News items of interest to TSF members
Roy Palmer Lecture 2018
This year’s Roy Palmer Lecture will be given by Dr Sandra Joyce, Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. The title of her lecture will be ‘He Travelled East and he Travelled West: The Contribution of Travelers to Irish Traditional Song’. In her talk she will discuss the legacy of Travelers to the song tradition of Ireland in the twenty-first century, considering the place of the medieval ballad as well as popular song styles. More information can be found here.
The Roy Palmer Lecture will form part of the TSF meeting to be held at Newcastle University on Saturday 20th October 2018. Arrangements for the other parts of the meeting and for the weekend are in the hands of Vic Gammon and Peter Wood. There is still an opportunity for a couple of other talks during the afternoon, so if you have a topic that you would like to share with TSF members please let us know. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vic Gammon (email@example.com).
[Added 10 July 2018]
Conference – Traditional Song: Past, Present and Future, 10 – 11 November 2018
The deadline for submission of proposals for papers for this year’s EFDSS Folk Song Conference has been extended to 22 July. You can see more information on the Conference web page.
[Added 10 July 2018]
New TSF Members
Several folks have joined TSF in recent weeks. Welcome to Peter Excell, Sarah Gulliver, Paul Mansfield, Tom Pettitt and Lyn Wolz. We hope that you will find being a part of the Traditional Song Forum useful and that, even if you can’t make many of our meetings, you will enjoy the conversation.
[Added 10 July 2018]
Holst’s ‘Somerset Rhapsody’
In an article I wrote for the 2011 Folk Music Journal(Gustav Holst, Songs of the West, and the English Folk Song Movement) I described how, in 1906, Gustav Holst, at Cecil Sharp’s suggestion and with his help, created Two Selections of Folk Songs, based on songs from the collections of Sharp and Baring-Gould and titled (respectively) ‘A New Selection of Songs from Somerset’ and ‘A New Selection of Songs of the West’. Holst was not happy with either of the two selections and reworked both. The Somerset selection, relaunched in 1910, became the very successful Somerset Rhapsody. The selection of Baring-Gould’s songs was re-worked as Fantasie on Folk Songs – Songs of the West, but was only performed twice before Holst withdrew it. In more recent years it has been reborn as a piece for wind band called simply Songs of the West. The original score of the Devonshire piece is in the British Library but, because Holst cut and pasted the score we do not have a copy of the original orchestration. The original orchestration for the Somerset selection was also thought to have been lost. Until, that is, it recently turned up in New Zealand.
It was in July last year that I heard from Bronya Dean of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia. They had been clearing out their filing cabinet when they came across two handwritten scores – ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ and ‘Two Songs Without Words’. While the prize might be considered the former, the second piece is also of interest as it was an attempt by Holst to write in a style that emulated folk song. It is not clear how the manuscripts made their way to Tauranga, but there is a possible connection to Adrian Boult, who was given copies of these pieces by Holst.
In April 2018 the orchestra performed these two pieces for the first time in over a Century. ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ was drastically reduced – in his 1910 reworking Holst used only three of the original ten tunes in the 1906 composition. And there is no doubt, in my mind at least, that it is the better piece. But I would encourage you to have a listen to the earlier version and hear how the ‘Rhapsody’ evolved from the ‘Selection’. – you can hear it, as played by the Bay of Plenty Symphonia, on YouTube – here.
[Added 10 July 2018]
English Dance and Song
The article about the Traditional Song Forum in the Summer 2018 issue of English Dance and Song magazine has attracted a lot of interest and we have had some new sign-ups as a result. With the same issue EDS included a questionnaire asking for people’s views on the magazine and its content. The questionnaire is also available online (www.efdss.org/eds-survey) – you might like to make your views known.
[Added 12 Jun 2018]
Roy Palmer Lecture
Grace Toland, who was to give the Roy Palmer Lecture for 2018 has had to offer her apologies and withdraw from the event. In her place we have invited Sandra Joyce to give the lecture at the TSF meeting to be held at Newcastle University on 20 October. Sandra is the Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. Further details on her lecture will be made available shortly.
[Added 12 Jun 2018]
EFDSS Conference 10 – 11 November 2018
The call for papers for the EFDSS Folk Song Conference in November has now been posted. It reads as follows:
Every year, EFDSS organises at least one full-scale scholarly conference, devoted to a particular aspect of its work – folk song, dance, or tunes. This year it is the turn of Folk Song, and submissions are invited for what is sure to be a major gathering of song researchers and enthusiasts.
We are inviting contributions on topics associated with traditional song and performance. We would like to represent all manner of topics which may include (but are not limited to):
- Recording technology and folk song collecting
- Song tunes and/or texts
- Analysis or evolution of songs
- Ballad studies
- Broadside ballads or other printed matter
- Contexts of performance
- Folk clubs and the contemporary scene
Papers should be 20 minutes long (+10 minutes for questions and discussion). AV facilities will be available. A1 sized poster presentations are also welcome.
We are particularly keen to encourage students and newcomers to talk about their research interests and findings.
Please send your submission, including a brief abstract of your paper and a paragraph or two about yourself to: firstname.lastname@example.org
[Added 12 Jun 2018]
Annotated Discography of Peter Kennedy’s Recordings
After Peter Kennedy’s death more than a decade ago, the files associated with his recordings were passed to the British Library, in the hope that researchers wanting to understand his work better would be able to make use of them.
Reg Hall has been working with the files for many years and the result of his work has now been published as a 352 page PDF document: Peter Kennedy’s Published Recordings Of British & Irish Traditional Music And Related Material: An Annotated Discography.This is a very interesting and important publication that reveals much about the work of Peter Kennedy and some of his colleagues in the early days of collecting using sound recording.
You can read and download Reg Hall’s publication at www.vwml.org/topics/study-guides
[Added 12 Jun 2018]
We were saddened to hear that Paul Marsh had died. He was a very active supporter of traditional song and singings and I asked his friend, Steve Roud, to write a few words about him.
PAUL MARSH: A PERSONAL RECOLLECTION
Steve Roud (24th April 2018)
It was a complete shock to everyone in our field when Paul’s death was announced on 23rd April 2018. He was a stalwart of the traditional music scene in Hampshire for decades, a founder member of the TSF, and liked and respected by everyone he came in contact with.
He was only 67.
I first met Paul when I moved to Hampshire in 1975, and we very quickly became firm friends and comrades. I was particularly interested in Mumming Plays at the time, and as his uncle Tom had been in the Otterbourne gang, we started a project to collect all we could find about the custom in the county. Paul instigated the revival of the play, and performances still take place every year.
We met Mervyn Plunkett, at that time a ‘retired’ collector (although there was nothing ‘retiring’ about him) and a few years in his company provided a baptism of fire in all things traditional for both of us. Paul got on well with everyone, and older traditional musicians in particular recognised him as a kindred spirit. He was a fine singer, melodeon, mouthorgan and bones player.
Paul soon realised that his particular area of interest and expertise was sound recordings. Not only did he make recordings of numerous sessions when the rest of us were too busy making a noise, but he made strenuous efforts to gather other collections that were in danger of being lost or forgotten. He was acutely aware of the fact that traditional song and music exists in the moment, and if not recorded in some way is lost forever.
For me, most of his tangible legacy is therefore in the soundscape of our field, although so often working in the background that his contribution is easy to miss. He revived the local record label Forest Tracks, did digitisation work for Musical Traditions and Topic, carried out most of the work for the Topic tribute to Harry Cox, The Bonny Labouring Boy,which involved extensive research into Harry’s life. And many people trusted him to look after their old tapes and their memories.
The last thing we worked on together was digitising and cataloguing Ken Stubbs’ collection for VWML Online, and Brian Matthews’ tapes for Sussex Traditions, and we had great plans to make safe allthe private sound collections from southern England and make them available.
These are just the things I was involved in, but there were countless other projects with other people, and his digitisation skills were in constant demand – too constant, perhaps, as he never felt he was achieving enough. But he has let me down at last. We often joked about what he would say (and what embarrassing recordings he would play) at my funeral, and I was relying on him to remember those great times we had. We will miss him on many levels.
[Added 24 Apr 2018]
TSF Data Protection Policy and Privacy Statement
You may have received messages from other organisations you belong to, asking you to update your consent for them to hold your contact data and use it to send you information or to manage your membership. This is because of new regulations taking effect in May 2018 about data storage and use which affect all organisations big and small – or even tiny! Penalties for non-compliance are worryingly severe and we are taking this seriously.
We have prepared a Privacy Statement and a Data Protection Policy which you can find on the TSF FAQs page – click on the tab above. What we need now is for you to give us permission to hold and use your personal information in the ways described in those documents. To do this would you please download, complete and return this form either by post or by e-mail to email@example.com.
We will not be able to communicate with you after May 2018 if you do not give us your permission to do so, please Do It Now before it slips your mind.
[Added 23 Mar 2018]
TSF Membership – a big change!
We have been thinking about the way in which you become members of TSF and about the subscriptions that you pay. We have come to believe that even at the very low level that we have been asking, payment is a barrier that prevents some people from joining (or renewing their membership). Our aim was always that TSF would be an inclusive organisation and we believe that the best way to attract and maintain an active membership is to stop asking for an annual subscription.
We will still need to raise money to support our activities and we propose to do that by creating the Friends of the Traditional Song Forum. Those who choose to become a friend will agree to make an annual donation that goes into our funds. We aim to set up a system where Friends can choose a level of annual donation: £2, £5, £10, £15 or more. We will develop a mechanism for doing this over the next few weeks, and we will then get back to you with the details but if you wish to join the Friends of TSF please drop me a message and I will get back to you when we have got ourselves organised.
If you have already paid your subscription for 2018 we would like to consider you a friend – but please let us know if you do not wish to formally become a Friend of TSF.
I hope that you will welcome this move and choose to continue to support us in the coming years. After careful consideration we think that by doing this we will give everyone an opportunity to support TSF financially according to their means – or not at all, if they choose.
[Added 23 Mar 2018]
Next TSF meeting
The Spring 2018 meeting of the Traditional Song Forum will take place at Cecil Sharp House, London on 28 April. The programme for the day is still being finalised, but the topic for our afternoon ‘Forum Focus’ session will be A Strange Survival, putting songs into print. When the Traditional Song Forum was created 20 years ago there was an expectation that the printed book would be replaced by digital technology. This has not happened and, indeed, the flow of new books on traditional song and related topics continues unabated. In this meeting we will look at traditional song in print and provide an opportunity for all those interested in writing, publishing, using or enjoying songs on paper. The draft programme is can be downloaded here and will be updated in the next few days. Tickets for this free event are available from Eventbrite – click here to book your place for this interesting day.
[Updated 23 Mar 2018]
A new book and another being planned
As if to demonstrate the point above, that new books are emerging at an amazing rate, David Atkinson has sent me new of his latest publication and news of his next venture.
The new book is called The Ballad and its Pasts, Literary Histories and the Play of Memory and you can find more details at https://boydellandbrewer.com/the-ballad-and-its-pasts-hb.html. You can use the offer code BB125 at the checkout should get 25% off. David adds tat, if enough people are interested, he may be able to offer a bigger discount at the TSF meeting on 28 April.
His next project, working with Steve Roud, is another book about broadsides, this time covering Continental Europe. He writes:
‘A few years ago, we initiated a series of volumes devoted to the history of Street Literature and Cheap Print in Britain, and have so far edited two collections of essays which have been well received. For our next volume, we are hoping for a Europe-wide focus, and we would like to compile a collection of essays, each devoted to a particular European country, region, or language-area. We think that this would be both interesting and instructive for students and researchers in this field. All chapters will be in English and should constitute a historical overview of the subject in the chosen area, or, if more appropriate, a case study of a particular section of the trade. Length: 5,000 – 10,000 words. We are in the early planning stages, but we would hope to publish in early 2019. We are more interested in historical periods than in present-day manifestations. From a British perspective, we define Street Literature as comprising cheap printed materials, aimed at the lower or working classes, sold in streets, at fairs, from travelling pedlars’ packs, in local shops, and so on. Our material obviously has affinities with other printed materials such as leaflets, proclamations, handbills, advertisements, and so on, but it is the selling aspect which is the basic definitional element. In Britain, our main categories are single-sheet broadsides, chapbooks (double-sided single sheet folded to make a crude book), cheap illustrative items such as woodcuts, engravings, etc., and the subjects covered are many – ballads, tales, political and religious comments, jokes, fortune-telling, news and fake news, and so on. But we are of course aware that in other countries other definitions might apply.
We would be pleased to hear from anyone who might be willing to contribute to this project, so please pass this message on to anyone you think might be interested. Contact David Atkinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Steve Roud (email@example.com).
[Updated 23 Mar 2018]
Exhibition featuring the work of Doc Rowe
An exhibition, Lore and the living archive, opens on 5 May at Touchstones, Rochdale. It features the work of three artists and their response to the Doc Rowe Archive and Collection, with artefacts from the Archive on display. The gallery will also be given over to a Wakes Day-style celebration on 26 May,. See Lore And The Living Archive for more details.
[Added 14 Mar 2018]
New book at a discounted price for TSF members
Oskar Cox Jensen is one of the editors of an interesting new book ‘Charles Dibdin & Late Georgian Culture’, published by OUP at £55. He has kindly provided a code that will make it possible for TSF members to buy the book with a 30% discount. For more details download the Charles Dibdin Flyer which will give you the code.
[Added 5 Mar 2018]
New Date for Aberdeen Workshop
The workshop in Aberdeen – Finding Scottish Songs and Ballads Online, with Julia Bishop, Laura Smyth, and Janice Reavall, (See ‘Three Workshops and a Concert’ below) has now been re-scheduled for Sunday 22 April 2018. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org. A free buffet lunch will be provided (please let us know of any dietary requirements or allergies). Remember your laptop.
[Added 5 Mar 2018]
TSF Autumn Meeting
The Autumn meeting of the Traditional Song Forum will be held at Newcastle University on 20 October. It will also be the occasion for the Roy Palmer Lecture for 2018 which is to be given by Grace Toland, the Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Further details will be available here when we have them.
[Added 5 Mar 2018]
Baring-Gould’s Songs of the West on Project Gutenberg
On 22 February Lewis Jones put out a short message on Tradsong to say that the 1905 edition of Sabine Baring-Gould’s Songs of the West had been published on the Project Gutenberg website – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/56625/56625-h/56625-h.htm. I have also heard from Linda Cantoni who is a member of the project team who prepared the book for online publication. I wanted to add to Lewis’s message because I believe that the way in which Project Gutenberg have implemented the digitisation of the book is a leap forward from similar exercises in the past.
The book appears as a mixture of newly prepared text and images of the original music. The first item that comes up after the title page are two indices, the first by its place in the book and the second alphabetical. Each index entry has a hyperlink to the song image and text. The indices are followed by Baring-Gould’s Preface and Introduction. In the latter you will find that, if a song is mentioned, the title is hyperlinked to the song.
Between the image of the music and the song text there are three links for each song. The first plays the music. I am pleased to discover that it is not just the melody that is played but the arrangement as well, though the melody is voiced in such a way that it can be heard plainly above the accompaniment. The second link is to the XML coding for the music and the third to Baring-Gould’s note on the song (The notes appear at the end of the book and have links to take you back to the song again).
This is a well thought-through piece of work that makes great use of digital technology to add value to the traditional book form. In the 1905 edition of Songs of the West the majority of the arrangements were by Cecil Sharp. Several of Henry Fleetwood Sheppard’s arrangements were retained from the earlier editions, as well as a few by Frederick Bussell. This gives us the opportunity, through the playback, to hear the approach of each of these three musicians – though a direct comparison of Sharp’s arrangements with those that Sheppard composed for the same song is not possible.
Well done to Project Gutenberg for this excellent piece of work. And thank you, Lewis, for drawing our attention to it.
Addition: Linda Cantoni wrote to me again after I posted this and I thought I would share her description of the process that they go through with you:
The ‘Songs of the West’ project was the brainchild of a Cornishman, Chris Curnow, who volunteers at Distributed Proofreaders, http://www.pgdp.net. He provided the image scans and OCR text. DP volunteers then proofread and formatted the text in several rounds “one page at a time” (part of our slogan). I’m one of a handful of music transcribers at DP who’s also qualified to “post-process” a project, i.e., finalize it by doing last checks, then creating the plaintext, HTML, and mobile e-book versions. So Chris asked me to take it on. I used Finale 25 and a midi keyboard to create the sound files. It took a couple of years to complete, but that was in part because “real life” got in the way at times and I had to take breaks.
We have produced some other large music projects, but because we don’t have a lot of volunteers who are capable of transcribing music, we haven’t done that many. You might be interested in the two volumes of D’Urfey’s Pills that we’ve done (Vol. 5 is at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/26679, and Vol. 6 is at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/33404) – even though the Rev. Baring-Gould thought D’Urfey’s work was, let us say, crass.
You mentioned the accompaniment. I have to say that I was absolutely delighted with the quality of the arrangements made by Baring-Gould’s co-authors. I’ve worked on quite a few 19th-Century books with songs, and all too often the accompaniment is unsatisfyingly simplistic or just not very good. These were a joy to transcribe.
And I thought that you might like to know about another small treasure on the Project Gutenberg website that I discovered while doing a search for Lucy Broadwood, for which Linda also did the music transcriptions. Have a look at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36308/36308-h/36308-h.htm
[Updated 27 Feb 2018]
Percy Grainger recordings online
Janet Topp Fargion has written from the British Library with exciting news about the debut of the folk song recordings made by Percy Grainger in the British Library’s ‘Sounds’ Archive as a result of a major project by BLSA staff member, Andrea Zarza.
We thought you might like to know that World & Traditional Music has just published a new collection of sound recordings of English folk song, made by composer Percy Grainger in England, between 1906 and 1908. You can read more about the collection in a guest blog post written by folklorist Steve Roud and listen to individual songs on Sounds.
The British Library is pleased to make available online around 350 English folk songs recorded by composer Percy Grainger in different regions of England between 1906 and 1909. Thanks to the generous support of the National Folk Music Fund, these sound recordings have been catalogued and indexed by librarian, researcher and folklorist Steve Roud, author of Folk Song in England (Faber & Faber, 2017). Roud has also married them up with Grainger’s transcriptions of the songs, where these exist, on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website, thanks to their digitisation of the Percy Grainger Manuscript Collection. Links have also been included on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website to corresponding sound recordings featured on Sounds. Listeners are thus able to hear the songs whilst following Grainger’s unique transcriptions of recordings by singers such as Joseph Taylor, Joseph Leaning, George Gouldthorpe, Charles Rosher, William Fishlock, Tom Roberts, Dean Robinson, and many more. All recordings have been catalogued to include Roud numbers (this number refers to songs listed in the online databases Folk Song Index and Broadside Index), Grainger’s Melody numbers, and the numerical references to the discs and wax cylinders these sound recordings existed on previously.
Three Workshops and a Concert
Not a new movie starring Hugh Grant. Julia Bishop has asked me to let you know about three free workshops on the Carpenter collection online, two in Scotland and one in London. The dates are:
- 3 March, Edinburgh – Finding Scottish Songs and Ballads Online, with Julia Bishop, Laura Smyth, and Chris Wright
- 4 March, Aberdeen – Finding Scottish Songs and Ballads Online, with Julia Bishop, Laura Smyth, and Janice Reavall
- 25 March, London – Finding Folk Music Online, with Julia Bishop, Laura Smyth, and Emily Askew
and the Concert, which is also free: 40,000 Miles in Quest of Tradition: A Celebration of Carpenter Folk Online, Tuesday 27 March, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Cecil Sharp House, London
For more details and for links to tickets go to Carpenter events 2018.
Broadside Day 2018
Before that we have the Broadside Day, which will be held at Cambridge University Library on Saturday 24 February 2018. The event is being hosted by the Rare Books department of Cambridge University who have the largest collection of 18th and 19th century broadsides in Britain. The papers to be presented will include:
- David Stenton – The Forth Valley Songster
- Oskar Cox Jensen – Never Look a Ballad-Singer in the Mouth
- Georgina Prineppi – From the Garden to the Street: Pleasure Garden Music and Broadsides in Eighteenth-Century London
- Jonathan Cooper – Children’s Chapbooks
- David Hopkin – Lacemakers, Ballads and Broadsides
- E. Wyn James – ‘The Shepherd’s World’: The Earliest Welsh Broadside Ballad
- Colin Bargery – Adventures in a Steamboat: A Broadside history of the impact of a new technology.
- David Atkinson – Street Literature in Petticoat Lane, 1740s–1760s
- Giles Bergel – The Stationers’ Company and the English Ballad Trade, 1550-1800
The running order and other details are now being finalized and will be available shortly. Tickets for the event can be purchased from the EFDSS website .
VWML Library Lectures
The New Year also sees a new series of Library Lectures organised by the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. They include:
Wednesday 17 January, 7.30pm–9pm
Dr Caroline Radcliffe – ‘They’ve done me, they’ve robbed me, but, thank God, I’m champion still’: Dan Leno, Clog Dancing and the Victorian Music Hall by Caroline Radcliffe
Wednesday 21 February, 7.30pm–9pm
On the Banks of the Green Willow: George Butterworth—Dancer, Folk Song Collector and Composer by Derek Schofield
Wednesday 21 March, 7.30pm–9pm
Dr Paul Cowdell – ‘I have believed in spirits from that day unto this’: The Ghostly Crew [Roud 1922], ghostlore and tradtional song.
Wednesday 18 April, 7.30pm–9pm
Martin Graebe – Sabine Baring-Gould and his Search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall.
More details and booking information can be found on the VWML website.
Locating Women in ‘The Folk’
Another event that you should be aware of is the symposium being organised by Sussex Traditions in association with Sussex and Brighton – Locating Women in ‘The Folk’, Perspectives on women’s contributions to folk song, folklore, and cultural traditions. It will take place on 9 June 2018 (venue to be confirmed). The publicity says:
‘Women have always been central to the study and practice of folklore, arts and cultural traditions – as tradition bearers, performers, authors, collectors, storytellers and scholars. However, their contribution hasn’t always received the recognition it deserves; this symposium aims to redress the balance. We are inviting 20-minute papers/presentations and A1 poster presentations on relevant topics, which may include:
• Singers, dancers, musicians, storytellers, and other performance roles
• Performance styles, repertoire and source
• Facilitators, revivals and teaching
• Contributions to scholarship
• Legacies and archives
• Gender relations in folk cultures
• Life narratives, autoethnographies, biographies, and oral histories
• Depictions of women as subject matter in song and story
• Portrayals of women, gender roles, and identity
• Perspectives on the future for women in ‘the folk’
We welcome applications from all levels within academia, as well as from independent researchers, writers and enthusiasts.
Please send proposals of 250 words, a short biography, and the mode of presentation (paper, presentation, poster) to email@example.com by January 7th 2018.
This conference is co-presented by Sussex Traditions, The Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research (University of Sussex), and The English Folk Dance & Song Society, and supported by The Centre for Memories, Narratives and Histories (Brighton University), and Sussex University’s Music Department.’
You can find more information on the Sussex Traditions website.
EFDSS Song Conference 2018
A very early notification for the next EFDSS Song Conference to be held on 9 – 11 November 2018. These dates are hot off the – er, well e-mail from Steve, actually – No further details of the event are available yet.
Previous news items of longer term interest have been archived – click to view the News Archive