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December 2019


New MT Records CD - MTCD517

Just in time for that Christmas present - Oh, Listen Today : The roots of American Old-Timey fiddle music.

Thirty tracks of vintage American Old-Timey fiddle music, with tunes that are derived from Britain and Europe.  Includes such well-known names as: Ed Haley, Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, Narmour & Smith, Emmett Lundy, The Red-Headed Fiddlers, Edden Hammons, and many others.

MTCD517 + 24 page integral booklet in DVD case, 30 tracks, 78 minutes.  Now available on the MT Records wesite, price £12.00.

A direct link to it is here.

Rod Stradling - 7.12.19


Re: Singing Musicians

Thanks to Bernie Cherry, I now know that: So that's a start - nine musicians who were recorded singing - but a few more wouldn't go amiss.   And they're all male and English!  And I have no idea of the quality of the performnce or recording for any of these songs in red at the moment.  More names and details woud be most welcome.  Please help if you can.

1.11.19


A strange idea for a new MT Records release

Inspired, perhaps, by Mike Yates' rather unusual recent CD A Distant Land to Roam - songs that left the Old word for the New - I've been wondering about doing a CD of traditional Musicians who were also good Singers.  I know of a few (see below) but would welcome suggestions from readers of people who I don't know about ... or can't think of at present.  Rather obviously, there need to be recordings!

So - the ones I know about:


The lists above are drawn from Steve Roud's Folksong Index, and all appear to have been recorded - but Steve will only know of what collectors have told him.  There may be many other recordings made at folk clubs and festivals that have never been passed on to Steve.  For example, I can't believe that Bob Cann only sang four songs.

Any ideas, information, and particularly recordings, will be most welcome.

15.10.19


New MT Records '400 Series' release

Songs of the North Riding (MTCD406-7).  This release will make generally available a large number of recordings which were previously scarcely known about.  Of the 22 singers to be heard here, only Arthur Wood and Billy Pennock's names are likely to be remotely familiar.

In 1962 Colin S Wharton published his Leeds University degree thesis 'Folk Songs from the North Riding'.  This thesis was the culmination of his collecting in the North Riding of Yorkshire.  The finished work was 149 pages long and divided into five sections, according to subject matter: Songs of Love and Courtship, Songs from the Farm, Hunting Songs, Occasional Songs, and Songs of Sorrow.  This release contains almost all the recordings he made.

It's one of our rare '400 Series' releases (like the Pop Maynard and Martin Carthy ones - the latter being no longer available) with 2 CDs in a double jewel case, and fairly brief notes.

MTCD406-7   2 CDs, 67 tracks, 160 minutes   It's now available on the MT Records website, priced just £10.00

20.9.19


Labour of Love Database

I wrote that the Labour of Love Database might well be got together over a rather shorter time-scale than 100 years.  Well, a bit of spare time last week and the discovery of a far quicker method of entering the data, has resulted in the Labour of Love Database, sorted by MT CD name, now being available here.  Users can, of course, sort it in other ways as required.

If you don't have any spreadsheet software installed, I can strongly recommend the free WPS Spreadsheet and Writer software - available from: https://www.wps.com/office-free

19.9.19


MT Records - a Labour of Love

As I'm in the process of creating another CD-ROM of the entire published works of a well-known commentator on traditional music and song (particularly Irish), it has got me thinking about whether something ought to be done about documenting the MT Records output.  This has been partly prompted by the recent publication in MT Magazine of The Echoes of Erin Database: Irish traditional Dance Music recorded on 78-rpm records, by Barry Taylor.  This magnificent piece of work details recordings from about 100 years ago ...  I'm hoping that something similar on music and songs on CDs published by MT Records - possibly to be called the 'Labour of Love' Database - might well be got together over a rather shorter time-scale!

Interestingly, the Echoes of Erin Database includes the output of some 36 commercial record companies, active over a period of some 35 years (1899 - 1933), and lists 1,070 'sides' - meaning tunes.  MT Records is one single, non-commercial company, operating over 22 years, and has published recordings of some 2605 songs or tunes.  Admittedly, their records had only two 'sides' - my CDs can have as many as 40!

The following article on the history of MT Records is the first part of this considerable endeavour.  You can find it here as a PDF file.

13.9.19


Huge updated intro to Bert Lloyd interview

The very interesting interview with Bert Lloyd by Barry Taylor, published as Article 318, on 14.5.18, now has an enormous new introduction.  Barry felt that, as many/most of our readers are probably too young to have much of an idea about the folk scene back in 1974, it would be useful to explain the situation as it was back then.

He covers the relationship between Bert and Ewan MacColl, the clubs of the era, the Critics Group, the 'Policy' clubs, 'Folk Rock' and much else, in this fascinating new introduction.  It and the interview itself are very well worth a read by anyone with an interest in our music and song - even if you are in your seventies - and particularly if you're a bit younger.  A direct link to it is here.

13.7 19


New CD from MT Records: Charlie Bridger
Won't you Buy my Pretty Flowers? (MTCD377)

I'm pleased to announce MT Records' first release of 2019 - Charlie Bridger, of Stone-in-Oxney, Kent, was recorded by Andy Turner on 15th April 1983.  Charlie sang him 30 songs; 28 of which appear on this CD.  He's a lovely singer, with some terrific tunes to his songs.

A year later, Andy took Mike Yates to record him 'properly', and it is these recordings which appear on several Musical Traditions and Veteran CDs.  However, Mike's recordings (using different/superior equipment) sound quite different to Andy's, and Mike has agreed that a CD where all the tracks sound similar would be better (or easier to listen to) than one where a few of them sound radically different ... even if they are superior, technically.  So we have made this CD entirely of Andy's recordings, none of which have ever been published before.

The track list is as follows:
Three Maidens a-Milking Did Go;  I'll Take you Home Again, Kathleen;  Won't you Buy my Pretty Flowers?;  Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?;  Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue;  The Folkestone Murder;  When You and I were Young, Maggie;  The Mistletoe Bough;  The Birds Upon the Tree;  Wait 'til the Clouds Roll by, Jenny;  Playing on the Old Banjo;  O Who Will o'er the Downs so free?;  The Veteran;  In the Spring Time;  Old Farmer Giles;  A Boy's Best Friend is His Mother;  The Brave Ploughboy;  Little by Little, and Bit by Bit;  The Gypsy's Warning;  Your Own True Sailor Boy;  The Zulu War ;  That Old Fashioned Mother of Mine;  The Ship that Never Returned;  Good Old Jeff;  That's How you get Served when You're Old;  The Jolly Waggoner;  Trafalgar Bay;  Jenny Lind Polka.

MTCD377 has 28 tracks, 80 minutes duration + 28 page integral booklet in DVD case   £12.00  A direct link to it is here.

7.7 19


Further thoughts on Before the Broadside

I don't know just how relevent this may be - or how interesting you may find it - but I thought I'd do a bit of research on songs that don't appear to have had a Broadside provenance ... provoked by having recently heard (again) the lovely Forsaken Mermaid (Roud 466), which I felt was certain to be out of the oral tradition rather than from a printed original.

Accordingly, I did a search in the Roud Index for English songs without the word 'Printed' in the 'Format field'.  This resulted in an astonishing sum of 28047 returns which, once duplicates had been removed, gave a total of 5142 such different songs.  Clearly this doesn't mean that 5142 English 'folk songs' do not have a printed original source - simply that some of them may not.  To find out more requires a good deal extra research.

Clearly, those songs with the highest Roud numbers are those most recently added to the Index, and so should be less likely to have a Broadside provenamce.  Unsurprisingly then, the ten highest Roud numbers of my 5142 have no history of Broadside publication.  Conversely, for the ten lowest Roud numbers: The Two/Three Ravens/Crows (Roud 5); The Two Sisters (Roud 8); The Cruel Mother (Roud 9); Lord Randall (Roud 10) have no history of a Broadside publication, and False Lamkin (Roud 6) has only two such entries.  Roud's earliest entries seem to have all been old ballads and so it's not surprising that they had no history of Broadside publication.  If we try ten in the middle of the range (around Roud 12880), we find all ten do have history of Broadside publication, although one of these has only a single songster to its name.

What does this tell us?  Very little that was unexpected.

  1. Most Broadside publications can be dated, at least roughly.
  2. But it seems that many accounts of songs being heard in the oral tradition do not mention anything like a definite date.
  3. Broadside publication offers printed verification at a time when oral collection was rarely being carried out.
  4. The same applies, generally, to written Manuscript sources.
  5. At the same time - do we really know how complete a picture of the situation Steve Roud's Folk Song Index paints?
  6. Most of my new MT CD publications require Steve to allocate a new number to at least one song he's not encountered before.
As I said in my initial piece, whether a song existed in the oral tradition before its appearance as a written record is something that we will never know - for all the reasons given there.

1.6 19


Before the Broadside

In the beginning was the word ... so we're told.  But is that true?

Victor Grauer was one of the team which worked with Alan Lomax on his Cantometrics project back in the '60s.  He wrote 'I've recently become interested in Cantometrics again thanks to certain new developments in genetic anthropology.  Many things which had puzzled Lomax and myself about the distribution of musical styles worldwide are now making sense, thanks to the ability of these researchers to reconstruct some of mankind's earliest migrations from strands of DNA'.

One of the results of this work on the 'Out of Africa' theory, currently being explored in the field of genetic anthropology, has been the suggestion that the sung music of the Amazonian Pygmies and Kalahari Bushmen may well be part of the remains of the original culture of homo sapiens and - even more interestingly - may well have developed before speech.  Groups of homo sapiens began leaving Africa almost 300,000 years ago, and would have taken their sung music with them.  And we know, from the work of the Cantometrics project, that almost every subsequent human settlement has had its own folk songs.

So I think it's fairly clear that humans have sung for their own pleasure for countless centuries.  This would be one of the reasons why printers have, since the sixteenth century, been making a living providing us with songs and ballads to sing.  Would they have done so if there had not been singers to buy them?  Would they have printed the words 'To be sung to the tune of .......' if such a song did not already exist?

Research on dance and drama have found that what went on in the Royal and Noble courts soon found its way into the countryside, albeit in simplified forms.  And the same happened to the minstrelsy of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  Songs were sung by ordinary people for their own enjoyment - even if no written record of it exists.

It should be clear to most thinking people that an ordinary person of the lower classes, from the 1801 Census until fairly recently, had just three pieces of information about them available to historical researchers: their birth; marriage; and death.  Prior to that, virtually nothing.  Unless they fell foul of the Law, or did something quite remarkable that resulted in a written record of some kind - that was it!  It should also be clear that most of the ordinary singers of songs would not, as singers, find a place in a written record of any kind.  This, of course, is one of the problems with 'history' ... most of it relies on the written record, and such records will only describe extra-ordinary events.  And if singing for one's own pleasure and the entertainment of one's friends were as normal for most ordinary people as I firmly believe they were ... then there was nothing extra-ordinary about it, and thus little in the way of records of it.

Accordingly, I find myself a little irked by this new fashion of saying "This song dates from it's first printing by so-and-so printer in 1650."  The admirable Steve Roud was by no means the first to float this idea but, since the success of his recent book Folk Song in England and its widespread coverage in the Media, this view seems, more and more, to be taken as gospel.  To be fair, Steve never quite says this in his book, but careless reviewing (and careless listening) has resulted in this view becoming commonplace.

Clearly, an historian can only 'prove' that a song dates from the discovery of a 'first known' written record, but common sense demands that something similar must have preceded it.  Exactly what that 'something similar' may have been is open to conjecture - we just don't know.  Sadly, that is the fate of so much of the history of the ordinary people of the past (and, probably to a considerable extent, the present) - we just don't know!

11.4.19

This Editorial and comments relating to it can now be found as Enthusiasm No.84


Back again!

To all my friends who sent messages of 'goodwill/get well' over the past week or so - thank you so very much.  I am now home, eating real food, and just had one of the best showers I can ever remember!  For those who didn't get the gruesome details, I just had open Triple A Surgery.  Initially, I'd not realised just how serious this was but, as I was told in hospital, "It's just half an inch away from open heart surgery!"

Despite all the lies dished out by the Daily Mail and its ilk, our experience of the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cheltenham General Hospital, and its Vascular Surgery Department at St Lukes Wing, Guiting Ward, has been just as superb as we had expected.  Due to the high levels of mind-altering drugs washing through one's system in these circumstances, I can't pretend to remember everyone's names, but my sincere thanks go to the guys in charge, Misters Cooper and Wilson, plus a whole host of Doctors in various specialisms, plus teams of superb nurses led by Edrianne, Lisa, Em, Anna, Lucy, Hayley (and probably several others in the first couple of days when details were very unclear).  It's also very worth noting that it took just one month, to the day, between referral by the scanning team, and the actual surgery!  The National target time is eight weeks.  Also, being so local, my lovely Danny found it fairly easy to get in to see me every day ... along with various friends.  Made every new day worth waiting for!

Someone told me that Steve Harrison, in his work in the Health and Education departments at Manchester University, was one of those who were responsible for the design and implementation of the annual aneurysm scanning programme for men over 65 in the UK.  This was undertaken because an aneurysm has no obvious side-effects - so you don't know you have one, until it bursts ... after which there is only a 12% survival rate!  If it was true that Steve was involved, I'm only sorry that he didn't live long enough for me to say to him "Thanks,Mate - you saved my life."

Although I feel fine, and am not in any pain (at the moment!) I'm obviously not at the top of my game yet, everything is very tiring, and I suspect that planned outings to Music @ St Marks and the Rosslare Singing Weekend will have to be put on hold for 2019.  Sorry to miss those of you I'd hoped to see there this year ... please make my apologies to other attendees.

Now attempting to answer 167 emails ........

11.1.19


2017/18 CDs now available as downloads

It's almost 2019 - so, as usual, the latest of the 106 CDs and CD-ROMs we've produced over the years are now available as downloads; they're the last seven items on the Downloads page, and they look like this:

The difference this time is that, rather than waiting almost two years for them to appear, you're now getting them all, almost immediately.  This is for two reasons: it looks increasingly likely that these will be the last that MT Records produces ... unless any more turn up out of the blue, as A Distant Land to Roam did.  The other reason is that I'm about to undergo some serious surgery, and I have no idea of if, when, or how capable I'll be of such work afterwards.

For those of you who may be new to the Download service, each comprises an HTML file of the complete booklet, within which are clickable links to all the songs or tunes as MP3 files.  Each Download comes as a ZIP file containing one or more HTML files, a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder.  They can be un-ZIP-ed into a single destination (folder) on your device, and run from there.  Needless to say, all the MP3 sound files could also be copied to any other device you might wish to use.

Since downloads require no booklet printing, case covers, CDs, DVD cases or postage, they sell for a far lower price.  Compared to £10, £12, £16 and £20 for the 'normal' publications, the downloads of single CDs are £1.00 or £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00.  The facility exists to pay more than these low prices, if you'd like to!

They can be found, along with ALL the previous MT Records' CD publications, on the MT Records' Download page.

30.12.18


Season's Greetings and Review of 2018

Happy Christmas! On a personal level, a real surprize has been that Stroud recently acquired an excellent Turkish restaurant (and they serve wonderful Turkish wine, too) which has brightened many a quiet evening.  However ...

The Magazine has had a faily lean year, even by current standards.  We've published just 5 new Articles and some 30 new Reviews in 2018, along with 2 Enthusiasms, 4 News items and 6 Letters.  By past standards, this is very quiet.  On the other hand, I appear to have written some 12 Editorials before this one ... don't quite know why I've been so prolific.

On yet another hand, we have published two more CDs this year than I was expecting: Freda Palmer's Leafield Lass; was followed by Jim Eldon's Songs and Tales from Flamborough Head; and, just recently, Mike Yates' A Distant Land to Roam.  I have no idea if there will be any more.

No extraordinary rush of orders in November this year, but quite a few - 50 sales - nonetheless.  And December has been fairly busy, too - 37 sales - long may it continue!

It's interesting to note that, if memory serves, only two people have bought all the MT Records publications of CDs of traditional performers ... one is an Italian and the other is a German!  Don't quite know what that says about our appreciation of our own culture.

With this my 22nd Review of the Year, I'd like to be able to end on a positive note - but, amidst the Governmental chaos, these remain deeply troubling times.  At least there's the possibility of a reversal of Brexit and even a Labour government.  In hopes of that, may I wish you all a traditional toast for this time of the year.  Joy, Health, Love and Peace!

24.12.18


A Distant Land to Roam : Anglo-American Songs and Tunes from Texas to Maine

I'm very pleased to tell you that our third 2018 CD is now available.  A Distant Land to Roam : Anglo-American Songs and Tunes from Texas to Maine, MTCD516, 25 tracks, 78 minutes.

Among these 25 songs and tunes that have gone across the seas, a distant land to roam, you will find some very recognisable versions.  Bradley Kincaid sings The Two Sisters and Fair Ellender and Lord Thomas, Bob Cranford sings Babes in the Wood, Bascom Lamar Lunsford sings The Derby Ram, and Emry Arthur sings Jack Hall.

Perhaps less easily recognisable are: The Stanley Brothers - Poison in a Glass of Wine; Frank Jenkins' Pilot Mountaineers - Go and Leave Me if You Wish It, Gid Tanner & His Skillet-Lickers - Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?; Louisiana Lou - The Oxford Girl; Hattie and Ernest Stoneman - When Shall We get Married, John?  And downright extraordinarily, you'll hear The Southern Melody Boys with their Little Ball of Yarn and Blind Boy Fuller with Our Goodman or Seven Nights Drunk.

It is now available from the MT Records' website, price £12.00.

1.12.18


Freda Palmer: Leafield Lass

You may be interested to hear that our 2-CD Set, Freda Palmer: Leafield Lass (MTCD375-6) has been shortlisted for The Folklore Society Non-Print Media Award, the winner to be announced on the 7th November.  I can't believe this might be three in a row.

Well, I've just heard:

The Future of Optical Drives and CDs

The decision by John Lewis stores to stop stocking DVD players has prompted me to consider the future of the optical drive in modern computers.  Clearly, the removal of optical drives from most laptop computers - and the lack of them in tablets and smartphones - means that, in the very near future, downloads are going to be the only practical way to pass music from one person to another.  And that means from a producer to a purchaser, of course.

This was one of the two main reasons that I started making the contents of our CD publications available as downloads (sound files as MP3s and booklets as HTML files) back in 2015.  The most pressing reason was to try to ensure that, if I was unable to continue with Musical Traditions work, both Magazine and Records, for any reason, someone else should be able to continue to make it all available with very little input beyond keeping up the payments to our ISP and Hosting providers. The small income provided by the downloads should be able to cover these payments.

The other reason was to do with the first paragraph above - the future demise of the optical drive and thus that of the CD.  One problem raised its head as a result: what format to use for the downloads?  This problem was discussed in various Editorials in 2015.  That discussion focussed mainly on the format of the CD Booklets ... which I consider to be almost as important as the songs and tunes.  At that time it seemed that there were so many types of E-Book, and none that were then dominant, and that the necessary creation software was pretty expensive, that the humble HTML was about the only one that was universally readable.  If that situation changes, I shall have to have a re-think.

But the choice of MP3 as the sound file format was very simple ... it was universal.  But, just three and a half years later, the demise of the MP3 is being discussed by those who discuss such things.  Flac appears to be the format of the day.  FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) is a musical file format that offers bit-perfect copies of CDs but at half the size of the .wav files that produced them.  MP3s, on the other hand, are about one tenth the size of those .wav files.  One may feel that, in the age of Terabyte hard drives and Broadband Internet, such considerations are of no real consequence.  I'm not so sure - big is not always beautiful - and .wav files do take a long time to download, and are problematic to send as attachments.

MP3 is a lossy format, which means parts of the music are shaved off to reduce the file size to a more compact level.  It is supposed to use 'psychoacoustics' to delete overlapping sounds, but it isn't always successful. Typically, cymbals, reverb and guitars are the sounds most affected by MP3 compression and can sound really distorted when too much compression is applied.  As you may have noticed, MT CDs don't feature all that many cymbals, or reverb guitars, and so our use of MP3 does not cause these problems.  Rather more to the point, very few of them feature recordings made more recently than the 1970s, and so don't have a frequency range that would be better appreciated at higher fidelity.  Indeed, most feature only a solo voice or instrument - so I did a little experiment.  I ripped a solo voice track and a solo fiddle track from a 2018 commercial CD, as .wav, .flac and .mp3 and listened to them played quite loudly.  I could detect no difference in the sound.  I then did the same with MT CDs of quite old recordings ... with the same results.  As regards size, an example track produced a .wav file of 42,082Kb, a .flac file of 22,642Kb, and an .mp3 file of just 4,307Kb.  I did not find that big was beautiful, or beneficial.  Again, if this situation changes, I shall have to have a re-think.

29.10.18


New MTCD203 : Robert Leng and Jossy 'Pop' Mainprize with Jim Eldon :
Songs and Tales from Flamborough Head

I'm very pleased to announce that our second CD release of 2018 is now available from the MT Records' website.  Price £10.00.

In 1988, Jim Eldon was gathering material for a cassette album of East Yorkshire fireside tales, and a friend took him to Flamborough and introduced him to Robert Leng and Jossy 'Pop' Mainprize.  The few snippets of ditties that had been dotted among the stream of tales grew into a whole repertoire of songs as more were remembered.  Eventually a cassette of songs and one of tales were issued on Jim's Stick Records label.

The fishermen's tales and poaching yarns speak for themselves.  There is very little editing in the stories section of this collection - one yarn would spark another and the titles and track separations are just there to help you navigate through them if you want to revisit a particular favourite.

Real traditional singing and storytelling.  A delight!

Nor, as I had feared, will it be our last publication.  Mike Yates has just come up with a new project - British songs and tunes from America, from 78rpm recordings.  More details as soon as I have them.  Not only that, but Doc Rowe has told me that he has 'No end of stuff you might find useful'.  Thank God for that ... I was getting bored here!

Rod Stradling - 25.10.18


The Murdered Sweetheart Ballad series

As mentioned below, The Murder of Maria Marten is probably one of the best-known of the 'murdered sweetheart ballads' - of which some 50 English examples are known, and since nine of them were about Maria Marten then there are still 41 left.  However, I guess that you are most interested in those that have subsequently became part of the oral tradition, which would reduce the number to about half a dozen.

If Maria Marten was Murdered Sweetheart Ballad No.1, then Tom Pettit has just produced MSB No.2 The Cruel Gamekeeper, which is now available as MT Article 317

And now comes MSB No.3 The Mary Thomson cluster, with no less than four more murdered sweethearts, one of whom was actually murdered twice, by two different seducers, which makes it five Murdered Sweetheart Ballads - except that they're all the same ballad, and anyway, none of them were murdered by anyone (it's all fake ballad news).  It is now available as MT Article 319

1.6.18


An experiment - 2

Re: my Experiment - see below.  Of the orders I've received subsequent to my little experiment, only 3 out of 24 have been from previously 'unknown' purchasers ... so I really don't know whether that proves anything!

Another strange thing I've noticed is that generally, most CDs are bought within the first two or three weeks of publication, and that a good review seems to have little or no effect on subsequent sales.  Any suggestions as to why this should be?

Also that well-known names sell far better than unknown ones - which seems slightly strange to me.  I would have thought that people might already have recordings of several of the songs or tunes by a well-known performer, whilst an unknown performer would be a wholly new, and therefore interesting, experience.  However, that's not been the case here - Freda Palmer was not well-known and, despite good reviews, her CDs have not sold well.  Our last release was The Two Bob's Worth - with the well-known Bob Lewis and Bob Copper - and has sold 124 to date.  Freda Palmer has sold just 24.

1.5.18


The Maria Marten ballad

Among the purchasers of our most recent CD release, Freda Palmer: Leafield Lass (MTCD375-6), was Tom Pettitt, Affiliate Research Professor at the Centre for Medieval Literature and Cultural Studies Institute at the University of Southern Denmark.  Tom has alerted me to something which really ought to have been commented upon in the booklet notes; that the song Maria Marten (Roud 18814) is not the one normally known by this name.  Indeed, there have been at least nine broadside ballads dealing with the murder of Maria Marten, although only two appear to have made it into the oral tradition.  The 'usual' one (Roud 215), titled The Murder of Maria Marten, which usually has the first line: "Come all you thoughtless young men", was published by many of the main broadside printers and was collected extensively from performance tradition in England in course of the 20th century.  Indeed, it was long thought that it was only this version that had passed into oral tradition.

However, another song on the same subject was collected by George Gardiner from George Digweed, of Micheldever, Hampshire, in 1906.  Subsequently it was found in the repertoire of both Sally Sloane, of Lithgow, New South Wales, and the Bobbin family, also of New South Wales.  Subsequent to that, Mike Yates recorded it from Freda Palmer in 1972.  It appears that this song was titled The Suffolk Tragedy, or the Red Barn Murder in its broadside printing, with a first line: "Young lovers all I pray draw near and listen unto me".

Tom Pettitt has very kindly created a special composite document for publication as MT Article 316, of which he writes:

I would suggest that this article, together with the links to other works found within it, should tell you pretty-much all you might ever need to know about Maria Marten and her place among the 'murdered sweetheart' ballads.  Had I read this first, I wouldn't have written notes about the wrong song in the booklet!

19.4.18


Important!  Website security - HTTPS

New versions of web browsers will soon start requiring HTTPS, a secure version of the commonly used HTTP protocol, for sites you visit.  You may see a notification like this (right) when you try to visit a site that doesn't use HTTPS.  Similarly, most anti-virus software will now, or soon, inform you that a website you're intending to visit is not secure.

As with most new things, getting an HTTPS certificate will have a cost - in the case of Musical Traditions Magazine and MT Records, the cost would be £160 in the first year, rising to £320 in the second and subsequent years.  Added to that, there would be many hours of re-writing our web pages, and problems for users if I didn't get it perfectly right the first time.

And what benefit would you, as an MT reader gain?  Absolutely nothing, because nothing in the magazine is interactive, requiring any of your personal details.  Purchasers of MT Records' CDs or Downloads also gain nothing because all the financial transactions are dealt with by PayPal - which is a secure HTTPS service.

So - I will not be converting either the Magazine or the Records website to HTTPS because there is nothing here which is insecure.  You can click the 'Not Secure' button if/when you see one, without any concerns.

17.4.18


An experiment

I mentioned in a previous Editorial that every time I publish a new CD, I send out some 1,500 email messages to everyone who's bought an MT CD or Download in the past, announcing the new publication.  The interesting result is that almost half of the resultant sales seem to come from people who've never bought one before!  One obvious assumption is that these new purchasers have seen details of the new CD in the MT Magazine.  Another possibility might be that they've been told about it by word of mouth.  A third possibility is that they might have found out about the CDs from my posts/adverts on Facebook.

So I decided on an experiment.  As you will have seen, on March 13th I announced the publication of our latest 2-CD Set - Freda Palmer: Leafield Lass (MTCD375-6) here in the magazine, and made it available on the MT Records' websites ... but did not send out the announcement email.  I did that yesterday, April 6th - the start of the new 2018-19 Financial Year, and also posted an advert on Facebook.  In the three weeks between these two dates, I received just four orders for these new CDs ... which seems to indicate that seeing details in the MT Magazine does not contribute very much to sales!  So I must assume that these 'previously unknown' purchasers have been told about it by 'word of mouth' which, these days, I presume must mean social media ... and that the information has not been thought to have been 'fake news'.

7.4.18


New MT 2-CD set: Freda Palmer : Leafield Lass (MTCD375-6)

I'm very pleased to tell you that our first publication in 2018 is of a traditional singer, Freda Palmer : Leafield Lass (MTCD375-6).  Yes, another 2-CD Set 'complete recorded repertoire' of this Oxfordshire singer.  It contains 56 tracks, runs for 132 minutes, and has a 48-page booklet.  Recordings from Alison McMorland, Mike Yates, Steve Roud and Gwilym Davies.

Freda Palmer was born in, and lived most of her younger life in the village of Leafield, Oxfordshire.  Later, she moved to the nearby town of Witney, where these recordings were made.  From the age of eleven, she was employed as a glover - making gloves, together with her mother at times, but mostly with her aunt Annie, and it was from her that she learnt many of her songs, as they sat across the table together, sewing their gloves.

She had a phenomenal memory ... while raising six children she probably didn't have too much spare time for singing, and it was only in her later years that she was encouraged to visit folk clubs and festivals as a performer.  But to have a repertoire of sixty or so songs, and to sing 35 of them off the cuff in one day when Alison McMorland visited her was quite an achievement - not to mention reciting the 19 eight-line verses of Murphy's Little Girl without a stumble.

Everyone who knew her commented on her delightful, friendly personality - and the account of her life found in these pages shows that she was an almost unbelievably hard-working woman.  The don't make 'em like Freda any more!

This 2-CD set is now available on the MT Records' website, price £16.00.

I'm also pleased to tell you that, despite what I feared, this may not be the last CD of traditional singers that we're able to publish - more to follow when I know some fuller details.

13.3.18


London Lights

Lizzie Higgins was our guest at the King's Head Folk Club, Islington, on March, 11th, 1970.  During the wonderfully engrossing evening, she sang a song which we assume she would have called London Lights (Roud 18815), and I recorded it.  The song had just three verses, and Lizzie used the first one "See how those London lights are gleaming ..." as a chorus, repeated after each verse - which is why we assume that's what she called it.  Steve Roud was hitherto unaware of this lovely little song (and so gave it a new number) and it doesn't appear anywhere in the School of Scottish Studies Archive indices, at least, not under this or similar title.  So we may assume that it was a song Lizzie knew of, but did not sing, until her visit to the club in London made it appropriate.  It appears that Steve has subsequently discovered two Canadian recordings of it, from 1952 and '64.

Fast forward to 2010, when I was preparing MT's May Bradley CD.  May sings a song which Steve Roud had said was a version of Blue Eyed Lover (Roud 16637), presumably from its first verse.  However, the tune and the three other verses are clearly from London Lights - verse 2 is almost identical to one of Lizzie's, and the other two fit perfectly into that song.  My wife, Danny, added them to Lizzie's song, and has sung it frequently in the subsequent seven years.  Many people have said what a great song it now is, but no one has ever said that they've heard it before.

Fast forward again, to this last weekend, when we were at the splendid Wexford Traditional Singers' weekend in Rosslare (where we've been many times, and where Danny has often sung London Lights).  And, suddenly, two different people told us "My Mum used to sing that".  One was a purely Irish source, and the other told us "She may have picked it up during the 30 years she lived in London".

So, 47 years after we first heard it, we now know that it seems to have been known in Canada, Ireland, England, and from a Scottish Traveller and a Welsh/English Gypsy.  This really does prove, if proof were needed, that culture has no respect for social or political borders!

6.2.18


2016 CDs now available as downloads

It's almost Twelfth Night - so, as promised, the two CDs we produced in 2016 are now available as downloads; they're the last two items on the page.  For those of you who may be new to this service, each Download comprises an HTML file of the complete booklet, within which are clickable links to all the songs or tunes as MP3 files.

Each Download comprises a ZIP file containing one or more HTML files, a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder.  They can be un-ZIP-ed into a single destination (folder) on your device, and run from there.  Needless to say, all the MP3 sound files could also be copied to any other device you might wish to use.

Since downloads require no booklet production, case covers, CDs, DVD cases or postage, they sell for a far lower price.  Compared to £10, £12, £16 and £20 for the 'normal' publications, the downloads of single CDs are £1.00 or £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00.  The facility exists to pay more than these low prices, if you'd like to!

They can be found, along with ALL the previous MT Records' CD publications, on the MT Records' Download page.

3.1.18


Correspondence:

Rod Stradling, 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK
E-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk
- or, if you don't mind the fact that he's getting a bit deaf ...
Phone: 01453 758519 or Mobile: 0793 099 1641

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