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Origins: Maid Freed from Gallows - oldest melody


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GUEST,hector 08 Dec 18 - 02:27 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 08 Dec 18 - 02:53 PM
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Subject: Origins: Maid Freed from Gallows - oldest melody
From: GUEST,hector
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 02:27 PM

The Maid Freed from the Gallows / The Prickly Bush / The Prickle-Holly Bush / Prickle-Eye Bush / The Golden Ball / Hangman / Gallows Pole

Hello, this is my first post here and there format is like stepping back into 1997 so I am a bit bewildered. But I would really appreciate some help so hopefully there are still some souls reading this :-)

I would like to know what the oldest versions of this song are, especially in regards to the melody as I have already found many versions of the lyrical content compiled.

All the recorded versions I can find of it are late 20th century/early 21st century, British or North American and vary wildy in melody. Even amongst British versions there is no similarily except where they are directly doing cover of the american blues versions of John Jacob Niles, Leadbelly and the likes.
Amongst English versions I only hear a similarity between bellowhead, steeleye span & Nic Jones versions. Surprisingly they have no similarity with the watersons version.

Most of the information I have found about it is here:

Where A.L Lloyd states "the opinion of many scholars this is among the oldest, most typical and most interesting of ballads. It has turned up in countless versions in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, in Central Europe, Hungary, Rumania and Russia, and the ballad specialist Francis J. Child considered that the best version of all is Sicilian"

I would really like to hear/read the melodies in any version that is older than the 1960s , when folk revival and rockgroups making hits of old blues tunes skewed what may or may not have been versions that stood the test of time in the respective cultures this ballad was supposed to have reached. I would also really love to hear the non British/American versions as I have not been able to track down even one.

The last two lines of this journal entry (which I dont have access to) mentions a sicilian ballad printed in 1874. The half sentence about tunisian pirates souns especially exciting.

I think this is the italian text it is referencing on google books but it doesnt look like there is musical notation in the book, which is what I am after in lieu of a recording.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Maid Freed from Gallows - oldest melody
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 08 Dec 18 - 02:53 PM

Bronson's earliest tune seems to be c1840 (Hudson MS), then Child 1882, one listed as learned c1883 (though published in 1920s), Broadwood and Maitland 1893, and after that all the tunes are from the 20th century, mostly <1940, but a handful later.

Bronson has this to say:

In spite of very considerable superficial variation, it may be permissible to class all the British or British-descended tune-variants as members of one large musical family. This will, however, have to be subdivided into several types, the mid-cadence being a factor of importance, though not always compelling. Plagal forms predominate, and the melodic tradition has remained almost wholly within the Ionian galaxy.


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