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Seeds of Love radio programme

8_Pints 26 Aug 03 - 01:40 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Aug 03 - 02:27 PM
Noreen 26 Aug 03 - 02:35 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Aug 03 - 03:07 PM
Penny S. 26 Aug 03 - 03:30 PM
Mary Humphreys 26 Aug 03 - 04:10 PM
Noreen 26 Aug 03 - 04:51 PM
John Routledge 26 Aug 03 - 06:23 PM
running.hare 26 Aug 03 - 06:50 PM
Roger the Skiffler 27 Aug 03 - 03:04 AM
The Borchester Echo 27 Aug 03 - 03:51 AM
treewind 27 Aug 03 - 04:33 AM
The Borchester Echo 27 Aug 03 - 05:38 AM
Herga Kitty 27 Aug 03 - 05:15 PM
Marje 28 Aug 03 - 10:23 AM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Aug 03 - 01:42 PM
Folkiedave 28 Aug 03 - 02:48 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 29 Aug 03 - 02:44 PM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Aug 03 - 03:40 PM
Marje 04 Sep 03 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 05 Sep 03 - 01:43 AM
GUEST 05 Sep 03 - 02:52 AM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Sep 03 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 05 Sep 03 - 05:17 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 05 Sep 03 - 06:30 AM
treewind 05 Sep 03 - 07:43 AM
treewind 05 Sep 03 - 08:56 AM
Rain Dog 29 Dec 13 - 12:28 PM
The Sandman 29 Dec 13 - 02:45 PM
The Sandman 29 Dec 13 - 02:58 PM
The Sandman 29 Dec 13 - 03:06 PM
The Sandman 31 Dec 13 - 07:56 AM
The Sandman 01 Jan 14 - 06:31 AM
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Subject: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: 8_Pints
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 01:40 PM

Whilst driving back from a folk camp today, I caught a prog on Radio 4 this afternoon about Cecil Sharp and his collection of the song, the seeds of love. It was very interesting, with comments from Vic Gammon, Peta Webb, Eddie Upton, Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy and others. It is well worth listening to and will be available on the Radio 4 website. It was on at 1-30pm (GMT) today.

Later on this evening at 11-30pm there is a prog by Lucie Skeaping about the history of bawdy songs - apparently called 'Hey nonny nonny and fol de rol'! again on Radio 4.


Sue vG


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 02:27 PM

What is the link to Radio 4?


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Noreen
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 02:35 PM

Thanks Sue.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml

but Seeds of Love doesn't appear to available there (as yet?)


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 03:07 PM

Thanks. I see it there - under T for "The" Seeds of Love.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Penny S.
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 03:30 PM

Could anyone tell me what is wrong with children learning "Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron" - a comment made during the program?


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 04:10 PM

I took it to be more a comment about Sharp's piano arrangements in his published versions which changed the character of the songs somewhat. One must remember that Sharp was a pioneer in educational circles, getting the songs sung by children once again so that they would survive another generation.
By the way, I thought Peta Webb's contribution was riveting - and what a wonderful voice!

Mary Humphreys


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Noreen
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 04:51 PM

Lovely programme.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: John Routledge
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 06:23 PM

Nice to see that you are still on the ball Sue. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: running.hare
Date: 26 Aug 03 - 06:50 PM

caching end of bawdy song prog now, Enjoyed Seeds of love earyer, Thx for the heads up on the second.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 27 Aug 03 - 03:04 AM

I caught it, too , while driving back from B'ham, having taken my old dad home after staying with us for the bank Holiday weekend. I even stayed with it till the end before switching to my Lonnie Donegan cassette!
RtS


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 27 Aug 03 - 03:51 AM

Wot? No slagging off Jim Moray's version which closed the programme, nor for his interesting, provocative (but true) contribution? Has enlightenment arrived?

And right on, Mary. about Peta Webb's bit!


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: treewind
Date: 27 Aug 03 - 04:33 AM

Was that Jim Moray's version of Seeds of Love? I haven't heard the programme yet but the song was on Late Junction the other night and I don't know if it's because it's better than some of his others, or because I've got indoctrinated here (enlightenment? dunno about that) or just got used to the idea but I found it compelling listening and it all made musical sense to me.

Anyway - I'd better get on to the prog with RealPlayer before it fades away...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 27 Aug 03 - 05:38 AM

Indoctrinate, Anahata? No need, and I certainly wouldn't try it on you! What makes musical sense is to devise a presentation which is relevant to the audience and this is something that neither you nor Jim needs lessons on how to do.

What disappointed me slightly about the programme was that there was no mention of the book 'The Seeds of Love' by Stephen Sedley (yes, the high court judge). He served as a mentor for so many - both musically and politically - at the very start of the revival and I believe he deserves recognition as a major influence.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 27 Aug 03 - 05:15 PM

Countess Richard

Hear hear! I still have a battered copy of the pink book (stuck together with sellotape) and sing several songs from it. In fact, last night (at the Sharp's translated to O'Reilly's session) I sang a song I'd learnt from it many years ago (The Maid of Islington.)

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Marje
Date: 28 Aug 03 - 10:23 AM

Yes, my copy of pink book is one of my favourites too.

But I seem to remember someone, somewhere, criticising this collection because (they said) the songs were not put down in their state as originally harvested, but had been edited somewhat, with verses added or subtracted, different versions of a song fused together, etc.

Now, this isn't a criticism I can take very seriously myself - it just seems a normal enough part of the folk process to me. Singers do this all the time with traditional material, and I don't see why editors shouldn't do so too. But I'm curious as to whether anyone out there:
a) can confirm that the book has been criticised in this way, and/or
b) shares those misgivings about this book (which I just see as a source of good songs).


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Aug 03 - 01:42 PM

The much-abused term "folk process" applies to traditional singers, not to editors of song books. Sedley was indeed criticised at the time (notably by Frank Purslow, but also by others); this was due to the extent of his editorial intervention, not the fact that he collated per se; nobody would have expected him not to, given that the intention was to publish songs for singing rather than study.

Although the songs in Sedley's The Seeds of Love do make good singing, they are so heavily collated that they are, in many cases, virtually new compositions rather than traditional songs. Some texts include material from as many as seven different (sometimes completely unrelated) sources, and some of the tunes are also collated from several disparate sources. To characterise this as "edited somewhat" is a bit like describing Michael Jackson's face as "somewhat modified"!

The fact that they come out as "good songs" isn't the issue, and neither is the fact that traditional singers alter (usually inadvertently, it would seem, but sometimes deliberately) the songs they sing. Different criteria are applied to traditional singers and to editors of song books. The former are the tradition, while the latter are observers of it; they ought not to misrepresent what they have observed. Sedley himself was a collector in his earlier years, and got a good few songs from Travellers (he encountered them quite often in the course of his legal work, usually representing them I'm told) and will have been well aware of this.

Of course there is a considerable difference between an academic study and a book intended for singing from, though it's worth remembering that people who sing folk songs tend to assume that the texts and commentary in a songbook are as authoritative as those in an academic work; so one must be very careful. Bert Lloyd's comments from his introduction to The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs make the distinction clear, and also represent thinking at the time on the subject:

"Phillips Barry, a responsible American folk song scholar, speaks for us: 'Different obligations bind the maker of a scientific work to be thrown to the lions of scholarship and the maker of a practical work for people who like singing.... The editor of a practical work has the right and is under the duty to make both singable and understandable the song he edits.... Both singer and scholar, nevertheless, into whose hands the book may fall, have today a right... to know both the extent and the sources of editorial changes and restorations.' "

All well and good so far (in fact, Lloyd was rather less consistent in that regard than he implies, but that is another story). Sedley does indeed state where he has collated material, but here is a fairly typical example:

"This text is a collation of a traditional version with a 17th-century and two 19th-century broadsides. The tune, with its comical refrain, is a version of one of the traditional Irish airs to the song."

To which we might ask: what traditional version? which broadsides? which version of which traditional Irish air? and, which parts of all of these? We would ask in vain, for we are not told.

Sedley was criticized not on aesthetic grounds, but because it was felt by a significant number of his peers that he had gone too far. That has repercussions to this day, which can be observed in discussions here, for example. Songs from his books are quoted from time to time by people who try to use them to back up an opinion about a song-group, or throw light on one; and the whole thing has to be explained all over again. Although fine for singing, they are worthless for any other purpose because they are so heavily edited and altered. As I have said, the argument was not that collation was inappropriate, but that it was in this case excessive, and effectively misrepresented the tradition.

That opinion is probably more widely held today, if anything, than it was then. The book was influential, however, and any serious collection should include a copy. I bought mine mainly so that I would know when people were repeating misapprehensions that they had acquired via it, but I would deny neither the aesthetic quality of the songs it contains, nor people's fond memories of it.

I don't see all that as a topic for debate; simply a summary of the case. The set of The Seeds of Love printed by Sedley, incidentally, was a mixture of a mere three texts and one tune (all, however, from different sources).

Does anybody have anything to add to discussion of the radio programme? I thought it was rather good. There is another scheduled for the same slot on Tuesday 2nd September: Three Nights Drunk and the Market Tup; this time about the collection of folksongs made in Yorkshire during the 1950s by Nigel and Mary Hudlestone.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Folkiedave
Date: 28 Aug 03 - 02:48 PM

I thought the programme was excellent. What came over (to me) was that it was done by people who a) knew what they were talking about b) loved the music. The fact that there is some controversy over Sharp's contribution was not glossed over.

Dave
www.collectorsfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 29 Aug 03 - 02:44 PM

Sharp wanted the songs used in schools, and they would not have sung them (the bawdy ones) to/with children unless they were "cleaned up."
This from Maud Karpeles, in conversation, on a visit to the USA when she was 90. I believe that the originals were preserved, somewhere. Anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Aug 03 - 03:40 PM

Sharp's MS collection (the "fair copies" transcribed from his notes) is at Clare College, Cambridge, but there are copies at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, which also has his field notebooks, diaries, correspondence and so on. Also there are Olive Dame Campbell's Appalachian MSS.

The controversy over Sharp's approach has, in recent years, been less to do with his editorial interventions in published texts (these were actually quite restrained for the time; he did what he had to do to achieve his goal of getting the songs sung again by the wider public), than with the fact that scholars such as Dave Harker have objected to his transplantation of the songs from the Working Class to the middle classes. Harker works from an avowedly Marxist perspective, and is himself the subject of re-appraisal nowadays. While Marxist criticism has given us some very useful insights, it is probably too narrow a viewpoint for full objectivity, and that does seem to have been the case with Harker's analysis. Others who were rather "against" Sharp (for various reasons, not necessarily political) have more recently begun to re-assess their opinions (Mike Yates and Vic Gammon are notable examples) but Georgina Boyes, who was the "dissenting voice" on the radio programme, doesn't seem to have moved.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Marje
Date: 04 Sep 03 - 03:58 PM

Thanks for that full explanation, Malcolm, it's useful to know the background to the book and its songs, and what the main thrust of its critics is.

Yes, I enjoyed the programme - it managed to do a lot in half an hour, offering different views about Sharp's methods and approach, as well as very different interpretations of the title song.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 01:43 AM

Malcolm is correct in saying that I haven't changed my opinion of Sharp's work as a result of the various revisionist views that have been put forward recently. But he's somewhat off the mark in his assessment of what my opinion is.

In 'English Folk-Song: Some Conclusions', Sharp says he saw the folksongs he collected as powerful tools for renewing English classical music and reforming public taste in music. Folksong was the 'musical heritage' of the English people as a whole and had once been known an sung by everyone. But by the time he began his fieldwork, he beleived that 'the practice of folksinging in England has, for very many years, been confined exclusively to one small class of the community.' The outcome of his work would, he wrote, see 'the English people enter once again into the full possession of their musical heritage.'

But songs and dances are more than just collections of notes and movements. Then as now, people can have justifiably strong feelings of ownership and views about how their particular performance should be done. So the process of transferring folksongs and dances from the 'small class of the community' who performed them to the nation as a whole wasn't necessarily welcomed. Although some people were pleased to see their songs in books or their dances treated as important, for others it was enormously problematic to find their longstanding traditions being taken away from them and given to strangers without their full consent. Some songs and dances were also changed in the process of being transferred - and records of performers comments exist to show how much some did - and didn't - like that too.

So to get back to Malcolm's point, my 'opinion' is that this process took place - and I present it as a matter of history. It's not a case of being 'for' or 'against', it happened.

Researching and trying to understand our history is important. Spending our time generating papers full of gusty indignation about what's past and can't be changed, I see as rather pointless.
It's a better use of time, it seems to me, to make the most of the benefits earlier collecting has brought us, while doing our level best to understand and avoid its mistakes.

Georgina Boyes


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 02:52 AM

Someone's really got their knickers in a twist over this programme- see http://www.mustrad.org.uk/letters.htm


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 04:15 AM

Thanks for the elucidation, Georgina. I don't think I tried directly to describe your opinion, though I do realise that including you in a vague "against" faction was rather unfair, and a poor substitute for a proper analysis! You haven't been well served, I suspect, by the way some of your comments have been edited in recent radio programmes, which have perhaps tended to over-simplify -and maybe mis-represent- what you actually said.

Of course, the issues are complex and the ownership of tradition is something that the earlier collectors didn't pay much attention to (sadly, many later ones haven't, either, particularly where dance has been concerned; but I have only a very sketchy knowledge of all that); but matters of history are as apt to be interpreted in the light of one viewpoint or another as are any others, and I doubt if any of us are quite as objective as we would like to be. One set of revisionist views will inevitably give way to another, but it is to be hoped that, eventually, a generally acceptable synthesis will develop, neither hagiographic nor iconoclastic. Meanwhile, as you say, it is our job to learn from what has gone before; to build upon its successes and eschew its failings.


I see that, while I was writing this, attention has been drawn to Chris Bearman's letter to Mustrad, which I hadn't seen. He does seem to be over-reacting; my own impression was that the programme included contributions from Georgina and from Vic Gammon because they both have important things to say on the subject, and certainly not with any intention of presenting an adversely slanted view of Sharp and his work, but rather of making an appropriate acknowledgment of dissenting opinion. Chris's comments about Malcolm Taylor are well out of order. Although it has to be understood that Bearman has strong feelings on the subject (his analysis of Dave Harker's work on Sharp has been precise and damning), that really is no excuse for such intemperate language.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 05:17 AM

Enjoyed the programme thoroughly and it helped me beguile the cheerless hour whilst stuck on the M25. Malcolm Taylor's presentation was, I felt, superb - a well judged and balanced melange of opinion and fact which seemed to cover most points of view about Sharp in the limited time available, but then what do I know. Having read the scholarly arguments over on mustrad, I still rather subscribe to Norma Waterson's and Martin Carthy's view in the programme that Sharp was absolutely obsessed with what he'd found and his joy in collecting was unconfined. Whatever your political persuasion, thank goodness Sharp did have this wonderful obsession...his shortcomings, motives and results have given us all something to debate ever since and upon which to hang our points of view! Meanwhile we can still sing the songs and quietly remember the sort of men and women from whom they were collected and marvel that someone had the nous to save their heritage.

Three cheers for Malcolm Taylor and supporting cast.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 06:30 AM

The BBC's Seeds of Love programme seemed to me a very worthwhile use of half an hour's airtime. It presented a number of contrasting viewpoints, without endorsing any of them, allowing the listeners to make up their own minds (and perhaps encouraging them to pursue the subject further.

I was less favourably impressed by Chris Bearman's letter to MusTrad, and have submitted the following response to it.

"Oh dear! Here we go again! This new kerfuffle will come as no great surprise to anyone who has had their toes bitten while paddling in these shark-infested waters. Nevertheless, it still makes me 'prostrate with dismal' (as Jim Copper once said) to see folklorists falling out so acrimoniously.

Although I've disagreed publicly with Dave Harker and Georgina Boyes on various issues (see http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/england.htm> ), I respect the substantial efforts they've put into folklore studies, and accept absolutely their right to interpret the facts differently from me.   On this particular question, Mr Bearman's judgement may eventually prove to be correct. But presenting it in the form of an intemperate rant is unlikely to improve its chances of becoming accepted.   

There are more than enough people - in academia, in the world of the "serious" arts, in the media, and among the general public at large - who seize any opportunity to give the traditional arts and their practitioners a good kicking. Why should those of us inside the folk community do their job for them? Can't we have a debate without turning it into a punch-up? "

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: treewind
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 07:43 AM

Did anybody follow the link to that letter published on the Musical traditions website?

"Malcolm Taylor did no such thing, because he only examined one side of the question and ignored the only relevant research, which happens to be my own.


Kinda lets you off taking the rest of it too seriously doesn't it?

Even Harker wasn't so blatantly self-opinionated.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: treewind
Date: 05 Sep 03 - 08:56 AM

Sorry Malcolm and Mike - I did read your responses to Chris Bearman's letter, but only after posting in some haste...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: Rain Dog
Date: 29 Dec 13 - 12:28 PM

This programme was on BBC Radio4 extra on Saturday and is available to listen to again for the next 6 days

The Seeds of Love


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Dec 13 - 02:45 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jCTeQdBFP8


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Dec 13 - 02:58 PM

there is nothing wrong with singing dashing away with the smoothing iron, to quote Carthy, the only harm you can do to a song is not to sing it, thie was a great programme, thanks, what is also interesting is that Sharp gave one of his singers a concertina.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Dec 13 - 03:06 PM

On the subject of dashing away with the smoothing iron, when i moved to ireland in 1990, i collected some tunes from an irish fiddler, who had never left ireland, he played dashing away with the smoothing iron, along with mcleods reel the blackbird, donnybrook fair, he learned the song from another fiddler who had come from england on holiday, he considered it as good as mcleods reel or the blackbird or donny brook fair, he judged it purely as a good melody.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Dec 13 - 07:56 AM

My impression of Sharp was that he had an agenda to avoid songs of political content. I found the remark that he had an agenda of racial purity interesting but in my opinion incorrect, I believe Sharp wanted to popularise the songs he collected and so went for songs from rural areas that either avoided direct political comment or gave a romantic picture of rural work, he collected little from industrial areas in the UK, Although Sharp was a Fabian, he wanted the songs he collected to be accepted by the establishment, there are very few anti establishment songs in Sharps collections.
In my opinion, the fact that Sharp introduced songs into the national school curriculum and into primary schools was a very good thing. However Sharp was undoubtedly aware that songs which criticised the political system would not be acceptable in the national school curriculum in the uk, he also relised that songs that were overtly sexually explicit would not be acceptable either, he could get away with "the nightingale" and The Keeper, with the versions that he presented in his collection.


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Subject: RE: Seeds of Love radio programme
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Jan 14 - 06:31 AM

The other thing I found interesting in this programme was the style of the traditional singer who sang The Seeds Of Love, this singer sang in a natural way, he did not sing with a smile on his face, or concern himself with altering his style/tone in the way recommended by certain revival singers associated with the Critics Group, he sang in much the same way as Harry Cox., and the vast majority of other traditional singers that I have listened too.


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