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Lyr Req: The Cruel Sister (from Pentangle)

DigiTrad:
BINNORIE
BINNORIE (TWO SISTERS)
CRUELISH SISTER
OH, THE WIND AND RAIN (The Two Sisters)
THE CRUEL SISTER
THE SWAN SWIMS BONNIE (Two Sisters)
THE SWAN SWIMS BONNIE (Two Sisters)
THE TWA SISTERS
THE TWO SISTERS (7)
THE TWO SISTERS (8)
THE TWO SISTERS (9)
THE WIND AND RAIN (Two Sisters)
TWO SISTERS (12)
TWO SISTERS (13)
TWO SISTERS (Bonnie Broom)


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GUEST,Sylvie 16 Jun 01 - 01:08 AM
Anglo 16 Jun 01 - 01:15 AM
GUEST,Sylvie 16 Jun 01 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Sylvie 16 Jun 01 - 03:27 PM
Susan of DT 16 Jun 01 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Sylvie To Susan of DT 16 Jun 01 - 04:58 PM
Susanne (skw) 16 Jun 01 - 05:54 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Jun 01 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Sylvie to Malcolm et al 18 Jun 01 - 11:34 PM
Malcolm Douglas 19 Jun 01 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,Sylvie to Malcolm 20 Jun 01 - 08:10 PM
Anglo 20 Jun 01 - 08:52 PM
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Subject: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: GUEST,Sylvie
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 01:08 AM

Does anyone know what chorus words Jacqui MacShee of The Pentangle sang when they recorded "The Cruel Sister"? The lyrics have already been posted somewhere, but there's a brief chorus that is sung after every line of the ballad which I can't decipher from listening to the music. It's something like this:

There lived a lady by the north sea shore,
Lay the ______ by the bonny ______ (????),
Two daughters were the babes she bore,
Fa la la la la, la la la.

Can anyone supply the missing words?


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: Anglo
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 01:15 AM

It's "Lay the bent to the bonny broom." I believe this was discussed a while ago. Pentangle took the tune and chorus from a ballad usually known as "Riddles Wisely Expounded" (Child #1) and adapted it to a text of the Two Sisters.


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: GUEST,Sylvie
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 03:22 PM

thanks, Anglo! I am only just beginning in folk music and learning about Child's ballads...can anyone tell me how the tunes themselves were recorded, so groups (like Pentangle) or individuals in modern times know how to sing them? I know Child printed different versions of the same ballad, but he didn't put sheet music in there, did he? So I wonder how it is I hear the ballad of the Two Sisters done by different people with so many different melodies.


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Subject: RE: Pentangle's "Cruel Sister" and Sheet Music?!
From: GUEST,Sylvie
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 03:27 PM

thanks, Anglo! I am only just beginning in folk music and learning about Child's ballads...can anyone tell me how the tunes themselves were recorded, so groups (like Pentangle) or individuals in modern times know how to sing them? I know Child printed different versions of the same ballad, but he didn't put sheet music in there, did he? So I wonder how it is I hear the ballad of the Two Sisters done by different people with so many different melodies. Also, what is a good way to learn the traditional melodies and songs so I can sing them myself? Can you recommend any good books with keyboard sheet music, or is there a better way?


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: Susan of DT
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 04:42 PM

Bertrand Harris Bronson collected tunes to the Child Ballads. The abbreviated version is called "The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular Ballads". The unabridged version, which I do not have, is called something like "Traditional Tunes to the Child Ballads". Both are out of print. A number of other ballad collections include tunes, but most do not. There are also some wonderful recordings of "roots" singers available now on CDs, such as the Voice of the People series on Topic and some Lomax collected in the US, call Camsco Music for pointers (800 548-FOLK). If youwant me to take a serious look thru my ballad books to note which have tunes, I can do so.


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: GUEST,Sylvie To Susan of DT
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 04:58 PM

Thank you, Susan, but only if it's no trouble. You might have some books which are still in print and I could obtain. My main interest is how the tunes get passed down and how and why they vary with different artists. I wish to know which melodies are the "originals". Sylvie

btw, how do I get the "GUEST" identifier off when i post to a thread? this is new website for me.


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 05:54 PM

Simple, Sylvie: If you like this site, go to the top, click on the word 'Membership' and become a member. Also, read the FAQ thread at the top of the list which will help you finding your way around and getting better and better search results. Glad you've found us, and welcome! - Susanne


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Jun 01 - 01:27 PM

The words and melodies of traditional songs have been written down by all sorts of people over several hundred years; interest in such things is by no means a new phenomenon.  The subject is too large to go into in any depth here, but as you learn more you'll find out all sorts of stuff, and the Mudcat is a good place to start.  Once you're familiar with the extremely useful "Digitrad and Forum Search" facility on the main Forum page, you'll be able to waste whole days looking things up!

On the subject of The Cruel Sister and its many variants and relatives, I've put a list of links to material available here and elsewhere in this recent discussion:

lay the bent to bonny broom

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: GUEST,Sylvie to Malcolm et al
Date: 18 Jun 01 - 11:34 PM

My most sincere thanks to you and everyone - this should keep me busy for hours. Now, not to beat a dead horse (no pun intended), but Loreena McKennitt has a version of the Twa Sisters called "The Bonny Swans" from her MASK AND MIRROR cd...can anyone tell me what she's saying in HER refrain? It doesn't match the liner notes, but sounds to me like "Hee ho and me bonny dung." I doubt this is what she is saying. Did she make this up? Not to discredit McKennitt, but this version sounds sort of hokey. First, the poor, soon-to-be-dead sister is a farmer's daughter. Then, once she's dead, she's discovered by a miller's daughter wearing a red dress (I think, if I remember it right). At this point it turns into a soap opera and once she's made into a harp, suddenly she's a king's daughter (where'd the farmer go?) whose mother, the queen, is just sitting around while she was betrayed by her false sister Anne and betrothed to William, sweet and true (or something or other) - which, coincidentally, rhymes with the name of her brother, Hugh. At this point, I expect her to fit in the names of her ladies-in-waiting - say, Milly and Vanilly...? Then...."Hee ho and me bonny dung." ?


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 19 Jun 01 - 10:53 AM

So far as Loreena McKennitt's set goes, she unhelpfully describes her text simply as "traditional", but I'm assuming that it's an American variant; as she uses a tune of her own, it's hard to tell.  A quick search through Google.com brings up a transcription of the lyric, though it's unclear whether it's transcribed by ear or taken from sleevenotes.  This gives the problematic line as "a hey ho bonny o", though the soundclip I found sounds more like "Hey he ho me bonny o"; either is likely, and turns up much the same in older Scottish sets as well.

The difficulty lies in Ms. McKennitt's strange habit of giving a gutteral sound to initial "h" and to some initial vowels, which she may have picked up from Martin Carthy records; he used to do the same when he was in his over-ornamented phase back in the '70s.  She is actually singing "O", though it doesn't sound much like it!

The inconsistency between farmer's and king's daughter isn't all that unusual in traditional sets.  Ms. McKennitt herself had this to say: [It is] "a reflection of the Celt's flight of fancy where it doesn't make a lot of sense" and adds "it's the way the Celts didn't really make a distinction between this world and the next and their own flight of imagination took reign."  (Quote from  Loreena McKennitt Old Ways Mailing List FAQ).

In fact, the flight of fancy is hers rather than any putative "Celt"'s; if she researched her material she'd have known that it's a song of Norse origin which moved from the Anglophone part of Scotland into England and on to America, hardly touching Ireland -though it has just occasionally been found there- and that the Farmer seems originally to have crept in in English versions.  I think it was Bronson who suggested that the Swan refrain was a likely "Celtic" input, but not much else of the song shows great differences from Norwegian equivalents.  Obviously I'm speaking of the text, here; the various melodies used I'm not in a position to enlarge on just now.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: GUEST,Sylvie to Malcolm
Date: 20 Jun 01 - 08:10 PM

Merci beaucoup, Malcolm! That's exactly what I needed, particularly the historical info on the text. I am not familiar with Martin Carthy...can you suggest some cd's for a beginner?


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Subject: RE: Chorus to Pentangle's 'The Cruel Sister'
From: Anglo
Date: 20 Jun 01 - 08:52 PM

Well, (depending on where you are of course), you could just join a big bunch of Mudcatters at the Old Songs festival (Altamont NY, USA - there's a thread up at the moment). Martin is one of the featured performers.


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