Studies/BBC and Gaelic archive) and search by singer's name, you'll find a list of relevant recordings -- some of which are spoken items rather than sung (and indicated by symbol).
Don't think there's a filter yet that will let you instantly access whether a comment is merely factual (where I learned this and from whom) or an opinion about the nature of the song itself, so you might have to trawl through the individual descriptions of each tape….

The best example of which I have personal knowledge (not on KoR) dates back to c.1961 when I was a guest at my teacher's house -- Norman Buchan -- when the guest singer was Jeannie Robertson. The big front room was full and I was trying to be unobtrusive by sitting on the floor halfway under the grand piano; Jeannie was on my left, standing with her back to the (empty) fireplace, and apologising for not being in the finest voice (though it wasn't apparent to anyone else in the room!).

She launched into 'Mattie Groves' and was three quarters of the way through the story -- the point at which the deceived lord offers his young rival a sword -- when she stopped, looked round the room until she clocked Norman standing by the door, and then said - addressing him directly - "Ye see, Norman, he wis aye a fair man." It was obvious to everyone in the room that she was absolutely in the heart of the story of her song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 02:23 PM

Thanks for that Anne - I'll follow it through when we get back from Dublin.
We have some remarkable stuff from Harry Cox, and some from Sam Larner, but it's all on unpublished recordings.
I always admired the Gower/Porter book on Jeannie, but was disappointed that it never covered what she had to say about the songs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 14 - 02:29 PM

Here's another explanatory backstory from Jeannie Robertson, from an interview by Herschel Gower quoted in Atkinson's 'The English Traditional Ballad'. She's talking about 'My Son David':

"The thing was that David was oldest and he was heir to everything, and the other brother was a very selfish, jealous brother. He wanted for nothin', he had everything too. But he didnae want that. He wanted to be the master, you see, o' the castle or fat ever it was. And he wanted to kill his brother and become master. So his mother likit David even better than fat she likit the other one. So when he tried to kill his brother, well of course it was a natural thing for David to fight to defend his sel'. So he killed his brother."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 02:59 PM

Brian:
We have an amazing statement from Wexford Traveller 'Pop's' Johnny Connors on the same ballad, which he refers to as 'Cain and Abel', and equates with the biblical story.
He then goes on to say that he believes that the casting out of Cain is the origin of Travellers first taking to the road.
We've included it in our selection on Friday - please try to watch it, I'd very much value your feed-back - or anybody's
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 14 - 03:47 PM

Here's another good one quoted in Atkinson's book. Herbert Halpert, on a version of 'The Unquiet Grave' from a singer in New Jersey, 1938 (Shakespeare, Abelard and The Unquiet Grave, Journal of American Folklore 1956):

'When I asked Grant the source of the song, he said: "Used to be an English settlement in Chatsworth. They came there about I86I, when the railroad first come in. [Some of their names were] Acres, Brooks, Eliots, Humphries. Fellow name of Elwagon sung that. He come direct from England." On 30 July 1939, nearly a year after I had first recorded the ballad, Grant dictated the following story which he said Elwagon had told to explain the song. He said that Shakespeare was a great lover. He married this woman. After he was married two or three years, there was another man fell in love with his wife, but she didn't care nothin' about him. This man hired four or five men to kidnap Shakespeare. They took him up into a room and castrated him. Well, his wife said it didn't make any difference to her, she wanted to live with him. He said no, it couldn't be; he couldn't live with her no longer because he wasn't a man. He coaxed her to go into a convent, and after a while she consented and went in. Two or three years afterwards he died-Shakespeare died pretty young. After he died, she got out of this convent. She used to go to his grave and pray for him to raise-she wanted to speak to him-see him. And this song was made up about that. This song is founded on fact.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 14 - 04:26 PM

6 posts and nobody has started an arguement about what you mean by a "traditional singer"! I thought that this was Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 05:25 PM

"argument about what you mean by a "traditional singer"!"
Early days yet!
We're leaving for Dublin in the morning, but please keep these coming - they're just what I had in mind.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: meself
Date: 13 May 14 - 09:35 PM

Helen Creighton published a number of singers' comments about their songs, in her various collections.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 14 May 14 - 04:56 AM

I am planning to watch the talk on line this Friday. But can it also be made available afterwards as a permanent resource?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 May 14 - 06:24 AM

I'll try to watch on Friday, Jim.

You should definitely read Carrie Grover's account of the vital importance of singing in rural Nova Scotia in the early 20th century. I'll send it (it's a bit long to past here) if you tell me whether your gmail address or the eirecom on is the best to use.

And here's more. Frank and Anne Warner were very keen to note down singers' comments, and I recommend their book 'Traditional American Folk Songs' if you can find it anywhere. Some of the best stuff is from Frank Proffitt. Here he is talking about 'Bolamkin' (aka Long Lankin):

"I want to say that I never gave much thought to Bo Lamkin's feelings until I too got to building. It seems he got angry because 'pay he got none'. I have had a occasion or two of this kind, not much I am glad to say. I don't claim that I had murderous intent, but how I would have liked to take a big stone hammer and undone the work that pay I got none for. Old Bo, if he had only done this to his work would have had my admiration very much. Perhaps we would not have heard of him, then, which perhaps would have been just as well. I like to think of just where the place is now where he built the fine castle. For I believe it really happened as all the old ballad things. The older folks wanted a fact, then they went all out in building a legend around it, but never to destroy the fact that planted the seed. They kept it intact and thank God for it."

Proffitt's backstory to 'Love Henry' (which he called 'Song of a Lost Hunter') is really quite strange. He says he's used some phrases of his own (oral process at work!), but the interesting thing is that there's an even more horrible story sitting behind his ballad:

"I wonder if this should be a ballad that would be known anywhere. In trying to recall the way the song went, it is possible I use a rhyming word of my own here and there. It was sung to me at an early age. As with many other ballads, a tale went with it, but only as I grew up I learned the tale, which gave me more insight into its meaning. It seems the hunter, Heneree, was lost, and he come upon this evil woman's castle. She had had the paths filled up to make young hunters lose their way except for the path leading to her lands. She was not a beauty - therefore her demands for bed sharing. As I remember, she had a hole dug where each time she would dispose of her unwilling lovers. However gruesome it may sound, she took Heneree to her bed to make love after stabbing him. This part may have been in the song too, but it was not of the kind to be sung to me in my early years. Only in the tale did these facts come out. I seem to remember there was a part of the song where she too was put in the deep hole, but this part I do not have words for."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 May 14 - 06:40 AM

In the introduction to 'Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians', Maud Karpeles relates an incident in which Cecil Sharp had explained to a mountain singer some of the history behind the ballad she had just sung, 'The Death of Queen Jane'. The singer replied:
"I always said the song must be true, because it is so beautiful".

Reminded me of your C# anecdote, Jim. Karpeles also quotes one singer as saying "Singing is a great power in the world - you are doing noble work".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 14 May 14 - 07:32 AM

Folklore: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 14 May 14 - 11:41 AM

Sara Grey has the story of a family sharing their version of Matty Groves -- possibly on a porch! -- in which the wronged husband shoots Matty with a six-gun after challenging him. During the subsequent discussion about who was right and who was wrong, the teenage son burst out with words to the effect that, if he had been Matty, he'd have been straight out the back door the minute he heard the first challenge…

(In which case, we might never have had a great ballad!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 May 14 - 12:06 PM

Sounds like she might have been talking about the version from Dillard Chandler of Big Laurel, North Carolina. I haven't got the text with me but AIRI the husband kills Matty and then shoots the wife. As the ballad has it "Took his special out. Gave to her a special ball".

Sara will be at Whitby again this year. If I can remember that far ahead I'll ask her.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 14 May 14 - 01:10 PM

Margaret Bennett and Kenneth S Goldstein recorded Newfoundland singer Jerome Downey in 1980, sadly he died early this year. His place in the social culture of Newfoundland has been well documented by Margaret in her book 'Jerome- Just one more song' published (book and CD)last year. It's the result of those recordings and the talking about the music and life in general they did over the years and puts the songs in the context of the singer,you can find it on the Gracenote Publications website or via my review on mustrad.org


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 15 May 14 - 09:26 AM

In the 25 years that I presented the BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme, Minstrels Gallery I recorded quite a number of long interviews with traditional singers, mostly from Sussex but also some from other places. I'm glad that I kept most of them. They include Bob Copper (quite a number of these) Scan Tester, Johnny Doughty, Gordon Hall, Bob Lewis, Ron Spicer, Belle & Alex Stewart, Lizzie Higgins and so on


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 15 May 14 - 09:51 AM

I wonder what one might discover about "folk criticism" by Googling phrases like,

"Whenever I sing *, I think...."

"song always reminds me"

"song * makes me...."

"I think what the song means is ..."

"my favorite song because"

Etc., etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 May 14 - 01:01 PM

I am more interested in singers and their singing,singers talking about the songs, I do find of interest, but what excites me about jeannie robertson is her singing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 16 May 14 - 05:12 PM

I went to the web page beforehand and saw that it gave the time as "20:30 GMT", which at this time of year would be 21:30 local time in both Ireland and Britain. So I went there about 21:20 local time tonight, only to find the talk already going on. I think it must have started at 20:30 local time.

I am very disappointed to have missed a large part of it, as presumably have others who planned to watch the webcast. I hope someone recorded it and can make it available in some way.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 16 May 14 - 07:06 PM

I watched it and found it very interesting. I wonder how many people watched it online. I am not sure if they keep the recordings in a viewable archive, but the conditions on the page say "no recording"...
Derek


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 May 14 - 07:54 PM

I'm afraid I missed it too - on the road. So here's another vote for some kind of replay.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Bert
Date: 17 May 14 - 03:00 AM

I have a very dear friend who claims that you are not a folksinger unless you can sing Matty Groves. I countered with, you are not a folk singer unless you can sing The Old Sow Song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 14 - 12:39 PM

Just back
We were told that ours, and other talks presented by N.P.U. are being prepared for putting up for re-listening, and maybe downloading in the near future - we have to transcribe Walter Pardon's sound-clips so they can do sub-titles, he was rather broad - we hadn't quite realised just how much.
I hope you are in a position to preserve the obviously valuable interviews you did Vic - there appear to be little enough of them.
Unfortunately Dick's attitude of not being interested in what singers had to say seems to have been widespread enough for us to know very little about our singing traditions - pity - we might have ended up with a larger number of better singers than we have.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 17 May 14 - 01:00 PM

Jim and others: I agree absolutely that the singers' associations and interpretations of their own songs are just as interesting and important as the songs themselves.

Especially since most people (including 'Catters) have a hard time putting those things into words.

Case in point. As an experiment long ago I asked Mudcat singers - clearly an articulate and opinionated bunch - what feelings they had about the obviously popular "Fiddlers Green" (I think it was that one.)

Responses: zero.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 14 - 08:17 PM

Unfortunately Dick's attitude of not being interested in what singers had to say seems to have been widespread enough for us to know very little about our singing traditions - pity - we might have ended up with a larger number of better singers than we have."
I did not say that, Jim why do you not read posts properly.
I said
"I am more interested in singers and their singing,singers talking about the songs, I do find of interest, but what excites me about jeannie robertson is her singing".
Jim, read properly before you make inaccurate comments, you make yourself look like silly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 14 - 08:26 PM

Jim Carroll, there is no evidence whatsover that listening to what singers have to say will result in a larger number of better singers, in my opinion listening to the singers, singing is what will result in having a larger number of better singers, your consistently inaccurate remarks, that you do not back up with facts, do nothing to give credibilty to your attempted scholarliness.
listening to what singers have to say is interesting but not as interesting or gripping as listening to their actual singing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 17 May 14 - 09:17 PM

Of course singers should be listening to source material as an example of best practice, but GSS shouldn't belittle the very useful information that comes from the discussion of approaches to songs by admired performers themselves.

IMHO, the point at issue is that a singer has to tackle a song with knowledge of its meaning/back story -- even when that seems to be partially or entirely of his/her creation.

I have heard enough source singers in live performance introducing their songs (Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Davy Stewart, Belle Stewart, Sheila Stewart etc.) to appreciate the importance of the perceived background of their material -- and to be aware of how that impacts on the actual delivery.

But I'm also aware that other singers will come to the same material with possibly different approaches, which should also be accorded validity… (Although I will persist with my efforts to link young singers to the sources of the songs.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 03:51 AM

Why do you always do this Dick?
As long as I have reading what you have had to say you have belittled the role of traditional singers and what they have had to say, while at the same time, paying lip-service to what wonderful people some of them were.
You once described some of them of considering themselves "gods" when I quoted an elderly musician's opinion on a younger fiddle player's performance - pretty well sums up your attitude to all of them.
We owe all our material to these people - without their passing their songs and tunes onto us, we wouldn't have had anything to sing and play - simple as that.
After half a century of listening to traditional singers, and four decades of talking to and recording them, I have long been of the opinion that virtually all of them bring to traditional songs something that is missing from most of the later generation of singers performances, a depth which has come from generations of having the songs as part of their lives.
We learn their songs - we should at least have the courtesy to show an interest in what they have so say - simple good manners, if nothing else.
They were not albums or song-books from which just to lift songs; they were, in our experience, intelligent and articulate human beings with a wealth of information and understanding which were happy to pass on to those who have the common sense to listen to and use it.
In my opinion, there is a ton of evidence to suggest that the younger singers who took the trouble to take more than the words and the tunes, turned out to be better singers and did the songs far more justice than those who didn't.
I have no intention of fouling up this discussion by entering into another one of your unpleasant harangues against traditional singers, I'd much rather benefit from reading more of the valuable information people have already taken the trouble to put up .
If you're not interested in what traditional singers had to say, feel free not to take part.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 06:20 AM

This is one of the old interviews with Walter pardon that we dug up while researching for the talk we gave
Jim Carroll

J C   If you had the choice Walter… if somebody said to you one night they were going to ask you to sing say half-a-dozen or a dozen songs even, of all your songs, what would be the choice, can you think offhand what you would choose to sing?

W P The Pretty Ploughboy would be one, that's one; Rambling Blade would be another one, The Rambling Blade would be two, Van Dieman's Land three, Let The Wind Blow High or Low, that'd be four, Broomfield Hill, that's five, Trees The Do Grow High, six, that'd be six.

J C Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W P Dash, yes, I think so.

J C Do you know in what way?

W P Oh, I don't know, put more expression in probably, I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type… the old folk song, they're not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there's a lot of difference in them. I mean a lot of these… some … it all depend what and how you're singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are… you don't do Van Dieman's Land… If there's a sad old song you don't go through that very quick. Like Up to the Rigs is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can't sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that's not worth hearing, well that's what I think anyhow.   And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in.

J C Alright; take another song; take something like Marble Arch and Maid of Australia, both of which are fairly amusing, anyway, would you see any difference in them?

W P Well yes, because there's a difference in the types of the music, that's another point.
You can tell Van Dieman's Land is fairly old by the sound, the music, and Irish Molly and Marble Arch is shortened up, they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you'd hardly start before you'd finish, you see, you'd only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that'd finish. You'd get that done in half a minute, and the music wasn't as good. Yeah, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by the old Broomfield Hill, that's an old tune; The Trees They Do Grow High, you can tell, and Generals All.
Nine times out of ten I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell an old… what is an old song. Of course that doesn't matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how Generals All finish, that got an old style of finishing, so have The Trees They Do Grow High, so have The Gallant Sea Fight, in other words, A Ship To Old England Came, that is the title, The Gallant Sea Fight. You can tell they're old, the way they how they… That drawn out note at finish.   You just study and see what they are., how they work., you'll find that's where the difference is.
And as that got further along; that's where I slipped up with Black Eyed Susan; I thought that was probably William the Fourth by the music, but that go back about to 1730, that one do.
Well a lot of them you'll find, what date back years and years, there's a difference in the style of writing the music as that progressed along, that kept altering a lot. Like up into Victorian times, you've got Old Brown's daughter, you see, that come into Victorian times; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter, I think you'll find if you check on that, that's right.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 14 - 06:23 AM

Jim wrote -
"We owe all our material to these people - without their passing their songs and tunes onto us, we wouldn't have had anything to sing and play - simple as that.
After half a century of listening to traditional singers, and four decades of talking to and recording them, I have long been of the opinion that virtually all of them bring to traditional songs something that is missing from most of the later generation of singers performances, a depth which has come from generations of having the songs as part of their lives.
We learn their songs - we should at least have the courtesy to show an interest in what they have so say - simple good manners, if nothing else.
They were not albums or song-books from which just to lift songs; they were, in our experience, intelligent and articulate human beings with a wealth of information and understanding which were happy to pass on to those who have the common sense to listen to and use it.
In my opinion, there is a ton of evidence to suggest that the younger singers who took the trouble to take more than the words and the tunes, turned out to be better singers and did the songs far more justice than those who didn't."


Excellent, Jim, as good a credo as one could hope for, for those who have loved and learned from traditional performers over decades.

It's just a pity that it is sandwiched between other comments that I fear could contribute to yet another of those Mudcat slanging matches. You say that you don't want "unpleasant harangues". Good, neither do most who post here - so rise above it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 May 14 - 06:56 AM

I've always enjoyed Jim's accounts of Walter Pardon's interviews, and have read that one before. For the benefit of non-melodeon players, when Walter talked about the ten-keyed accordion's bellows ending the song opened out, he meant that the melody could only be played 'on the pull', i.e. it was in the Dorian mode. He equated that mode with the antiquity of the song.

There's some good background on the (West Virginia) Hammons Family's attitude to songs, singing and life in general, in the booklet accompanying the double CD of Alan Jabbour's recordings. One of the things that struck me was that Maggie Hammons was not at all interested - rather annoyed, it seems - when visiting collectors got all excited about her version of 'Hind Horn' and told her it was an old British ballad, whereas she saw it as a piece of local tradition and American mountain culture.

Agree with Vic, it's too interesting a topic to spoil with a slanging match.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 07:26 AM

I said,
listening to what singers have to say is interesting but not as interesting or gripping as listening to their actual singing.
I am more interested in singers and their singing,singers talking about the songs, I do find of interest, but what excites me about jeannie Robertson is her singing".
That does not belittle anything.
My comments are being misinterpreted and misunderstood,what I said is crystal clear, there is no belittling of anyone, furthermore I have stated that I do find it of interest what traditional singers have to say.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 07:35 AM

"Agree with Vic, it's too interesting a topic to spoil with a slanging match."
Sorry folks won't let it happen again.
I've always thought that the best of this type of research was done in the U.S.
I came across a book in the ITMA library while we were in Dublin - 'Up a Wide and Lonely Glen' by Margaret(?) Stewart, on the Fetterangus Stewarts
Wonder if anybody has seen it and could comment on it?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 07:55 AM

The slanging is one directional from anne and jim,
Two posters are putting interpretations on my post that are inaccurate and untruthful. I am only interested in not being misquoted.
it is my opinion that the interpretation of the song is more important than the singer talking about it, that does not mean that the singer talking about the song is not of importance.,the background of the song it is of importance.
it is also my opinion, that it would be wrong to hold the background of the song to be more important than the delivery or how the song was sung, neither do i accept that the two are of equal importance, because as a musician and singer I would argue that performance of the music, is the MOST IMPORTANT thing., that does not mean that background to the song is unimportant, is that clear?
if one was to not accept, the above, it would be acceptable to book for a musical event or record a tone deaf or unmusical traditional singer who had something interesting to say about the background of the song, but whose singing was an embarassment.
,from a scholastic point of view knowing about the background is important, and is also important for singers to have background to interpret a song well, but once any tradtional singer steps in the direction of the commercial world or any kind of public performance, including amateur[non paid public entertainment] singing ability, and abilty to hold the attention of an audience becomes of more importance.
because one thing is more important, that does not mean that the other thing is unimportant, anne neilsen and jim carroll, am i making myself clear.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 08:32 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq1dBEuyNq8&feature=youtu.be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGoYfU2-A54
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwlOO8RG-og three vidoes illustrating different versions including one tradtional singer clarence ashley ,who has something interesting to say about the background of the song and himself and how he was always interested in show business and performing, which illustrates my point that traditional singer like every other singer consider the performance of a song, listen to what clarence has to say at 2 57 and what he has to say overall.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 14 - 08:39 AM

Jim wrote -
"'Up a Wide and Lonely Glen' by Margaret(?) Stewart, on the Fetterangus Stewarts
Wonder if anybody has seen it and could comment on it?


Actually, Jim, it's "Up Yon Wide and lonely Glen" by Elizabeth Stewart. Here is the review that I wrote on that publication for fRoots -

UP YON WIDE AND LONELY GLEN Travellers' Songs, Stories and Tunes of the Fetterangus Stewarts
Elizabeth Stewart with Alison MacMorland.
University Press of Mississippi ISBN 978-1-61703-308-7

The strong and varied traditional heritage of a small number of inter-related traveller families of north-east Scotland has been widely recognised as the richest in mainland Britain. One of the most important of these tradition bearers tells her story in this superb book.
Working closely with her great friend Alison, Elizabeth relates her family history, divided here into four sections. Three focus on central individuals; her mother Jean, a superb musician, accordionist and band leader, her aunt Lucy, recognised since the 1950s as one of the finest of Britain's ballad singers and herself as inheritor of both the musical and singing skills. The initial section looks back into the family's earlier history.
The narrative sections are interspersed with nearly 150 songs and ballads, dance tunes composed by Elizabeth for piano and by a wealth of stories, riddles and rhymes. The book also has many fascinating photos, mostly from family sources.
Elizabeth's descriptive powers are very strong and she evokes these strong characters in her family vividly. The narrative has a straightforward honesty without attempting to paint it in a favourable light; the section where she deals with her father's cruelty to her mother is heart-rending. However, that ability to bounce back from whatever ills or prejudices life throws at them that seems to characterise Scots traveller families shines through.
The richness of the songs is quite remarkable and seeing them in print brings back the impact of the first listening to her double album Binnorie(Elphinstone Institute EICD002), particularly the title track with the variation from the usual story where it is a whistling arrow rather than a musical instrument that betrays the murderer.
The lives and culture of Scots travellers have been well represented in books over the last four decades, but nowhere is there a better tribute to their way of life than in this book. The woman who first came to the notice of a wider audience through her singing on the Radio Ballad, The Traveller People, some fifty years ago can be justly proud of this contribution as can Alison MacMorland and all who have been associated with it.
Finally, it would be worth pointing out that Elizabeth, in concentrating on her own immediate family, has only given one aspect, albeit a very rich one, of the contribution of the extended Stewart family in this village. Personal experience tells that the culture of all the settled travellers of Fetterangus – Fishie – is as rich as anywhere in these islands.

* I would like to apologise for the complete lack of outrage and self-justification in this post.
* I would like to apologise further to any who may have been caused apoplexy by the mention of fRoots.
Vic Smith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 18 May 14 - 10:36 AM

As Jim's and Vic's posts show, comments by traditional singers about their songs almost never include practical advice on how others should "tackle" a song.

What they do tell us is of more interest and significance than that. It's about their lives, their understanding of what they're singing about, their attitudes toward their music and their lives.

Of course, many people think such comments are of no interest to anyone. That's their problem.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 10:49 AM

lighter, but you see, I never said that the comments were of no interst to me, so it is not my problem.
the problem, in this thread is that two posters Jim Carroll and anne neilsen were not reading my posts properly, and decided to start a slanging match, accusing me of saying things that i never posted and making inaccurate and untruthful remarks about my post,complete time wasting.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 01:01 PM

Some more - this time from 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, a Wexford Traveller who learned to read an write in prison while serving time for his activities.
Jim Carroll

Cain and Abel'Pop's' Johnny Connors
I'd say the song, myself, goes back to.... depicts Cain and Abel in the Bible and where Our Lord said to Cain.... I think this is where the Travellers Curse come from too, because Our Lord says to Cain, "Cain", says Our Lord, "you have slain your brother, and for this", says Our Lord, says he, "and for this, be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth".
"Not so Lord" says he, "this punishment is too severe, and whoever finds me", says he, "will slay me, "says he "or harass me".
"Not so", says Our Lord, says he, "whoever finds cain and punishes or slains (sic) Cain, I will punish them sevenfold".
And I think this is where the Travellers curse come from.
Anyway, the song depicts this, this er....
I call it Cain and Abel anyway; there never was a name for the song, but that what I call it, you know, the depiction of Cain and Abel.
Song; What Put the Blood


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 01:11 PM

Intersting, jim Carroll but not nearly as vivid or gripping as the actual musical rendtion, of my son david, by jeannie robertson.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykOBpsVMN1s
jeannie says it all in her singing


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 14 - 04:17 PM

Fascinating, Jim, what you quote about Johnny Connors and his regarding What Brought The Blood as being about Cain and Abel. Belle Stewart once told me that some of her "freens" (meaning relatives) thought that her ballad The Twa Brothers, a different fratricide ballad, was about Cain & Abel.

But your mention of What Brought The Blood reminded me of Jeannie Robertson and her Son David which, as you know, is her version of the same ballad. When Tina and I were first married we had no radio or television but we had a record player and we just about wore out our vinyl copy of her album What A Voice. We heard that she would be at the National Folk festival in Keele in 1968 on a rare visit down south, so we bought tickets straight away. She sang in one of the first concerts of the weekend and was called up again to finish the concert; she sang The Gallawa' Hills. I was so stunned by her singing that I walked out of the concert leaving my coat on the back of my chair. As we went back upstairs to get the coat, there was Jeannie standing on a landing gazing into the mid-distance. We plucked up the courage to talk to her and told her how much we had enjoyed her singing, particularly the song at the end. She gave us a good looking over with those black x-ray eyes and then she told us that she had planned to finish the concert with Son David but that she had changed her mind at the last minute. "My Son David wis aeways the sang that Ah sang tae my wee son that died and Ah aye think o' puir wee Jeemsie fin Ah sing yon. Ah wis feert that Ah wid brak doon so Ah didna' sing it. Ah'll sing it fir youse noo if ye like." Yes, we would like that very much! She took Tina's hand and held it throughout the slow stately singing of it. The emotional impact is something that I will never forget; poor old Tina cried throughout the song. After that we had quite a number of conversations during the weekend and she ended up inviting us up to Aberdeen, an offer that we took up for the first time the following year.

I've just had a look at the famed biography Jeannie Robertson: Emergent Singer, Transformative Voice (James Porter & Herschel Gower Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1995) and they quote a similar story about Jeemsie and Son David but there is also this piece relating to that ballad that refers to a visit to London for a television show (pages 50 -52) I'll quote it here –
We had wir breakfast in a very fine big posh place, the best of ivrything, an' then I met the two young ladies that does ye up. The director says, "I don't think you'll have tae do a lot tae Jeannie because her color's natural an ivrything, ye see." He meant to say my colour an my face an things wes natural an' things. But when it really came to be, it wes me that needed the most makeup.First thing, aa the red in ma cheeks had to be done oot because they said it would come out dark, show a dark shadow in ma face. This natural dark shaddas in here. That had to be aa painted out wi' a sort o' creamy colored paint. An' it wes a young lady with a little easel, an' little brush, an' a whole dose o' different colors. . . . After that, the lady for ma hair. Well, she took about a half an hour to do ma hair up. Ma hair, she thought, wes a bitty too high in the front. She lowered it down, ye see, an' then, I got the shock o' ma life, as I'd no grey hairs in ma heid at that time. . . . An' tae me, looking in the mirror, I lookit, it lookit tae me like ma hair wes completely grey at the front. An' this, I resented this bit, ye see. ... I says, "Ye've made ma heid grey. Whit ye daein' this for?" She says, "No, no. . . . you'll come out jet black . . . But we've got to do this to tone the color of your hair down a wee bittie, as it's jet black an' we've got to tone your hair down." An' then I turned round and I said, "God bless me," I said. "The man at television said I wes needin" little makeup. When it comes tae be," I says, "I'm the one 'at's needin' aa the makeup."
Well, when I lookit masel' i' the mirror, I said if I come out like this folk'll tak me for some Oriental body. I thought, I wes as like a Chiny or a Japany as ivir I seed. But funny, when I lookit into the monitor tube I wes a bitty amazed to see that I jist lookit ma natural sel'. Then when I lookit at masel' singing, I says, "O, God bless us aa, surely ma face is nae sae peetiful." ... I'd aa sweated, ye know, and I lookit at aabodies' faces, ye see . . . meaning as much, "Is that me really singing? Do I sing in front o' folk like that?" I wes singing "My Son David" and here wes me singing but ... ye didnae see ma hands or a'ing like 'at an' ma hand micht hae just been like 'at, but O, the peetiful face. ... I felt embarrassed tae start again. . . . But he said, "Jeannie, nivir mind that, that's your gimmick. Just you carry on the way you were doing before. Dinnae alter."
Jeannie's horror at her transformation into, in her eyes, an unnatural figure was followed by a request that was to have an even more radical effect on her singing:
There wes three heid young men an' they wes all ranging aboot the same age an' the one 'at wes on television with us, he came in aboot an' he said, "Now
Jeannie, ye'll have tae cut out three verses of 'My Son David.' Cut it down to six."
"Bless us ... it's a bitty sudden," I says. "Jeest at the minute 'at we'll be on television," I says, "in nae time an' I've tae cut oot three verses," ye see. . . .
An' then, it wes funny, it wes maybe the way I lookit or whit I did, he put his hand on my shoudder, ye know, he says, "We're very sorry, Jeannie, but we've got tae do this. In fact," he says, "it's a shame to cut out the three verses. . . . of such a lovely song an' it must hurt you to do this . . . We've got to do it for time. Could you do it?... You would know the best places tae cut out a verse, here and there. . . . But ye'll still have a wee whilie ... for to rehearse it over without the three verses."
Well, it wes funny. I cut out the three verses which I knew widnae be missed, an' then I sung it over, a matter o' twice. An' I had it—the six verses, ye know. So they were aafie well pleased. I mean it wes funny—jist wi' that understanding an kindness that this three fellas showed. ... It wes nae bother at aa. It was absolutely no bother. An' the heid chap wes tall, nice built, wi' aafie broon curly hair.
So the real Jeannie, under commercial demands, gave in under the pressure of a handsome young producer and a timed format. Her self-image was altered by a television monitor.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 03:28 AM

Thanks for that wonderful story Vic; we found again and again with singers we recorded that the songs they sang often went far beyond the actual story and had personal significance to their lives, such as this one of Jeannie's had to the death of her son.
We recorded the ballad 'Lord Randal', called by her, 'Buried in Kilkenny', from blind Travelling woman Mary Delaney, a singer with a huge and extremely varied repertoire of narrative songs and ballads.
She always had trouble pitching the song, but we eventually got a good version of it and had stopped asking her to sing it so we could pass on to the rest of her songs.
Mary was blind from birth and had brought up her sixteen children on the road, singing on the streets from an early age to supplement the family income.
When she was camped in East London, she decided to try to get some of the younger children an education, so they managed to persuade the Council to move her into a bleak, half-furnished flat in Hackney.
Unlike on a Traveller site, while the children were in school, she was by herself all day, so, being the sociable lady she was, she became extremely depressed - when we called we were always dragged in and kept for as long as we possibly could stay, just for the company.
One night she was particularly down and she asked us would we record 'Buried in Kilkenny'.
It was one of the most moving performances of any song I have ever heard - she poured all her misery into the singing, you could have walked on the atmosphere she created - it still brings a lump to the throat to recall that night.
Regarding working for the media, I had the opposite experience (sort of) than the one you give from Jeannie's book.
I had been asked to do a last minute interview on folk song for one of the London radio stations, Capital Radio, I think - a friend had chickened out on the morning of the live broadcast and phoned to ask would we take his place, so I grabbed an armful of records and drove to the studio, just off Oxford Street.
It was one of those tiny, pokey little rooms overlooked by a sound studio.
We sorted out half a dozen tracks to play and arranged a running order with the two young engineers.
Throughout the interview, the two lads chatted away in their box and took no real notice of the proceedings, except to respond to my prompts for the next record, right through to the end, for which I had chosen Sam Larner singing 'Butter and Cheese and All'.
The interviewer decided that we were running short of time, so he said he would have to fade out after a couple of verses.
The lads in the sound box put the track on, and it became obvious that they were totally smitten by Sam's singing, and when the signal to fade was given, they waved their hands in refusal, shrugged, and played the track through to the end - a magic moment!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 19 May 14 - 05:05 AM

Info from Na Píobairí Uilleann:

"All the lectures in our Notes & Narratives series are recorded and edited to be made available to subscribers and members on our website.

"Go to 'Source' - 'Video' - 'Lectures' "

There are several levels of subscription, starting with a basic level that is free, but you need at least the 20 euro per year level to view the videos of lectures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 19 May 14 - 05:44 AM

This is a wonderful thread, I love the stories, how can this sort of information not help with singing the songs?
Thanks for this.
X el


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 06:04 AM

Thanks for the info Richard
I wasn't joking about supplying sub-titles for the examples of Walter Pardon we used
One young woman in the audience was studiously taking notes throughout the evening, but when it came to Walter, she threw up her hands in despair.
Spent most of yesterday transcribing the sound-clips - these are two of Walter's
Jim Carroll

WALTER PARDON
10 PUTTING EXPRESSION IN.
J C   Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W P   Dash, yes, I think so.
J C    Do you know in what way?
W P   Oh, I don't know, put more expression in probably, I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type… the old folk song, they're not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there's a lot of difference in them. I mean a lot of these… some … it all depend what and how you're singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are… you don't do Van Dieman's Land… If there's a sad old song you don't go through that very quick. Like Up to the Rigs is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can't sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that's not worth hearing, well that's what I think anyhow.   And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in.
J C    But since you started singing them to people...
W P   That's right, that's right.

11 STROOK (following 'The Trees they grow so High')
W P   Right Jim, That's that one.
J C   Where's that Walter, where did that come from?
W P   Here.
J C   Is that your uncle Billy's?
W P   Yes, that was.
P M   Is that how Uncle Billy sang it?
W P   Yes.
P M   That's his tune, at that pace?
W P   Yeah, that now,it shouldn't be hurried through, yeah, that's about ow he used to sing it.
J C   Were they fuss about how the songs were sung Walter, the speed and things, if they heard somebody singing, they were fussy about it?
W P   Oh my, yeah, they's have, what they called the right strook.
J C   Right?
W P Strook, S, T, double O, K (sic); was always called strook
J C And that was the speed, was it?
W P Yeah, it was always sung fairly steady; well, a lot of them now, they are in too much of a hurry to get through a song; the same with playing, you see, fast as possible, no one'd keep up.
Well, I remember Dick playing a step-dance tune at Cromer.
Two of them step dancers say, "we can't dance to that, we can't get the steps in", that was right.
They step out that tune like that (demonstrates), they hit out a note.
That is right, they never did go very.... there, never did play a hornpipe all that quick, not as quick as all that.
They said again, they must play.... "you must play the right strook".
Well, that used be said about anybody who was very slow, I think I put that in the book, "Only two strooks, slow and stop", someone who was slow, you know.
That's an old Norfolk expression, strook, yes, that was an old expression used, died out now, I know I head that a good many times, strook.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 06:42 AM

elder girl, being able to sing well and interpret a story in a song, is something that will vary from performer, it would be a generalisation to make a blanket staement saying it does help or it does not, this is something that will vary from performer to performer, it may help some undertstand the song better,there may be some who can sing the song well without knowing the background.
I like to know something of the background of a song but it is not absolutely essential.
I enjoy singing willie of the winsbury for example, but the fact that the tune i use was put to the set of words by andy irvine and was originally the tune to false foodrage does not help me to sing the song better, or interpret the song better.
so I have given an example of background information that does not help me personally to interpret the song better.
so the answer to your question is it depends on the information, and the singer.
here is another example, the song tam linn, i was singing this song well and receiving applause and praise for singing it long before i knew it was a piece supposedly crafted by a l loyd, that information has not affected my ability to interpret the song better or worse, it makes no difference whatsover.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:01 AM

That quote from Texas Gladden, about being able to see all the characters and incidents in a certain song, reminded me of a class I took from Peggy Seeger.

A member of the class asked about why certain singers sang songs with their eyes closed. Peggy said she often did that too, "Because I want to watch the movie."

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:09 AM

Lovely thread Jim.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:14 AM

Last of Walter's examples
Jim Carroll

09 IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE
J C When you're singing at a club or a festival, who do you look at, what do you see when you're singing?

W.P   I don't see anything

J C You don't look at the audience?

W P No, that's why I like a microphone: I'd rather stand up in front of a microphone, than anything, 'cause that's something to look at. That's what I like, this sort of thing in front; you can shut the audience out.

J C   So what do you see when you're….?

W P   Actually what I'm singing about, like reading a book.
You always imaging you can see what's happening there, you might as well not read it.        

`P Mac   So you see what you're singing about.

W P   Hmm.

P Mac   How do you see it; as a moving thing, as a still thing, or… moving?

W P   That's right.
'Pretty Ploughboy' was always ploughing in the field over there, that's were that was supposed to be.

J C So it's that field, just across the way?

W P That's right?

J C   How about 'Van Dieman's Land' then?

W P   Well, that's sort of imagination, what that was really like, in Warwickshire, going across to Australia, seeing them chained to a harrow and plough, that sort of thing, chained hand to hand, all that.
You must have imagination to see it all, I think so, that's the same as reading a book, you must have imagination to see where that is, I think so, well I do anyhow.

P Mac   But you never shut your eyes when you're singing, do you?

W P   No, no.

P Mac   So if you haven't got a microphone to concentrate on, if you are singing in front of an audience, where do you look?

W P   Down my nose, like that (squints).

P Mac   Yes, you do, yes, that's right, you do (laughter)

W P   That is so, have you noticed that?

P Mac   Yes

J C   Do the people in the songs that you sing, do they have their own identity, or are they people you know, or have known in the past?

W P   Their own identity, imagine what they look like

J C   You imagine what they look like?

W P   That's right, yeah.

J C   And when you sing the song, they're the same people every time; they look the same every time?

W P   That's right, yeah, that's right.
All depend what it's about, or the period.

J C   And they would dress in the period…?

W P   That's right, yeah.

J C   So where would you put 'The Pretty Ploughboy', what sort of period would you….?

W P   Lord Nelson's time.

J C   So they'd be wearing….?

W P   Yeah, in the last century.

P Mac Then what about a song like 'The Trees They do Grow High' or 'Broomfield Hill'?

W P   Oh, that'd go back, really, farther still, buckled shoes, that sort of thing (laughs).
That is right though.


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Mudcat time: 23 August 4:04 PM EDT

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