logo VotP Song Notes
A companion guide to the Ballads, Songs and Tunes that comprise
the 20-CD set The Voice of the People

Compiled, arranged & edited by Mike Yates
Roud searches and additional notes by Rod Stradling

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At the beginning of the 20th century a handful of English classically trained musicians, people like Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams, began to ‘rescue folksongs from the lips of the peasantry’.  When their findings were published they were done with the emphasis being placed on the songs and their tunes.  With very few exceptions, the singers who had provided the songs in the first place were almost always ignored in these publications.

Almost 100 years later, when Dr Reg Hall - a social historian - produced one of the most important sets of folkmusic recordings, The Voice of the People, on twenty Topic CDs, the situation was totally reversed, in that the booklet notes accompanying the series contained copious notes about the performers, but very little at all about the history of the songs and tunes.

The following is an attempt to rectify this situation by providing notes about the songs and tunes that can be heard on the series.  I have also provided indexes of both performers and titles of the songs and tunes that can be heard.  It's not meant to be comprehensive and I have freely used other people’s work - especially by referring to previous Topic LP sleeve-notes.  Initially I compiled the notes for my own usage; to enable me to better enjoy the recordings.  Later on people began to ask for copies and, as more and more people began to ask for a copy, I thought it better to make the notes available to all.

This is not, as I say, a comprehensive work.  There are omissions, brought about by my own lack of knowledge.  If readers can fill any gaps, or contribute what they feel are important additions - then, by all means, please do so, by sending them to Rod at Musical Traditions.  There may be occasions where readers will not be able to follow my line (for example, where I simply quote an author’s surname, rather than give a full name and title of a book), but I think that most people with a basic knowledge of folkmusic publications will be able to understand what I am saying.  At least, I hope so!

Mike Yates - 15.8.02


Rod Stradling - e-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk    Tel: 01453 759475
snail-mail: 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK

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