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Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock

davyr 13 Jul 12 - 08:23 AM
DebC 13 Jul 12 - 10:18 AM
davyr 13 Jul 12 - 10:50 AM
peregrina 13 Jul 12 - 11:41 AM
davyr 13 Jul 12 - 12:13 PM
Chris_S 13 Jul 12 - 04:57 PM
Chris_S 13 Jul 12 - 05:11 PM
davyr 24 Jul 12 - 05:52 AM
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Subject: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: davyr
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 08:23 AM

I've just (rather belatedly) come across this song, and whilst I think it's a terrific rendition, it obviously owes a great deal to "Appley and Orangey", a tale/song that features in Ewan McColl & Peggy Seeger's book "Till Doomsday in the Afternoon: the Folklore of a Family of Scots Travellers".

The central theme of the girl being murdered, baked into pies which are then eaten by her father, and her spirit's magical transformation into a dove (a "Doo" in Scots dialect)are identical.

How much of a song's theme has to be original for it to be claimed as an original song?

This is not intended as a criticism of Emily Portman (indeed, I've just ordered the Glamoury album on which Stick Stock appears), just wondering what others' opinions are on this?

Obviously there are no "new" themes in folk music, but this song appears to borrow rather more than just the age-old motif of the murderous step-parent.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: DebC
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 10:18 AM

I love Emily Portman's songs. She is a songwriter that has studied the ballads and uses them as foundations for her own songs. The images in her lyrics are vivid and her melodies complex and original.

I hold the bar extremely high on songwriting and Emily has certainly, IMO, exceeded it.

These ARE original songs. Yes she has taken themes and plots from original sources, but that is certainly to her credit.

I have learned her song "Tongue-Tied" and my audience's reaction is when I sing it is very positive.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: davyr
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 10:50 AM

I agree that it's to her credit. Maybe when my copy of "Glamoury" arrives, I'll find that she in turn gives credit to her source, as many before her have done in their album sleevenotes.

What struck me about Stick Stock was the rarity of its theme, which, as far as I'm aware, only occurs in one other text, i.e. "Appley and Orangey".

I wouldn't necessarily expect a source for a more common motif to be credited.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: peregrina
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 11:41 AM

Hansel and Gretel,earlier versions? Titus Andronicus? Not a rare motif across the world.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: davyr
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 12:13 PM

Fair comment. But how many of those tales also have the victim's spirit returning as a dove? It's the detail, not just the central theme, that makes Stick Stock (in my mind at least) so obviously inspired by Appley and Orangey.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: Chris_S
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 04:57 PM

The only reference in the CD song notes is that the song is based on the story of the Juniper Tree. I don't know what this refers to, presumably a traditional tale or song. Other Mudcatters can you help?

I think you are going to have a great time getting to know the album, it is quite mysterious and beguiling. I keep popping back to it and discovering new interesting moments. A great album but not really one for a dance party.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: Chris_S
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 05:11 PM

Just discovered the Grimm Brothers' tale "The Juniper Tree" which is the basis of the song - Google is your friend here. It must be the inspiration for the song and also Appley and Orangey I guess.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Emily Portman - Stick Stock
From: davyr
Date: 24 Jul 12 - 05:52 AM

Thanks, Chris S - I wasn't aware of the Grimm origins of that tale (which Emily Portman does, as you say, reference in her notes).

I've now received Glamoury and love it so much that I've also ordered Hatchling, Emily's recently-released second album!


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