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Sprig of Thyme - melody

GUEST,Maria O 07 Nov 15 - 01:10 PM
GUEST 07 Nov 15 - 04:10 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 15 - 04:12 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Nov 15 - 04:15 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 15 - 04:20 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Nov 15 - 04:21 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Nov 15 - 04:25 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Nov 15 - 04:26 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 15 - 04:32 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 15 - 04:34 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 15 - 04:51 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Nov 15 - 05:00 PM
Reinhard 07 Nov 15 - 06:59 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Nov 15 - 08:53 AM
Steve Gardham 08 Nov 15 - 01:50 PM
The Sandman 08 Nov 15 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Maria O 14 Feb 16 - 02:50 PM
MGM·Lion 15 Feb 16 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Maria O 20 Feb 16 - 01:52 PM
michaelr 20 Feb 16 - 06:27 PM
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Subject: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: GUEST,Maria O
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 01:10 PM

Can anyone tell me what's the origin of the melody used for "The Sprig of Thyme" by Pentangle? A very similar tune is used in the recent movie "Far from the Madding Crowd" - and I also did find a page (http://folksongcollector.com/letnoman.html) where this tune is on notes. But alas - no source.

The song itself is very well accounted for in https://mainlynorfolk.info/joseph.taylor/songs/sprigofthyme.html
and it's possible that the tune I search for is on one of the mentionned recordings - this would however be very laboursome to dig out, so I hope some of you wise people here can help me?


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:10 PM

Just had a listen to the Pentangle version of the tune and it's pretty close to the tune Bert Lloyd used for 'Tam Lin'. Wherever Bert is involved there's usually a making up of tunes or switching from one song to another, but, he added hastily, all very skilfully done.

Or Pentangle could easily have just liked Bert's tune and decided to use it for 'Let no man.....'

I know at least 3 tunes to the song which are quite different. It's definitely nothing like the Joseph Taylor tune. Another is that sung by various Irish pop groups, again very different.

I'll see if I can listen to the movie version online.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:12 PM

That last post was me without cookie.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:15 PM

I should have thought this was the 'origin'. I don't think the tune was, as sometimes happened, collated by Pentangle with another song's words [if you follow me]; but I recall hearing Isla Cameron sing this version (a briefer one than many, eg the one in DT, but still recognisably a variant) to this tune long before 1968, the date of Pentangle's recording -- about 1955-56, I should reckon it would have been, as part of the mixed sort of evening one would get at the old Players Theatre - & I seem to recall it being announced as an Irish song, but not too sure of that; so this is the tune I have always associated just with this version of this song.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:20 PM

The film tune is definitely the same as Pentangle's, so it looks like Isla Cameron is the one to follow up. If the song wasn't so widespread I'd check out all of the tunes but there are far too many to do that and my music-reading skills are not quite up to it anyway.

If Michael is right I suppose I could check out just the Irish versions. However Isla and Bert were certainly contemporaries and she could easily have got it from him in the 50s.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:21 PM

Ewan also used a similar tune for Tam Lin, on his & Bert's great Child Ballads collection back then, Steve, which is on you tube. Close-ish, but not that close imo, to Isla's/Jacqui's 'Thyme'.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:25 PM

...and I repeat that the mention of Irish-ness by the Players' anchorman is only an impression memory; so not really a question of my being 'right' about anything v definite.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:26 PM

...from 60 years ago at that!


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:32 PM

But close enough to have been adapted. I know because I adapted Bert's 'Tam Lin' tune to my own version of 'The Maid and the Palmer'. Not the same but recognisable as a variant.

Looked quickly through half a dozen books and all of the tunes seen so far seem to be related to Joseph Taylor's wonderful version.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:34 PM

I'm pretty certain if Malcolm were still with us he'd have nailed that one straight away.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 04:51 PM

Now had a look through about 20 versions and all other than the Irish pop version seem to be related to the Joseph Taylor tune, even the American ones albeit a little more simplified. Interestingly I haven't seen any Scottish versions and Isla was Scottish!


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 05:00 PM

As for 'adapting' the tune of one ballad for another: as I never tire of pointing out, any ballad in usual ballad-metre can be sung to the tune of any other. It is purely a matter of convention which tune goes with which set of ballad words. Remember the notorious case of Fause Foudrage & Willie o' Winsbury that we went on&on&on about a few years back!

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Reinhard
Date: 07 Nov 15 - 06:59 PM

The only Roud entry with Pentangle's song title Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (#S181713) *was* collected in Ireland, a BBC recording of Patrick Green from Ballinalee, Co Longford, made in August 1947.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Nov 15 - 08:53 AM

Nice one, Reinhard!

Michael, you are absolutely right for those ballads in precise ballad metre, but a sizable number of Child Ballads are not in that metre.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Nov 15 - 01:50 PM

I would guess that Seamus Ennis was the probable recordist but where you would get access to a recording I don't know. A lot of the BBC's archives haven't survived. Bert and Ewan would have had access at various times round about then or just after.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Nov 15 - 03:51 PM

From 1942 to 1947, working for the Irish Folklore Commission, Séamus collected songs in West Munster, Galway, Cavan, Mayo, Donegal, Kerry, the Aran Islands and the Scottish Hebrides. His knowledge of Scots Gaelic enabled him to transcribe much of the John Lorne Campbell collection of songs. Elizabeth Cronin of Baile Mhuirne, County Cork was so keen to chat to Séamus on his visits that she wrote down her own songs and handed them over as he arrived, and then got down to conversation. He had a natural empathy with the musicians and singers he met. In August 1947 he started work as an outside broadcast officer with Radio Eireann. He was a presenter and recorded Willie Clancy, Sean Reid and Micho Russell for the first time.


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: GUEST,Maria O
Date: 14 Feb 16 - 02:50 PM

Thank you so much, everybody! This webpage is a true goldmine because of people like you!!


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Feb 16 - 09:49 AM

Two points to add which occur to me as this 3-month old thread has resurfaced --

1 Isla was iirc the provider of the background singing in the "Madding Crowd" movie, was she not? - which might reinforce the relevance of my memory of her singing it at the Players back then.

2 Something I definitely recall is that she got such applause that the Players Chairman called on her for an encore, and she sang Johnnie Todd, with accompaniment of the little band they had -- first time I had ever heard it, some years before it took the nation by storm as the "Z-Cars tune" -- that pioneering cop-soap* having first hit the Beeb's screens in 1962.

≈M≈


*"savons policiers" as I call them -- is that my own invention?


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: GUEST,Maria O
Date: 20 Feb 16 - 01:52 PM

I just found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlGyCifcoJg
Isla singing this very melody version, from 1958 LP "I still love him "(with Ewan MacColl).

And IMDB indeed confirms Isla was the folk music advisor of Far from the Madding crowd from 1967. However she doesn't seem to have sung this particular song, in the soundtrack Trevor Lucas is listed to sing "I sowed the seeds of love" - but it would of course be IC's version. Cool.

Maria O


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Subject: RE: Sprig of Thyme - melody
From: michaelr
Date: 20 Feb 16 - 06:27 PM

Is this what's being referred to as "the Irish pop version"? That's the tune I know from the singing of Christy Moore.


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