The Album

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The Songs

I Live Not Where I LoveSearching for LambsGeordieDaddy FoxA Maiden Sat A-WeepingFarewell NancyDeath and the LadyLow Low Lands of HollandJust as the Tide Was FlowingSprig of ThymeThe Unquiet GraveThe Oak and the AshLazarusWho’s the Fool Now?

I Live Not Where I Love

History

This song is first known to have appeared in two broadsides of 1638 and 1640. It later appears in William Chappell’s Popular Music of the Olden Time (1859.)

Dan’s Notes

I first heard this song on a recording by Tim Hart and Maddie Prior. I wanted to create a building neo-classical arrangement for this, using classical guitar, high-strung guitar in place of a harpsichord, the bass viol, and violin (by our guest Jennifer Curtis.)

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Searching for Lambs

History

Cecil Sharp in Somerset collected five versions between 1904 and 1909. He included it in a number of publications, some with piano accompaniment, and as such it was one of his chosen “English folk songs” which became popular as a drawing-room song. Among all the many he collected, he considered this “a very perfect example of a folk song.”

Dan’s Notes

I first encountered this song in Cecil Sharp’s 100 English Folksongs. Perhaps inspired by the pastoral acoustic songs of the rock band Genesis, I overlaid several high-strung guitars and the bass viol in what I hoped would be a lush aural landscape. 

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Geordie

History

The text of this version came from Mrs. Overd of Longport, Somerset, collected by Cecil Sharp in 1904 and the melody from Charles Neville of East Coker, Somerset, collected in 1908.

Dan’s Notes

This song was a late addition to this release requested by Samantha, who connected deeply to it. It has been recorded by many singers over the years from A.L. Lloyd to Joan Baez. This simple arrangement seeks to reflect the growing intensity of the narrator’s emotions through a building layer of accompaniment.

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Daddy Fox

History

Stories of Reynard the Fox and his trickster ways were widespread throughout Northern Europe starting in the Late Middle Ages. The earliest versions of this song both date from the fifteenth century and are written in Middle English.

“Pax uobis,” quod the ffox,
“for I am comyn to toowne.”
It fell ageyns the next nyght
the fox yede to with all his myghte,
with-outen cole or candelight,
whan that he cam vnto the toowne

Dan’s Notes

I first heard this song on a recording made by Barry Dransfield (with his brother Robin.) The Dransfields are among the musicians who first made me aware and appreciative of English folk music and the ways in which it was being played in the mid-1970’s. My idea was to build the song up from solo guitar, adding melodica, bass, bass viol, high-strung guitar, and violin (by our guest Jennifer Curtis,) voices, and claps along the way.

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A Maiden Sat A-Weeping

History

This song, under the title of “As Sylvie Went A-Walking” was sent to collector W. P. Merrick from Australia. The singer, an 80-year-old woman born in Gloucestershire, had been in Australia since 1855. She had learned the song from her uncle, also from Gloucestershire. 

Dan’s Notes

I first encountered this song in Sabine Baring-Gould’s collection Songs and Ballads of the West. My attempt was to present it as a dialog between the person walking by and the maiden, and to arrange it in a neo-classical style with the classical guitar, high-strung guitar in place of a harpsichord, and the bass viol.

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Farewell Nancy

History

This ballad appears in Patrick Weston Joyce’s Ancient Irish Music (1873 and 1888). It is also known as “William and Nancy’s Parting.” According to the Ballad Index it was printed on broadsides as early as 1855. Variations and alternate titles include “Farewell, Charming Nancy,” “Lovely Nancy” and “The Sailor and his True Love.”

Dan’s Notes

I first encountered this song in Cecil Sharp’s 100 English Folksongs. My idea was to have the melodica imitate a melodeon played by a sailor. (Using the melodica on this project was helpful since I have no accordion skills!) In the middle section, the bass viol plays the melody accompanied by two baroque guitars imitating mandolins. Lots of instruments going incognito on this song!

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Death and the Lady

History

This ballad was printed on a broadside sometime between 1683 and 1700. It was printed as “The Great Messenger of Mortality, or a Dialogue betwixt Death and a Lady.” This version was collected in Sussex in 1893. “The Dance of Death” (conversations between Death and his victims) was a popular theme throughout the 14th and 15th centuries and again in the 18th century.

Dan’s Notes

I first encountered this song in Cecil Sharp’s 100 English Folksongs. My arrangement is based around an altered guitar tuning and a drone created on the bass viol and lute. (This may be the ugliest recorded use of the gentle lute in history, but it serves its purpose!) As the song builds, the drone is augmented by voices at the fifth and the octave. I used minor mode, even though the song has been taken down in major mode and can be just as creepy that way!

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Low Low Lands of Holland

History

Throughout history, the English Navy depended on impressment as a means to crew its warships. “The Lowlands of Holland” probably originated during the Anglo-Dutch Wars in the 17th century and enjoyed revivals in popularity during the Wars of Louis XIV and the Napoleonic Wars. Versions of The Lowlands of Holland are to be found in every part of Britain and Ireland. Texts with various tunes have been published in Cecil Sharp’s Folk Songs from Somerset, Herbert Hughes’ Irish Country Songs, and Patrick Weston Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs.

Dan’s Notes

Of all the songs in this project this is the most quiet and unadorned. The accompaniment consists of simply one steel-string guitar, one classical guitar, and one high-strung guitar.

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Just as the Tide Was Flowing

History

This song appears in Frank Kidson’s Traditional Tunes of 1891. The tune is from a Mr. Lolly (Yorkshire), but the text is from a broadside.

Dan’s Notes

I first heard this song from a recording by Shirley Collins and The Albion Country Band. This was one of the first folk songs Samantha and I began to sing together many years ago, and it holds a special place in her mother’s heart and mine for that reason.

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Sprig of Thyme


History

“The Sprig of Thyme” (also known as “The Seeds of Love” or “Maiden’s Lament”) is a traditional British and Irish folk ballad that uses botanical and other symbolism to warn young people of the dangers in taking false lovers. The first song Cecil Sharp ever collected, from a gardener called John England, was a variant of this song in which flower symbolism is used in a manner reminiscent of Ophelia’s mad speeches in Hamlet. Shakespeare probably knew the song, as it was first noted in 1689.

Dan’s Notes

I tried to create a light, delicate arrangement for this lovely song, and was assisted in this by our guest recorder player Rosemarie DiGiorgio.

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The Unquiet Grave

History

“The Unquiet Grave,” also known as “Cold Blows the Wind,”was collected in 1868 by Francis James Child, as Child Ballad no. 78. In many various forms it has been recorded by numerous artists over the years. The motif that excessive grief can disturb the dead is found also in German and Scandinavian ballads, as well as Greek and Roman traditions.

Dan’s Notes

“The Unquiet Grave,” also known as “Cold Blows the Wind,”was collected in 1868 by Francis James Child, as Child Ballad no. 78. In many various forms it has been recorded by numerous artists over the years. The motif that excessive grief can disturb the dead is found also in German and Scandinavian ballads, as well as Greek and Roman traditions.

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The Oak and the Ash

History

The song appears In  John Payne Collier’s  A Book of Roxburghe Ballads which consists of 1,341 broadside ballads from the 17th century originally collected by Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer (1661–1724), later collected by John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe. There, it’s titled “The Northern Lasse’s Lamentation; or, the Unhappy Maid’s Misfortune” and it’s prefaced by a few melancholy lines:

Since she did from her friends depart
No earthly thing can cheer her heart,
But still she doth her case lament
Being always fill’d with discontent,
Resolving to do naught but mourn
Till to the North she doth return.

Dan’s Notes

I first created an different arrangement for this song twelve years ago for voice, alto recorder, lute, and bass viol. This arrangement included an ending instrumental section of “Quodling’s Delight,” which is a keyboard variation of the song’s tune written by Giles Farnaby and included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book from the Elizabethan era. In this current arrangement, this section is played by four classical guitars in place of a virginal.

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Lazarus

History

This tune was collected by Lucy Broadwood in English Country Songs in 1893. The traditional tune was provided by organist Alfred Hipkins and the words were collected by Francis James Child in Child Ballad no. 56, “Dives and Lazarus.”

Dan’s Notes

I first encountered this song in Bertrand Harris Bronson’s The Singing Tradition of Child’s Popular Ballads. The author devoted the major portion of his life’s work to pairing traditional melodies to many of the Child Ballads, which consisted of lyrics only. The acoustic guitar is intentionally recorded crudely in imitation of a dobro, or resonator guitar. The intense pulsing in the background is provided by the bass viol and an earnest pounding on the desk!

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Who’s the Fool Now?


History

The first printed version of this song appears in Thomas Ravenscroft’s Deuteromelia (1609). The theme is the degradation of drink, the master drinking out of the can and telling tall stories, while his servant drinking from the cup mocks him. In the second verse, the “man in the moon” is King Henry VIII and the man standing in St. Peter’s shoes is the Pope. To “clout” in Old English means to “mend.” It was unlikely to see Henry VIII patching up his differences with the Pope as it was to see a cheese chase a rat.

Dan’s Notes

I first heard this song on a recording by Tim Hart and Maddie Prior. Of all the songs in this project it is surely one of my favorites. It uses another building arrangement, using guitar, melodica, bass viol, and violin (by our guest Jennifer Curtis.)

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