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Tune Origin: Scarborough Fair

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ELFIN KNIGHT 3
ELFIN KNIGHT 4
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THE ELFIN KNIGHT 2


Related threads:
Elfin Knight: Child #2 (14)
Lyr Req: Cyril Tawney's The Tasks (Child # 2) (6)


GUEST,Withington KD 14 Apr 10 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,WCHKD 16 Apr 10 - 08:09 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 10 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,Ribena Man 16 Apr 10 - 09:30 AM
The Borchester Echo 16 Apr 10 - 09:51 AM
Stower 16 Apr 10 - 10:03 AM
Will Fly 16 Apr 10 - 10:06 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 10 - 11:26 AM
northern lass 16 Apr 10 - 11:34 AM
The Borchester Echo 16 Apr 10 - 11:44 AM
northern lass 16 Apr 10 - 11:49 AM
CeltArctic 16 Apr 10 - 12:01 PM
The Borchester Echo 16 Apr 10 - 12:28 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Apr 10 - 02:39 PM
The Borchester Echo 16 Apr 10 - 02:51 PM
Brian May 16 Apr 10 - 03:37 PM
Les in Chorlton 19 Apr 10 - 05:13 AM
MartinRyan 19 Apr 10 - 05:16 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Apr 10 - 05:43 AM
MartinRyan 19 Apr 10 - 07:02 AM
Tootler 19 Apr 10 - 07:48 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Apr 10 - 03:38 AM
Brian Peters 20 Apr 10 - 05:22 AM
GUEST 20 Apr 10 - 10:22 AM
pavane 20 Apr 10 - 11:00 AM
Brian Peters 20 Apr 10 - 01:37 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Apr 10 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 21 Apr 10 - 02:50 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 10 - 03:29 AM
The Borchester Echo 21 Apr 10 - 03:43 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 21 Apr 10 - 04:38 AM
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Subject: Tune Req: Scarborough
From: GUEST,Withington KD
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 05:40 PM

I know that this is not really a new thread but the Info is such that I cannot see any wood for the trees. Can anyone really tell me where the tune for Scarborough Fair comes from? I read today that the tune was a traditional Irish tune but I had always thought the tune to be an English one. Please, this is melody question, not a lyrics question. There is already a lot of stuff about the lyrics. Can anyone help?


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Subject: Scarborough Fair
From: GUEST,WCHKD
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 08:09 AM

Where does the tune for Scarborough Fair come from? Is it English or, as I saw recently, a traditional Irish tune?


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 08:26 AM

Version of The Elfin Knight, (Child 2)
Recorded from Mark Anderson, retirerd lead miner, Milton-in-Teasdale, Yorkshire in 1947 (By Ewan MacColl and Joan Littlewood for BBC radio programme The Ballad Collector).
Very similar version entitled Whittingham Fair recorded earlier by Frank Kidson in Yorkshire.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: GUEST,Ribena Man
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 09:30 AM

Why do people have to put a Child number after songs? Is it because they think they are clever? These songs were certainly not written by Child and existed in the tradition prior to and after being collected by the American trainspotter.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 09:51 AM

A Child number makes for easy identification, obviously. Similarly, when I hear a number I often identify this with a hymn tune (Hills of the North Rejoice = No 64) even when I haven't sung it for decades.

However, the question was about the tune. Which tune? There are several. I personally prefer the Whittingham Fair one referred to by Jim though probably the OP wants the Carthy / Simon one. Google is your friend.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Stower
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 10:03 AM

This thread and this page may give useful leads.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 10:06 AM

Out of curiosity, which version of the song was sung on the Dransfields' "Rout Of The Blues"? I much prefer this to the more well-known version.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 11:26 AM

"Why do people have to put a Child number after songs?"
Nothing to do with cleverness; it's a reference number for people to seek out other versions should they wish to. The song is known by literally dozens, if not hundreds of titles; (Scarborough Fair, Whittingham Fair, Jenifer, Gentle and Rosemary.....) Child made it easier to reference them.
Steve Roud has done an excellent job in giving all folk-songs a number; nothing clever about that either, but I'd be in trouble, living where I do, if he hadn't.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: northern lass
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 11:34 AM

I assume that the word Child related to a Mr or Mrs Child rather than a CHILDren type child (if that makes sense?) and it is their collection of songs?
I used to think that it meant it was a song you sang to your children until I started playing folk music and realised that you certainly wouldnt sing most of them to children esp ones like Cruel Mother and S Fair, they a quite dark most of them.

I now know and have admitted my stupidity! lol

I have to admit also I have recorded S Fair and did the Carthy/Simon version in terms of verses purely because I wanted to keep the track length down and add an instrumental section. It is such a dark song, it does annoy me when you hear all these pretty and sweet version, listen to the words!


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 11:44 AM

He was Professor Francis James Child of Harvard University.

In a Mojo interview with Eliza Carthy, she is alleged to have described to the interviewer how her dad found her sitting on the floor reading a book of child (in lower case) ballads. So whoever wrote the piece imagined she was reading a book of kids' stories too.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: northern lass
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 11:49 AM

Thanks, TBE!
Not just me being a bit dim then!


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: CeltArctic
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 12:01 PM

I like the Dransfield version too. It seems to be a joining of two tunes/versions. Does anyone know more about it? I would look it up on the LP cover, but I don't own the album - my father did. Did they say where they learned the version?


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 12:28 PM

It's out of English Country Songs 1893 collected by Lucy Broadwood from William Moat of Whitby. They got it from John Sheridan, resident at Harrogate Folk Club in 1962.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 02:39 PM

Typo in there, Borchester.
English COUNTY Songs


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 02:51 PM

Oh, I read if off Robin's notes. A case of a southern toff poking about in the north. We should consider ourselves lucky that an Irish trad singer managed to salvage it at all.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Brian May
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 03:37 PM

Personally, I think whoever can put the correct Child reference to a song IS clever.

My wife must be clever too because she places 'Child' behind my name on a fair number of occasions, but I'm not sure which song she's referring to . . .

;o)


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:13 AM

So, no Irish connection with the tune or the words then?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: MartinRyan
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:16 AM

Connections yes (try The Three-coloured House, for example, IIRC). Origins - no.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:43 AM

The Elfin Knight was found on several occasions in Ireland.
Thomas Moran of Mohill, Co. Leitrim sang a version for the BBC collectors in 1974.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: MartinRyan
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 07:02 AM

Thomas Moran of Mohill, Co. Leitrim sang a version for the BBC collectors in 1974.


.... and wonderful singing it is, too.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Tootler
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 07:48 PM

Whittingham Fair is in the Northumbrian Minstrelsy.

It is essentially this version in the DT with the place name changed.

You can find Child's versions here


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 03:38 AM

Did I write 1974 - spot the deliberate mistake, I meant 1954 of course.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 05:22 AM

The earliest known versions of Child 2 are 'Elphin Knight' texts that appear to have originated in Scotland, the oldest of which is a 17th century broadside copy. Child identified numerous ballads and folktales on the same theme, from Europe and beyond.

In the English, Irish and North American strains of the ballad, the supernatural suitor has disappeared, the ballad has become a lovers' dialogue, and refrains of the type: "Every rose grows merry in time" / "Then he/she'll be a true lover of mine" have replaced the common Scots refrain "he wind has blown my plaid awa" You could argue that these constitute a separate song, but for the strong resemblances in their 'impossible tasks'.

As far as I know, the only versions that mention 'Scarborough Fair' are those colelcted in North Yorkshire. One American version has the line: "Where are you going? I'm going to Japan"... !


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 10:22 AM

'A case of a southern toff poking about in the north.'

Ms.Borchester doesn't have much time for some of these early collectors.

In the case of my wife's family we had the energetic toff-ette (or should that be toff-ee) Mrs. Kate Lee doin' some of her collecting in Rottingdean and staying with Sir Edward Carson whilst she did it. Double bubble against her then as Sir EC not only led the campaign against home rule for Ireland and was a prominent Unionist but also prosecuted Oscar Wilde. I believe KLs husband was also a powerful QC, hence the connection and indeed the visit. My point, laboured as it usually is, is that she collected some fifty songs from James and Thomas Copper, and they were acknowledged by the inclusion of five in the first journal of The Folk Song Society (later to become the EFDSS). The brothers were made honorary founder members of the Society, a fact which they either barely regarded or of which they were blissfully unaware. Nevertheless, from those small beginnings an effort was established to formalise the collection and recognition of folk song in this country. By the 1950s the wheel had turned full circle and the collected became the collector with Bob Copper's appointment (amongst others like Seamus Ennis) by the BBC as a freelance collector of song and dialect in Sussex aand Hampshire. The Copper brothers were delighted to sing her their songs and she admirably describes their pride in doing so, noting the subtleties of their delivery. Their joy was unbounded because on each of the several nights upon which they attended 'the big house' to sing, the resourceful Mrs Lee provided a bottle of whisky and two glasses. Needless to relate, the bottle was emptied by the end of each visit.

Sorry, they didn't sing Scarborough Fair, but I thought Mrs. Lee should be remembered for her good work - toff or not.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: pavane
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 11:00 AM

I think I remember there are at least 4 tunes in Kidson, none like the currently popular modal one.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 01:37 PM

The version Cecil Sharp collected in Goathland (not a million miles from Scarborough) is in Dorian mode, although it's not much like the Anderson / Carthy / Simon tune. A shame that no recording of Mark Anderson seems to have survived.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 04:22 PM

To preserve the GUEST above from deletion, I should point out that it was, I believe, Jon Dudley celebrating some sort of sectarian, protestant ascendancy toff-fest.

I had always regarded Kate Lee - ever since reading this story in A Song For Every Season - as extraordinarily patronising. I do hope James & Thomas Copper made a huge hole in her fortune by guzzling many bottles of her Scotch.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 21 Apr 10 - 02:50 AM

Correct Diane...'twas my posting. Merely forgot to add a moniker in my excitement.

You may believe that I celebrate 'some sort of sectarian, protestant ascendancy toff-fest'...those who know me would also know that to be about as far from the truth as it is possible to get and disagree vehemently. Ask them - we probably have more acquaintances in common than either of us realise. But no matter.

You may also regard Mrs Lee as extraordinarily patronising...you may be right. I happen to believe she did a good job in this particular instance though. The fact is that she was a toff. There were toffs in our society then...there are today. Happily neither you nor I fall into that category. Sadly it is not recorded that the toffdom of the house of Lee crumbled as a direct result of whisky (or could it have been whiskey, what with Carson's Irish connection?) consumption by the brothers during that week - certainly little can be discovered about Mrs Lee although I believe Derek Schofield has interviewed a surviving relative.

Sorry, still no connection with Scarborough fair...didn't Martin Carthy learn that song from Paul Simon whilst they were both on a transatlantic jet?


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 10 - 03:29 AM

"didn't Martin Carthy learn that song from Paul Simon whilst they were both on a transatlantic jet? "
The story, as I have it, was that Dylan learned it from the singing of Martin Carthy, then passed it on to Paul Simon, who used it for The Graduate, and copyrighted it, of course! Simon's is a schmaltzed up re-write of Mark Anderson's English version.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Apr 10 - 03:43 AM

Mr Zimmerman did indeed learn Scarborough Fair from the singing of Martin Carthy - by taping it in the Troubadour. Paul Simon was forever asking MC to sing ScarborO Fair and I seem to remember that it was Davy Graham's sister who showed him the chords. Though in defence of PS, you have to acknowledge that it was a pretty neat idea to combine the tune with Canticle.

As for the song's collection on the North Yorkshire coast, that slapper Lucy Broadwood (she of the notoriously hard-to-tune piano-making family) got it from William Moat in probably just as patronising manner as Kate Lee extracted her "lower-class finds". Robin and Barry Dransfield got in from John Sheridan, an Irish singer living in Harrogate, in 1962 as I said but I can't say if this was a connection or a coincidence.


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Subject: RE: Scarborough Fair
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 21 Apr 10 - 04:38 AM

Sorry Jim, I should have put some sort of smiley symbol after that statement!

I believe Diane that both Ms.Lee and Ms.Broadwood attended the same school of patronising, probably in London, well certainly somewhere in the toffy south anyway. Clearly Ms.Lee attended the advanced classes, utilising low techniques such as the 'give the ignorant labourers whisky' ploy - certainly it is not recorded that Lucy Broadwood ever employed it - maybe she bribed her singers with low-quality pianos?

Lucy Broadwood a slapper? Well I'll be...dammit, you learn something new every day. I must ask Irene Shettle if she can enlarge on this fascinating aspect of Lucy's character.


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