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Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play

Julia_Writer 27 Aug 12 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,matt milton 27 Aug 12 - 06:02 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 12 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,matt milton 27 Aug 12 - 06:17 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 12 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,matt milton 27 Aug 12 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,matt milton 27 Aug 12 - 06:28 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Aug 12 - 06:38 AM
Jack Campin 27 Aug 12 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,Julia_Writer 28 Aug 12 - 09:13 AM
Lancashire Lad 28 Aug 12 - 09:40 AM
GUEST 28 Aug 12 - 10:17 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: Julia_Writer
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 05:45 AM

Hello

I have just joined this site following a recommendation from a friend and I'm hoping that you can help me.

I am a folk fan and a theatre writer and I want to draw on the English folk tradition for my new play, "The Janus House" (working title). I have long wanted to use the "non-myth" of the Green Man with the idea of the natural work v modern life. I want to tap into the folk dance tradition as well but that will come later.

Reading Eliza Carthy's biography which gave me the idea of researching folk song lyrics. So, keeping in with my current themes of world-weariness, escape and parallel worlds / magic, I wondered if anyone could point me in the direction of some potential source material.

English in the first instance though I'm aware that there's a lot of Irish material in the Oisin / Tir na n'óg stories.

I have made enquiries with the Cecil Sharp Library too but any suggestions at this stage would be a very welcome help.

Many thanks

Julia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:02 AM

Have you read Alan Garner's collection of essays "The Voice That Thunders"? The second you said this -" I have long wanted to use the "non-myth" of the Green Man with the idea of the natural work v modern life" - made me think instantly of Alan Garner. If you haven't already, I'd read his novels Strandloper and Thursbitch and possibly the Stone Book, but definitely he aforementioned essays.

It sounds from some of the things you mention (escape and parallel worlds) that you might already have done so though...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:08 AM

Not entirely clear what you seek ~~ Green Man as symbol of regeneration as used as an architectural manifestation? Or archetypal association with forestry. Robin Hood in the Greenwood has been much associated with some manifestations of the Green Man myth: so some Robin Hood ballads might be a point to start. If you could make your requirements & criteria a bit clearer, I think more suggestions would follow.

Best of success in your endeavours --

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:17 AM

...but as far as songs go, could you be a bit more specific about your themes?

I mean, what do you mean by "non-myth" of the Green Man?! Or "the natural work"? How does "world-weariness" come into things?

Talk of "natural work" and "magic" makes me think of songs such as "John Barleycorn" and "Herrings Heads", in that they both describe man's symbiotic relationship with nature/the universe in terms that are simultaneously magical but day-to-day and work-related. They are magical but indefatigably worldly and materialist. Look up the words to those two and you'll probably see what I mean. The celebrate the infinite plasticity of the imagination at the same time as they celebrate manual labour and the natural world.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:19 AM

Do you know a book, GREEN MAN, The Archetype Of Our Oneness With The Earth, by William Anderson, HarperCollins 1990? I reviewed it for The Times when it appeared ~~ not entirely favourably - a bit too unquestioningly anagogic, it struck me. But I think you might find it useful on your topic if you have not come across it before.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:19 AM

Sorry - should have written "THEY celebrate the infinite plasticity of the imagination at the same time as they celebrate manual labour and the natural world" (not 'the', obviously...)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:28 AM

The title of the book MtheGM links to above in turn put me in mind of the song "Green Grass Grew All Around"
http://www.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=10094

There's a whole family (tree) of folk songs in a similar format, showing the interconnectedness of things. "And the X stood in the Y/And the Y stood in the Z" etc etc

But talk of "parallel worlds/escapism" puts me in mind of "Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe"/"La Belle Dame Sans Merci"/Blake's "Crystal Cabinet" type territory, which is a whole other kettle of fish. There are plenty of folk songs that tell tales of faery folk, stepping into other realms, but that strikes me as a slightly different direction.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 06:38 AM

And, in dance, think of the Jack-in-the-Green...

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Aug 12 - 07:21 AM

Does the parallel worlds idea feature in English folklore at all?

You get it in the fairy traditions of Gaeldom and the Norse traditions of the northern isles of Scotland, but where else do you find things like fairy mounds where time runs slowly?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: GUEST,Julia_Writer
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 09:13 AM

Hi guys

Thanks for your suggestions. Jack Campin, you may be right about the parallel world think being more Celtic / Norse.

The Green Man is simply one strand of research. I went to a study day on the Green Man about ten years ago and the first thing to tutor said was "the thing about the Green Man Myth is that there is no Green Man Myth" - those of course there's the face in the leaves, Jack in the Green (thanks MtheGM), that chap that ruined Gawain's Christmas and apparently it even has roots (sorry) in the Baccanalyian / Dionysian (easier to spell!) iconography.

I haven't read any of the books featured (thanks Matt Milton & MtheGM)just a few things by a chap called John Matthews but I will be having a look through all the sources mentioned on this thread - a lot of reading goes into a little writing.

Thanks again

Julia


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: Lancashire Lad
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 09:40 AM

Also worth noting that Mike Harding's book on The Green Man may be of interest

LL


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Song suggestions wanted for 'folk' play
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Aug 12 - 10:17 AM

...but as far as songs go, could you be a bit more specific about your themes?

I mean, what do you mean by "non-myth" of the Green Man?! Or "the natural work"? How does "world-weariness" come into things?


Thanks Lancashire Lad, I've added it to the list!

Apologies to those who have asked for clearer criteria.

The "non-myth" bit wasn't really important and "the natural work" should have read "natural world".

The story (at present) is really about leaving behind an existence that can be hard, cold and lonely and giving in to the renewing qualities of the natural world.

Now I've said that it sounds like a magic-realism version of "The Good Life."

But John Barleycorn and the Robin Hood songs are a good starting point.

J


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