logo News and Comment No. 43

Opie collection online

Readers may be interested to know that The British Library has recently made live the Opie collection of children's games and songs on our Archival Sound Recordings website.  Below is the link that takes you directly to the new resource.

Opie collection online

Janet Topp Fargion - 18.3.11

Art Galbraith track error

Mark Wilson has just written: Mark will be offering updated CDs to those customers who have bought our Art Galbraith CD, and I will update all future sales from here.

Rod Stradling - 14.3.11

Halsway Manor Weekend of Music, Song and Dance from the Quantocks

6th to 8th May 2011

The weekend is being jointly hosted by the Hotwells Howlers and the Bristol Shantymen, and will feature workshops concerning songs, shanties, music and dances from the Quantocks, Taunton Deane and West Somerset.  On Saturday night the two groups will give a concert which will feature seasonal songs, many of which are from the West Country and material collected in Somerset together with sea songs and shanties from the Bristol Channel area. In addition there will be several bar sessions.

For dancers, there will an opportunity, led by caller Grant Glanville, to learn dances that feature in the William Winter manuscripts, some of which have not been danced for a century or more.

For those interested in West Gallery Music, Sunday morning will feature a session which will focus on learning and singing psalms and hymns from the Dunster Psaltery.

It is possible to attend the event on either a residential or non-residential basis. The cost of full board and accommodation from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening (including workshops and concert) is £170 (en suite) or £156 (non en-suite). Non residential weekend tickets are £30 for the whole weekend. Tickets are also available for individual sessions.

Further details are available from Halsway Manor, Crowcombe, Somerset, Tel 01984 618274, www.halswaymanor.co.uk


The Poet, the Trickster, the Tradition and the Singer:
Joe Heaney's Genealogies of Performance

An illustrated public lecture by Lillis Ó Laoire.  Helen Roe Theatre, 63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
8.00 pm Tuesday 22 March 2011

The renowned Galway sean-nós singer Joe Heaney is among the most famous singers of the genre ever, and he can be credited with spreading awareness of sean-nós singing far beyond Ireland, especially in the United States.  This lecture will focus on the ways in which Heaney established his own authority in relation to the tradition he held so dear.  From particular songs in his repertoire, it will emerge that Heaney was acutely aware of the potential of these pieces to reinforce his name as an authentic bearer and broadcaster of traditional song and ways of life.  By their performance, Heaney positioned himself in a direct unbroken line of Gaelic tradition, and promoted himself as the quintessential twentieth-century representative of an ancient and continuous musical and literary lineage.

Lillis Ó Laoire, himself a noted sean-nós singer in the traditions of Donegal, is a lecturer in Irish in the National University of Ireland Galway.

Further info from: www.itma.ie


Past Musicians database now online

The Past Musicians database [biographies of 963 musicians active in England prior to 1900], is now online on the Village Music Project website at:


Keith Chandler - 22.2.11

8th Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend

15th, 16th & 17th July 2011.  Edgemount Farm, Lumb Lane, High Bradfield, Sheffield S6 6LJ

Those invited include:

Weekend Tickets: £20 per person to include Camping & Saturday Night Dance.  After 1.6.2011 - £25

Contact: Mark Davies: 0114 2851479.  Mobile:07850475067.  Email:edeophone@aol.com


VWML launches new online projects

Baring-Gould manuscripts now available on Take 6 website

The folk song manuscripts of Sabine Baring-Gould - folklorist, archaeologist, novelist and scholar - have now been added to the Take 6 website, part of the English Folk Dance and Song Society's site.  Hundreds of pages from Baring-Gould's notebooks have been scanned and are now available for searching alongside the rest of the Take 6 archive collection.

The Baring-Gould digital archive was created by Wren Music as part of the Devon Tradition project.  This was a Heritage Lottery funded project that ran from July 2009 to February 2011.

Access the Take 6 collection including the Baring-Gould archive at: http://library.efdss.org/archives/

Roud index linked to Google Maps

The Roud index, the invaluable research tool created by Steve Roud and used to find folk songs and broadsides, has been updated with two new features and an extra 5000 entries.

Firstly, songs in the index that include information about where in the world they were collected are now linked to Google Maps, meaning that you can click the link to go straight to an online map showing the town from which the song was collected.

Secondly, the index now includes links (where available) to digital libraries, where images of original documents can be viewed.  So if you are looking at a broadside and the original is on the Bodleian website, a click will take you to the appropriate page.

Search the Roud folk song index and the Roud broadside index at: http://library.efdss.org

Cecil Sharp's Appalachian diaries now transcribed

Cecil Sharp's Appalachian diaries (1915-1918) now include a transcript with short biographies of named associates.  The Country Dance and Song Society is the sponsor of the transcription project, which will make the American diaries of its founder, Cecil Sharp, widely available to scholars, singers, and all those interested in traditional American dance and music.

These transcripts were researched and made by Dr Christopher Bearman and edited and prepared for the website by Kate Faulkner MSc MCLIP.

This project is dedicated to the memory and contributions of John M. (“Jack”) Langstaff.  It has been underwritten by:

Read and search Cecil Sharp's diaries at: http://library.efdss.org/cgi-bin/introsharpdiaries.cgi or http://tinyurl.com/sharpdiaries


VWML archive to launch online catalogue

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library is launching an online catalogue at midday on 25 January 2011.  This is the first phase of an on-going programme to enable anybody around the world to access information about items held by the library and even browse a library shelf.  The catalogue will be found at http://koha.efdss.org

This first phase will make available the Leslie Shepard Collection.  The Shepard collection was chosen as a pilot project to test and tailor the system to meet the needs of our unique library.  Following this pilot, VWML will continue to convert and upload existing electronic data, as well a converting its card catalogues and add new additions directly onto the system.

The Leslie Shepard Collection

Leslie Alan Shepard (1917–2004) was a passionate collector of books and printed ephemera on a variety of subjects, including folk song and broadside ballads.  Born in East London in 1917, Shepard moved to Ireland in 1969, settling in Dublin where he died in 2004.  He was a world authority and prolific writer on street literature, early moving images, the paranormal, and many other subjects.  Towards the end of his life and after his death, Shepard’s books and printed items were dispersed.  His Bram Stoker collection was given to the Dublin City Library.  He donated material of Irish interest to the Irish Traditional Music Archive shortly after its foundation, and his books relating to the subjects of broadsides and printing, folk music and street literature were kindly bestowed on the VWML in 2002.  With the help of several volunteers, this extraordinary collection of 1,471 items was transported to London, organised, labelled, and catalogued in an internal database.

The Catalogue

In 2010, with the support of Arts Council England, a project to migrate the Library’s internal databases to a fully integrated web-based library management system was begun.  Cataloguer Elaine Bradtke, and IT expert and EFDSS trustee Doug Kingston collaborated on implementing Koha, an open-source system which was developed in New Zealand (http://koha-community.org/).  The literature collection was deemed the first priority and VWML will continue to convert and upload all existing electronic data, which currently amounts to an additional 13,500 items.  In due course, catalogues for all media will be made available online.


New Joe Heaney website

I am delighted to let you know that the new Joe Heaney website is now ready for viewing at www.joeheaney.org   The site contains some 400 complete items, including songs (in both Irish and English), stories, folklore, interviews, talk and opinions.  Video and audio segments may be viewed/heard in their entirety free of charge.  In addition, there is a wealth of introductory material, transcriptions, translations, notes, and reference materials for further study.

We would welcome your review of this important site as you see fit.

Virginia Blankenhorn, Editor - 12.1.11

Royal Oak Club dates:

Royal Oak, Station Street, Lewes, East Sussex - Thursdays.  Some dates of interest: Our Future Guests will include: Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Jez Lowe, Zoox, Alice Gerrard & Beverly Smith, Denise & Stuart Savage

Further info at: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~tinvic


Glasgow ballad workshops

Glasgow Ballad Workshop is pleased to announce that we will be presenting three traditional ballad workshops as an alternative to the programme of Celtic Connections festival.

On Sundays 16th and 30th January we will be offering two less familiar ballads to explore, and on Sunday 23rd we have a special guest event, featuring Arthur Watson from Aberdeen - formerly of the influential group The Gaugers (with Tom Spiers and the late Peter Hall) and more recently with Shepheard, Spiers and Watson.

Each event can stand alone, but there is a discount for anyone booking all three - and BOOKING IS REQUIRED as space is limited.

To sign up, please go to: http://lauriesacousticmusicbar.co.uk and follow through to the Ballad Workshop link.

Ronnie Clark - 21.12.10

RTÉ solves your Christmas present problems

Come West along the Road 3, the latest DVD of highlights from the Irish traditional music television series, has just been published by RTÉ, compiled and produced by Nicholas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

With sixty-five tracks of Irish traditional song, instrumental music and dance from the RTÉ TV archives, dating from the beginning of the 1960s to the end of the 1980s, the DVD runs for 3 hours 22 minutes and is suitable for all regions.  A lengthy bonus track features the first-ever fleadh cheoil filmed by RTÉ, the Bunclody fleadh of 1963.

To see the contents of the new DVD click here.  The DVD is available from ITMA for €14.99 plus P&P.  To purchase click here.


MT Records' second NAT Series re-release now available

MT Records are very pleased to be able to start publishing some of the North American Traditions (NAT) series CDs that are no longer supported by Rounder Records.  Mark Wilson has written an excellent introductory piece, prefacing his original (1999) article on the aims and scope of the NAT Series - which makes extremely interesting reading, and is available as MT Article No.259 Cover picture

The second of these new releases features Roger Cooper, a fine Kentucky fiddler, accompanied by Robin Kessinger, guitar, and Michael Garvin, bass and occasional guitar, with Essence of Old Kentucky (MTCD510).  Mike Yates has said 'As to the tunes that can be heard on this album, for me the thing that stands out is their incredible beauty.  They really are a joy to hear.  Roger Cooper is a wonderfully talented fiddle-player.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that he is one of the very best old-time fiddlers playing today'.  Full Details, including track list and booklet notes, can be found on the MT Records' website  The price is £12.00.

Since this will be one of a substantial number of ex-NAT releases, it seemed a good idea to create a new 'series' for them - the '500 Series' - and an equally good idea to include the Mike Yates' Appalachian 4-CD set, Far in the Mountains, and Mark Wilson's Kentucky 4-CD set Meeting's a Pleasure, within it.  Accordingly, Far in the Mountains is now renumbered MTCD501-4, and Meeting's a Pleasure is renumbered MTCD505-8, Dixie Blossoms was number MTCD509, and so Essence of Old Kentucky is MTCD510.

Another slight change on the MT Records website is that, since these new NAT records already have their booklet notes available as PDF files, I have decided to use these rather than have to construct new HTML versions.  So, when you click on the Booklet Notes link you will get the PDF version.  I don't imagine that this will cause a problem for anyone - and it's only on the website; the 500 series CDs will still have the usual printed booklet inside the DVD case, just like the 300 series CDs.


Na Píobairí Uilleann Source

Hello Rod,

Important developments at NPU.  They've put their entire archive on-line.  I'm biased of course, but I think it's quite beautifully done.

Tunebooks galore with user-interactive midi playback; expanded video tutorials (I'm in there, hence the bias); audio and video archives; pipemaking, reedmaking etc etc.  Have a look (source.pipers.ie), and please do include it in your News section.

All the best,

Patrick Hutchinson - 24.11.10

Musical Traditions Club dates:

King & Queen, Foley Street, London W1 - Junction of Foley Street/Cleveland Street.  Nearest tube Goodge Street.  Monthly, Fridays, 8:00 p.m.

Membership £1 annually, payable on the door.  Admission for members £6, concessions £3.50, non-members £7, concessions £4.

For further information or to leave name & address for membership, ring 0208 340 0530 or contact petawebken@aol.com


Interactive music scores at ITMA

A new feature is now available on the Irish Traditional Music Archive website - interactive music scores.  These are music notations that you can not only view on screen but also play back in lots of user-friendly ways.  You can start, pause and stop playback anywhere you want in a score, skip forwards or backwards quickly in it, change its playback tempo or change its key.  An ideal learning environment!

From now on, ITMA will be regularly adding more notations from historic music collections to this area for you to enjoy, using Sibelius’s Scorch software.

Our first set of scores is now available here.  It consists of the first 100 tunes from Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, published in Boston in the 1880s.  We will be adding more tunes from this and other collections regularly - watch this space!


Roy Palmer Working Songs

A new book by Roy Palmer, Working Songs, is to be published at the end of the month, and is being launched at the People's History Museum in Manchester on Sat 30th October 2-4pm.


Concerts in Northumberland

Contact for both events is Susan Craven: susan@northumbriansandpipers.com


Clare Festival of Traditional Singing

Féile Amhránaíochta An Chláir, November 5th - 7th 2010. Bellbridge House Hotel, Spanish Point, Co Clare

The theme this year is: My Own Place


(The Bellbridge Hotel are offering a special rate of €119 per person sharing for the weekend. This is for 2 nights B+B and evening meal on Saturday)

Contact: Annette Munnelly: 065 7084365, 087 6618921. Jerry O'Reilly: 01 6267589, 086 8161557. Anne Clune: 065 7084628, 087 2645115


Lewes Folk Festival

Full Programme 7th to 10th October 2010:

You will need tickets for these 13 events. You save money by buying tickets in advance. You can buy them at http://www.lewesfolkfest.org/LFFtickets.php by cheque or by Paypal. For further details: Phone 01273 478124 (Vic & Tina), Email: lewesfestival@yahoo.co.uk, Website: http://www.lewesfolkfest.org/
Advance tickets: 26 Ferrers Road, Lewes, BN7 1PZ, pay by cheque payable to Lewes Folk Festival (SAE Please), pay by Paypal to lewesfestival@yahoo.co.uk


First collection of Irish music republished

Music has been performed in oral tradition in Ireland now for some ten thousand years, but it was 1724 before the first notated collection of Irish music appeared.  Consisting of forty-nine tunes, and far older than any surviving manuscript collection, A Collection of the Most Celebrated Irish Tunes Proper for the Violin, German Flute or Hautboy was published that year in the yard of Christ Church Cathedral in central Dublin by the musical-instrument makers John and William Neal, a father and son of obscure origins who dominated the Dublin music trade in the first half of the eighteenth century.

Sold for the new and fashionable instruments of the violin, German flute and oboe, the collection proves on examination to consist almost entirely of traditional Irish harp music and the melodies of traditional Irish-language songs, many with titles in Irish.  The famous blind harper Turlough Carolan, who composed several of the tunes, was alive at the time of their publication here, aged fifty-four.  Many of the tunes reveal a sympathy with the defeated but still powerful Jacobite cause; surprising in a publication produced in the heart of ascendancy Dublin.

A new facsimile reprint of the Celebrated Irish Tunes has now been published by the Irish Traditional Music Archive.  It has been made from the single surviving copy of the original publication, and it makes generally available again a collection of Irish traditional music that was current three hundred and more years ago, music that differs greatly from the Irish traditional music of today.  A document of social and political significance, the collection is chiefly important as a foundation source of Irish music, offering insights into its distant past and providing melodies for modern re-creation and study.

The illustrated introduction and notes on the tunes by Nicholas Carolan, Director of the Irish Traditional Music Archive, contain new information on John and William Neal, the earliest important publishers of music in Ireland, and on the state of music in the capital and the country in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  As an aid towards the re-creation and understanding of the tunes in the collection, early Irish-language song texts have also been provided, with translations, for the some half of the tunes which are song airs rather than instrumental melodies.

Hardback, 26cm., xiv+118 pp., illustrated introduction, music (49 melodies), notes on the tunes, appendixes, bibliography, indexes.
ISBN 978-0-9532704-3-9.  Price: €30 + P&P Ireland: €7, K & Europe: €8, Rest of World: €11.

Orders/Payment Options: Irish Traditional Music Archive, 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Prepayment by cheque/ draft/ credit card (Mastercard, Visa) or PayPal on www.itma.ie required except from libraries/ institutions.


Top Home Page MT Records Articles Reviews Editorial Map

Site designed and maintained by Musical Traditions Web Services   Updated: 18.3.11