logo News and Comment No. 44

Sharp's English Folk Songs in the Southern Appalachians re-issued

Camsco Music have just re-issued Sharp's English Folk Songs in the Southern Appalachians (1932 edition in 2 volumes, with a new introduction by Sheila Kay Adams), priced $25 per volume soft cover / $35 hard cover.  They're available from their website: www.camscomusic.com - though they're printed in the UK, minimising transit costs and eliminating import duty.


VWML Gallery of Historic Dance and Tune Books

Malcolm Taylor has just informed me of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library' new Gallery of Historic Dance and Tune Books.  For those of you interested in early examples of English dance repertoire, this - along with the Village Music Project - will provide a treasure trove of tunes and dances.

There appear to be 31 collections shown in facsimile, containing some 2,250 tunes, many of which have dance descriptions with them.  All date from the 1745 to 1850 period.  This project was funded by the Islington Folk Club, and the VWML intend to add to the Gallery over time as more funding becomes available.  They also intend to link the pages displayed to other parts of the website, such as the Dance and Tune Index.

If you are interested in helping fund the development of this Gallery, please let the VWML know.  Contact them at: library@efdss.org.


P W Joyce collections digitised

Original coversITMA's latest set of interactive music scores is now available on their website.  It consists of the 120 tunes of the first two Irish music collections edited by Patrick Weston Joyce: Ancient Irish Music (Dublin, 1873) and Irish Music and Song (Dublin, 1888, 1901).  The publications include song airs and dance tunes that Joyce remembered from his childhood in pre-Famine Co Limerick.

The Scorch files have been converted from Sibelius files created by Terry Moylan and generously donated by him to ITMA.  As always with Scorch files, the notation of the tunes will be visible on screen, and will be available for computer playback with the facility to change tempo, key, etc.  Find them at: www.itma.ie


The 2012 Frank Harte Festival

The 2012 event take place on September 21st to 23rd, at The Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin.

Guests include:

Fergus Russell +353 876724714
Máire Ní Chroinín +353 862940652
Jerry O’Reilly +353 868161557


Future Cheque and Postal Order payments to MT

Since the year 2000, when I began making CDs in earnest, and using PayPal for payments on the MT Records website, I have also been using an Alliance & Leicester free business banking account for payments to 'Musical Traditions' (since a business account is needed for payments to an entity, rather than to an individual).  Although this A&L service was described as being 'free forever', now that Santander have taken them over this promise has been broken, and they will start making a monthly charge for the use of the account some time this year.  This decision essentially means the end of free business banking, since no other bank now offers the service for more than 12 or 18 months.  After this, charges are applied - averaging around £250 per year.

Since you'll know that MT CDs are 'productions conceived with the intention of bringing music which might never achieve commercial publication to the small audience which values it', it probably won't surprise you to learn that this 'small audience' really is small.  My 'best sellers' achieve sales of around 300 copies (in total) and less popular items rarely exceed 100 sales.  So you'll be able to see that making and selling these CDs is really only a hobby that pays for itself - just - and never makes a substantial profit.  Accordingly, losing £250 of that tiny profit - to no advantage - is to be avoided if at all possible.

It seems to me that the only way to permanently avoid it is to revert to using a normal current account with my usual bank, Halifax Plc.  Which means that cheque and Postal Order payments made out to 'Musical Traditions' will no longer be acceptable, and that all such payments in the future will have to be made payable to 'R Stradling'.  In case you're wondering - this is not a tax dodge - MT Records' accounts are submitted to HM Customs & Revenue every year, and the tax paid.

So, if you buy Musical Traditions CDs by cheque or Postal Order (the cheapest way if you live in the UK), would you please always make them payable to R Stradling.  Otherwise, I'll have to return them to you to be amended ... costing us both unnecessary additional postage, and meaning you'll have to wait several days longer to get your records.

Rod Stradling - 3.8.12

Black Europe project

Forthcoming from Bear Family Records in 2013 is a 500-page lavishly illustrated book documenting the sounds and images of musicians and entertainers of African descent who worked in Europe before 1927, from minstrel shows to ethnological documentation, from the earliest ragtime to the emerging syncopated popular music styles and jazz.  The LP-sized book, written by researchers Horst Bergmeier, Jeffrey Green, Rainer Lotz, and Howard Rye, will be in a boxed set accompanied by 40 CDs including every recoverable recording from the era, commercial or academic, restored by sound-engineer Christian Zwarg.

The CDs will include the complete output of the African-American string bands which recorded in London in 1916 to 1922, a unique documentation, recordings of authentic minstrelsy and vaudevillian and pioneer blues harp player Pete Hampton, and the earliest recorded examples of stride piano and rhythm scat singing.  From the '20s come important records of the earliest jazz including the complete works of Vorzanger's Band in London and Mitchell's Jazz Kings in Paris.  From Africans come recordings of African languages and folk and religious music including the recordings of Rev J J Ransome Kuti, Fela Kuti's grandfather.  A single page PDF flyer, showing further info and mock-ups of 5 of the pages can be seen here.

Interest can be registered now at no cost for news, updates and subscription details by e-mail to: black-europe@bear-family.com stating "I want to be kept informed of the BLACK EUROPE project".


New ITMA initiative

This month the Digitised Materials form the first tranche of materials which are part of a new initiative: The Inishowen Song Project.  This is an Internet partnership project which is bringing the traditional songs of the Inishowen peninsula, Co Donegal, to a local audience in Donegal, to a national audience throughout Ireland, and to an international audience in all corners of the world.  It is a joint project of the Inishowen Traditional Singers’ Circle and the Irish Traditional Music Archive, and it has been generously funded by the Inishowen Development Partnership (IDP), a local development company that is itself funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.

Further information on the Inishowen Song Project


New MP3 sound clip set-up in MT

Back in June 2011, I alerted you to the fact that I was intending to make all new Sound Clips in the magazine MP3 files, and that I was using the Google Inline Player for this purpose.  That was all fine, and I had no messages from readers who couldn't make the system work.  There was a problem that I needed to put any new pages online before I could check that the sounds were actually working - but I felt I could live with that.  However, a new problem has now arisen at this end.

Having recently published the annual CD-ROM version of the magazine, I have realised that these new sound clips will not play in that medium, since the Google Player needs to be called online in order to function - and a CD-ROM is, obviously, not online!  This realisation came during the preparation of the new House Dance / Anglo concertina CD-ROM, and a solution needed to be found for that.

In the end, a ludicrously simple answer occurred to me - use links!  HTML allows a word in the text to induce a 'jump' to somewhere else, usually to another piece of text, but it can also jump to a sound file - which is then played by your currently installed Media Player.  The beauty of this method means that the name of the tune in the text of the article (or whatever you're reading at the time) can be shown in a certain way - I've chosen bold italic red underscored - and you just click it to play the sound clip.  There's no need for an icon at the side, or a big Google Player graphic in the text.  Here's an example: of Dooley Chapman playing an Untitled Polka, accompanied by his daughter on piano, from the new House Dance CD-ROM.  A problem with this is that your currently installed Media Player may obscure much of the page you were reading at the time!

If you use the Windows Media Player, you can set it to run in 'Skin Mode' (View menu, select Skin Mode) - or 'Compact Mode', either of which overcome this problem.  In 'Skin Mode', drag the bottom margin up until the Video pane almost disappears.  I think this is the better of the two methods.  But to use 'Compact Mode' temporarily, click the button in the bottom/right corner of the Player (the text 'Switch to compact mode' will pop-up).  To do it a little more permanently, click on the Windows Media Player's 'Tools' menu and select 'Options'.  In the 'Player settings' section, select the 'Start the mini Player for file names that contain this text' option, and type .mp3 in the box below it, and click OK.  If you use a different Media Player, you may be able to set it to run in a similar compact mode.

Please check this out and see if it works for you.  I'm intending to use it in a big new Article, to be online shortly, and I will replace the Google Player implementations elsewhere in MT if there are no objections.  Please let me know.

Rod Stradling - 26.1.12

Glasgow Ballad Workshop

As part of the Ballad Workshop up here, we have to contend with the philistines of Celtic Connections every year.  During the Celtic Connections period, the Ballad Workshop will still be active, with a formidable programme: It is necessary to book for these events.  To make a booking, please e-mail Anne Neilson: neilson.anne@btinternet.com   or call her on 01355-239592.

All events begin at 1pm, in Laurie's Acoustic Music Bar, 34 King Street, Glasgow, G1 5QT



ITMA on YouTube

In a new departure for the Irish Traditional Music Archive, their digitised materials now include video and they have launched a YouTube channel (ITMAVideos).  The initial video content is taken from their first foray into studio recording back in 1993.  There are some 27 video clips currently online.


The Mary Sands Project

Back in 2002 I wrote an article for Musical Traditions about the Appalachian singer Mary Sands, who was from North Carolina and who gave some twenty songs to Cecil Sharp in 1916.  I was helped at the time by one of Mary's grandsons, Kriss Sands.  One person who read the article was the Appalachian singer and story-teller Joe Penland, who is also from North Carolina, and Joe is now working on The Mary Sands Project.  Part 1 of the Project involves Joe recording a dozen of Mary's songs on CD.  Joe is somebody who has really thrown himself into the preservation of Appalachian folk song and lore, and is a very good singer.  If you would like to support him, or learn more about the Mary Sands Project then please have a look at the web-site: www.indiegogo.com/The-Mary-Sands-Project

Many thanks

Mike Yates - 3.11.11

ITMA's Recent Publications and Acquisitions

Here is the latest listing from the Irish Traditional Music Archive of Recent Publications and Acquisitions

The listing contains recently published sound recordings, books, theses and articles, serials, and DVDs.  All of the items listed are immediately available for reference, free of charge, to users of the Archive in its premises at 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

In addition, notice is given of other acquisitions that have been added to the Archive’s collections and will be available when processed.


Wiltshire Field Recordings

In 1978 I spent some time travelling around Berkshire and Wiltshire in the company of fellow folklorist Roly Brown.  We were looking for folksingers and, in the village of Urchfont in Wiltshire, we came across William Harding.  William gave us a local version of the carol While Shepherd's Watched, the tune to a much rarer carol, Come Christians Now Behold the Lamb, a humorous dialect poem and a reminiscence of a village band.

I am happy to say that these recordings can now be heard on-line on the Wiltshire Pop Up Museum web-site, (http://wiltshirepopup.blogspot.com).  The recordings, in four parts, are in the Blog Archive for October, 2011.

Mike Yates - 25.10.11

British Library's Historic Ethnographic Recordings receives UNESCO accolade

UNESCO has officially recognised The British Library's Historic Ethnographic Recordings as a collection of global significance and outstanding universal value.  UNESCO's International Advisory Committee has agreed to include The Historic Ethnographic Recordings in their Memory of the World International Register - akin to the list of World Heritage Sites for documents and archives.

The Historic Ethnographic Recordings collection contains many rare field recordings of orally transmitted cultures made throughout the world by linguists and musicologists.  Some of these recordings represent the earliest extant sources for research into those cultures and have been captured in the most vivid format available at the time, the linguistic and cultural diversity of today's 'global village'.  Dr Janet Topp Fargion, Lead Curator World & Traditional Music at the British Library said: "Not only were these recordings among the first of such to be made, but also some may be the last, as many of the languages and musical practices that feature in the collection are now endangered or no longer exist."

Amongst Dr Topp Fargion's personal favourites from the Historic Ethnographic Recordings are:


VWML achieves MLA Designated status

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML), England's folk music and dance archive, has been awarded Designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

The MLA Designation Scheme identifies the pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance.  These inspiring collections represent a vital part of our national cultural heritage.

Designated status for the VWML brings it into an elite group which includes the Fitzwilliam Museum collections at the University of Cambridge, Special Collections at the Bodleian Library (Oxford), Courtauld Institute Gallery, Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester) and the Wordsworth Trust.


Ioan Jenkins and FolkTrax 406

I have a question about Ioan Jenkins, one-time leader of the Moonrakers Band in Wiltshire.  I play the fiddle that he played, and am trying to get some of his playing, to listen to, and learn from.  I understand that he, or at least the band, is on FolkTrax FTX406 The Vly be on the Turmut.  I know that FolkTrax no longer really exists and it would seem impossible to get a new copy of that CD or cassette.  Might you or anyone you know have a copy that I could buy second hand, or would make me a copy of Ioan's tracks?

John Dipper - 23.7.11

Frank Harte Festival 2011

The Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin


Fergus Russell: +353 876724714
Máire Ní Chroinín: +353 862940652
Jerry O'Reilly: +353 868161557


Stolen Melodeon

Stolen in Keighley, Yorkshire, from my parked camper van June 28th.  In battered black rucksack:

George Speller: george.speller@tiscali.co.uk - 16.7.11

The Full English

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has given the green light to support the EFDSS' The Full English project.  Development funding of £30,000 has been awarded by HLF to help progress their plans, which will see EFDSS work with five other nationally important English folk music and dance archive collections to tell the story of traditional, rural and working class culture in 20th-century England.  This means that the project can now progress to the second stage of the HLF application process, with up to two years to submit more detailed plans and apply for the full grant of just over £615,400.

The project will carry out essential conservation work, digitise the collections and join them through a single web portal, allowing online public access to the collections for the first time.  An educational programme, which draws upon and is inspired by the collections, will be run in 21 different locations in England.

The Full English project will join up a complete set of the most important folk music collections in England - those of Harry Albino, Lucy Broadwood, Clive Carey, Percy Grainger, Maud Karpeles, Frank Kidson, Thomas Fairman Ordish, Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Alfred Williams - through a single web portal, allowing public access to 39,179 items via 70,862 individually digitised pages.  This will involve partnership between six archives at English Folk Dance and Song Society; The British Library; Clare College, Cambridge; The Folklore Society at University College London; the Mitchell Library, Glasgow; and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

The collections will form the foundation for learning and participation programmes to be run across nine regions of England which it is estimated will involve over 20,000 people of all ages.  The project will comprise projects with children and young people, work with teachers and other arts educationalists; partnering with local arts organisations to deliver community projects comprising participatory events and concerts; archive and history projects and training of volunteers in archive and conservation work.


ITMA Website redesign

A major revision and redesign of our website has been carried out over the last few months by ITMA staff working in conjunction with the Dublin web-design company Birdie.

The new site has greatly enhanced access and search capabilities, and will be an important platform for an expansion of ITMA’s services in the coming years.  The site has now gone live and is available here.


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