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Ten representative English folk songs?

GUEST,Ben 18 Sep 03 - 05:02 AM
red max 18 Sep 03 - 05:05 AM
GUEST 18 Sep 03 - 05:16 AM
Mr Happy 18 Sep 03 - 05:18 AM
greg stephens 18 Sep 03 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Crystal 18 Sep 03 - 05:55 AM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 06:12 AM
Mr Happy 18 Sep 03 - 06:20 AM
billy bob 18 Sep 03 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Santa 18 Sep 03 - 08:03 AM
greg stephens 18 Sep 03 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 18 Sep 03 - 08:42 AM
Peg 18 Sep 03 - 10:22 AM
GUEST 18 Sep 03 - 10:25 AM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 10:55 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 18 Sep 03 - 11:40 AM
Uncle_DaveO 18 Sep 03 - 11:54 AM
Mary Humphreys 18 Sep 03 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 18 Sep 03 - 12:16 PM
Alio 18 Sep 03 - 12:34 PM
Nerd 18 Sep 03 - 12:37 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 12:47 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,eliza c 18 Sep 03 - 01:15 PM
Mary Humphreys 18 Sep 03 - 01:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 01:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,ClaireBear 18 Sep 03 - 05:34 PM
greg stephens 18 Sep 03 - 06:07 PM
boldreynard 18 Sep 03 - 08:23 PM
akenaton 18 Sep 03 - 08:51 PM
Bob Bolton 18 Sep 03 - 11:30 PM
GUEST 18 Sep 03 - 11:40 PM
Stilly River Sage 18 Sep 03 - 11:56 PM
AliUK 19 Sep 03 - 12:11 AM
Keith A of Hertford 19 Sep 03 - 01:41 PM
GUEST 19 Sep 03 - 02:48 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Sep 03 - 03:22 PM
Malcolm Douglas 19 Sep 03 - 03:31 PM
greg stephens 19 Sep 03 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Nerd 21 Sep 03 - 03:12 AM
Hrothgar 21 Sep 03 - 06:41 AM
Rick Fielding 21 Sep 03 - 01:33 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Sep 03 - 02:01 PM
ooh-aah 22 Sep 03 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,cranky yankee 22 Sep 03 - 04:15 AM
GUEST 22 Sep 03 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,Jody Gibson 22 Sep 03 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,(Ben again) 22 Sep 03 - 04:46 AM
greg stephens 22 Sep 03 - 07:14 AM
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Subject: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Ben
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:02 AM

I know very little about folk music, and I'd like to ask your advice. Specifically... could anyone suggest a very short list of 10 "most important" English folk songs, representative of the major genres (ballad etc.) and different periods? I guess "Barbara Allen" might be in there, but there my knowledge stops!

[By English I mean originating from the country called England. My interest is basically in pre-20th-century songs. And of course I realize that 10 is a very small number.]

Many thanks for your time and opinions!

Ben


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: red max
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:05 AM

Well, I suppose Tam Lin would have to be in there


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:16 AM

LIttle Musgrave


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:18 AM

widdecombe fair
keel row
john peel
blaydon races
farmers boy
ilkley moor baht'at
lincolnshire poacher
over the hills & far away
polly perkins/cushy butterfield
cherry ripe


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:36 AM

Top of my top ten would be "Searching for lambs", incomparable lyrics, stunning tune, very evocative of things which might be thought to be long gone but are actually all around us.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Crystal
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:55 AM

I'd think that Greensleaves would be somewere, it is so recognisable. Also The Unquiet Grave because it turns up so much, in so many guises. And Scarborough Fair as well.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:12 AM

You'll have to scratch Tam Lin, which is Scottish. I'd tend to leave out "national" type songs, too; so goodbye to Greensleeves, Cherry Ripe, and probably John Peel. I'm certainly with Greg on Searching for Lambs. Might consider The Week Before Easter (The False Bride) and, for a good English murder, perhaps one of the Bloody Miller / Oxford Girl group, or Maria Marten.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:20 AM

if the list is to be truly representative of english sogs, then examples from each county should be included, of course there'd be far more than ten.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: billy bob
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:50 AM

hang on to your little ball of string
a song tittle noytjust an instuction


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 08:03 AM

How to choose representative? By categories?

1. A broken token song - Claudy Banks if that hasn't been too "Irished" but anything with William and Nancy in

2. a pressganging/recruiting; Tender Coming will do nicely, or Recruited Collier

3. the soldiers are leaving: Doli-ah, or The rout has come for the Blues

4. a shanty: too many to choose from but Drunken Sailor is the best known

5. Transportation/poachers: Rufford Park

6. Gipsies: Lost Lady Found, or one of the Gypsy Davey variants

7. A drinking song: Wilkin's Ale, John Barleycorn

8. A courting/nightvisiting song: my current favourite is the Crockery Ware

9. Highwaymen: Solvay

10. pastoral idyll: any Jolly Ploughman type

11. Foxhunting: John Peel for sure

12. Witches/magic: Unquiet Grave. Oops, I'm over ten already and haven't reached the

13. cross-dressing Female Drummer yet. Or the

14. openly patriotic Over the Hills. At least I did manage to slip some

15. humour in, among the other categories.

16. Industrial: The weaver & the Factory Maid or Banks of the Dee

Forget it. Just buy one of the two Threlfall CDs and enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 08:29 AM

If we're going to categorise, I'd put in a vote for Joe Bowman as the best fox-hunting song, rather than John Peel.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 08:42 AM

As Greg said, Searching for Lambs has to top the list. I'm with Malcolm on Week Before Easter and Maria Martin. I think I'd add Outlandish Knight and Farmer's Boy. A forebitter or shanty should go in but there are so many to choose from. If I go on I won't stop at 10.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Peg
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 10:22 AM

Is Searching for Lambs traditional??? I recorded a version based on the Steeleye Span version, but I had always thought they wrote it based on an old text...beautiful song tho.

Anyway, some of my contenders would be:

Green Brooms
The Elfin Knight (many versions)
Bonny Portmore
Black Jack Davy/Raggle Taggle Gypsy/Seven Yellow Gypsies
Down in Yon Forest


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 10:25 AM

Raggle Taggle Gypseys!
Why didn't I think of that one? (It's doing stirling work as my current favourite song too!)
I'm sure a shanty should be in there, if not Drunken Sailor then Possibly Blow the Man Down or A-Roving.
All three appear in a "Traditional English tunes" book I got out of the library yesterday.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 10:55 AM

Searching for Lambs is traditional enough, though what Steeleye Span might have done to the poor thing is another matter! Bonny Portmore is Scots-Irish. Down in Yon Forest is a nice thought; Vaughan Williams found it at Castleton, a few miles from where I live.

This is never going to get down to just ten songs, is it...


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 11:40 AM

Vicar of Bray, Old Miner, Roast Beef of Olde England, A Roving, St. Helena, Butcher Boy, O'er the Hills, Cold Haily Rainy Night, Benjamin Bowmaneer, The Work of the Weavers, The Innocent Hare...

Toss out one, and then there are ten...
ttr


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 11:54 AM

Malcolm Douglas said:

I'd tend to leave out "national" type songs, too; so goodbye to Greensleeves, Cherry Ripe, and probably John Peel.

I don't understand what you mean by "national" type songs. The questioner asked about peculiarly English songs, which I should think would be national songs by the very terms of the question. So why rule out Greensleeves, Cherry Ripe, and John Peel?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 12:03 PM

I think that 'The Seeds of Love' which set CJS on his lifelong quest should be considered as one of the most important English songs. So should Brigg Fair as sung by Joseph Taylor and collected by Percy Grainger.
Barbara Allen, in any version should also be there as it was so frequently collected.
Other thoughts later perhaps...
Mary Humphreys


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 12:16 PM

Pleasant And Delightful?
The Sprig of Thyme?
And definitely The Week Before Easter!


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Alio
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 12:34 PM

When you look through all these suggestions, it strikes me that so many of them are the ones we learnt in Singing Together as children!

Ali


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Nerd
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 12:37 PM

I'm partial to The Banks of the Sweet Primroses as sung by Phil Tanner. This is tricky, 'cause he was from Wales but didn't apparently consider himself a Welshman. Still, great song and probably English in origin.

Has Solvay survived in oral tradition? Most versions sung today are based on Lloyd re-construction, hence more representative of the revival than of the folk tradition.

I love Spencer the Rover.

I also think The Bonny Bunch of Roses, as it appeared on broadsides, was very English and indeed hegemonically so: "England and Ireland and Scotland, Their unity has never been broke." Ha!


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 12:47 PM

By "national" songs I mean the kind of composed parlour and minor art songs that used to be thought typical -by the cultural establishment- of the various nations of the British Isles. It's the usual term. Exactly the things that Cecil Sharp and other progressive educationalists wanted to replace in school curriculums with genuine folk songs. Greensleeves, Cherry Ripe and (though it's a grey area, which is why I said "probably") John Peel aren't folksongs by generally accepted definitions. Ben didn't ask for typically English songs (or we might be looking at things like Tom Bowling or Drink to Me Only) but for typically English folksongs.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 01:09 PM

Sovay (nobody ever called it Solvay so far as can be told, though the heroine did have a remarkably large range of names, usually corruptions of Sylvia, and did turn up once as Salvay) was very popular in tradition; most of the collectors of the early 20th century found it. It's certainly true that almost all revival singers copy Bert Lloyd's adaptation rather than going to traditional versions, though. Still, he didn't actually change it very much (certainly not as much as he changed The Recruited Collier, mentioned earlier, which wasn't about a collier at all until he got hold of it). The song was still turning up in tradition in the 1970s, and may well still be lurking out there.

The Bonny Bunch of Roses was probably written in England (some broadsides credit it to George Brown, to whom The Lily of the West and The Constant Farmer's Son have also been attributed) but it was written specifically to an Irish tune. Another grey area, perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,eliza c
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 01:15 PM

Please,please
No Greensleeves
It make me quease...
y
& it ain't no folk song
   
x ec x

p.s. How about "You're Going Home in a f****** Ambulance" ?
;)

pps Searching for Lambs is no.1, allo the rest come after. Claudy Banks and The Trees they do Grow High and Sheath and Knife are in there, as is Bushes & Briars. x


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 01:23 PM

Malcolm,
Are you saying that the version of the Recruited Collier printed in Come All You Bold Miners, and credited to a singer from Westmoreland - if my memory serves me right - is not what it seems? ( I have mislaid the book in one of my infrequent tidyings-up at home. )
I should be interested to see & hear the original collected version you are referrring to. Would you post it here?
Mary


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 01:25 PM

Yes, Bushes and Briars. Can't leave that out. Sheath and Knife is surely impressive, but seems never to have been found in tradition in England, unfortunately.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 04:27 PM

Rather than distract further from this discussion, I've posted such information as I have on The Recruited Collier to an earlier thread devoted to it:

Recruited Collier


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:34 PM

A couple of people have mentioned John Barleycorn, but I don't think they've said it loudly enough. This is a song that seems to me uniquely English. There's nothing like it that I can think of in the American folk idiom, though we've absorbed lots of other English folksong types. We've got a Barbara Allen and a Gypsy Davy -- we even have the odd hunting song or two. But nary a John Barleycorn in the bunch.

Plus it's not *just* a folk SONG, it also represents some deeply English folkLORE as well.

And while we're on that subject, how about a May song?


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 06:07 PM

I voted against John Peel in favour of Joe Bowman,because it's the better song I think.But I'll take issue with Malcolm Douglas as to the "folk" nature of John Peel. Even on the strictest possible definition of folk,it comes out fine, as the words and tune have changed since it was written!
   Glad the votes are rolling in for Searching for Lambs, and the blackballs are being cast against Greensleeves. FolkTUNE,certainly ,but those words!!


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: boldreynard
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 08:23 PM

Although this is a discussion of English folk songs, I must respond to ClaireBear's assertion that there is "nary a John Barleycorn" to be found in America. Helen Hartness Flanders (in The New Green Mountain Songster) records a fragment from Springfield, Vermont, taken down in 1935. Ian Robb and Margaret Christl also sing a Canadian version on "The Barley Grain for Me". (I take American to mean North American in this instance.)


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: akenaton
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 08:51 PM

One of my favourite English songs is "joe Peel" by June Tabor. I know its not traditional, but i was fortunate enough to have been brought up by a man very like Joe,and I cant listen to it with out my eyes misting over.It also seems to typify the Nothern folk ...Ake


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 11:30 PM

G'day Malcolm and Greg<

Re. John Peel: I seem to remember that the first time I saw St David's Park, Hobart (formerly the graveyard of St David's Anglican church, Hobart, Tasmania) ... around 1965 ... there was fence around it, with a section of five horizontal metal rails forming a music stave - bearing the first few bars of D'Ye Ken John Peel. Apparently this was a memorial to the composer of the tune - who was buried there in Hobart ... about as far as he could travel from England (and still speak English!).

This, of course, doesn't bear on the "Englishness" of the song - and Tasmania is the "English" part of Australia.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 11:40 PM

BEN....WHY do you ask?


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 11:56 PM

Change of pace--Froggy Went a Courtin' (various versions) or Old Bangum.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: AliUK
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 12:11 AM

Let´s see

The lincolnshire Poacher is pretty good to have in there, as would be Yellow Handkerchief, Gower Wassail for an end of year song, John Barleycorn without a doubt, What about the Horn of the Hunter? Sovay is a must as others have pointed out and the Blackleg Miner for the socialist workers amongst us.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 01:41 PM

All ten of the above, and High Germany.
Married bye and bye,
Keith.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 02:48 PM

I believe that Froggy Went a Courtin' was initially a Scottish song.

Gower is in Wales


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 03:22 PM

Ake

You may like Joe Peel as sung by June Tabor, but it was of course written by Pete Bond. It is a real tear-jerker though not traditional.

Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor
Lord Randall
Lord Franklin....


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 03:31 PM

Phil Tanner, however, is only one of a great many people who sang Banks of the Sweet Primroses. It was so widespread in the early years of the 20th century that the Hammond brothers, for example, didn't bother noting it at all.

The "frog" link with Scotland rests solely on a mention in The Complaynt of Scotland (1549) of a song called The frog cam to the myl dur: this may, or may not, refer to a Scottish song, which may, or may not, have been a form of A moste Strange weddinge of the ffrogge and the mowse, which was licensed to Edward White, 21 November 1580. It doesn't survive; the earliest extant text is in Ravenscroft's Melismata of 1611.

I don't think we need to worry too much about these two.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Sep 03 - 05:48 PM

Bob Bolton:that would be the writer of the words(John Woodcock Graves from memory,that could be wildly wrong).The tune was trad.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 03:12 AM

Malcolm,

Thanks for your response re: Sovay and Tanner. I knew others had sung it, of course. But it was one of those occasions where I'd heard a song many times, then heard Phil Tanner's version and was blown away by the singing. So to me, it's not just the song but Tanner's performance that is such a classic.

I've added my 2 cents worth on the Recruited Collier over on the other thread. Some stuff I don't believe has been said on Mudcat before.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 06:41 AM

To go back to Ben's original problem - perhaps it would be best to look at the Topic catalogue and pick out a few of their samplers. Might get stuck with some Scots, Irish, and Welsh songs, but who really thinks that life is perfect?


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 01:33 PM

Wonderful thread.....even if the original asker may have been scared off.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Sep 03 - 02:01 PM

Benjamin Bowmaneer
Nottamun Town
The Cutty Wren
A street cry or something from the Copper family (maybe get both with Chimney Sweep)
Rigs of the Times (the English do love to complain)
Ram of Derby
Ramble Away
Dives and Lazarus
Cowdenowes (Yorkshire, not Scotland!!)
The White Cockade
The Famous Flower of Serving Men


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: ooh-aah
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 04:04 AM

The Foggy Dew (not the Irish rebel thing, the good one)
The North Country Maid
The Banks of Sweet Mossom
All For Me Grog
Dido, Bendigo (gets my vote as the best hunting song apart from)
The Innocent Hare
Lady Franklin's Lament
Brave Benbow
The Poacher's Fate
The Banks of Sweet Primroses
The Two Brethren - which must be the most stirring and evocative farming/seasonal song I've heard.
Bugger, that't eleven.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,cranky yankee
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 04:15 AM

The word is, "REPRESENTIVE" Not representative. A representative is a person who represents something or someone.

See? I can be cranky.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 04:30 AM

Rick wrote "even if the original asker may have been scared off": no, I've just been disconnected for a couple of days. GUEST asked me "WHY do you ask?": I've been unable to find any useful introductory articles about English folk on the Internet, so I thought it might be a good idea to ask you lot (and it was).

Meanwhile I've been listening to "Folk Songs" by Alfred Deller on Harmonia Mundi, which is all I've got to hand at the moment. I guess Deller's style is best defined as an early attempt to recreate the vocal music of the Elizebethan court? It's certainly not a popular folk style. But it's got some very beautiful songs, including Barbara Allen, Lord Randall (Scots origin?) and She Passed Through the Fair (Irish origin?). It also has a song with a tune very like Monty Python's "I'm a Lumberjack", I'm sorry I can't remember what it's called.

I shall print out this thread and study it conscientiously: very many thanks! And I'll certainly try to find Searching for Lambs, which seems to be just about everybody's favourite!

Ben


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,Jody Gibson
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 04:44 AM

Maggy May
It's the Same The Whole World Over
Old Jimmy Bean
My Old Man's a Dustman
Knees Up Mother Brown
Any Old Iron

Unless you are looking for "Arty" songs, These are representive of the English Folk Songs that TODAY'S English population (not just we "folkies") are singing.


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: GUEST,(Ben again)
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 04:46 AM

Hi cranky... The claimed word "representive" is not listed in either OED or Merriam-Webster. Of course, dictionaries aren't 100% definitive, but if you dispute them the burden of proof is on you, no? Ben


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Subject: RE: Ten representative English folk songs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Sep 03 - 07:14 AM

This word "represntive" may exist in some ex-colonial dialect of the English language( the name "Crankee Yankee" suggests some such origin): but this thread is about English folk-songs, and I am perfectly certain(backed up by my Oxford English Dictionary) that there ain't no such word in English English. "Representative" conveys exactly the meaning we need here. Perhaps Crankee Yankee is an example of rhyming slang?


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