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Folk songs for English non-folkies

Northerner 01 May 12 - 03:30 AM
Brian Peters 01 May 12 - 04:10 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 04:27 AM
Keith A of Hertford 01 May 12 - 04:42 AM
Marje 01 May 12 - 04:50 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 04:50 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 04:56 AM
Brian Peters 01 May 12 - 05:08 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 05:46 AM
Richard Bridge 01 May 12 - 05:54 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 06:19 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 May 12 - 06:23 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 06:32 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 May 12 - 06:42 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 07:03 AM
Brian Peters 01 May 12 - 07:56 AM
Northerner 01 May 12 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,FloraG 02 May 12 - 05:07 AM
bill\sables 02 May 12 - 05:29 AM
Northerner 02 May 12 - 08:44 AM
Northerner 02 May 12 - 08:47 AM
Nigel Parsons 02 May 12 - 11:58 AM
Bert 02 May 12 - 12:06 PM
Carole Bannister 03 May 12 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,FloraG 03 May 12 - 05:31 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 May 12 - 06:13 AM
treewind 03 May 12 - 03:44 PM
Richard Bridge 03 May 12 - 06:56 PM
Northerner 03 May 12 - 06:59 PM
GUEST, Poxicat 03 May 12 - 06:59 PM
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Subject: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 03:30 AM

I'm going to deliver a storytelling session soon to a small group locally. The session is to help a student friend. None of the group has seen a storyteller before. My stories are all short and concern legends from the north of England. Ghost stories, supernatural stories. I will also be delivering a few of my poems. I am starting to get my poems published and they always go down well. I also would like to sing one or two folk songs; these would be unaccompanied though I am currently learning guitar. My question is - do I need to provide song sheets for them? This is not a folk club audience. Advice on song choice would also be helpful; are they likely to be able to pick up songs like Dido Bendigo (with words provided) or would I be wiser to do better known songs? This is in England. Initially when I asked my friend she said they would be happy to join in but now she is having doubts about whether they would pick up choruses. The event is to help a student project and I would like it to go well.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:10 AM

If your stories are of the supernatural, why not choose songs on the same theme? Plenty of the old ballads concern ghosts and magic or, if you must have something with a chorus, there are good versions of 'The Unquiet Grave' with singable refrains.

On the other hand, chorus songs are a high-risk strategy with an audience unused to the concept of singing along. Keep your chorus VERY simple, would me my advice if you want to go down that path. 'Dido Bendigo' has a wordy chorus full of obscure names. Personally I wouldn't go with song-sheets unless the evening were advertised as some kind of singalong. Some people might regard having a songsheet pressed into their hands as a bit too much like school.

My experience is that non-folk audiences appreciate songs that challenge their preconceptions (which tend to consist of jolly choruses sung by men in chunky jumpers). A stark rendition of a beautifual melody, with a good and perhaps mysterious story might really grab them, never mind whether it's already familiar.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:27 AM

Thank you Brian. That is very helpful. I'll think about songs that match the themes of my stories.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:42 AM

People do not like song sheets.
If they want to sing they will soon pick up on a chorus.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Marje
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:50 AM

I agree that song-sheets might be a bit scary for an audience unused to singing. What might be appreciated is some sort of printed handout afterwards, with either the words to the songs or some information about them, so that anyone who's interested can find out more.

Other songs you might consider are Death and the Lady, Reynardine, and the Cruel Mother. Or perhaps one of the versions of the Two Sisters that has the spooky bit about the talking bird and/or the self-playing harp made of bone. Some versions of this have repeated refrain lines that the audience might join in, but don't be put off if they don't.

Don't worry about the songs being unaccompanied. This fits very well with story telling, as it focuses the attention on the words.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:50 AM

Perhaps I should have mentioned that this event is being held outside, in the gardens of a ruined abbey, in the afternoon. I had originally thought of singing songs that reflect the countryside, such as The Banks of the Sweet Primroses. Perhaps that song would still work, together with one of the versions of The Two Magicians maybe? Or My Son David perhaps? Magic and death are two themes; some of the stories are slightly grisly! I really only need 2 or 3 songs.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:56 AM

Thank you for the advice! No song sheets then! My Son David is sounding like one of my choices - I already have the words for it in my file.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 May 12 - 05:08 AM

Outside? Afternoon? That argues against dark, claustrophobic songs and for expansive ones. Also probably makes audience chorus singing less likely.

If it were me I'd be thinking of something like 'Seeds of Love' for an open-air gig on a Summer's afternoon (Summer, what's that?). 'Sweet Primroses' might well be good there, too. It would then be up to you to find a link with the supernatural stories!

'My Son David' had has a big tune and works well unaccompanied. so that could fit the bill. Especially if you know it already.

Good luck with it. Taking folk songs out there to the general public is something we whould all be doing.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 05:46 AM

Thank you very much Brian! Your advice is greatly appreciated. I've sung both The Banks of the Sweet Primroses and My Son David so they both look promising now. Now I need to sit down with pen and paper and decide on the order that I do things in. I need to look for links if I can, and that might suggest one more song; I think three will be enough. Diane Taylor


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 12 - 05:54 AM

The Crow on the Cradle? Twa Corbies? Three Ravens? Willie of Windsbury? An abbreviated Tam Lin? Fine Flowers in the Valley? Bedlam Boys?

All nice and cheerful (not).


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:19 AM

Hi Richard! Some good ideas there! Yes, Twa Corbies would fit in splendidly and I already sing it. Thank you, I'm just about there; just have to get the order sorted, then I rehearse the material again, and again...


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:23 AM

The thing is to know the songs and understand them - so there are no iffy lines where you look blank. And then PERFORM them. If you're outdoors you will need a BIG performance - perhaps a costume would help. Unaaccompanied is perfect, cos then you can gesticulate and do funny voices and crouch down whenthe ghost speaks.

To make a song work that they've never heard and grab them with the narrative - you will have to work hard. The other alternative is to have an attention grabber like a bnrilliant harmony singer, a wonderful accompanist, or a stunning looking girl!


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:32 AM

Thank you Al. I am intending to pretend to drum as the drummer boy from Richmond; now that's a ghost story that gives me goose bumps. I'll have to be the "stunning looking girl" even though I'm all of 60.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 May 12 - 06:42 AM

tERRRIFIC! bREAK A LEG!


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 07:03 AM

Thank you Al! This is my list of stories; Legend of the White Mare of Lake Gormire, The White Cow of Wardle Rigg, The Hand of Glory, The Legend of Lake Semmerwater, The Legend of Roseberry Topping, and The Drummer Boy of Richmond. Five are from Yorkshire and the other one has a connection as there is a hand of glory in the museum at Whitby. The event is being held in the gardens at the back of Guisborough Priory. My poems are about Middlesbrough and Redcar. Everything is quite short. My friend Sylvia will be videotaping parts of the event.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 May 12 - 07:56 AM

I was walking by Captain Cook's monument on Saturday. Intrigued to know what the 'Legend of Roseberry Topping' is!

You probably don't have time to learn it now, but I sing a version of 'Scarborough Fair' from Goathland (via Cecil Sharp) which has a lovely mysterious tune, and which I occasionally use in Supernatural-themed presentations (it was a supernatural ballad in its older forms, after all).


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 01 May 12 - 08:25 AM

Hello Peter. I hope I hear your song one day. You come to my local folk club quite regularly so I expect I will hear it eventually. My local club is Stockton. The story about Roseberry Topping is in a book by Peter Walker but there are versions on the Internet. After the event I will look at the material and use it to develop a Yorkshire themed programme using songs from Yorkshire, and another programme with a supernatural theme.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 02 May 12 - 05:07 AM

Northener
Will your audience be sitting down or just hanging about. If its the latter long songs will have them wandering off.
I would start with a song that most people know. The mermaid would be good and supernatural for an audience aged 50+. Dark moon arising would be ok for under50s. Ask for help with the song.
Have you considered a poem with a spoken refrain?
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: bill\sables
Date: 02 May 12 - 05:29 AM

Going a little further North to Co Durham is The Lambton Worm. It depicts a legend along with a chorus which they would probably have heard and know the tune


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:44 AM

Thank you both. I will probably stick now with the set list that I have already written. However after the event I will review the material and see if I can develop it into a form suitable for offering to storytelling clubs or festivals. I will write new poems specifically to go with the storytelling material. I will sit down with the folk song material and learn by heart songs like Tam Lin. I would extend the material for a longer spot. I have just contacted a fellow poet over a local writers' group that would give me support. I'd considered The Lambton Worm but am not sure how credible I would sound with a voice that I've been told sounds posh! I love the song though so will probably learn it; Lambton is one of the screen names I use on the Internet.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 02 May 12 - 08:47 AM

Forgot to say that the audience will be sitting down as my friend will be organising chairs for it. I wish the weather was better; I believe it will be dry but may be cloudy.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 02 May 12 - 11:58 AM

It probably goes without saying, but ... (ever one to state the obvious)
Let us know how it goes, and what you settled on. (I'm sure we're not planning to nick it!)

Cheers

Nigel (from a sunbed in Lanzarote)


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Bert
Date: 02 May 12 - 12:06 PM

Tom Pierce.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Carole Bannister
Date: 03 May 12 - 03:55 AM

How about "The Mistletoe Bough" "Thomas the Rhymer" "Long Lankin".
Sounds a great event, I wish I could come and see it but too far away.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 03 May 12 - 05:31 AM

I seriously think tam Lin is too long for non folkies even if you have a voice to die for. Consider telling part of the story in words and sing the occasional verse would be my suggestion.

Are you using a mike? If so check spoken and sung volumes - they tend to be different.

Dress up. It adds to the occasion. ( even different hats for different stories).

Enjoy and good luck.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:13 AM

the other thing is that seeing as you are using props ( a drum and drum stick). Use them to the maximum. Don't just hit the drum monotonously. Its like that old creativity test - fifty uses for a brick. Your drum stick can be a fife, a rifle, an officers baton, a telescope, a telephone.....


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: treewind
Date: 03 May 12 - 03:44 PM

We (Mary mostly) gave a talk to a local village history society a couple of days ago, about traditional songs collected in Cambridgeshire. Of course Mary sang some of the songs, and we were amazed at how readily the audience picked up choruses and repeated last lines. I don't know if they were a typical non-folkie audience. They were obviously intelligent and asked some good questions at the end, and it turned out that some of them are amateur musicians and singers anyway.

It may have helped that we had some of the words on a projection screen, but even so we've had less audience participation in some so-called folk clubs!


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:56 PM

It is common to denigrate Tam Lin but the verses are each very short. Time it. Under 4 minutes, indeed nearly 3 (the Steeleye Span verses). I have just sung it through and timed it. I wonder why people say such things.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: Northerner
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:59 PM

Thank you all for interest and advice. I still have some hard work to do but I described it as "work in development." I told 6 stories, delivered 3 of my poems and sang 3 folk songs. I started with "The Lambton Worm", did "The Twa Corbies" half way through and ended with "My Son David." All the stories were from the north of England. "The Hand of Glory" went down particularly well; the audience really enjoyed grisly details about the hand! The audience seemed to all be enjoying it. Several came up to me at the end to thank me. One old man came up and thanked me for giving him a beautiful memory. I still have more development to do - writing poems more suied to it for a start. I feel I have made a good beginning and am motivated to continue. My friend was videotaping it to use towards her MA in tv film production and she was very pleased with the way it had gone. Now I've followed that with a 2 hour guitar class and a couple of songs at an open mic. I'm tired but very pleased.


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Subject: RE: Folk songs for English non-folkies
From: GUEST, Poxicat
Date: 03 May 12 - 06:59 PM

I suspect that many who say that a folk song is too long don't actually like folk songs.


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