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Origins: Quern Song - info please

Stower 19 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM
Matthew Edwards 19 Sep 09 - 06:38 PM
Matthew Edwards 19 Sep 09 - 07:11 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 19 Sep 09 - 10:41 PM
Stower 20 Sep 09 - 08:50 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Sep 09 - 10:56 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Sep 09 - 11:21 AM
Stower 20 Sep 09 - 04:51 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Sep 09 - 05:22 PM
Matthew Edwards 20 Sep 09 - 07:39 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 21 Sep 09 - 02:03 PM
greg stephens 21 Sep 09 - 03:41 PM
Matthew Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 04:50 PM
Stower 22 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM
Matthew Edwards 22 Sep 09 - 05:03 PM
Jack Campin 22 Sep 09 - 08:41 PM
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Subject: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Stower
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM

Dora Winifred Black Russell's book, 'The religion of the machine age', 1983, includes the words to the Quern Song, about which I know nothing and I can find just as much as that on the web. Neither of the EFDSS wesbites (Take Five and the Vaughan Williams collection) have it, as far as I can tell. Can anyone add any information about the song? A quern (I had to look it up) is a simple, hand-operated mill for grinding grain.

Maids at morn, grind the good corn
Each in her mill, with a will
In go the oats, wheat and pearly barley
Down, down in a shower falls the flour

Those hands that are strongest
Will find a welcome here
And they who work the longest
Shall have the best cheer

Winding, winding strong, winding all day long
Round, round and round goes the mill
Winding turn about till the meal is out
Must never never never stand still


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 06:38 PM

See the Internet Archive.
From 'Songs of Erin: A Collection of Fifty Irish Folk Songs', Words by Alfred Perceval Graves, Music by Charles Villiers Stanford, Boosey & Co, London, 1901.

The Quern Song

Maids, at morn, grind the good corn
        Each in her mill with a will!
In go the oats, wheat and pearly barley,
        Down in a shower falls the flour.

                CHORUS
Winding strong, grinding all day long,
        Round and round goes the mill;
Grinding turn-about, till the meal is out,
        Must never, never be still.

Those hands that are strongest
        Will find a welcome here,
And they who work the longest
        Shall earn the best cheer.

                CHORUS
Those hands that are strongest
        Will find a welcome here,
And they who work the longest
        Shall earn the best cheer.
Winding strong, grinding all day long,
        Round and round goes the mill;
Grinding turn-about, till the meal is out,
        Must never, never be still.
                
Adapted from an old Song

According to the Introduction most of the songs in this collection came from the Petrie MSS collection; "Some of the Lyrics are adaptations from the early or medieval Gaelic, a few others are based on Hiberno-English folk songs, but the main body of them are original...".
So there might be an Irish original for this, or maybe not.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 07:11 PM

It seems that Alfred Perceval Graves published an earlier version of this as a poem in his book Songs and Ballads, 1880.

The third edition of 'Songs and Ballads' from 1882 can also be viewed at the Internet Archive, where the poem appears as The Mill Song.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 10:41 PM

Matthew - The notes there state: Suggested by a shorter song, the refrain of which I alone make use of, in Horncastle's "Irish Entertainment".

I think this may be FW Horncastle's The Music Of Ireland as performed in Mr Horncastle's Irish Entertainments, 1844. I can't locate a copy online so far.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Stower
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 08:50 AM

Matthew and Mick, thank you so much. This was a long shot and I didn't think there'd be a response to this lovely and obscure song.

However, I'm confused (or maybe I'm just having a dense day). The introduction to 'Songs of Erin', Alfred Perceval Graves and Charles Villiers Stanford (which you provide a link for, Matthew, thank you) says, "The fifty Irish songs which compose this book are are almost entirely drawn from the unpublished portion of the great Petrie Collection of the music of Ireland". This makes me think the songs are traditional. He goes to state that "Some of the Lyrics are adaptations from the early or medieval Gaelic, a few others are based on Hiberno-English folk songs, but the main body of them are original". So they aren't traditional? Is he saying that only the *tunes* are mostly from Petrie, rather than whole songs, and he added lyrics based on traditional words; or is he saying he took traditional songs and 'adapted' them to his own ends (in the manner of Burns)? (I have never seen the Petrie ms., so I don't know if it contains songs and tunes or just tunes.)

Sorry to be dim!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 10:56 AM

In the case of the Quern song his notes I think imply that he wrote it all, except possibly for the refrain, which he took from Horncastle. Whether by this he meant the tune only I'm not sure, although in this thread: Irish Song Book Index, it has the entry: Quern Tune, The - Air from Horncastle's "Irish Entertainment" - 134. In the first paragraph or so of his introduction to Irish Songs and Ballads, he says:

"MOST of the Songs and Ballads in this volume, if not actually
composed to the music of old Irish airs, owe to them their
prime impulse and complete character. I speak in the main of
airs in Bunting's collection, which have been left untouched by
Moore, and of others in Petrie's and Hoffmann's collections,
published after the last of the poet's Irish melodies, which
will t/ierefore be fresh to all but specialists in Irish music.
Whenever the Celtic or Anglo-Irish words to these airs or
fragments of them remained, I have not for a moment scrupled
to press into my service whatever appeared to me poetical in
the original; though in such cases I have taken care in the
notes at the end of this volume to give my readers an oppor-
tunity of comparing my version with these older forms."


The last sentence seems to say that he was willing to select bits or the original and add his own words, but that he gave the original in the notes.


Petrie collected and published a lot of Irish airs (Ancient Music Of Ireland vols 1 & 2). In the wikipedia article on Alfred Perceval Graves, it says: In collaboration with Charles Stanford he published Songs of Old Ireland (1882), Irish Songs and Ballads (1893), the airs of which are taken from the Petrie MSS. (Though I think his notes and introduction make it clear that Petrie was not his only source).


There is a Quern-Lilt in Ord's Bothy Songs (the only entry in Roud with Quern in the title), but it has nothing in common with the song here. When I was searching yesterday, there seem to be several references in books to a Scots Gaelic Quern song or songs (a google books or archive.org search will find them).



Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 11:21 AM

I should add that the tunes (music/abc/midi) from the two Petrie volumes are available at The University of Leeds: The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland. The index doesn't seem to contain Quern.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Stower
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 04:51 PM

Thanks, Mick. The Mill Song in 'Irish Songs and Ballads' is not the same as Quern Song in 'Songs of Erin' - they only share the words of the chorus. I don't know about the tune to the former, but is the latter tune, the air from Horncastle's "Irish Entertainment", traditional? I don't know this work and can't find any information on it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 05:22 PM

Both songs cite Horncastle so I'd presume they use the same tune and one or both is based on a song in Horncastle.

I can't find Horncastle's book either. So until someone with access to it comes along, that may be as far as we can go.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 07:39 PM

I've just come back from a great day climbing Snowdon, so I missed Mick's and Stower's additions to this thread, but thanks to their combined efforts here there's now quite a lot to go on.

I'd like to think that at the back of this somewhere lies a traditional Irish occupational tune and song, but if there was such a thing it has been through so many hands, i.e. Horncastle - Petrie - Graves - Stanford, that it is difficult to conceive what it might have sounded like.

George Petrie hasn't really received the attention he deserves as a collector of traditional Irish music. He worked for the Ordnance Survey in Ireland and in the course of his work collected much valuable archaeological information, as well as researching Gaelic culture and music. Cork University Press recently issued his published collections of some 240 melodies, edited with a very interesting and useful introduction by David Cooper: The Petrie Collection. There is a useful biography in the (British!) Dictionary of National Biography which can be viewed online through membership of some UK public libraries.

However, Graves claimed that his sources for 'Fifty Irish Folk Songs' came mainly from Petrie's unpublished manuscripts, which contained 2,068 melodies. The manuscripts are held in the National Libary of Ireland - but I can't find them in the online catalogues of that library. Most of the melodies were subsquently included in The Complete Collection of Irish Music as Noted by George Petrie which was edited and published by Charles Villiers Stanford between 1902 and 1905. I haven't seen this, nor is it apparently available online, so I don't know whether there is a 'Quern Tune/Song' in it.

As Mick and Stower have aready discovered there seems to be even less information available about Frederick William Horncastle, although according to the Northern Irish Pipe Organ website he holds a unique record of being dismissed from the post of organist at Armagh Cathedral "on account of the turbulence, contention, insolence and contumacy" in 1822! The COPAC catalogue shows that copies of his 1844 book can be found in a few major libraries:
The Music of Ireland, as performed in Mr. Horncastle's Irish Entertainments in which are introduced the Bardic & Connaught Caoines, Songs, Fairy Chant & Songs, Rural Ballads, Songs of Occupation, Marches, Jigs &c. Harmonized & arranged with an Accompaniment for the Harp or Piano Forte, by F. W. Horncastle, etc

It seems odd that Horncastle isn't better known.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 02:03 PM

Here are some of the Scottish refernces I found to a quern song.

Scots 19thC description of the quern song in use: Carmina Gadelica.

The Scottish Quern in Canada has some information on the quern song and an English translation from the song in the following:

Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Glasgow (1887). On pages 148ff there is Cronan Brathann, a Quern Croon, with a translation.

The song seems to have no relation (at least in translation, or in the description) to anything in the Graves version.

I was unable to locate any (other) Irish quern-related songs.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 03:41 PM

Bit of thread creep, but perhaps not everyone is aware that the A P Graves referred to here was the father of the more famous Robert.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:50 PM

Actually a bit of thread creep is most welcome Greg, as it felt a bit close in here with just the three of us.

I did know that AP and Robert Graves were father and son, but I don't think that their relationship was always cordial. After Robert had written his premature autobiography Goodbye To All That as his "bitter leave-taking of England" in 1929, his father countered with his own autobiography in 1930 entitled To Return To All That.

However AP did pass on to his son some most valuable advice about selling rights; AP had sold the rights to the lyrics of Fifty Irish Songs for £80, so that when the song Father O'Flynn became a huge commercial success it earned thousands for Boosey, the publisher, and Stanford also did well out of it while AP only had his original guinea fee. Robert was firmly advised never to sell his complete rights in anything for a sum down.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Stower
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM

Thank you so much for your responses and research. I suppose this is as far back as we go, except in the unlikey event that someone can unearth Horncastle.

Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 05:03 PM

I suppose this is as far back as we go, except in the unlikely event that someone can unearth Horncastle.

I'm beginning to think that an exhumation order could prove very interesting!

According to the website of St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh there was evidence "that he became a little careless in his attitude to his duties [as organist]", and eventually he was sacked from his position there. But the Archbishop certainly dismissed him in high style by posting a notice at Horncastle's residence and at the Chapter Room door of the Cathedral:-
Therefore We, John George, Archbishop aforesaid and Visitor of said College of Vicars and Organist, on account of the turbulence, contention, insolence and contumacy of said Frederick William Homcastle do pronounce and decree that the said Frederick William Homcastle be removed from his said office of Organist and Master of the Choiristers and that the licence or Patent heretofore granted to him be revoked, cancelled and declared null and void, the peace and good order of said College of Vicars in said Cathedral so requiring.

I wonder what on earth could have provoked such a splendid addition to his CV as the above? I found in Groves Music Online that Horncastle wrote an article in the Quarterly Musical Magazine of 1822 accusing Handel of plagiarism. Was that really a sackable offence at the time?

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Quern Song - info please
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Sep 09 - 08:41 PM

A bit long after the event, but could Horncastle have been involved in the protests on behalf of Queen Caroline at the time of her trial (for adultery, the prosecution being instigated by King George IV) in 1820? Quite a few churchmen were on her side, to the extent of holding services for her, and the church establishment had its arm twisted into disciplining them.


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