News items of interest to TSF members 


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.

Andrea says:

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


Next TSF meeting
The Spring 2018 meeting of the Traditional Song Forum will take place at Cecil Sharp House, London on 28 April. We are now working on the programme for the day and it has been suggested that the theme for the afternoon’s ‘Forum Focus’ session should be ‘Publication’. When TSF was formed it was being suggested that the hard copy book would disappear in the face of competition from various electronic formats. This has not happened, as the number of books about traditional song published in the last year demonstrates. But the processes of writing, printing, publishing, and buying books has changed quite dramatically. There are also synergies emerging where value is added to books by additional information accessed via the internet. We would welcome offers of short talks on any aspect of publication of songs to be given at the meeting. Send your ideas to Martin Graebe.

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 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.

Peter Wood’s papers
Peter Wood has written to offer access to soft copies of some of his papers. He says:
I have given a number of talks in recent years, including some at TSF meetings, and have thought of giving them a wider audience. They’ve been increasingly dependent on sound files, so written media are not appropriate. Anyway, I’ve added narration to some of them, and made adjustments, hoping to have them run on my website. I’ve not managed that, but they are now “stand alone” presentations as a single-file powerpoint “show”. The appearance of the “We transfer” method of transferring large files rapidly via email has removed this problem. Hence anybody interested simply has to email me at giving me their email address, telling me which talks they want, and I’ll send them by “We Transfer”. There is no charge, and I’d welcome comments about the content and technical aspects (hoping there are none of the latter, but I’ve said that so many times!
The topics currently available are:
Northeast Songs. An introduction to the subject  with the emphasis on the uniqueness of local songs, both the older, mainly rural songs and the composed songs of the nineteenth century Newcastle entertainers such as Corvan and Wilson.
The Napoleonic Ballads. A detailed analysis of the seven or so songs given this soubriquet. I gave this talk at Whitby in 2014, and have used the recording of the event as narration files, including some very useful contributions by noted members of the audience.
Nelson Songs. Despite Admiral Nelson being regarded as such a hero by the establishment, very few songs about him or Trafalgar have been found in oral tradition. The talk analyses some of the reasons.
The tunes of John Barleycorn. Based on a talk given at the conference on tunes at Cecil Sharp House in October 2017. This very popular song has no less then forty-odd different tunes found in oral tradition, which the talk attempts to analyse. Although there will be a book published of some of the fascinating talks give over the two days, mine would not have worked in print. I’d be interested to see what people think of the show. If you lose this epistle, the talks will soon be available via my website

One caveat: the sounds won’t work if you have a version of PowerPoint from before 2010.
I hope to hear from you
Peter Wood
Folk Song Websites
One of my jobs for the New Year is to check and update the various websites containing information related to traditional song – see If you are aware of any websites that should be on this list but which don’t currently appear please let me know.


Women’s Revolutions Per Minute

Hilary Friend has written to tell us about her work with WRPM.

Dear Friends

I thought you would like to  know that Women’s Revolutions Per Minute (WRPM) was featured in Music Matters,  a magazine programme on BBC Radio 3,  on Saturday October 28th at 12.15pm.

’40 years of WRPM, a unique collection of music performed, composed and produced by women’.   [BBC Radio 3 Schedule].

The BBC Radio 3 production schedule moves at a hectic pace. The feature was proposed  first only two weeks ago by Edwina Wolstencroft  Radio 3 Editor and Diversity Lead. She has responsibility for Radio 3 International Women’s Day and related programming. I met her at the recent international conference at Bangor University on Women’s Work in Music Presenter Tom Service and researcher Nancy Bennie visited the WRPM Collection and Archive at Goldsmiths and there have been some follow up interviews. It is be a short segment made up of different voices and music. It is 40 years since WRPM began in December 1977, the hook for the programme! Caroline Hutton and I deposited the WRPM Collection and Archive at Goldsmiths Library Special Collections in 2012 and I’m a Visiting Research Fellow there.  There are over 1500 recordings plus the archive of papers, correspondence and ephemera newly catalogued. It is much used by students and open to the public.   Also 2001-05 is archived on the site. Do let me know if you get the chance to listen and I’ll keep you posted with any further plans. If you have ideas about what next please send them! Do visit WRPM . Contact numbers on the Goldsmiths website or  contact me: or
           All best wishes

                       Hilary Friend

24 October 2017


You can listen to the programme here – the WRPM segment is at 37 minutes



Traditional Song Forum members have been busy publishing new books, so here is a round-up.

Faber has published Steve Roud’s mammoth (764 page) Folk Song in England – go to the Faber website for details. Best deal is at the Book Depository (an Amazon subsidiary) where you can get free postage to anywhere in the World. 

While the ink on that was still drying, Steve Roud, in partnership with David Atkinson, has also had another book published by Cambridge ScholarsStreet Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century. This is rather more expensive at £64.99 (and is the same on Amazon). However you can get a 20% discount on the publisher’s website if you use the code ‘street20’.

Steve Roud also provided a Foreword for my own book As I Walked Out, Sabine Baring-Gould and the search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall and Julia Bishop provided an authoritative appendix on the music of Baring-Gould’s collection. The book is published by Signal Books and you can get this from the Book Depository for £14.67 (including postage to anywhere in the world). I can’t compete with the postage elsewhere, but if you write to me [martin.graebe(at)] I can send you a copy for £14.60.

Finally, Peter Wood’s book Johnny Handle, Life and Soul is now available from him – go to his website where you can buy the book for £14.50 (including postage in the UK).


TSF Meeting, Sheffield 16 September 2017

The TSF meeting held in Sheffield was enjoyed by all and a report on the meeting will be circulated shortly and a copy placed here. We had a preview of the latest version of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Digital Archive which will be going live in the next few weeks. This is a major revision of the current website, which takes into account feedback from users over the last few years. For the first time the archive will include sound files from the Ken Stubbs and James Madison Carpenter collections as well as their manuscript material. Congratulations to all involved and we will look forward to the relaunch, which will take place shortly. Also at the meeting, Ian Russell delivered the second Roy Palmer Lecture. His topic was Why Study Traditional Song/Singing? A Personal Quest for Meaning and it proved to be a fascinating description of the journey that Ian has made, following traditional songs and singers and included many interesting anecdotes about the people he met along the way. 

And there was cake – to celebrate 20 years of the Traditional Song Forum (thank you, Shan). The afternoon finished with some short presentations, each designed to help us form our plans for the next twenty years of TSF.


Future Meetings

The next TSF meeting will be a special meeting Songs in Tradition and Print, to be held in Sheffield, on 25 November 2017. For more details and to book tickets go to Songs in Tradition and Print


Booking for meetings

TSF members will, in future, be requested to sign up for meetings through the Eventbrite system. This will make it much easier for the people organising meetings to estimate how many will be attending and plan accordingly. There will be no charge for ‘normal’ TSF meetings, but special events such as ‘Songs in Tradition and Print’ will have a cost of admission.



TSF Meeting in Lewes, 25 March 2017

With apologies for their lateness, here are the notes of the meeting in Lewes held in March. 


TSF Membership Secretary

At the Liverpool meeting it was agreed that we would appoint Shan Graebe as the TSF Membership Secretary. She has now started work and any queries about membership or changes of details should be directed to her – shan, She will be writing to you in the near future. (Added 2-05-17)


TSF in Liverpool 19 November 2016

Notes from the Liverpool meeting can be seen here (Corrected 17-08-17)


Whalsay’s Heritage of Songs

A wonderful website that has been put together by Peter Cooke. Whalsay is a small island, lying a few miles East of the Shetland mainland and has a distinct culture. There songs from a number of singers with both texts and recordings and photos and details of the singers. A very enjoyable site to browse – go here. (Added 3-4-16)


Song Resources on the Web – fully revised

We issued the first list of Internet resources back in 2002 and it has now been fully checked and reissued – you can see it here. Some sites have disappeared. Some new ones have emerged. Some have improved. Some (including some from organisations that ought to know better) have actually got worse. Have a browse – you will, I hope find something new to delight you.    (Added 14-1-16)


News Archive

Previous news items of longer term interest have been archived – click to view the News Archive


Updated 16 October 2017