The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #103818   Message #2119437
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
05-Aug-07 - 12:06 AM
Thread Name: Review: Marrowbones (EFDSS Songbook reissue)
Subject: RE: Review: Marrowbones (EFDSS Songbook reissue)
You definitely need the new edition, Joe. I suppose I had better do the advert now. Let's start with the first paragraph of the publisher's blurb from the back cover.

'First published in 1965, Marrow Bones drew on the extensive and largely unpublished folk song collections made by Henry and Robert Hammond and Dr George Gardiner between 1904 and 1909, chiefly in Dorset and Hampshire, and which are held in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House in London. It was an enormous influence on the burgeoning folk song revival and was followed by three more volumes of selections from the MSS. Long out of print, it is much sought after. This revised and corrected edition includes extensive new background notes and commentary.'

The new edition isn't a reprint but a corrected and extensively augmented revision, including biographical essays on the collectors and on Frank Purslow, the original editor. The original notes on the songs were actually roughs not intended for publication; Frank never quite forgave Peter Kennedy for putting them in without his knowledge, and was very clear that they shouldn't be re-published. Steve Gardham and I have prepared entirely fresh commentaries —64 large pages as opposed to the original 10 small ones— containing a lot of background information that you won't find elsewhere, plus details of the sources of collated texts and some additional material from the MSS.

The layout is larger, clearer and far more legible than the original, and the music notation is expertly re-set by Julian Elloway, incorporating corrections and —in some cases— additional variations from the MSS. Steve and I spent a couple of weeks each at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library checking the source material; and, of course, a lot more time subsequently analysing it.

Apart from the songs and information relating to them, the first (revised) book concentrates on background: introductory matter and bibliographies, largely. The second will concentrate instead on the singers. We have omitted the original illustrations and the suggested guitar chords; both, whatever their merits, were very much 'period pieces' and the songs are best presented now unadorned so that singers can interpret them for themselves according to their own aesthetic.

These changes, incidentally, were made with Frank's agreement. I've said more about that, and my consultations with him, in the 'obit' thread (see above).

Finally, there will be a set of webpages devoted to cumulative additions and corrections, and to supplementary material (chiefly hard-to-find early texts) for which there wasn't room in the book: including, for example, two late 18th century broadside texts of Polly Vaughan, one of which is (so far) the earliest known print example of that song, and which had escaped the attention of scholars until now. The initial pages are already made, and will be available at the EFDSS website as soon as the appropriate technical arrangements have been finalised. Similar pages for Classic English Folk Songs can be seen at; these too will be transferred to EFDSS once I've had time to recast them.

Marrow Bones can be bought directly from EFDSS via their online shop at Carriage charges quoted apply to the UK only; for delivery to the rest of the world, contact details can be found via the 'How to shop' link.