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Where do we get songs from?

Les in Chorlton 31 Dec 13 - 06:22 AM
GUEST 31 Dec 13 - 07:33 AM
Vin2 31 Dec 13 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 31 Dec 13 - 07:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 31 Dec 13 - 08:17 AM
Phil Cooper 31 Dec 13 - 08:40 AM
Marje 31 Dec 13 - 08:53 AM
GUEST 31 Dec 13 - 08:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 31 Dec 13 - 09:27 AM
Richard Mellish 31 Dec 13 - 09:52 AM
RTim 31 Dec 13 - 10:36 AM
GUEST 31 Dec 13 - 11:19 AM
BobKnight 31 Dec 13 - 11:26 AM
Richard from Liverpool 31 Dec 13 - 12:37 PM
Steve Gardham 31 Dec 13 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Guest Anne Neilson 31 Dec 13 - 01:28 PM
Tradsinger 31 Dec 13 - 02:47 PM
Don Firth 31 Dec 13 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Vin2 31 Dec 13 - 03:48 PM
Marje 01 Jan 14 - 05:11 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Jan 14 - 05:25 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Jan 14 - 05:29 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jan 14 - 06:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Jan 14 - 07:42 AM
Marje 01 Jan 14 - 11:48 AM
Steve Gardham 02 Jan 14 - 08:57 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Jan 14 - 09:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 06 Jan 14 - 03:19 PM
Les in Chorlton 07 Jan 14 - 06:31 AM
Howard Jones 07 Jan 14 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Eoin O'Buadhaigh 07 Jan 14 - 04:01 PM
Bert 07 Jan 14 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 08 Jan 14 - 06:33 AM
Tootler 08 Jan 14 - 07:38 AM
Phil Edwards 19 Apr 14 - 01:30 PM
Joe Offer 19 Apr 14 - 08:19 PM
GUEST 19 Apr 14 - 08:27 PM
Leadfingers 19 Apr 14 - 10:18 PM
Joe_F 20 Apr 14 - 10:02 PM
Richard Mellish 21 Apr 14 - 08:21 AM
Phil Edwards 22 Apr 14 - 04:02 AM
Phil Edwards 22 Apr 14 - 04:17 AM
Brian Peters 22 Apr 14 - 05:37 AM
GUEST 22 Apr 14 - 06:32 AM
Brian Peters 22 Apr 14 - 08:06 AM
GUEST 23 Apr 14 - 04:54 AM
Brian Peters 23 Apr 14 - 05:47 AM
Les in Chorlton 15 Aug 14 - 05:09 AM
Rumncoke 15 Aug 14 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,Desi C 16 Aug 14 - 08:56 AM
Phil Edwards 17 Aug 14 - 05:19 AM
GUEST 18 Aug 14 - 05:44 AM
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Subject: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 06:22 AM

Ok, just a trawl about where we get the songs we sing at folk clubs, sessions, singarounds etc.

I think I am talking (typing?) about mostly but not exclusively traditional songs.

I suppose I am in danger of opening up discussons we have had about what are and what are not traditional songs and I hope we can avoid that for as long as possible.

Just to open up I guess we get them from:
1. Other people sing them at live events
2. Other people on CDs etc.
3. Books
4. Websites


Other sources of songs?


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 07:33 AM

A lot of people learnt songs from their parents/relatives probably more so in olden times before tv and other media and later from the radio. Also school was a source too; I remember singing Dirty Old Town, The Campbell's Are Coming, Blow The Man Down, Swing Low Sweet Chariot etc from books in school music class.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Vin2
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 07:37 AM

Sorry previous reply was from me.....


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 07:52 AM

Well Les, there were these people called folksong collectors.............


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 08:17 AM

True enoughski Fred and the songs they collected are being made increasingly available via ..........


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 08:40 AM

If I hear a song I like, I try to find other versions and piece together something. I've recently done a couple of ballads where I had heard so many different versions, that I put mine together by osmosis. I notice that some songs I liked when I was younger, I couldn't sing with authority until I got a couple decades older. I'm still hearing songs I want to learn.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Marje
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 08:53 AM

On a practical level, I tend to combine the methods suggested, as I think many people do: I often start by hearing a song (sung live, or on the radio, CD, etc) and think I might like to learn it. I then look in my books to see if I have any versions there, and/or trawl the Internet - starting here, of course - for any further versions or information. I may need to check out the tune as well, if it's one I don't know and can't remember. If the tune I want is not in a book or on Mudcat, Youtube or Spotify can often help.

Sometimes I just pick up a book, find a song and learn the tune and the words as written.

With traditional songs, I often gather a few versions of the song and fuse them together to produce one that will work for me. With songs that have a known composer, especially a living one, I try to stick to what was written, but it's surprising how quickly the "folk process" can change this, for better or for worse, so even in these cases I may check out several sources and edit a bit.

As Vin2, above, has said, most of us also have songs tucked away that we learned orally in childhood, but in most cases I don't have a whole, singable version of these, and would need to refresh them a bit, using the above methods, if I were to perform them.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 08:59 AM

Presumably you mean how they entered your own repertoire.

When I used to murder a handful of songs at local singarounds they were ones that had seeped into my memory and which I sang to myself in whole or part. I would go back to print or recorded sources to fill in the gaps.

Going through books or records to find new songs never seemed to result in anything worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 09:27 AM

Thanks all so far. I am just interested in listing as many strategies as possible - so as to make it easier for our friends who come to the Beech, and anyone else for that matter, to learn more songs.

Folk at The Beech


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 09:52 AM

Most of the songs in my repertoire are more or less as I have heard them, with some conscious and some unconscious folk processing. In most cases I have listened to a recording (my own from a folk club or a commercial one) enough times for it to sink into my head.

I've heard some songs live often enough to know them without deliberately learning them, and I do sing a few of those (in other places from where I've heard them).

In only a few cases have I got the words from print, and even then only after hearing the song at least once.

I'm sure there are loads of excellent songs that I haven't heard and that could be learnt from print, but I don't seem to be able to find the life in a song that I've only seen in writing and never heard sung.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: RTim
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 10:36 AM

Here is a list of Internet Sites that I made recently for another purpose.

Tim Radford

INTERNET Song Collections and web sites.
Max Hunter Folk Song Collection - Arkansas
        http://maxhunter.missouristate.edu/
Alan Lomax Recordings
        http://research.culturalequity.org/home-audio.jsp
Andy Turner's - Folk Song a Week
        http://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/
Wolf Folklore Collection - Ozark Folk Songs
        http://web.lyon.edu/wolfcollection/ozarks.htm
Inishowen Songs Project (Ireland)
        http://www.itma.ie/inishowen/songs/a
British Library - Sounds
        http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/
Jon Boden's - Folk Song a Day
        http://www.afolksongaday.com/
Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Full English web site
        http://www.vwml.org.uk/vwml-home
EFDSS - Take Six Archive
        http://library.efdss.org/archives/
Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads
        http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm
Wiltshire County - Alfred Williams Collection
        http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/folk_search.php
Shanties and Sailors Songs
        http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty.html
A Treasury of Christmas Carols
        http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/index.htm
The Folklorist (Song Web site)
        http://trad.appspot.com/
Inishowen Traditional Singer Circle
        http://www.inishowensinging.ie/listen.html
The Ballad Index
        http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladIndexTOC.html
Christmas Carol Lyrics
        http://www.lyricsondemand.com/christmascarols/0/index.html
English Broadside Ballad Index
        http://emc.english.ucsb.edu/ballad_project/index.asp
Anitra Sings Sea Chanteys: History, Background, Lyrics and Tunes
        http://www.anitra.net/chanteys/index.html#intro
The Yorkshire Garland Group = Yorkshire Folk Songs
        http://www.yorkshirefolksong.net/
Life and Remains of John Clare (Northampton Poet & Collector)
        http://www.munseys.com/disktwo/lfrem.htm#1_1_129
Yet Another Digital Tradition Page
        http://sniff.numachi.com/
Music Hall Songs
        http://www.trasksdad.com/MusicHall/MusicHall.html

The Child Ballad Collection
        http://members.chello.nl/r.vandijk2/
Songs of The Sea
        http://www.contemplator.com/sea/index.html
The Alfred Williams Heritage Society
        http://www.alfredwilliams.org.uk/
The James Madison Carpenter Collection Onlne Catalogue
        http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/carpenter/
Shanties of The Seven Seas and Beyond -
        http://www.youtube.com/user/hultonclint
Musical Traditions Magazine
        http:///www.mustrad.org.uk/
Mudcat Forum and Access to Digital Tradition
        http://www.mudcat.org/threads.cfm
Tony Barrand's Morris, Sword & Clog videos
        http://www.bu.deu/dbin/dance/
SoundCloud - Share your Sounds (search by name or genre)
        http://soundcloud.com
Shanty Wiki (Bob Walser - in development)
        http://bobwalser.com/shantywiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.HomePage


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 11:19 AM

I write my own, but also have significant traditional singers in my family back ground, so I now include a few of these in my repertoire too. However, to answer the original question, we get songs from people who write them, some are absorbed into the tradition, others not.
www.youtube.com/bobknightfolk


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: BobKnight
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 11:26 AM

That was me as Guest above - cookies were reset. Grrr.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 12:37 PM

For me, the usual process goes something like this:

1) Hear a song a few times in various contexts (usually singarounds)

2) Find myself humming a song to myself. Realise that I know some, but not all of it, but now it's stuck in my head and won't go away.

3) Start looking up various versions of the song (using Roud index if I'm really trying to dig, youtube if I'm going more shallow)

4) Gradually piece together a version of the words and tune that I feel comfortable with, usually combining bits from my memory with bits that I've looked up. Sometimes this composite is very close to a key source; sometimes it's drifted substantially, usually as a result of how far my own head has played around it with it during stage 2.

5) Sing it a few times until it becomes a comfortable friend, then perform it at a singaround and hope that it takes root in somebody else's head so that the whole process starts again!

Very very rarely I've had an opportunity to learn a song directly from someone who themselves knew the song from their family, etc., and I do treasure those songs I've learned from a more direct "oral tradition". But even then I've almost certainly had to ask other people to fill in the blanks, or had to look things up in books, as I fail to remember the whole thing!


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 01:24 PM

All of the above!


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST,Guest Anne Neilson
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 01:28 PM

And to add to Tim Radford's list there's also the fabulous archive of Scottish material (from the School of Scottish Studies mainly) which you can find by typing Kist o Riches into your search engine.
These don't include lyrics, but you listen to the original source singers and can take the words from that.

I'm like many others in probably starting from the position of being impressed by either a live performance or, less often, by a lyric. But I also love to trawl through my many books and quite often come across a text that's sufficiently interesting to make me want to do something with it (even if I have to cobble together a tune of my own).

I probably allow myself quite a bit of leeway, but I'm past the age when I want to replicate someone else's performance (and my voice is probably beyond its capacity to do so!). And, in any case, I've always felt that the song itself should have centre stage rather than the performer, so that's definitely what informs my song choice now.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 02:47 PM

I am sure that many people learn their songs from YouTube and it is a great source for listening to alternative versions of songs. I recently found that someone had videoed for YouTube a song I had collected and recorded - fair enough as I don't collect songs for them to sit in obscure archives.

As far as possible, I try to learn songs that I have recorded and learnt from source singers, but this process takes a lot of time and patience. However, I get an extra buzz by hearing someone sing a song they have learnt via oral tradition rather than the folk revival or the media.   

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 03:32 PM

Back in prehistoric times, I would turn on the radio of a Sunday afternoon in anticipation of "The Shadow," and if I tuned in early enough, I could listen to Burl Ives talk about American history and sing songs about the particular event he was talking about, such as the building of the Erie Canal, singing songs like, "I Got a Mule and Her Name is Sal" and "The E-ri-e Canal." I was in high school at the time.

Then, in my second year at the University of Washington (English Lit. major) I started dating a young woman who was busy learning folk songs from a little drugstore paperback (35¢ Bantam Book) called "A Treasury of Folk Songs" compiled by John and Sylvia Kolb. I was an opera bug at the time, but I liked to sing, so I got a copy of the book. When she inherited a beautiful old George Washburn "Ladies' Model" parlor guitar from her grandmother and set about learning to play it, I bought myself a cheap little plywood guitar and joined her endeavors.

One evening we went to a concert sung by Walt Robertson CLICKY, who had a local television show at the time. After about two and a half hours of listening to some of the most fascinating songs I had ever heard, I dashed over to Campus Music and Gallery, bought Walt's two single 78s and a handful of other records: two 10" LPs by Burl Ives, a 10" LP by Richard Dyer-Bennet, a couple of others.

Then a folio of twenty songs sung by Richard Dyer-Bennet. Subsequently, a copy of "Folk Song U.S.A." by John and Alan Lomax, "American Songbag" by Carl Sandberg, and kept my eye out for others. I set about learning songs from both books and records. I now have a whole bookcase full of books of folk songs and ballads, and about folk songs and ballads, along with several shelves of records and CDs.

An important thing was that I didn't just learn the songs, I read up on them, because, inspired by Burl Ives' broadcasts and Walt's "verbal program notes," where they came from and what they were all about.

In the meantime, I took a bunch of lessons from Walt Robertson, then took some classical guitar to learn to use my right hand fingers efficiently and began working out my own accompaniments. By then I had retired the plywood guitar and had a nice Martin classic.

I also compared different versions of the same song or ballad and sometimes wound up singing a composite version. Clarity was the object.

All this study stood me in good stead. After a couple of years of singing at parties, "hootenannies," and such, I got tapped to do a television series on our local educational channel, KCTS-TV entitled "Ballads and Books" and sponsored by the Seattle Public Library. That really did it! From then on, I got many calls for concerts, gigs, more television, and the offer of a regular job singing three evenings a week at a local coffee house for regular pay. Off and running!

Knowing the background and histories of the songs and ballads you sing is not only fascinating in itself, it gives you a bit of "gravitas" as a singer. But don't make the kind of mistake where someone can say of you, "I knew he was a folk singer when he spent fifteen minutes introducing a three minute song!" But being able to give a few "program notes"—a sentence or two about the songs and ballads you sing—can put them in context and make them more interesting to the audience.

Sources? Records, song collections, occasionally other people—who probably also learned their songs from records and song collections.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST,Vin2
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 03:48 PM

New Year's resolution - make my first trip to the Beech singer's night !


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Marje
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 05:11 AM

Here's a somewhat more contentious point: one method I would recommend avoiding, or using with caution, is this -

You see an experienced floor singer perform a song you like. You've heard them do this song a couple of times - it's one that they do really well and everyone enjoys the performance. You go up to them afterwards and ask them for the words. They agree, and send you the words in an e-mail. So far, so good, but then ...

You get up at the same venue the following week and perform that same song, in the same version, slightly out of tune, and with less authority and confidence than the singer who provided the words, who is sitting there looking a little bemused.

By all means ask people for the words of their best songs, but don't come stomping in to their regular venue the next week and sing it in front of them. Even if the singer isn't much good and you think you can do it better, it's still a thoughtless thing to do. It is just a matter of etiquette and good manners, and one that might be worth mentioning to new singers starting out.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 05:25 AM

Good point Marge - and Vin we await your esteemed arrival - next sing - 15th January


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 05:29 AM

Good advice, Marje!

About half of my repertoire I've picked up by osmosis, hearing many versions sung over and over.

A small number come from my own family tradition.

Some from extensive recording trips to local source singers.

The rest from books and recordings. Unlike some people here I don't necessarily feel the need to always go back to the source singers. Their versions are just snapshots, just like other revival singers' versions and my own. My reasons for learning a particular song are multifarious but usually they centre on my own enjoyment of the song and anticipated enjoyment of any audience.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 06:53 AM

there is a song factory on an industrial estate outside of Milton Keynes. You and I might attempt to write songs, but they have nailed it out there on the industrial estate outside of Milton Keynes.

The have twice received awards for industry, artistic excellence, and making a contribution to British exports.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 07:42 AM

Xlnt Al

there is a song factory on an industrial estate
outside of Milton Keynes.
You and I might attempt to write songs,
but they have nailed it out there
on the industrial estate
outside of Milton Keynes.

The have twice received awards for industry,
artistic excellence,
and making a contribution to British exports.

All you need now is a tune


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Marje
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 11:48 AM

Steve, I agree with what you say about the "source" singers. Every singer is a "source" of some sort, and any performance at any point in time is, as you say, just a snapshot. The material recorded from the older source singers (who are not the true sources of songs, simply singers of them) may well have been learned from the radio, or from a book or a ballad sheet, either by the singer or by the person whom they learned it from. I do listen to "source" recordings sometimes, but in other cases I find that the tune and the words become more alive for me in the hands (and voice) of a revival singer or song-carrier (if we want a different word for those born after about 1940).

Wherever I've acquired a song, I like to work on it by myself to make it my own without referring back to the original rendition. I'm aware that when some people sing, you can tell which singer they've learned the song from by the voice inflections and mannerisms they use. I prefer to try not to do this, and sing in my own voice and style. But that's a whole nother issue and probably best not explored in detail in this thread.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jan 14 - 08:57 AM

Agreed.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Jan 14 - 09:32 AM

Thanks again folks, I will leave this for a while and then try to sum up what people ahve said putting the finished article on our website:

Here

Happy New Year also


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 06 Jan 14 - 03:19 PM

One more pull and that'll do


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Jan 14 - 06:31 AM

Hi Folks, I am re-posting this because it really is an amazing resource and people don't always read early posts.

Here is a list of Internet Sites that I made recently for another purpose.

Tim Radford

INTERNET Song Collections and web sites.
Max Hunter Folk Song Collection - Arkansas
       http://maxhunter.missouristate.edu/
Alan Lomax Recordings
       http://research.culturalequity.org/home-audio.jsp
Andy Turner's - Folk Song a Week
       http://afolksongaweek.wordpress.com/
Wolf Folklore Collection - Ozark Folk Songs
       http://web.lyon.edu/wolfcollection/ozarks.htm
Inishowen Songs Project (Ireland)
       http://www.itma.ie/inishowen/songs/a
British Library - Sounds
       http://sounds.bl.uk/World-and-traditional-music/
Jon Boden's - Folk Song a Day
       http://www.afolksongaday.com/
Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Full English web site
       http://www.vwml.org.uk/vwml-home
EFDSS - Take Six Archive
       http://library.efdss.org/archives/
Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads
       http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm
Wiltshire County - Alfred Williams Collection
       http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/folk_search.php
Shanties and Sailors Songs
       http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty.html
A Treasury of Christmas Carols
       http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/index.htm
The Folklorist (Song Web site)
       http://trad.appspot.com/
Inishowen Traditional Singer Circle
       http://www.inishowensinging.ie/listen.html
The Ballad Index
       http://www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladIndexTOC.html
Christmas Carol Lyrics
       http://www.lyricsondemand.com/christmascarols/0/index.html
English Broadside Ballad Index
       http://emc.english.ucsb.edu/ballad_project/index.asp
Anitra Sings Sea Chanteys: History, Background, Lyrics and Tunes
       http://www.anitra.net/chanteys/index.html#intro
The Yorkshire Garland Group = Yorkshire Folk Songs
       http://www.yorkshirefolksong.net/
Life and Remains of John Clare (Northampton Poet & Collector)
       http://www.munseys.com/disktwo/lfrem.htm#1_1_129
Yet Another Digital Tradition Page
       http://sniff.numachi.com/
Music Hall Songs
       http://www.trasksdad.com/MusicHall/MusicHall.html

The Child Ballad Collection
       http://members.chello.nl/r.vandijk2/
Songs of The Sea
       http://www.contemplator.com/sea/index.html
The Alfred Williams Heritage Society
       http://www.alfredwilliams.org.uk/
The James Madison Carpenter Collection Onlne Catalogue
       http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/carpenter/
Shanties of The Seven Seas and Beyond -
       http://www.youtube.com/user/hultonclint
Musical Traditions Magazine
       http:///www.mustrad.org.uk/
Mudcat Forum and Access to Digital Tradition
       http://www.mudcat.org/threads.cfm
Tony Barrand's Morris, Sword & Clog videos
       http://www.bu.deu/dbin/dance/
SoundCloud - Share your Sounds (search by name or genre)
       http://soundcloud.com
Shanty Wiki (Bob Walser - in development)
       http://bobwalser.com/shantywiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.HomePage

Very big thanks to Tim Radford:


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jan 14 - 10:21 AM

Marje, I agree with what you say about all singers being sources, and as a performer I find a revival singer may be a more useful point of reference than a "source" singer. And as you say, the "source" singers did not originate the songs, and may have learned them from a number of sources, including books, records or even revival singers.

Nevertheless, I think the distinction is useful. "Source" singers are steeped in a particular traditional style of singing. The folk revival has evolved its own style, almost independent of the tradition, which is different even for unaccompanied singing. For reasons of style even more than repertoire I think it is helpful to maintain that distinction.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST,Eoin O'Buadhaigh
Date: 07 Jan 14 - 04:01 PM

Well said Howard, I feel it is good to sit in on a singing session and listen to someone sing a ballad from their part of the country in their own distinct dialect and using their own style of phrasing.
I have been to many a session where I heard someone sing three ballads each in a different style and dialect. Mind you, he was good at it but the feeling just wasn't there.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Bert
Date: 07 Jan 14 - 04:57 PM

Parents
School
Popular songs when I was a kid
Popular songs when I was a teenager
Other Folk Singers
The Digital Tradition. - Thanks Dick.
Books
The Radio
The Internet

Lonnie Donnegan
Hank Williams
Jimmie Rodgers
The Spinners
The Yetties
Paddy Roberts
Jake Thackray
Billy Connolly

And if I can't find it there I'll make one up myself.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 06:33 AM

I've just come across a most interesting looking site which doesn't seem to be listed above. It's here at , and is maintained by the university of Wisconsin. It's called Wisconsin Folksong Collection, 1937-1946


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 07:38 AM

If I hear a song I like, I'll look in my books or on line for the words and tune/chords. If I can't find a tune but can find a recording, I'll listen to the song over until I've got the tune and, if I want to accompany myself, l'll work out the chords and that's it. With traditional songs, I like to have several versions and put together a version from them that I feel comfortable with.

Sometimes I find a song in a book or on a website that I like the look of. If it has a tune with it, I'll learn that but sometimes all I find is words, in which case I'll write my own tune.

I agree with what Marje said about "source" singers. Their version of a song is simply a snapshot - how they sang that song at that particular time. Most of my traditional songs have been learnt from or after hearing them sung by revival singers or have been learnt from books.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 01:30 PM

By all means ask people for the words of their best songs, but don't come stomping in to their regular venue the next week and sing it in front of them.

Good Lord, yes. I've picked up three or four songs from a regular at my local session - somebody who's been going to folk clubs for, at a rough guess, 34 years longer than me (admittedly I was a late starter). I've only done one of them in front of him; in fact one of them I've never had the nerve to sing out at all, it seems so very much his song.

I used to be into looking songs up & going back to the oldest possible version; this was partly because I picked up a lot of songs from what were basiclaly folk-rock recordings, which meant that I had to do a lot of work on them to make them work unaccompanied. These days I'm much more likely to take songs from recordings where they're sung unaccompanied or nearly, so I don't bother so much messing around with them. Messing around with versions of Child ballads is always fun, though.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 08:19 PM

I know all the nursery rhymes, many of them with melodies...but I have no recollection of where or how I learned them. I wish I knew.

Some are rhymes that most people don't seem to know, like "Hark, hark, the dogs do bark."

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 08:27 PM

http://www.rhymes.org.uk/hark_hark_the_dogs_do_bark.htm


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Apr 14 - 10:18 PM

I used to carry a cassette recorder and steal songs at sessions and clubs , as well as buying 'product' from booked artists . These days a
lot of what I hear I have heard before , but there are still writers turning out stealable songs .
And if (Like me) you are a song thief , ALWAYS credit your source !!


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Joe_F
Date: 20 Apr 14 - 10:02 PM

My mother
My father
Burl Ives on the radio
78s
Singers at Putney School
Books in the music room at the New York Public Library
LPs
Raunchy undergraduates at St Andrews University
Tapes
CDs
Books
Mudcat
Google


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 08:21 AM

I followed Phil's Messing around link and read with great interest his discussion of Tony Rose's getting his version of Young Hunting from Pete Nalder, and how Pete seemed to have put it together.

I used to know Pete long ago and I have some recordings from that period, including one at Reading University Folk Club in 1969 where he sang his version of Young Hunting. I dug out the tape but ran into some computer problems so have only just got the contents onto the computer and listened to that particular ballad.

On that recording, although Pete gives an introduction dealing with some aspects of the ballad, he unfortunately says nothing about the genesis of his version.

There are numerous differences of wording between that recording and the version on Phil's page, but they are mostly minor, such as can easily arise between performances by the same person. One slightly more significant difference is that he doesn't use the name Earl Richard.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 04:02 AM

Cheers, Richard.

Re "Earl Richard" vs "Young Hunting" - I chose to use Earl Richard in my (longer) version. There is an "Earl Richard" in the Pete Nalder column, but that's a mistake on my part.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 04:17 AM

...now corrected. My transcription (from Tony Rose) had a few errors, which I've taken the opportunity to put right.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 05:37 AM

I can't see this site amongst those listed above, but you'd be hard put to find a better place for Child Ballads. It's the work of Richard Matteson, who regularly airs his research here under 'Child Ballads, US versions'. Although still 'work in progress', it's already outstanding, extremely detailed, and it includes the tunes!

Richie's Child Ballad pages


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 06:32 AM

Looking back on the thread and rereading "Sing, Say or Pay" on MusTrad to double-check, there is something to be repeated from fifty years ago.

Way back then, it was always considered that particular singers "owned" a given song in a way which wasn't so much copyright as simple respect for them as singers. When they died, someone else would take it on, and although others might sing it, it was never ever done in the presence of the Master. The heritage of this is shown here, in particular singers recognising who they had their songs from, and singing them in that tradition.

It was also often said that particular songs belong to certain localities, and should similarly only be sung by people from that area, because only they could hope to understand the dialect and musical references used. It was, perhaps, to dissuade the banalisation of the repertoire at the hands of well-meaning yuppie acolytes of The National Songbook school of folk from reducing folk to the English equivalent of The White Heather Club.

The question has long been debated here, and a consensus arrived at, that because many people came from areas where the tradition had died, or perhaps more accurately was at the same almost invisible level it always had been, then it was reasonable to open the entire repertoire up to all. However, as the recent Tam Lin commentary has shown in the debate over "Carterhaugh", "Carter Ha'", "Carter Hall" and the rest, regional knowledge can be important and the rider made at that time, that reasonable efforts must be made to remain true to the history of the song, is worth repeating: the scope for continuing its story lies in the gap left around that.

In my case, when young, I had Scottish blood, from a family driven out in the Clearances to Newcastle and the Borders, and thence to Portsmouth. Since then I've lived overseas, and now have settled in East Anglia: bringing a dulcimer back with me from the overseas heritage means the EATMT is already a bit interested. I also have family in Bloxham, but not living there means I don't really have a claim on that heritage.

Since those days, the increased mobility of the population and the internet have loosened the old regional identities, without necessarily undoing them. That was one argument missing from the old debate, and substantiates the norm of recent times, but at the same time the apparent falsity of assumed personae mentioned makes the old debate relevant again. The root of our performance must be who we are and have been, not some kind of Actors Studio performance trick.

So forgive me for mentioning this again at a very cursory level, and others are quite welcome to elucidate the debate further on the heritage of heritage. I simply feel that it is worth reminding the thread of what the past agreements were.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 08:06 AM

"I simply feel that it is worth reminding the thread of what the past agreements were."

Interesting post, 'GUEST' (though as ever I'd prefer to know who I'm talking to). But aren't there two separate issues here?

'Song ownership', as practised in those Sussex pubs, seems to be alive and well in many current singing circles, if previous discussions on Mudcat are any guide. It's a matter of basic etiquette in a social group, as much as anything.

The second point, that certain songs "should only be sung by people from that area" was far from an 'agreement', then or now - witness the continuing and often fierce debate regarding Ewan MacColl's alleged injunction to that effect. While it's true that a relatively small number of English folk songs are specific to an area, the majority were printed in large numbers in cities all over the country, and most of the stuff the collectors chose to note down wasn't confined to any specific region.

"many people came from areas where the tradition had died, or perhaps more accurately was at the same almost invisible level it always had been"

The pattern of song collecting in England was very patchy, with large areas of the country pretty much untouched. I don't know of any evidence that a singing tradition in those areas had always been 'mostly invisible' - we simply don't know for certain, but in my mind the likelihood is that it was much the same everywhere, allowing for the effects of industrialization. There's not a lot of material from Northern England compared to, say, the South-West, but when Frank Kidson started looking in Yorkshire he found plenty - and it was broadly the same kind of repertoire.

Personally I'd steer clear of a song in a dialect that's not my own, or one that relates to a specific tradition in a distant locale, but I have no problem singing, say, 'Henry Martin', just because the two most familiar recordings are from the Gower Peninsuala and East Anglia.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Apr 14 - 04:54 AM

The reason I argue an invisible level is that the regions where a distinct song tradition survives coincide with regions where the social disruption of the Industrial Revolution was relatively minor, and so inversely we can surmise that where it was significant, the social disruption destroyed the local song tradition. At the same time, the propinquity of the parlour piano tapped into an earlier tradition of vernacular musicality predating that, and so there is at least some vestigial heritage there. Equally, the Revivals also established a common musicality across the country which sometimes tapped into the folk tradition (carols and the West Gallery in particular) - RVW's circles simply continued that. That, however, is the root of something we may in the future come to regret, as it's the same as the National Songbook, which created a somewhat fabulated national heritage. But even that tapped into the remains of a heritage, even if only of the sort portrayed by Pepys recorder lessons, the milieu created in the Restoration by Playford and Gay.
The spread of the broadsheets is probably responsible for the distribution


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Apr 14 - 05:47 AM

"The reason I argue an invisible level is that the regions where a distinct song tradition survives coincide with regions where the social disruption of the Industrial Revolution was relatively minor"

Leaving aside the Industrial Songs on which Bert Lloyd placed so much importance, and for which Roy Palmer has recently presented good evidence, Ian Russell managed to find lots of folk songs of the more Sharpian kind, still being sung as recently as the 1970s, within a few miles of the centre of Sheffield.

Meanwhile, the largely rural county of Cheshire gives only 57 hits in the Roud Index for songs collected there, while Leicestershire scores just 45. Was there scarcely any singing in those places, or waa the tradition invisible just because nobody much went looking?

The respective Roud count for songs collected in Somerset is 3,939, of which 86% were from the work of Cecil Sharp. One man on a mission: lo and behold, a vigorous singing tradition is revealed.

You can't draw conclusions about regionality in English traditional song without taking into account those wildly skewed collecting patterns.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 05:09 AM

Any more ideas before I foolishly attempt to sum this up?


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 05:51 AM

There would be a strong connection between areas connected by industry - the china clay from the South West was moved around the coast anticlockwise then taken inland on the canals.

It is why the 'Floral Dance' and 'Apple Pie' are basically the same tune.

I grew up just a few miles from Sheffield, before the M1 motorway was built.

I learned almost all my songs by hearing them, as I cannot make the dots into a tune, no matter how I try. I understand what the dots represent, and once I know the tune I can follow the dots, but for a couple of sets of words I really wanted to sing I made up my own tunes.

My family have a tendency to sing, or at least be involved with music, but that was the norm, not the exception.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 08:56 AM

From just about everywhere and anywhere. A lot through hearing them at Folk Clubs. Found in old books. Tales of songs from friends and relatives, from schooldays, more and more from song web sites, I spend a few days every week just lookng for new songs to do, it can be quite fascinating


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Aug 14 - 05:19 AM

I've got a stack of songbooks, but almost every song I know I've learnt either from a recording or from hearing another singer (or both). I go back to printed sources to learn the words properly, & sometimes to play around with different variants, but the sound of the song always comes first for me.

But if you're learning from a recording, you have to use a recording whose sound you've got some hope of imitating. If you're going to sing unaccompanied the key is to listen to unaccompanied singers, or accompanied singers who subordinate the accompaniment to the song (e.g. Tony Rose or Peter Bellamy). You can learn a song from a foursquare backbeat folk-rock job, or from a Bellowhead mashup, but it gives you a lot of extra work.


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Subject: RE: Where do we get songs from?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 05:44 AM

People like Bella Hardy are showing there's a regional repertoire we risk forgetting. It started with Sharp, but fell into the hands of the middle-class in the National Songbook, attempting to impose a standard Gypsy onto the entire country. We've since seen Kathryn Tickell bring out the Northumbrian tradition, and now Bella Hardy on the Dales, and there's still a repertoire in Essex which nobody's tapped, because it was kept in fighting pubs where serious violence was routine and knive fights not unknown. Dave Kettlewell's work in the 1970s and the EAMT can show the way here.
Then we have all the Welsh repertoire.

That is one line of trad work. A second one is keeping it alive: this is where the folk tradition of disrespect for the dots comes in useful, we're not into warhorses, the standard performance orchestras are specialists in.

Then finally there's new work. What we have to be careful of here is that from 1977 onwards, the whole music industry has been in the grip of the big boys: OK, the indie movement has riposted, but we've not seen any really big independent labels set up in opposition, like Virgin did in the 70s, for example. Indeed, the folk world was on the leading edge of that, with two harpers cornering their markets, Robin Huw Bowen controlling Sain in Wales and Alison Kinnaird controlling Temple Music in Scotland (which was hardly surprising given she's married to the boss of the compant, Robin Morton). To be fair to them, they've found since themselves riding the whirlwind, as they found themselves constrained by the heritage they represent, but it was most certainly true in the 1980s that if you weren't part of their circle as a harper, you didn't get published: Anne MacDearmid was a case in point, for all that she carried the Mod throughout that period. And it wasn't just in harp that this was true.
Fortunately, there was no such dominant position in England, although it is noticeable that for the last ten years and more, it has become increasingly difficult for newcomers to make their way in. We see this, for example, in the comments about the Broadstairs Folk Festival, where the entire effort is designed to put bums on seats for the established groups, not to help smaller fish find a place in the scene.
After that diversion, let me return to the point, new writing. The folk work has always been the journalist of the music industry, commenting on what's happening in our society. We see multiculturalism appearing in the Imagined Village, for example. But who's making commentary about the tension inside the Muslim community over fundamentalism? Or is it too dangerous?


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