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Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing

DigiTrad:
ALLISON GROSS


Related threads:
a verse in Lizzie Higgins' Alison Gross (12)
Lyr Req: Allison Gross (46)
(origins) Origins: Alison Cross / Allison Gross (5)


Moos 21 Jan 14 - 04:52 AM
GUEST 21 Jan 14 - 05:46 AM
Long Firm Freddie 21 Jan 14 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 21 Jan 14 - 07:02 AM
Eldergirl 21 Jan 14 - 07:15 AM
Long Firm Freddie 21 Jan 14 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Jack Blandiver 21 Jan 14 - 11:59 AM
Reinhard 21 Jan 14 - 01:31 PM
GUEST 21 Jan 14 - 07:50 PM
Effsee 21 Jan 14 - 10:03 PM
Crowhugger 22 Jan 14 - 01:34 AM
Crowhugger 22 Jan 14 - 01:37 AM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Jan 14 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,Moos 22 Jan 14 - 10:54 AM
Brian Peters 22 Jan 14 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 22 Jan 14 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Jan 14 - 12:25 PM
Brian Peters 22 Jan 14 - 12:35 PM
maeve 22 Jan 14 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Jan 14 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 22 Jan 14 - 03:48 PM
maeve 22 Jan 14 - 04:33 PM
maeve 22 Jan 14 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 23 Jan 14 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Elspeth Cowie 23 Jun 14 - 09:36 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 24 Jun 14 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Wee Jock 25 Jun 14 - 03:34 AM
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Subject: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Moos
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 04:52 AM

Hello there,

My question is : how to sing Allison Gross (Child Ballad 35) ?
The most famous version is the one by Steeleye Span, there are more versions, even in other languages but they all sound the same.
That's not bad but I want to sing it myself and like to do it 'old style '.

I do not ask for the lyrics, there has been a discussion here before, nor do I ask for the Steeleye Span chords because I already have them.

I just want to know how to sing it properly.
I've been in touch with Judy Cook who does a very nice a capella (listen to it on Spotify) version but even she does not have sheet music; she just listened to the Steeleye Span version. She did mention a strong resemblance with the song "Down in Yon Forest".

Thanks
Moos


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 05:46 AM

Lizzie Higgins of Aberdeen recorded a very fine version of this ballad and it has been issued on In Memory of Lizzie Higgins; 1929-1993. Musical Traditions . MTCD 337-8. If anyone could have given you a guide as to how to sing it, Lizzie was that person.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 06:44 AM

Excellent suggestion from Guest; Lizzie Higgins' version also goes under the alternative title of Allison Cross and you can hear a 90 second sample of a track so named on itunes from her "What a Voice" album - what a voice indeed!

LFF


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 07:02 AM

Shit, I've done it again. The unnamed guest was me.

What A Voice. Is this a CD reissue of Lizzie's Lismor LP of the same name? If so I would urge everyone to buy a copy, also to check if her two Topic LPs, Princess of the Thistle, and Up and awa' wi' the Laverock are similarly available. If so make sure you crank out the hard earned dosh for those also. Absolutely wonderful singer.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Eldergirl
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 07:15 AM

Dave and Toni Arthur did a version Yeears ago, think it was on their album Hearken to the Witches' Rune which at last look was unavailable, But, some interested party may have put it up .. somewhere? I liked that version, and my other half had learnt it but has since discovered the Lizzie Higgins version so is learning that instead. Take your pick, I guess. All the best with it, cracking good song.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 11:40 AM

Hi Fred

Yes, it looks like it's a reissue of her 1985 Lismor recording. I can't find it on CD, but it's on mp3 on Amazon, slightly cheaper than the itunes version!

I had the immense pleasure of seeing Lizzie at the National Folk Festival in Loughborough many moons ago. Spellbinding.

LFF


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 11:59 AM

Alison Gross - Dane & Toni Arthur, Hearken to the Witches Rune (1970)


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Reinhard
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 01:31 PM

Malinky's Alison Cross on their CD Last Leaves (still with Karine Polwart then) also "is a shortened version from the singing of the great Lizzie Higgins, which leaves you to wonder exactly what a thing-that-toddles-around-the-tree might be."
You can find it on YouTube too.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 07:50 PM

Redo what the Arthurs did, you can hear it in their song.
1. Lay down your time measure. They only use one, but can be boring. Think about the metre of the song, and translate that into it. As you want to do a trad version of it, keep that basic: a modern version might add an off-beat or something.
2. Now lay down the beat of the song, based on the length of each syllable. All-i-son Gross, tum ti-tum tum. While you're doing this, be sensitive to where the natural pitch of the words is going, you'll start to fiddle with this next.
3. Thinking about what you felt just now, add the pitch. All-i highish, son lower, Gross lowest.
4. That's the carcase. Now you've got to put life into it. Practice it until it's yours.
5. Take it out and see how others react. Test with plenty of rubato to see if the song communicates better one way or another.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Effsee
Date: 21 Jan 14 - 10:03 PM

Really, if you are asking this, perhaps the song is not for you.
If you can't figure it out for yourself, best leave it alone.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Crowhugger
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 01:34 AM

The first thing I would do to get a fresh sense of the song is to sing (and record myself doing so) the whole thing in the familiar melody (Steeleye Span) but in 3/4 time. Even just running 1 verse & chorus I found it starting to feel more like a lament 'in memoriam' than the sneer-ish "good riddance" SS take on it. Speaking for myself, I'm sure different emotions would bubble up through doing the whole song. I would likely also try it with a few different bring a different feel to the lyrics. Maybe I'd also try it making up a very chant-like melody, accompanied only by djembe. The important thing is to jump in the metaphorical sandbox and have fun exploring.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Crowhugger
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 01:37 AM

Oops, I should've proof-read...the words "melodies to" are missing in the 4th sentence between 'different' and 'bring'. No clue how I deleted them.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 06:58 AM

The first volume of Bertrand Bronson's books "Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads" ought to feature the tune written out, because it contains ballads 1-53:
http://www.springthyme.co.uk/ballads/bronson_bronson.html

I don't own any of the Bronson books, so perhaps someone who does can do us the favour of confirming that?

Elspeth Cowie also does a version (a capella) which you can hear here:

http://www.emusic.com/album/elspeth-cowie/naked-voice/12947621/


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Moos
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 10:54 AM

Thanks so far for all the information

According to Judy Cook http://open.spotify.com/track/7iVibCieucawWaU2vnzHcV

, who owns a copy of Bronson' s book, there is no reference in it to a tune for Alison Gross.

Some people gave advise here, how to make your own tune for a song, thanks for that but I'm just looking for a written reference older than SS version

Thanks

Moos


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 11:23 AM

Matt: there are no tunes for 'Alison Gross' in Bronson. In point of fact there is only one text in Child, and that is from Child's much treasured 18th century source of rare magical ballads, Anna Brown (nee Gordon) of Falkland. So uncommon - and occasionally unique - are some of Mrs. Brown's ballads that it's been suggested that this middle-class woman (the daughter of a professor and wife of a minister) may have embellished them herself.

Some of Mrs. Brown's ballads are corroborated by versions collected elsewhere. Looking at Lizzie Higgins' 'Allison Cross', however, the text is so similar to that in Child that I wonder whether Lizzie's version has been taken direct from print at some point in its evolution.

As for singing it, you'd probably be better off (as has been suggested above) with the Higgins version than with Steeleye's - the tune of which was presumably composed by the band, has two different rhythms, and might be difficult to pull off as a soloist. In terms of style I'd say make sure the words come across, and not to over-dramatize your singing, but that's just my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 12:21 PM

Moos. So far as I know Lizzie put that tune to Alison Gross herself. It's probably one of the father's old pipe tunes.

Brian. I'm fairly certain that Lizzie's text is from print. In fact, if you look the booklet notes for the Musical Traditions double CD, I think it quotes sources for both text and tune.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 12:25 PM

having just listened to Lizzie Higgins' version, it's clear that that's where Elspeth Cowie got the tune she sings on the version I know.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: Brian Peters
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 12:35 PM

Thanks, Fred, for pointing that out.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: maeve
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 12:46 PM

It's been an interesting discussion to read. Thanks to everyone for that!

Although Lizzie sang her version for me at least two times (can't check- my collecting tapes all burned up), she never told me where she got her tune...and I never asked for fear of stopping the flow of song, story, family history, and hints at unspoken stories. Fred McCormick is onto something at least- Lizzie was trained by both father and uncle to translate the sounds of the pipes into her singing. She also sang it with utter belief in the story of the song. She learned her songs from family and from print also, from what she told me. She liked to show me differences in print versions of songs.

When I work on learning this particular song, I am aware of the rhythm and swing of the words and tune. I am not Lizzie, but I can pay homage to her singing- and the kindness shown me by Lizzie and Brian- by paying attention to the aspects she valued while making it my own.

It isn't mine yet, though I've been working on it for more than a few years. Moos may or may not be ready to sing it. but Moos can certainly keep learning and trying. I plan to do so.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 02:03 PM

It just occurred to me that if anyone wanted to do something a little different to the lyrics of Alison Gross, they could do a lot worse than using the tune James Raynard uses on his excellent "Loathsome Worm & the Mackerel of the Sea", from his brilliant, bewilderingly overlooked album 'Strange Histories'.

It's a close cousin in terms of the words/story and the lines have a similar rhythm. Wouldn't be difficult to adapt. Without digging out James' album to look at the CD booklet notes, if memory serves I think he found some 16th century Italian tune to fit to the words, so Moos would certainly find a requisite degree of antiquity there.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 03:48 PM

If Moos would like to hear the Lizzie Higgins' version of this ballad, it's very readily accessible -- for free -- on the Kist o Riches site (archive recordings from the School of Scottish Studies, the BBC and a Gaelic archive).

The search facility allows you to search by geographical area, or performer or song title. If you put in Allison Cross you'll get 4 versions, all by Lizzie Higgins and recorded between 1986 and 1989 -- two before an audience.

Moos might be especially interested in the first example, recorded for John Jacob Niles no less, which is preceded by a great piece of background where all of Lizzie's storytelling skill comes to the fore as she gives the 'background' of the song and talks of how she uses the pipe style from her father Isaac.

As far as learning how to sing such a song, my best advice would be to listen to the tune until you have the basic shape of it securely and then begin to sit the words onto it so that it sounds like the rhythm of speech, of storytelling.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: maeve
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 04:33 PM

Perfectly said, Anne. Thank you. How could I have forgotten that resource? It gives delight and tears, for with my recordings gone, I thought I'd not hear her speaking again.

In that interview with John Jacob Niles, Lizzie tells where the tune came from! "Bonny Lassie Gan tae the Fair" The ballad came from Donald who learned all of the words from his mother, who had trained to be a teacher. He didn't like the tune she had for it, and looked around in a pipe tune book to find one with the ornamentation he thought suited it. Lizzie gives the tune name as "Bonny Lassie Who Gan Tae the Fair" (my approximation).


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: maeve
Date: 22 Jan 14 - 04:37 PM

Forgot to glue in the link:
Lizzie Higgins- Alison Cross- John Jacob Niles


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 23 Jan 14 - 04:12 AM

The Lizzie Higgins tune readily translates into ultra trad. rock 'n' roll steam-folk soul post-punk purism...

Alison Gross : Woodbine & Ivy Band with Rapunzel & Sedayne


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Elspeth Cowie
Date: 23 Jun 14 - 09:36 PM

Hi Moos just came upon this thread. I learned Allison Cross from Lizzie Higgins when I lived in Aberdeen,she very kindly took me under her wing and we had some fine singing sessions. You will find a version of her tune in the TMSA book Come gie's a sang published in 1996. Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 24 Jun 14 - 05:10 AM

She did mention a strong resemblance with the song "Down in Yon Forest".

Yes of course, that is exactly the tune Steeleye used - never noticed it before. Just like they used 'When I Was a Little Boy' for 'King Henry', and Fairport borrowed 'Hugh the Graeme' for 'Sir Patrick Spens'.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Allison Gross How to sing
From: GUEST,Wee Jock
Date: 25 Jun 14 - 03:34 AM

Just listened to Malinky's version of Alison Cross on you tube, it may help you to create your own version of the song.

Good Luck

Cheers

Wee Jock


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