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History of British Folk Guitar

GUEST,paulreso1 15 Jan 10 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Guest 15 Jan 10 - 04:33 PM
greg stephens 15 Jan 10 - 05:17 PM
Geoff the Duck 16 Jan 10 - 12:04 PM
M.Ted 16 Jan 10 - 02:27 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Jan 10 - 03:18 PM
Stower 16 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM
Leadfingers 17 Jan 10 - 06:58 AM
Paul Burke 17 Jan 10 - 07:19 AM
bubblyrat 17 Jan 10 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,banjoman 17 Jan 10 - 07:34 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Jan 10 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Jan 10 - 08:12 AM
Howard Jones 17 Jan 10 - 08:28 AM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 09:15 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 09:36 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 09:41 AM
theleveller 17 Jan 10 - 10:43 AM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 11:14 AM
The Sandman 17 Jan 10 - 11:31 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 11:33 AM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 12:02 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 12:15 PM
Leadfingers 17 Jan 10 - 12:25 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 12:27 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 12:28 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 12:40 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 12:43 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 01:34 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 01:38 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 01:50 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 02:20 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 02:30 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 02:33 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 02:39 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 03:00 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 03:02 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 Jan 10 - 03:33 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,jazzmandavid 17 Jan 10 - 03:46 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 03:50 PM
DonMeixner 17 Jan 10 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 17 Jan 10 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 17 Jan 10 - 05:05 PM
Will Fly 17 Jan 10 - 05:46 PM
Terry McDonald 17 Jan 10 - 06:06 PM
Leadfingers 17 Jan 10 - 06:54 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jan 10 - 11:02 PM
Will Fly 18 Jan 10 - 04:34 AM
bubblyrat 18 Jan 10 - 05:07 AM
IanC 18 Jan 10 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 18 Jan 10 - 10:19 AM
Will Fly 18 Jan 10 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 Jan 10 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,KP 18 Jan 10 - 05:03 PM
Betsy 18 Jan 10 - 08:04 PM
M.Ted 19 Jan 10 - 08:00 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 19 Jan 10 - 09:55 AM
M.Ted 19 Jan 10 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,KP 19 Jan 10 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 19 Jan 10 - 12:06 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Jan 10 - 12:44 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 19 Jan 10 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 20 Jan 10 - 09:37 AM
The Sandman 21 Jan 10 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 21 Jan 10 - 09:40 AM
Howard Jones 21 Jan 10 - 01:29 PM
Will Fly 21 Jan 10 - 01:59 PM
GUEST 21 Jan 10 - 02:14 PM
Terry McDonald 15 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM
TinDor 08 Nov 10 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 08 Nov 10 - 02:19 PM
dick greenhaus 08 Nov 10 - 11:46 PM
GUEST, Sminky 09 Nov 10 - 04:15 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Nov 10 - 04:50 AM
MGM·Lion 03 Dec 13 - 12:56 AM
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Subject: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,paulreso1
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 02:50 PM

Hi,

I was at a guitar workshop run by Woody Mann recently. He asked an interesting question: what is the role of guitar in English & Celtic folk music - particularly, is there a tradition of guitar in British folk music prior to the 60's? For example, was there a tradition of folk music being played on the parlour guitars that were made in the UK at the turn of the 20th Century?

regards
Paul


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 04:33 PM

There was a well documented tradition of playing Scottish music on guitar in the eighteenth century using what we call open tunings.

Stuart


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jan 10 - 05:17 PM

Samuel Pepys' diary is a good place to check out the early years of English folk guitar, but I am afraid I don't have the reference to hand at the minute.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 12:04 PM

You can download Pepys' diaries from Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/p#a1181. Once on your computer it should be a quick job to search the text for "guitar", "music", "song", "dance", etc.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 02:27 PM

If my memory is correct, the "English Guitar" that was used in earlier times was nearly identical to the "Portuguese Guitar" , which is pretty much the same instrument as the Spanish Bandurria, which is also the same as the Renaissance Cittern, which was/is a different instrument entirely from the modern cittern, which is actually a modified version of the bouzouki. The short answer (and we're now too far in for a short answer) is that it wasn't actually a guitar.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 03:18 PM

==="... he will sing us Death and the Lady, to raise our spirits into the bargain.... and Sophy, love, take your guitar, and thrum in with the boy a little."===

From Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar Of Wakefield (1766) chapter 17.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Stower
Date: 16 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM

Do correct me if I'm wrong, GUEST,Guest Stuart, but wasn't that eighteenth century Scottish music written for the guittar - a type of cittern - rather than the guitar as we now think of it, and wasn't it 'art music', not traditional Scottish music?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 06:58 AM

In the English Tradition . the tendency was for 'songs' to be unaccompanied , instruments being used for Dance , though there ARE exceptions


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Paul Burke
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 07:19 AM

Depends which tradition you are talking about- my grandfather used to accompany himself on the melodeon. But I suppose that was music- hall, and therefore doesn't count.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: bubblyrat
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 07:22 AM

Probably the first example of a "folk singer" using a guitar that I can recall as a child was a man whose name escapes me, but advertised himself as singing "songs to a small guitar" and appeared ,doing just that,in a Robin Hood film ! I think he did (but not in the film !) a recording of "The Owl & The Pussycat". Also,we had the "Tonight" programme on English TV,which gave us regular "doses" of Robin Hall & Jimmy McGregor,an early "act" to use a guitar in a "folk" style,but otherwise,there was somewhat of a paucity of guitar-accompanied "folk",other than a few occasional Radio examples of Burl Ives or Woody Guthrie.
                The Genesis of any kind of recognisable "English Folk Guitar" style per se, was probably an amalgam of the styles,tunings,and playing methods of the likes of such divers players as John Renbourn,Alexis Korner and,of course,Davy Graham. In which case,English Folk Guitar history is not really very old at all !!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,banjoman
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 07:34 AM

The guy you are thinking of was Elton Hayes who sang accompanied by what he called a Small Guitar. A great favourite on Childrens Favourites.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 08:09 AM

Robin Hall and Jimmie MCGregor English guitar? I know they both lived in London for years and both played guitar but I don't think either of them would claim to be English. Jimmie also of course played and probably still does a nice Gibson F model mandolin.

I believe that Jimmie's interest in folk music along with some of his contemporaries was nurtured in Glasgow by a teacher Norman Buchan who went on to become an MP. I don't know if he played guitar.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 08:12 AM

Sh*t, the heading does of course say British Guitar.

I must learn to read.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 08:28 AM

In Shetland there was the famous Peerie Willie Johnson, and in an old EFDSS magazine from 1962 I have a photo of a guitar player with the Jim Garson Trio from Orkney using a "steel", which it describes as "the Orcadian style".

There's an article on Musical Traditions about the Norfolk melodeon player Percy Brown which mentions his son-in-law Fred Devo sometimes accompanying him on guitar.

There were probably other examples of traditional players. However the guitar doesn't really seem to have been associated much with British folk music until the revival, which in its beginnings was heavily influenced by American folk. The current styles of "British folk guitar" are derived from the revival.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 09:15 AM

I knew and talked to one or two folk club musicians in the '60s - guitar players who were then in their 50s. Their use of the guitar in the pre-war period (for example) was mainly to play in jazz outfits and as accompaniment to popular songs. Folk as we know it - or as the then Folk Song and Dance Societies knew it - had very little to do with the guitar. This viewpoint was passed on to me by variety performer and dance Sam Sherry, who was a regular, with his old Gibson guitar, at the Lancaster Folk Stir in the mid '60s.

It's easy to forget now, but guitars were a lot less ubiquitous in the early/mid-50s and before than they are today. It was really people like Donegan and the skifflers, and the early US blues visitors to this country (Broonzy, Josh White, Brownie McGhee) - people from the Ken Colyer and Chris Barber era - who popularised the instrument in this country. And that's probably when it worked its way into the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 09:36 AM

The real influence, I think everyone is forgetting, was the popularity of Burl Ives from 1940s onwards {+ Josh White also, to a degree} ? the post above who sez not ubiquitous in 50s has it wrong ? it was very much so by then ? certainly by time the skiffle thing took off 1954·5-ish with Lonnie Donnegan, Chas McDevitt & Nancy Whiskey, Henry Morris et al. The espresso coffee bars were coincidentally opening up all over at the time too, each with its guitarist ? one of whom, ex-merchant·seaman Tommy Hicks, got discovered & launched as Tommy Steele, England's answer to Elvis. Guitars were absolutely an indispensable part of the landscape by 1952, when Rory & Alex McEwen were at it also ? Rory was my contemporary at Cambridge 1952-5, founding the University folk club, the St Lawrence, with Leon Rosselson, & singing the cabaret at the Downing College May Ball 1953 and the Cambridge Union Society Ball 1954, both of which I was at {I had friends at Downing tho my own college was Christ's}.. Guitars were everywhere in Cambridge by then.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 09:41 AM

Sorry - error in above post: it was Stan Bootle, who later became Stan Kelly, who was at that Downing ball 1953 ? + guitar... But it was Rory at the Union one the following year ? they were EVERYWHERE, I tell you: & all Ives songs too ? Stan did Worried Man Blues, I recall [Carter Family but via Ives], Rory I recall singing The Fox.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: theleveller
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 10:43 AM

"The current styles of "British folk guitar" are derived from the revival. "

That's certainly true but there have been a number of people since then who have had a major influence on the way the guitar is used in British folk music. The first, of course, has to be Davey Graham and the introduction of DADGAD tuning. The second , I would say (but this is only a personal opinion),is Martin Simpson, using a variety of tunings, blues riffs and slide. You could also argue for Martin Carthy and a number of others but there is much more variety of playing and, generally, a far better standard than I remember when I first got into folk in the mid 60s.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:14 AM

'The second' would be Martin Carthy who surely predates Martin Simpson by about ten years. Another early 'folk guitarist' was Steve Benbow and there was also the jazz influenced Fitzroy Coleman who played on some of the Radio Ballads.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:31 AM

yes, and the whole point about Davey Graham[the man who introduced dadgad to the british folk revival , [and who influenced Carthy],is that he was influenced by moroccan music and the oud,not american music.
however there are certain similarites between some american 5 string banjo tunings,and some open guitar tunings,gdgcd or sawmill tuning is used a lot for modal tunes on 5 string banjo,and of course the modal guitar tuning dgdgcd,and its close relation cgcgcd,are based on sawmill banjo tuning and two c banjo tuning gcgcd.
however the important feature of dadgad dgdgcd and one of Carthys tuning dadeae,is that they all share the idea of two strings being tuned a tone apart from each other,to facilitate playing in a style that can avoid major or minor,if the player wishes.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:33 AM

Yes to both above posts ? but must reiterate that these were not "early" exponents, as some have suggested above, in the sense of being in any way rare. However virtuoso or revered Carthy, Carter, Benbow, Graham ? by the time they happened along the guitar was MOST THOROUGHLY established as the instrument for folk accompt ? they were just 4 among MANY. None of them was any sort of pioneer of the instrument, tho they might have been of some of its techniques ? these, pioneers, were, as mentioned above by me & others, Burl Ives (I should say predominantly) & Josh White in USA {& Woody Guthrie shd surely be mentioned here too}; & Elton Hayes here ? a full generation older and earlier than any of these rubricated in previous sentence.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:02 PM

Mike - I was always intrigued by singers who accompanied themselves on the guitar but there were not that many in the late 40s and early 50s. The first ones I can remember were the ones already cited - Josh White, Burl Ives and Bill Broonzy plus Elton Hayes and (do you remember?) Max Wall who sang 'I once had a song, I wrote it myself, on some manuscript paper, I found on the shelf....' He played a sort of finger style guitar accompaniment to it. Other than these examples, I can only remember the Malcolm Mitchell trio whose leader was the singer-guitarist. (He started a big band but too late - that era was virtually over.)

When, as a 16 year old in 1956 and inspired by Lonnie Donegan and Ken Colyer, I bought my first guitar (£5 + £1 for the case, paid for in four weekly instalments of £1.10s.)I bought it from Bournemouth's best known purveyors of guitars, Don Strike. He did not have a shop, instead he gave lessons and sold guitars and banjos from the family flat above a shop in the Westbourne area. When the skiffle boom turned to the rock boom, and it was obvious that the guitar wasn't a 'here today and gone romorrow' fad, he was able to set up in the shop below - it's still in business.

You're about eight years older than me so you may be able to cite examples that predate mine.....please?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:15 PM

the post above who sez not ubiquitous in 50s has it wrong

That was me, and what I actually said was:

guitars were a lot less ubiquitous in the early/mid-50s and before than they are today

This was merely to emphasise that the guitar was not as all-consuming an instrument in the early 50s as it is now. For example, it was extremely rare to see someone carrying a guitar in the street - whereas today, you can daily walk through any town or city and spot someone with a guitar case in their hand. It's certainly true that, by the mid-50s, guitar popularity was on the increase - but not at the beginning of the decade.

There was an interesting interview with Bert Weedon on TV some months ago, and he recalls buying his first guitar in an East End street market and everyone staring at him as he walked home with it. I'm not trying to be pedantic here - I remember the decade extremely well - in both Scotland and England - and a guitar was a rare sight in the early years.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:25 PM

The original question , though mentioning Pre Sixties , asks about Folk Guitar at the turn of the century ! In the ENGLISH tradition , the guitar does not seem to have had any MAJOR presence , and only really impinged on 'Folk' after Burl Ives et al .
Do any of the early collectors refer to the Guitar ? I am aware of references to fiddles and other intrunments , but NOT guitar .


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:27 PM

Yes, that's what I was trying to say!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:28 PM

Terry & Will - What do you call 'early' 50s. I have already given 1952 as a terminus ab quem with the McEwens, Stan Bootle-Kelly, Leon Rosselson; for all of whom I can vouch myself. Burl Ives's Wayfaring Stranger record dated from 1944. I would call this the start of the rush myself. Certainly it had well caught on by, say, my going into 6th form to start my Higher Schools course [as we called A-levels back in prehistoric times] at 16 in 1948. You would certainly see guitar cases being carried all over the place in London by 1950. There would be someone with a guitar at any party you went to in, say, my Cambridge days 1952-55. I didn't start playing it myself till I came down - 1956 to be exact. But lots of my friends at university [I remember a man called Joe Miller, e.g., with whom I remained friends for some years after] did. How 'early' do you want?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:40 PM

Michael - I would say - with due respect to your years and experience - that London and Cambridge were (a) not typical of most provincial towns (b) that, no matter how "ubiquitous" they may or may not have been, guitars didn't impinge on whatever "folk" scene was prevalent at the time and (c) compared with the huge surge of interest in later years, the guitar was a minority interest in the early 50s.

The main point, of course, is point (b). There was certainly interest in Burl Ives, in some black blues artists, and in oddballs like Elton Hayes but, if the guitar made its presence felt, it was more on the jazz/blues scene rather than any folk scene.

However, we've all had very different growing-up experiences in different locations. It's possible that my milieu was very different from yours!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 12:43 PM

When I started at Poole Grammar School in 1950 we were all fans of the (usually British) big bands of the day, none of which included a guitarist. Our musical ambitions (if we had any)would have been to play the trumpet or the saxophone. The trad jazz bands that 'took off' at about this time all had banjoists, never guitarists. Perhaps London and Cambridge were different but, like Will, I saw the documentary that included Bert Weedon's comments and they rang true with me. I think the documentary was the one where the late 1950s commentator expressed surprise at the sudden popularity of the guitar as the instrument that every teenager wanted.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 01:34 PM

Another thing: my mother ran a restaurant in S Ken, just round corner from Gloucester Road tube, from 1951 onwards: it belonged to her brother & she was resident director. She had a pianist, who would sometimes go round the tables with her accordion, who would play in shift with a singer-guitarist, who would tour the tables likewise. A customer I remember coming in about 1953 was Theodore Bikel, who was appearing in a play in London at the time (might have been Ustinov's Love Of Three Colonels, I think), who took down another guitar which hung on the wall & sang with it. (It was that sort of restaurant ? Diana Dors, Christopher Lee, David Coleman, Donald Sinden, Lord Milford-Haven, Gilbert Harding, Mike Hawthorne - all regulars; ·+·David Blakely the racing driver & his friend Ruth Ellis, who shot him & became the last woman ever hanged in UK, who once thanked me for my singing - at piano in those days - bet you've never been thanked politely by someone who went on to be hung; but of course all this BTW} - but the presence there every night from *1951* onwards of that singer-guitarist is not BTW. I think it very relevant; & it was not regarded as anything extraordinary. If that commentator said what you have just quoted him as saying, about the LATE 50s, then he is a big booby ? guitars were Bloody EVERYWHERE - even Poole!, by the late-50s.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 01:38 PM

Hmmm, that was what the late 1950s commentator was saying - 'guitars were everywhere, how strange!'


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 01:50 PM

But they had been everywhere for a good 5 years by the end of the decade. First skiffle club at the Princess Louise opened 1954, I think it was - 55 at latest. & every third or fourth person who came in brought his own guitar with him. One of the first people I ever met there was Michael Moorcock, then aged 15 I think, now one of the world's leading sf writers, but then probably the world's worst guitarist! In fact, i don't think he could actually play a chord ? just carried on his back as a sort of prop ? because everybody had to have one, like trousers!! So what did this commentator think so strange about their being everywhere in 1959? he must have been walking around for ½-decade with his head in a bucket!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:20 PM

guitars were Bloody EVERYWHERE - even Poole!, by the late-50s

So they were - in the late 50s... But not necessarily so in the early 50s, particularly in the provinces. And almost certainly not in any folk scene.

Here are the No. 1 best record sellers of 1955:

Dickie Valentine - Finger Of Suspicion - 04/01/1955
Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano - 11/01/1955
Dickie Valentine - Finger Of Suspicion (2nd time) - 18/01/1955
Rosemary Clooney - Mambo Italiano (2nd time) - 01/02/1955
Ruby Murray - Softly Softly - 15/02/1955
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Give Me Your Word - 08/03/1955
Perez Prado - Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White - 26/04/1955
Tony Bennett - Stranger In Paradise - 10/05/1955
Eddie Calvert - Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White - 24/05/1955
Jimmy Young - Unchained Melody - 21/06/1955
Alma Cogan - Dreamboat - 12/07/1955
Slim Whitman - Rose Marie - 26/07/1955
Jimmy Young - The Man From Laramie - 11/10/1955
Johnston Brothers - Hernando's Hideaway - 08/11/1955
Bill Haley and His Comets - Rock Around The Clock - 22/11/1955
Dickie Valentine - Christmas Alphabet - 13/12/1955

And here are the No. best selling singles of 1956:

Bill Haley and His Comets - Rock Around The Clock (2nd time) - 03/01/1956
Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons - 17/01/1956
Dean Martin - Memories Are Made Of This - 14/02/1956
Dreamweavers - It's Almost Tomorrow - 13/03/1956
Kay Starr - Rock And Roll Waltz - 27/03/1956
Dreamweavers - It's Almost Tomorrow (2nd time) - 03/04/1956
Winifred Atwell - Poor People Of Paris - 10/04/1956
Ronnie Hilton - No Other Love - 01/05/1956
Pat Boone - I'll Be Home - 12/06/1956
Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers - Why Do Fools Fall In Love - 17/07/1956
Doris Day - Whatever Will Be Will Be - 07/08/1956
Anne Shelton - Lay Down Your Arms - 18/09/1956
Frankie Laine - A Woman In Love - 16/10/1956
Johnnie Ray - Just Walkin' In The Rain - 13/11/1956

And here are the UK best sellers for 1957:

Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues - 01/01/1957
Tommy Steele - Singing The Blues - 08/01/1957
Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues (2nd time) - 15/01/1957
Frankie Vaughan - The Garden Of Eden - 22/01/1957
Guy Mitchell - Singing The Blues (3rd time) - 29/01/1957
Tab Hunter - Young Love - 19/02/1957
Lonnie Donegan - Cumberland Gap - 09/04/1957
Guy Mitchell - Rock A Billy - 14/05/1957
Andy Williams - Butterfly - 21/05/1957
Johnnie Ray - Yes Tonight Josephine - 04/06/1957
Lonnie Donegan - Gamblin' Man - 25/06/1957
Elvis Presley - All Shook Up - 09/07/1957
Paul Anka - Diana - 27/08/1957
The Crickets - That'll Be The Day - 29/10/1957
Harry Belafonte - Mary's Boy Child - 19/11/1957

A crude measure, I grant you but - even allowing for the innate conservatism of the established music industry of that period (beautifully chronicled by Pete Frame) - you can see that the influence of the guitar on music generally only really started in ernest in 1957. I admit it's only a pointer - but, in a general way, it shows that the rise of the guitar as a popular and established instrument only really kicked in in the mid-1950s at the earliest.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:30 PM

Yes, on pop records - but NOT in skiffle/folk clubs, which were going by 1954-55, & were ALL guitarsguitarsguitarsguitars wall·2·bloody·wall, weren't they? Look at the title of this thread again ? we are not talking about guitars in mainstream pop; we are talking about them in Folk. If you had gone into any record shop anywhere, here or in US, in late 40s, & asked for records by Burl Ives or Josh White,[even Elton Hayes or Woody Guthrie or Big Bill Broonzy] do you think there was a single shop, even in Poole, who would have looked blank at you & declared they had never heard of them? Away you!!!

Furthermore, one of you said the banjo was more common in jazz groups of the time ? but what of BLUES, FFS!? I heard Cyril Davies & Alex Korner first off in 1955.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:33 PM

Michael, I can see that we're not going to reach any common ground here, and that my experience of the music scene in the 1950s was not the same as yours.

So I'm afraid we'll have to beg to differ. The next thing is we'll be arguing about what the folk scene actually was in 1955 - and we couldn't have that, could we?

I shall sign off here, with regards.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 02:39 PM

& best of regards right back to you, Will -- with all traditional greetings

- Michael --


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:00 PM

Skiffle clubs in 1954? Wasn't Rock Island Line recorded at the Royal Festival Hall (Chris Barber concert)in 1954 and Ken Colyer's 'Take This Hammer'about the same time. Lonnie's single of Rock Island Line came out in 1955 and suddenly the word 'skiffle' entered the language. I'm surprised that there were 'Skiffle Clubs' before 1955.

Blues a la Alexis Korner in 1955 - 1955's not the 'early 50s as far as I'm concerned........'


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:02 PM

By the way, 'even in Poole' sounds a bit townist to me.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:19 PM

Yes. Terry, my 54 was tentative: 55 more likely. 55 not early 50s - but not late 50s either: couldn't be more mid-, indeed! But my point with Will's list above was that this thread is not about pop, but folk - specified in title of thread. & I aver that it was Burl Ives, more than any other, who started the worldwide guitar-the-instrument-for-folk idea, following a well-estd tradition in USA (Broonzy, Guthrie, White, the Blues) even if not here, that started the association worldwide, incl here ? where we had indeed already had Elton Hayes but perhaps not many more. Ives' first success - Wayfaring Stranger, 1944. Well estd worldwide, guitar as instrument to be used for such singing, by 48 at latest, surely? So that the 'wandering minstrel' of my mother's restaurant was what by then - 1951 - you EXPECTED to find in that sort of posh but informal milieu.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:21 PM

Not meant to be townist exactly - sorry: but you had intro'd it as the sort of Petaluma or Peoria-clone where our Lunnon-townie ways would not have obtained, so I merely followed your example


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:33 PM

Bert Jansch - more so than Davy, can be considered the father of English folk guitar - even though Bert is Scottish! It has been noted that Bert was starting to develop an British style (mid-sixties) while, at that time, Martin Carthy was still playing in a basically American style. Nic Jones, probably, represents the height of the English folk guitar development.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:36 PM

I would urge Paul Brady - though Irish, but you will see what I mean.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,jazzmandavid
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:46 PM

Shirley Douglas, the vocalist in my Skiffle Group (she replaced Nancy Whiskey), purchased Elton Hayes' guitar from him in the foyer of a Leicester Square cinema in 1956/57. Probably the one in his song, though if I remember, it wasn't that 'small'. She hadn't been with my group for long when we appeared at the Odeon Romford in Paul Lincoln's "Meet For Cats",on Sunday March 31st 1957. This show also introduced the new "recording discovery", Terry Dene. Seconds before he was due onstage Terry Dene came running into the dressing room asking to borrow a guitar, he had just broken a string. All assembled 'cocked a deaf 'un', except Shirley , who unwisely said he could borrow hers. It was returned twenty minutes later with all the body work scratched beyond repair! A lesson learned. The folk guitar had become a rock guitar overnight, quite an idignity for this historic instrument.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:50 PM

Sandy Sandfield, another member of skiffle group I played with 1956, Easy Riders, once scratched my Gibson acoustic to hell by using plectrum on it when it hadn't a plate ? pillock!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: DonMeixner
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 04:26 PM

Is this a question about when people started using guitar for playing folk songs in Great Britain or is it that there is a folk guitar style unique to the British Isles?

If I were asked this question about American Folk Guitar I would wonder how long the guitar or it's cousins have been available in the US. I would then make a bold assumption that as soon as some one could afford one people would begin to sing popular songs along with it.   And as soon as the first guitarist child played a song his folks played on the guitar I'd say a tradition was starting. I'd further ponder as to whether a popular song can be a folk song. Songs popular in the 1790's for instance were likely to be Broadsides and songs that people brought with them from other places.

This is a question, not limited to the British experience, that a Doctorate could be studied on.

Don


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 05:02 PM

"Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Tunesmith - PM
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 03:33 PM

Bert Jansch - more so than Davy, can be considered the father of English folk guitar - even though Bert is Scottish! It has been noted that Bert was starting to develop an British style (mid-sixties) while, at that time, Martin Carthy was still playing in a basically American style. Nic Jones, probably, represents the height of the English folk guitar development."
Bert jansch,Herbert Jansch (born 3 November 1943[1]), known as Bert Jansch, is a Scottish folk musician and founding member of the band Pentangle. He was born in Glasgow and, in the 1960s, he was heavily influenced by the guitarist Davey Graham and folk singers such as Anne Briggs. He is best known as an innovative and accomplished acoustic guitarist but is also a singer and songwriter.

He has recorded at least 25 albums and has toured extensively starting in the 1960s and continuing into the 21st century. His work has influenced such artists as Johnny Marr, Bernard Butler, Jimmy Page, Ian Anderson, Nick Drake, Donovan, Neil Young, and more recently Don Deere, and it has earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2001 BBC Folk Awards.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 05:05 PM

I don't think there is a precedent in American guitar playing for the "British" style of Bert Jansch. Bert, of course, on his first album used a lot of American style pattern playing ( claw-hammer, as we used to call it back then) but Bert's use of that style was marvelous. There could be a precedent for the British folk guitar style in American banjo players with their use of dones and "folk" tunings.
Interestingly, a hundred years in the UK, the banjo would have been the favoured stringed accompanying instrument for any cultured person wanting to sing folk songs.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 05:46 PM

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned Steve Benbow - first album around 1957 - who was a big influence on Davy Graham - who was a big influence on Jansch, Renbourn et al.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 06:06 PM

I mentioned him, Will, at 11.14 AM Mudcat time. I still have one of his 1959 EPs.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 06:54 PM

Steve Benbow gave Davy Graham some guitar lessons before he 'discovered' DADGAD


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jan 10 - 11:02 PM

Why, Will, several of us have mentioned Steve ? incl me in my correspondence with you [11.33]. Don't tell me you didn't read every word!...


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 04:34 AM

Pay no attention to me, folks - I'm getting old and forgetful... Never mind multi-tasking - can't even single-task these days.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: bubblyrat
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 05:07 AM

Nobody ever does....and yes,you are....we don't....and I'm not at all surprised !!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: IanC
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 05:36 AM

From Chaucer:

A merry child he was, so God me save;
Well could he letten blood, and clip, and shave,
And make a charter of land, and a quittance.
In twenty manners could he trip and dance,
After the school of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges caste to and fro;
And playen songes on a small ribible; (fiddle)
Thereto he sung sometimes a loud quinible (treble)
And as well could he play on a gitern. (guitar)
In all the town was brewhouse nor tavern,
That he not visited with his solas,
There as that any garnard tapstere was. (barmaid)


:-)


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 10:19 AM

So the, I can read that you are looking for a purely British style rather than whether it was played at all in English folk tradition.

What is the evidence of the Guitar in the English music hall?

Don


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 11:03 AM

You can see clips of comedian Max Miller with a guitar, and the 5 Sherry Brothers - of whom the late Sam was the guitar player. These were extant on the halls from the 30s to the 50s - but whether they're better labelled "variety", rather than the older "music hall" is arguable. I have a large-ish collection of music hall records dating from the early 1900s to the very early 30s, and I can't recall a performer with a guitar among them. There may, of course, have been a guitar of some sort in the orchestra pit in the bigger halls - and might this have been a tenor guitar, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 11:05 AM

As mentioned above Max Wall a comedian with a great line in comedy dance and walks (long before John Cleese) played guitar "A nice Martin" as Malcom Price described it to me after he had done a gig somewhere when Max was also present.
If my memory is correct Max Miller "The Cheeky Chappy" also played guitar on occasion in between his off-colour (for the time)jokes. There might even be a film clip of him doing so.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 05:03 PM

In in answer to the original question - the place where there was a long established guitar tradition seems to have been Scotland. Bremner published a tune book in 1770, with tunes both 'composed' and 'trad'. There were a variety of instruments from cittern-type to things which we would recognise as similar to small Spanish guitars. The person who has researched and promoted this music most in recent years is Rob McKillop. There are some lovely tunes in mp3 form on this page:

The Scottish Guitar


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Betsy
Date: 18 Jan 10 - 08:04 PM

Just as an aside, to all you guitar-minded people, there is a thread running at the moment regarding John James - go to Murray's posting and there is an interesting "blue clicky" - I thoroughly enjoyed it .


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 08:00 AM

KP--citterns are not guitars, and not much like them. If you think they are, you've never seen one, played one, or tried to tune one.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 09:55 AM

KP - the Scottish guitar you refer to, as with the earlier posting references to Pepys, is an art music use, not a traditional music use. While traditional tunes may have been arranged for the various instruments it was an art music setting, just as classical composers have done down the ages with folk tunes.

Pepys employed a travelled Rome-educated guitarist from the Spanish Netherlands, by the name of Cesare Morelli. He taught music to the household and took part in musical evenings and there are several manuscripts of his available now, but of settings of art songs.

Similarly in the 19thC there were several arrangements of popular songs printed for guitar, but again they were art settings for classical guitar (I have a collection of these which includes for example Cherry Ripe, Home Sweet Home and Bayly's Welcome Me Home(Gaily The Troubador..)). These were the sort of parlour songs you would use to entertain guests at home.

But offhand I don't know any references to the guitar being used in what we would think of as a traditional music setting (not that they may not exist).

Mick


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 11:17 AM

Sorry, it was IanC, not KP that equated the two.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,KP
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 11:55 AM

Mick,
I think you are correct in what you say that the guitar was aimed at the art music context. However there are some traditional tunes in Bremner's book and certainly some on the Rob McKillop site and CD's. One interesting example is 'Roslin Castle' which a) may be by James Oswald or b) may be traditional. And 'parlour songs you would use to entertain guests at home' is getting close to folk music, perhaps? (Aaargh, if I'm not careful I'll start yet another 'what is folk thread?', so I'll shut up now.)

McKillop makes the tunes sound as if they were always meant for the guitar - beautiful phrasing and emphases.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 12:06 PM

"KP - the Scottish guitar you refer to, as with the earlier posting references to Pepys, is an art music use, not a traditional music use."

Hi Mick,

When in the timeline between Samuel Pepys and now, roughly 1650 to 2010, would what we will allow to be a guitar have become part of the British Folk Arsenal? Is there a date that musicologists accept as the introduction of the first true guitar to common use by the general population?

I'd imagine that guitars were very expensive items and largely unaffordable until the 1880's and even then still pretty expensive.
If we allow that common usage didn't happen until 1899 is that time for the guitar to be established as a traditional instrument in the British Isles?

Don


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 12:44 PM

Don - not too sure about expense. Whole point of Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, from which I quoted above 16 jan 03·18PM, is that he was poor and could not afford much more than his parishioners ? but much is made of his daughter playing the guitar (which seems to mean guitar, not some other instrument), to accompany her own & her brother's singing. She 'thrummed' it, presumably = where we would say "strummed", which suggests to me a sort of folkie 3-chord trick rather than anything classical. That is mid C18 [1766]. Perhaps that might contribute also to your 'timeline' query.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 19 Jan 10 - 04:02 PM

Don - as much of the discussion above seems to say, I don't think the guitar ever really became part of the traditional folk arsenal in the UK!. Except for being taken up in the 50s and 60s, I don't think it was in widespread use.

I think there are reasons the guitar wouldn't make great inroads into traditional music. The early gut strung guitars would be very quiet instruments - before Segovia discovered Ramirez' guitars, which were loud enough to play in a small concert hall, the classical guitar was pretty much a salon instrument suitable only for very intimate recitals. It wouldn't have the volume to compete with eg flutes or violins or brass instruments. I think it needed the steel strung guitar to make it an instrument suitable for noisy environments. And the steel-strung guitar appeared relatively lately: Martin didn't build them before 1900 and the early ones were custom made, it wasn't until 1922 that it was in their standard catalogue. (There were other companies making flat-top guitars from late 19C). According to Tom and Mary Ann Evans The Guitar From Rock To Renaissance the less expensive Harmony and Stella guitars became popular with blues player in the 1920s/30s, and I think less expensive may be the key here (though the quality was meant to be good).

The same source gives Martin's output as 5,500 in the mid-1950s rising to 20,000 in the early 1970s. They claim "While the flat-top guitar became established in country and folk music during the 1920s and 1930s, its real growth in popularity did not come until after the Second World War. The folk boom of the late 1950s through 1960s, which was reinforced by the use of acoustic guitar by some rock and pop stars, had a dramatic effect on the guitar...During the 1960s the popularity of the acoustic flat-top became truly international".

My own opinion is that anything recognisable as an English folk guitar style came of out of the late 50s/early 60s folk revival. (I can still remember hearing Steve Benbow on the radio - early/mid-60s - and thinking it was the first time I'd heard the guitar played (as opposed to just simple chords) as an accompanying instrument to folk music; it impressed me deeply (and I did get to occasionally play in a band with him many years later)).

Mick


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 09:37 AM

Aside from the voice, what is the great and definable folk instrument of The British Isles?

Don


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 07:20 AM

the english concertina.
The only instrument invented by an English man, and now used extensively in British folk music,by playes such as Dick Miles, SteveTurner , LouKillen, Alistair Anderson, KeithKendrick,it is particularly well suited for song accompaniment and playing northumbrian pipe music


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 09:40 AM

That was gonna be my guess. How early is the English Method concertina mentioned?

Don


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 01:29 PM

Fond as I am of the concertina (I play anglo myself), I think the most widely established instrument in the folk music of the British Isles is probably the fiddle, which holds a central place in the traditions of all the component countries.

Looking just at England, I think I'd also have to include melodeon ahead of the concertina. But if you went back a few hundred years the answer would be bagpipes (as it still would be in Northumberland).

However, apart from a few examples I mentioned earlier, I don't think the guitar really found a place until the folk revival, influenced by American folk.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 01:59 PM

I would vote for the fiddle as well.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 02:14 PM

Just thinking of the writings of Thomas Hardy - himself a musician - fiddles play a part, and the West Gallery instruments, of course, but I cannot readily recall any mention of a guitar in his works.

Anyone else?
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM

In a contribution to this post, I mentioned that the comedian Max Wall accompanied his singing with some rather nice guitar playing. I was delighted to hear Alan Titchmarsh include Max Wall's 'My Little Tune' on his programme yesterday evening - probably the first time I've heard it in 50 years. I'm pretty certain that the short guitar solo at the end of the song was by Max himself.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: TinDor
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:02 AM

Interesting thread but I'll say a distinct british Folk guitar style didn't exist prior until the influences of the American Folk Revival.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:19 PM

That desperate mob of evil cultuural gangsters the Elton Hayes/Robin hall and Jimmy MacGregor gang were holed up and making their final stand in the basement after the shootout with G man, Walksaboutverse and Cecil Sharp's agents, we found this note.

'We done it. Its a fair cop. People in England was happily singing from exercise books wiv a finger in their lughole, but we infiltrated getting the youngsters off on a concoction of cheap Spanish guitars and skiffle music. Before long they were on to the hard stuff - Harmony Sovereigns and Levins. Our evil plan worked....'


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 11:46 PM

Here in th US, guitars came in as a staple folk instrument in the late 1800s. Before them, by a half century or so, was the banjo. Before that, most instumental music seems to have been on fiddle, fife and drum.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 04:15 AM

Benjamin Franklin was a keen guitarist. It is stated that he loved to play Scottish songs as he felt their beauty lay in their simplicity.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 04:50 AM

Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790 ~~ exactly contemporary with Goldsmith's The Vicar Of Wakefield [1766], to whose daughter's (the character of the vicar's daughter, that is) guitar playing to accompany singing, I have 2ce referred above. The novel is a tale of simple English village life among the poor [the villagers] to middling [the not-wealthy vicar himself] sort. So may I point out yet again that Goldsmith obviously thought that singing to the guitar was the sort of activity an educated but not that wealthy villager might well do at the time.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 12:56 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 04:43 PM

obviously the guitar does not have a role in English folk music. we should all knock it on the head.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: rosma
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 06:15 PM

I know some who would agree, Al. There are threats to turn mine to matchwood most Friday evenings... and that's before I start playing!

Simon


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,Twangler
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 07:25 PM

In my head there is a distinction between the Carthy/Thompson-esk folk guitar and the session accompanist style played all over the UK.   When I think of English folk guitar I think of first one.   Is there a tradition of English dance tune accompanists on guitar or similar?

Thanks
D . . .
Love the Portuguese guitar! There should be more of these in English music!


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 07:33 PM

The first six-string guitar appeared in 1779, made in Italy. The six-string guitar during the late 1700s and into the 1800s was known as the "Romantic" guitar, not so much because it was associated with love and all that, but because it emerged during music's Romantic period. They were about the size that we would call a "parlor guitar" today.

They did sound out reasonably well because Fernando Sor and a number of others made careers out of going around and doing concerts?although most of these concerts were held in some nobleman's "salon."

It was Antonio Torres who increased the volume?and the size?of the guitar with his fan-bracing system under the top. The guitar that Segovia started his concert career with was a Herman Hauser, made in Germany. He changed to the Jose Ramirez when Herman Hauser died and the luthier's shop was taken over by Hans Hauser. Segovia commented that, although the guitars he made were good, "The son is not the father." Hence the shift to the Ramirez.

Prior to this, it was pretty much the lute, which was the standard instrument for the serious musician--apart from cathedral organs and later, the harpsichord, which are a bit difficult to carry around.

But along with the lute, there was the Renaissance guitar, which was a "waisted" instrument like the modern guitar, but much smaller, a bit larger than a baritone ukulele. It had four "courses." The bottom three courses were double strings, like the lute, and the top string was single.

This was pretty much an amateur musicians instrument and was looked down on by lutenists and other "serious" musicians, who called it "an instrument for young girls to strum on." When Alonzo Mudarra wrote several pieces for the Renaissance guitar, which have to be classed as real music, smug lutenists made snide remarks about why he would waste his time with writing music for such a toy.

Then, the Renaissance guitar increased in size, gained a fifth course to increase its range, and became quite ornate, as befit the Baroque period?and became known as the Baroque guitar. Some pretty nice music was written for the Baroque guitar, which is still played on modern classic guitars.

Then, as I said above, the guitar took a giant step in 1779 when it increased further in size, the double stringing was dropped, and it gained a sixth string.

The lute fell into disuse (save for its resurrection in early music groups such as the Baltimore Consort) when they kept adding courses until somebody, perhaps in disgust, laid it flat, added keys activating small felt hammers, and called it a "pianoforte."

Benjamin Franklin's guitar was probably a Baroque guitar or one of the earliest Romantic guitars.

I don't really believe that the guitar, in any form, became a "folk instrument" in the U.K. until very recently. But who knows how far the Renaissance guitar, say, relegated by musical snobs as the instrument of young maidens and servant girls, may have filtered down through the social hierarchy?

Lute.

Renaissance guitar.

Elizabeth Brown, who teaches lute, Baroque guitar, and modern classical guitar in Seattle, playing the Baroque guitar.

Ms. Brown also plays the Romantic guitar:   Not playing, but showing hers.

Lute with a thyroid problem.

I know someone who has one of these things. He had to buy a van to transport it!

And, of course, Vermeer's famous painting, "Young Girl with Guitar:" CLICKY.

Or a slight variation thereof:   CLICKY too.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 09:14 PM

Nice piece, Don, but not quite right, the forerunner of the pianos was principally the cembalon, a table hammer dulcimer.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 02:14 AM

Quite probably right, Guest. The origin of the pianoforte or piano and its various stages of evolution is pretty much lost in the mists of antiquity. Like the guitar and guitar-like instruments.

The whole shebang probably started with some prehistoric bow-hunter who notice the pleasant sound his bow-string made and put the end of the bow on a turtle shell to make it sound louder.

After a bit of evolution:   CLICKY.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 02:23 AM

Actually, the direct precursor to the pianoforte was the clavichord. With the harpsichord, the strings are plucked. With the clavichord, they are struck.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 06:08 AM

The killer detail is the Medici catalogue of 1698, describing Cristofori's first piano as an "arpicembalo". The maker was clearly making hybrid instruments, the early pianos have the case and soundboard of a spinet, but the hammers and foot dampers of a cembalon, and that's what cracked the problem: the clavichord strings are struck with tangents - Nigel Eaton in an exuberant moment! - which didn't have the attack a hammer has.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Ged Fox
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 06:45 AM

'Guitar', Rees's Cyclopaedia (London, 1819)
"The common guitar used in England has frequently had its fits of favour in this country; about 50 years ago, its vogue was so great among all ranks of people, as nearly to break all the harpsichord and spinet makers, and indeed the harpsichord masters themselves. All the ladies disposed of their harpsichords at auctions for one third of their price, or exchanged them for guitars; till old Kirkman, the harpsichord maker, after almost ruining himself with buying in his instruments, for better times, purchased likewise some cheap guitars and made a present of several to girls in milliners' shops, and to ballad singers, in the streets, whom he had taught to accompany themselves, with a few chords and triplets, which soon made the ladies ashamed of their frivolous and vulgar taste, and return to the harpsichord."


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 08:28 AM

So the folk guitar started as a product spoiler in the hands of buskers?


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 02:16 PM

Thanks for the info, Guest.

I did hear that there was a point at which the lute became so big and unwieldy (dozens of doubled strings) with a sort of "outrigger" neck as much as seven or eight feet long (called a "theorbo" or "archlute") that it got a bit ridiculous, and the suggestion was made that the instrument be laid out flat like a harpsichord. There were a few experiments along those lines, so the idea is in the genes somewhere.

Some years ago, in a concert by the Alfred Deller consort that I attended at the University of Washington, Desmond DuPréz, the lutenist, quoted from an old book on the lute that some wag made the comment that "if the lutenist lived to the ripe old age of ninety years, he would have spent sixty of those years just tuning his instrument!"

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 06:23 PM

I have a fond memory of a moment on the Central Line, me with a folk harp bound for the London Northumbrian Pipers in an otherwise empty carriage, when in crashes Erin Headley with her theorbo. She's way short of 5' tall, the instrument's about twice her size, how she never got it stuck in the doors I'll never know...but too short a time to tune!
The spinet was an approach to the same problem, harpsichords got too long for sitting rooms, so by increasing the width of the instrument, it became possible to string at an angle, reducing the tension on the length of the soundboard at the same time. Pianos have the same layout.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 05:19 AM

"if the lutenist lived to the ripe old age of ninety years, he would have spent sixty of those years just tuning his instrument!"

A friend claims that on being sentenced to execution, his last request would be a 12-string guitar and time to tune it...

On a similar theme - how long does it take to tune a hammered dulcimer?
.
.
.
Research is continuing.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 09:50 AM

About half an hour, if it's seriously off (more than +/-5%).
But it only needs it every once in quite a long while, unlike gut guitars.


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Dec 13 - 10:04 AM

... Thanking the Godz of music for the electric guitar
- treble boosters, fuzz boxes, slapback echo, and amps with built in tremelo circuits & spring reverb...

now lets go play some proper noisy British 'folk' music...


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Subject: RE: History of British Folk Guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Dec 13 - 12:54 AM

Oooooooooh, no, thanks.

I'll stick with my unamplified nylon-string classic. I can make beautiful music miles from the nearest wall-plug. And I don't have to lug a bunch of amps and speakers around.

Don Firth


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