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Song Nationality?

Mr Happy 05 Apr 09 - 09:47 AM
Dave Hanson 05 Apr 09 - 09:57 AM
Declan 05 Apr 09 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Gerry 05 Apr 09 - 07:14 PM
Doug Chadwick 06 Apr 09 - 01:56 AM
Gurney 07 Apr 09 - 01:23 AM
Dave Hanson 07 Apr 09 - 01:57 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 07 Apr 09 - 07:42 AM
Terry McDonald 07 Apr 09 - 08:49 AM
Jack Campin 07 Apr 09 - 10:07 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 09 - 08:19 AM
Mooh 11 Sep 09 - 08:29 AM
Leadfingers 11 Sep 09 - 08:47 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 09 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Sep 09 - 09:28 AM
Dave Hanson 11 Sep 09 - 09:56 AM
masato sakurai 11 Sep 09 - 09:59 AM
artbrooks 11 Sep 09 - 10:07 AM
George Papavgeris 11 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM
Santa 11 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 09 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 11 Sep 09 - 11:12 AM
Mr Happy 11 Sep 09 - 11:18 AM
Marje 11 Sep 09 - 12:16 PM
Mr Happy 10 Nov 09 - 09:29 AM
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Subject: Song Nationality?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 09:47 AM

I'm pondering what gives a song [or tune] it's nationality.

Lots've folk fests I go each season have events billed as 'Irish session', 'English session' etc but I often hear other musics played which haven't originated in those nations.

A well known example is 'Clare to here' [R. McTell] often assumed to be an Irish song.

Its a Irish setting, but McTell is English, so what's the song's nationality?


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 09:57 AM

It's often described as the best Irish song written by an Englishman but then so is ' Song For Ireland ' by Phil and June Colclough.

Caliope House, a jig written by an Englishman, Dave Richardson, was assumed to be traditional Irish and as such was included in the show ' Riverdance ' until they discovered they had to pay royalties on it and dropped it, but it still sounds like an Irish tune, I think it's a matter of performance.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Declan
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 12:43 PM

Songs don't have nationalities. They have origins and those who originated them deserve the credit for them. Once they are let out into the world they develop in their own way through what is generally known as the folk process. In my opinion those who worry about the 'nationality' of songs have little to be worried about. Just enjoy them.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:14 PM

Melbourne band Vardos refer to Monti's Csardas as the best Hungarian csardas ever written by an Italian.

I suppose Aragon Mill (a.k.a. Belfast Mill) is the best traditional Irish song ever written by an American.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 01:56 AM

Any song, no matter from where it originates, will become Irish in many people's minds if sung often enough. Witness "Dirty Old Town" - written about Salford but often quoted as being about Dublin.

I made the mistake of accepting without question that the tune "Crested Hens" was inspired by an Irish brewey when, in fact, it is a French dance tune. A little bit of effort on my part would have discovered that but I passed on the misinformation, nevertheless.

DC


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Gurney
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:23 AM

'Clare to Here' was written after a wry comment by an Irish emigree in England, according to the sleeve notes.

'The Curragh of Kildare' was written by a Scotswoman whose man was stationed there, in the British Army, or so I've been told.

'40 Shades of Green' was written by a touring American, I believe.

All Irish songs, because only the Irish sing them. I've noticed that almost anything that is sung in an Irish accent sounds Irish.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:57 AM

Johnny Cash wrote ' Forty Shades of Green '

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 07:42 AM

I seem to recall that the "Bundling song" was written about the Welsh by and Englishman but is usually thought of as about the Irish.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 08:49 AM

Graham Pratt wrote a song about the (alleged?) Welsh practice of letting a young, unmarried couple spend time together 'tied up in a sack' but it's not the Bundling Song that's in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 10:07 AM

Dave Richardson (who wrote Calliope House) is Scottish and lives in Edinburgh. The tune sounds to me like a generic modern jig that could be from anywhere in the British Isles or maybe Canada.

There are politically nationalist motivations behind a lot of this. Claims by people in the Irish music scene for an Irish origin of innumerable tunes that started life elsewhere are often motivated by a fairly unpleasant kind of jingoism.

But for all-out bottled-in-bond gibbering paranoia, nothing I've seen comes near the arguments you get on YouTube over the national origin of the song "Sari Gelin". It's a Romeo-and-Juliet tragic love story between a Turk and an Armenian, probably written somewhere around Erzurum where Turks and Armenians lived side by side for centuries. There have been versions of it in both Turkish and Armenian as far back as anybody can trace it, and the whole point of the thing is anti-nationalistic. But every time somebody uploads a version of it, you get screaming multilingual arguments using every obscenity invented since the time of Alexander the Great with Turks, Armenians and Azeris all claiming "ownership" of it.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:19 AM

......& then you sometimes have 'borrowings' from other places, of melodies, themes, translations of lyrics etc.

Some that spring to mind are Roll out the barrel, of Czech origin

The Carnival is over, Russian

Michael Turners Waltz, from Mozart,an Austrian, who borrowed the theme from German folk dances


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Mooh
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:29 AM

How about St, Anne's Reel? (Where's that thread?) Claimed by players as just about anything. Quebec, Scotland, Ireland, bluegrass, old time. Players of tunes aren't necessarily authorities or musicologists. Once a tune has traveled over time and place, it gets adopted and changed in subtle (or not so subtle) ways.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:47 AM

Look at 'Margarets Waltz'- Collected in Canada by Ali Bain , who played it to Pat Shaw woo said " Oh Yes ! I wrote that ten years ago!"


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:50 AM

Aly Bain = A Libyan!


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:28 AM

It is good to get over the sixth-grader's view of the world. When I was in the sixth grade (11 or 12 years old), we studied world geography. We learned that Frenchmen live in France and speak French. Germans live in Germany and speak German. It was all very tidy.

We didn't learn that many Africans communicate with other Africans in French. We didn't learn that there was a German-speaking area of Russia. We didn't learn that languages blend near borders.

So if a person in Russia writes a song in German, is it Russian or German? If a composer has a French mother and a German father, is the song French or German? If the lyrics are in one tongue and the tune is from elsewhere, what nationality is it?

etc etc

We need to get over the sixth-grader's view.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:56 AM

Dave Richardson is ENGLISH.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:59 AM

The original tune to "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written by John Stafford Smith, an Englishman.

See The Star-Spangled Banner: The Melody.

"Highland Cathedral" was written by two Germans (Uli Roever & Michael Korb).

See Highland Cathedral - Das Original.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: artbrooks
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 10:07 AM

And then there are the two everyone (including me) loves to hate: "Danny Boy", with words written by an Englishman and set to an Irish tune ("Londonderry Air") by his sister who had emigrated to America, and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", written by two Americans and made popular by an American singer.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM

There are other ways to look at this question. In a sense we are too close to Irish, English etc music to be able to see the wood for the trees. Take a different example, and different views emerge:

You have a lovely holiday in Chile. You visit the local hostelries, where you fall in love with the music the local band plays. You ask what it is, they say "it's Chilean", though in fact some of it comes from Venezuela or Equador. You return home and go to the HMV store looking for Chilean music. You find some of the music you heard, but not all of it (because you didn't search the Equadorian or Venezuelan music shelves). Does it matter? Do you care?

You go home. One of the songs you did find was in fact Equadorian, but it has mistakenly been included in the Chilean compilations. You love it. You learn to play it, find the lyrics and sing it. It becomes your party piece. Until one day, you sing it in front of some people, introducing it as a Chilean song, and a half-Equadorian spouse of one your mates is offended because she recognises it as coming from her country. Does it matter? Do you care?

Perhaps it doesn't pay to be a pedant, but being slapdash about these things can also get you into trouble.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Santa
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM

Gurney: It certainly isn't only the Irish who sing "From Clare to here". But of course, with a name like McTell, he'd have to be Celtic in origin, wouldn't he?

Or "Fields of Athenry", more sadly. You might be right about "40 shades of green", however.

It is interesting to know something about a song's origins: where it came from (if known) and where it passed through en-route to here and now. It doesn't work for all songs, of course, but I don't think it helps to deny the national or local origins where it does have relevance.

My daughter sings "Union Miner" in Durham, where it is a popular song despite the words referring to working practice in American mines not British pits. The principles were common enough, but the details varied. If the origins were forgotten it could mislead future generations.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:12 AM

Ralph McTell (born Ralph May in Farnborough, England) - so he's English


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:12 AM

Just to Muddy the Waters (sorry) even further, Ralph's real name is May and he renamed himself after Blind Willie McTell, the well known Celtic type of person.


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:18 AM

Snap!!


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Marje
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:16 PM

It's true that many songs and tunes are of mixed ancestry, and that some get taken up by another race or nation who adopt it as their own. Eventually the origins of the song or tune can get lost in a fog of myth and rumour. Does this matter?

In many cases, no. But I get irritated by the one-sided "Irish jingoism" mentioned by Jack, above; it's not always perpetuated by the Irish, but often by sentimental pseudo-Irish sympathisers who belong to another nation. It leads to silly assumptions and misattributions. I don't know of any other musical tradition that gets tunes and songs wrongly attributed it to it so carelessly and so often.

In a more general way, the origin of a song or tune matters to the many singers and musicians who take a real interest in the sources of their material, and like to know how and why a piece of music came into being, and how it's been used over the years. If you don't care about any of this - fine, just enjoy the tunes and songs as you find them; but many people find it rewarding to try to understand the various styles of composition and playing that are charateristic of different times and places. Many musicians also care about attributing their material correctly, and think it only fair to acknowledge the composer, particularly if it's someone still alive.

So although a song or tune may not have a fixed "nationality", it may well have a known origin or composer associated with a particular country, and many people like to know about this background and acknowledge it.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Song Nationality?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 09:29 AM

....& then there's Sonny Brogan's[Irish] Mazurka[Polish]!


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