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Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied

DigiTrad:
DERWENTWATER'S FAREWELL


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Bronson's Child 208 (3)
Help: hopeful for Lord Ellenwater info(Child #208) (6)
Lyr Req: Derwentwater's Farewell (from The Corries (4)


Phil Edwards 23 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Working Radish 24 Oct 08 - 05:15 AM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Oct 08 - 11:40 AM
treewind 24 Oct 08 - 11:43 AM
Phil Edwards 24 Oct 08 - 12:41 PM
Marje 24 Oct 08 - 01:01 PM
M.Ted 24 Oct 08 - 01:09 PM
M.Ted 24 Oct 08 - 01:10 PM
Brian Peters 24 Oct 08 - 01:36 PM
Phil Edwards 24 Oct 08 - 02:31 PM
GUEST 24 Oct 08 - 02:52 PM
Brian Peters 24 Oct 08 - 03:07 PM
Brian Peters 24 Oct 08 - 03:09 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Oct 08 - 05:55 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Oct 08 - 06:17 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Nov 08 - 06:18 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Nov 08 - 05:40 PM
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Subject: Lord Allenwater
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM

Short version: I'm wondering how to arrange this song for unaccompanied voice - whether the tune needs tweaking, and if so how.

Long version: you know how you can be listening to an album fairly inattentively, just letting it wash over you, when a song suddenly jumps out and grabs your attention? A friend told me he was doing the washing up when he heard Blonde on blonde for the first time. By the second verse of Visions of Johanna he wasn't washing up any more. I've had similar experiences with the Bonny Bunch of Roses on Nic Jones, and Ten Thousand Miles on The Noah's Ark Trap.

On Shirley & Dolly Collins's For as many as will, Lord Allenwater did it for me; when I'd heard it once I had to hear it again, & after I'd heard it a few times I had to learn it & work it up. But the tune seems to lose a lot when it loses the organ and the brass; the top-line melody on its own just goes up and comes down again, to finish on the same low D it starts on. After several verses it gets a bit boring, frankly - it's just too plain & neat. I've tried adding a repeat on alternate verses, which varies the melody of the fourth line to finish back up on the tonic G, but that doesn't help much - if anything, it makes it even neater.

Has anyone heard this song done unaccompanied? If so, what did the tune sound like? Here's what I've got (complete with my added fifth line):

X: 1
T:Lord Allenwater
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:G
zD|G2G2GAB2|AGE2D3G|ABcAd2cB|
A4z2FG|ABcAd2de|dcA2G2FG|
A2B2AGE2|D4z2FG|A2B2AGEF|G4z2||

All suggestions welcome!


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 05:15 AM

If you're not au fait with ABC, incidentally, you can just copy that lot, paste it into the box here and hit 'submit'.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 11:40 AM

I haven't heard the recording, but judging by your abc Shirley used the tune that Sarah Ann Goodyear of Axford sang for George Gardiner and Charles Gamblin (as 'Lord Ellenwater') in August 1907. Vaughan Williams re-noted it in January 1909. On an obscure website I found what appears to be a 'cover' of Shirley and Dolly's arrangement; if that is what it is, then Shirley didn't use Mrs Goodyear's text (which was incomplete; she had forgotten some lines), but a slightly modified form of a rather longer one from Sussex that, as it happens, I posted in another discussion here some years ago: Help: hopeful for Lord Ellenwater info.

I can't say I like your proposed ending; it quite spoils the dropped close, which as Bronson pointed out gives a mixolydian feel to what is otherwise a major tune. Here is what Mrs Goodyear sang, as noted by RVW:

X:1
T:Lord Ellenwater
S:Mrs Sarah Ann Goodyear, Axford, Hampshire. August 1907 & January 1909.
N:Tune noted by Charles Gamblin and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
N:Text noted by Dr George Gardiner.
N:Variations in bars 3 and 6 omitted.
B:Journal of the Folk-Song Society, III (13) 1909, 270-1.
L:1/8
Q:1/4=100
M:4/4
K:G
D | G3 F G2 B2 | AG E2 D2 G2 | AB cA d2 cB | A4 z2 G2|
w:The king he wrote a long_ let-ter And sealed_ it_ up with_ gold And
A B (cA) d2 e2 |d B (AF) G2 F G | A3 B (AG) (E^C) |D4 z2 z |]
w:sent it un-*to Lord El-len-wa-*ter For to read it if_ he_ could.

It may be that all you need to do in order to provide a suitable variation for the last line is to restore Mrs Goodyear's sharpened C in the penultimate bar.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: treewind
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 11:43 AM

Looking at the tune I'd guess that they add some instrumental bits between the verses to break the monotony - as you can't do that I'd suggest singing it slower. That might defuse the repetitiveness, but as I haven't heard Shirley and Dolly's Version, I may be talking rubbish - it's just a wild guess.

Whatever you do, forget Shirley's version and get used to singing it by yourself. Concentrate on telling the story, and the musical arrangement will happen by itself, and it'll be all yours.

Incidentally, Ralph Vaughan Williams collected a "Lord Ellenwater" in Cambridgeshire with a totally different tune.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 12:41 PM

I can't say I like your proposed ending; it quite spoils the dropped close, which as Bronson pointed out gives a mixolydian feel to what is otherwise a major tune.

I'm not crazy about it either! The effect of resharping the seventh in a Mixolydian tune is very much what I was going for, but in this case I don't much like what it does to the tune.

Many thanks for posting the Goodyear tune. That sharpened C is interesting, but I don't think it's prominent enough for taking it off to make much difference.

Anahata - thanks, I'm sure that's good advice. The idea of slowing it down is interesting, not least because it's counter-intuitive!


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied
From: Marje
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 01:01 PM

I think it's important to remember that a ballad is a story, and often the ballad melodies are very simple, as they're primarily a method of carrying the story. Too much orchestration can detract from the story and weaken effect of the song.
This is a strong but simple tune (I prefer it without the extra last line) so I don't think it needs much "arrangement" to make it interesting. If you concentrate on the words, as Anahata says, it shouldn't get monotonous, and this will also help you find the right speed, which will probably be quite close to the speed of natural speech.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: M.Ted
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 01:09 PM

One must remember that any number of musical devices, from ornaments and flourishes, pauses and changes in tempo, irregularities in meter, dynamic variations, and other such things as an unaccompanied singer might use, are set aside when playing with musical accompaniment. You have to reintroduce these things if you mean to back-construct an unaccompanied song from an accompanied one.

You also must remember that the ballad singer is a storyteller, and that the real interest is in the drama of the narrative. Every singer has their own way of pacing the events and coloring the details so that the audience is engaged. Even the melody is simply a device for focussing on the flow of the story line.

No matter which melody you use, the most important thing is to understand the story.
You have to start with basic questions--what happens in the story? What emotions do I want the audience to experience? What do I want them to take away?

Then you move on to pragmatics--how do I get and keep their attention? And then to
how can I convey the story elements do that they lead my audience my desired conclusion?

If this sounds like a lot of trouble just to sing a song, keep in mind that the narrative ballad is the oldest form of theatre that we have-everything else is based on it, and everything comes back to it.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: M.Ted
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 01:10 PM

Sorry, cross-posted.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 01:36 PM

The tune doesn't do anything wildly out of the ordinary, but it's classic ballad tune nonetheless, and I see nothing wrong with it. Like Anahata, I think you've just got Shirley and Dolly's version lodged in your mind as an ideal, and you need to get away from it. If you're singing it unaccompanied, you've certainly got the opportunity to vary pace and melody, which will give it a new dimension.

I endorse everything Marje and M. Ted say about the need to tell the story. But what story are you telling? Is it the one where the severed head pipes up with a denial of all charges in the last line? I have to say I find this ending a bit trite, and I wonder at what point it was added to the ballad (it doesn't appear to be in Child's versions). But Mrs. Goodyear of Axford sang RVW a version in which the headless corpse "jumped three times upon his legs", so there seems to be an English strand of the ballad involving some kind of Headless Chicken routine.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 02:31 PM

The talking head is a dramatic ending, which I quite like. I might try using a bit of the Child version which ends with

"He laid his head upon the block
And word spoke never more"

- which is probably more realistic.

Most of the Child versions cut off, if you'll pardon the expression, before the execution. This version of the last verse is particularly tantalising:

He laid his head upon the block,
The axe was sharp and strong,


And? And?

I'm intrigued by the headless-chicken version - is it online anywhere?


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 02:52 PM

Shirley Collins has recorded this several times. There's also a version on CD4 of her boxed set Within Sound accompanied by Julie Carter & Jim Younger which has a different tune.

There's a recent recording on Fledg'ling done by the Blue Blokes 3, a trio who include Ian Anderson (not the Jethro Tull one, the English Country Blues Band one). Apparently one of Shirley's versions is the one that Vaughan Williams collected from Ian's great grandmother E. A. Stears in Horsham, Sussex. It's quite different again, as you might expect.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 03:07 PM

>> The talking head is a dramatic ending, which I quite like. I might try using a bit of the Child version which ends with

"He laid his head upon the block
And word spoke never more" <<

I think that's what I would do - but don't let me put you off the talking head if you like it. The whole point of ballads is to sing it the way it means most to you.

>> He laid his head upon the block,
The axe was sharp and strong, <<

Yes, I laughed at that cliffhanger too.
I just found 'Headless Chicken' when I checked versions in Bronson - I've only just realised it's the one Malcolm gave the abc for, above.

Lyric:

The king he wrote a long letter
And sealed it up with gold
And sent it unto Lord Ellenwater
For to read it if he could

The firs three lines Lord Ellenwater read
It made his heart to revive
And the next three lines Lord Ellenwater read
The tears fell from his eyes

He called for his stable groom
To saddle his milk-white steed
That up to London I might go
For I'm sure there was never more need

He put one foot all in his stirrup
Another across his steed
Three drops of blood fell from his nose
As he mounted his milk-white steed

"That token's enough," Lord Ellenwater said
"That I never more shall return"
.    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .

"Here to you, my gay lady
Which is my wedded wife
.    .    .   an estate
To maintain you all the days of your life

"Here is fifty thousand pounds in one pocket
To be given away to the poor
Fifty thousand in the other pocket
Shall be strewed from door to door"

There stands the old grim man
With the shining axe all in his hand
Saying, "Come you along here, Lord Ellenwater
For your life is at my command"

The people all amazed stood
And well enough they may
For he jumped three times upon his legs
After they had cut off his head.

Of course, you could collate the two versions so that the head was chatting away while the rest of him jumped up and down. Or, with a bit of ballad-restorers license, you could have the head diddling some mouth music while the legs danced a merry jig. What a show that would make!


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 03:09 PM

>> Apparently one of Shirley's versions is the one that Vaughan Williams collected from Ian's great grandmother E. A. Stears in Horsham, Sussex. It's quite different again, as you might expect. <<

So that makes Ian a traditional singer, then....


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 05:55 PM

I think part of what wasn't working for me was the regularity of the tune as Shirley Collins sang it (which is part of what makes it work so well with Dolly C.'s accompaniment) - and in particular all the times one syllable is split into two quavers, so that
It stru- ck hi- m with sur- prise
effectively comes out as nine syllables.

Slightly simplified version that I'm currently working on:

X:3
T:Lord Allenwater
M:4/4
Q:1/4=100
L:1/4
K:G
z/D/|GGGB|A/G/ED3/2G/|Acdc/B/|
A2z3/2G/|Acdd|d/c/AG3/2A/|
ABAG/E/|D2z/|

I've also managed to track down the Within sound version - totally different! There's a world of music out there.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompanied
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 06:17 PM

Use the force, Pip - use the force!


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Nov 08 - 06:18 PM

Well, I've used Child, and I've used Patti Reid's Lord Derwentwater (thanks, Martin), and I've used a fairly loose 6/8 instead of the nailed-down 4/4 of S&D Collins's version. Don't know about no force or nothin'.

More to the point, I've taken Anahata's advice & just lived with the song for a while - the change of time signature just wanted to happen after I'd sung it ten or fifteen times, and of course the words have shuffled around a bit. I feel like I'm getting to grips with it now. Thanks all - I'll stick it on my Myspace page, if I ever get round to getting one.


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Subject: RE: Lord Allenwater - how to arrange for unaccompa
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 05:40 PM

Out of interest, I ended up with something a bit like this (gracenotes and some note lengths are very approximate).

X:4
T:Lord Allenwater
M:6/8
Q:1/4=90
L:1/8
K:G
z2D|G2G/G/ GA3/2B/|AGED2G|A/B3/2cd{ed}cB|
A3z3|A3/2B/cdde|dBAG{AG}FG|
A2B/A/GE2|D2z||

Only 14 verses, and it seemed to go OK (nobody walked out, anyway). Someone (Les of Chorlton, more specifically) commented that it sounded a lot like Peggy and the Soldier. I have to confess I don't know the song - can anyone point me to an ABC?


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