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Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?

DigiTrad:
BARBARA ALLEN
BARBARA ALLEN (2)
BARBARA ALLEN (5)
BARBARA ELLEN (3)
BAWBEE ALLAN


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John Minear 01 Apr 05 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Ballyholme 01 Apr 05 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Apr 05 - 08:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Apr 05 - 11:29 PM
Boab 02 Apr 05 - 01:57 AM
Joe Offer 02 Apr 05 - 02:04 AM
Roberto 02 Apr 05 - 03:52 AM
John Minear 02 Apr 05 - 10:44 AM
GUEST 02 Apr 05 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Malcolm 02 Apr 05 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 03 Apr 05 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 03 Apr 05 - 08:30 AM
Boab 04 Apr 05 - 01:27 AM
Pamela R 22 Dec 16 - 03:54 PM
Pamela R 24 Dec 16 - 02:21 PM
meself 25 Dec 16 - 11:30 AM
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Subject: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: John Minear
Date: 01 Apr 05 - 04:37 PM

I have tried to look through the Barbara Allen threads and may well have missed the answer to my question here. If so, kindly point me in the right direction.

I am wondering if anyone knows where Sarah Makem's version of "Barbara Allen" comes from. I'm assuming that it is Irish. I have not found similar versions elsewhere, except those that probably can be traced back to her. In Bronson, I discovered that many of her verses, which are somewhat unique to this song, do show up scattered around in other places. Some from England and some from America. But is her's a uniquely Irish version? Is there some history behind it?

I don't have access to her recording or any liner notes on it. Perhaps someone can share what is available. Her version is available in the DT. Thanks. T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: GUEST,Ballyholme
Date: 01 Apr 05 - 07:56 PM

Here's what the late Sean O'Boyle had to say in the sleeve notes to Sarah's monumental Topic album.

Everyone knows the tragic story of young Jemmy Groves and Heard-Hearted Barbara Allen. One look through the list of texts and tunes given in Cecil Sharp's English Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians will show its widespread popularity. It is recorded in Shropshire Folklore (p 543), Folksongs of the Upper Thames (p 204), Folksongs from Somerset (no 22) and in Gavin Greig's Last Leaves (No. 32), in Mackenzies Ballads and Sea Songs of Nova Scotia (No. 9), in British Ballads from Maine, in Traditional Ballads of Virginia, and in Folksongs of the Kentucky Mountains, and elsewhere. In all, more than 200 variants of the ballad are known from printed sources and and recordings. This version from Keady, Co. Armagh is as good as any I have heard, and it differs from all of them in one remarkable respect. Most versions place the tragedy
"in the merry month of May when the green buds they are swelling",
but Sarah's song has a more sombre and appropriate timing:
"Michael's Mass (Michaelmas) day being in the year,
When the green leaves they are falling,
When young Jemmy Grove from the North Countrie,
Fell in love with Barbara Allen."

The melody is in the Re Mode.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Apr 05 - 08:22 PM

Hi, Turtle.

Sarah Makem lived in Keady, so the observation that her song is from there doesn't say much.

The first stanza is close to that sung by Ewan MacColl, which he may have picked up partly from one of his parents and partly from Greig.
Bronson may not include MacColl's lyrics if they are a collation, or his name if the tune is from Greig. His first stanza as I recall it goes,

It fell upon the Martimas time,
When the green leaves they were fa'in',
That Sir John Graeme o' the North Countree
Fell in love wi' Bawbee Allen.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Apr 05 - 11:29 PM

It was in and about the *Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Graham in the west countrie
Fell in love with Barbara Allen.
*September 11. Michaelmas is September 29.

Close to the verses quoted above; from Johnson, 1790 (taken from Bronson, Group B, 40, tune from Oswald, 1740).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Boab
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 01:57 AM

Where "Barbara Allen" originated is something long lost in the mists of time. It is undeniably a very old song. Samuel Pepys the English diarist mentions having heard it sung in Scotland in the sixteenth century. A version sung by Nic Jones came closest to any I've heard to that sung in Scotland and the North.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 02:04 AM

Can somebody post the lyrics Sarah uses?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Roberto
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 03:52 AM

Barbara Allen
Sarah Makem, on It fell on a day, a bonny summer day, Ballads, Topic, The Voice of the People, Volume 17, TSCD 667; Barbara Allen recorded 1967 and first released on Topic 12T182

Michaelmas day being in the year
When the green leaves they were falling
When young Jimmy Grove from the north country
Fell in love with Barbara Allen

He sent his servants out one day
To see if she was coming -
One word from you will bring me to
If you be Barbara Allen

Get up,get up", her mama said
Get up and go and see him -
Oh mama dear, do you not mind the time
That you told me how to slight him?

Get up,get up", her father said
Get up and go and see him -
Oh father dear, do you not mind the time
That you told me how to shun him?

Slowly, slowly she got up
And slowly she put on her
And slowly went to his bedside
And slowly looked upon him

You're lying low, young man - she said
And almost near a-dying -
One word from you will bring me to
If you be Barbara Allen

One word from me you never will get
Nor any young man breathing
For the better of me you never will be
If your heart's blood was a-spilling

Look at my bedfoot - he said
And there you'll find them lying
Bloody sheets and bloody shirts
I sweat for Barbara Allen

Look at my bedhead - he said
And there you'll find it ticking
My gold watch and my gold chain
I bestow to Barbara Allen

As she went over her father's green
She heard the dead-bell ringing
And every chap the dead-bell gave
It was woe to Barbara Allen.

As she went over her father's hall
She saw the corpse a-coming -
Lay down,lay down,old weary corpse
Till I get looking upon him

They lifted the lid up off the corpse.
She bursted out with laughing.
And all his wearied friends around cried:
Hard-hearted Barbara Allen

As she went into her father's house -
Make my bed long and narrow
For the dead-bell did ring for my true-love today
It will ring for me tomorrow

Out of one grave there grew a red rose
And out of the other a briar
But they both twisted into a true-lover's knot
And there remain forever.


On another thread, I had asked for a staff notation or abc of the tune sung by Sarah Makem, but couldn't get it. Anyone can help? Thanks. R


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: John Minear
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 10:44 AM

Thanks to everyone for your help. I'm not sure that Sarah Makem's version is in the DT, but Roberto had posted it in this thread:
http://www.mudcat.org/Detail.CFM?messages__Message_ID=956755.

Let me clarify before we head off into the Barbara Allen Wilderness, that I'm not seeking the origins of the whole tradition or the song itself, but only precedents to Sarah Makem's version, Irish or otherwise.

The "BARBARA ALLEN 5" in the DT by Johnny Moynihan on the album "Selected Songs, Reels, and Jigs" by DeDanaan, is surely taken from Sarah Makem. I haven't heard this either so I don't know if the tune is the same.   T.O.M.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 11:20 AM

Yes, Johnny Moynihan uses the same tune as Sarah Makem's version of Barbara Allen. R


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: GUEST,Malcolm
Date: 02 Apr 05 - 07:40 PM

Samuel Pepys didn't hear the song in Scotland, as I've mentioned before when somebody (might have been Boab that time, too) said that he had. He heard it in London, and described it as a "pretty Scotch song". People have often assumed that that means it was Scottish; but at that time, as William Chappell pointed out long ago, the term "Scotch" had replaced the earlier "Northern" as an indicator, not of origin, but of subject and/or style for new broadside and stage songs. We don't know if it started out in Scotland or England, but it was probably quite new when Pepys heard it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 08:28 AM

Someday I hope to be able to afford all the great traditional recordings, but i the meantime---

Please someone post the abc version of the Makem / Moynihan tune?

This speaks to the topic I've raised in a new thread, "Needed: 'A 'Digitrad' of Recordings." I'll try to make a blue clicky:

thread.cfm?threadid=79878&messages=1


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 03 Apr 05 - 08:30 AM

Just in case anyone has trouble with the link above, here is the URL to the "Needed: a 'Digitrad' of Recordings" thread:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=79878&messages=1


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Boab
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 01:27 AM

I will defer to your probably-well-researched knowledge Malcolm!
And, yes--I did comment in similar vein in the past. I believe I said the "origin of the song is lost in the mists of time". I can make no claim to a Scottish origin.
Boab


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Pamela R
Date: 22 Dec 16 - 03:54 PM

to revive an old thread - I am trying to find the source and age of the tune (or tune family) of Barbara Allen such as sung by these singers:

John Ban Byrne of Malinbeg, Co Donegal
recorded in 1968
published in "Early Ballads in Ireland (Disc 1)"
released by An Góilin Singers Club
lyrics begin
"Being about a-Christmas time, when green leaves they were falling"

Sara Makem of Keady, Co Armagh,
recorded 1967
published in "The Heart is True" released on Topic Records
published in "As I Roved Out" released on MT Records
lyrics begin
"Michaelmas day being in the year, When the green leaves they were falling, "

In an earlier thread Frank Staplin posted:
"Close to the verses quoted above; from Johnson, 1790 (taken from Bronson, Group B, 40, tune from Oswald, 1740)."
I know what reference is meant by Bronson but not familiar with references Johnson, 1790 or Oswald, 1740, can anyone clarify?

Is this tune known to be used for any other ballad texts?

Thanks,
Pamela


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: Pamela R
Date: 24 Dec 16 - 02:21 PM

To update this query: Although nobody responded on Mudcat I did hear back from several folks from the Cecil Sharp House Ballad Discussion Group, who concur that the Bronson citation above does NOT correspond to the tune in question, nor is any other Bronson tune the same as Sarah Makem's.

I have three oral sources for this tune, all from Northern Ireland. The two I mentioned above, and also Nielé Mhiéi Hiúdái from Ranafast, Donegal. I don't have a recording of her, but her version was passed on to me by Dáithí Sproule, and the same version was also recorded by her niece Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.

Mary Humphreys pointed out to me a Wikipedia entry stating that Tríona's aunt Nielé contributed almost 300 folk songs to the National Folklore Collection in University College Dublin! After the holidays I'll contact them to find out if her version of Barbra Allen is in their collection.

In summary, either nobody has investigated the origin and history of this lovely tune in a scholarly way, or else their work is quite hard to find.

Best to all,
Pamela


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sarah Makem's 'Barbara Allan'?
From: meself
Date: 25 Dec 16 - 11:30 AM

Someone above, eleven or twelve years ago, said Pepys heard the song in the 'sixteenth century' - in fact, Pepys was not born until the seventeenth century (1601-1680).


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