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Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??

GUEST,Alli 05 Nov 03 - 09:43 PM
Malcolm Douglas 05 Nov 03 - 10:38 PM
Susan of DT 06 Nov 03 - 04:55 AM
VIN 06 Nov 03 - 07:44 AM
IanC 06 Nov 03 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,Alli 06 Nov 03 - 10:36 AM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Nov 03 - 11:08 AM
IanC 06 Nov 03 - 12:30 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Nov 03 - 01:28 PM
Martin Graebe 06 Nov 03 - 01:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Nov 03 - 01:51 PM
Malcolm Douglas 06 Nov 03 - 03:19 PM
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Subject: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: GUEST,Alli
Date: 05 Nov 03 - 09:43 PM

Looks like there's other people working on the same project as me! :) I'm trying to find out if this song is a Child or Laws ballad. I've found several titles for it: "Sweet Nightingale", "Down in the Valley", and "Down in those Valleys Below". The first stanza goes like this:
'My sweetheart, come along!
Don't you hear the fond song,
The sweet notes of the nightingale flow?
Don't you hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below?
So be not afraid
To walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below,
Nor yet in those valleys below.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 05 Nov 03 - 10:38 PM

Neither Child nor Laws covered this one, though there are other (unrelated) songs involving nightingales which do turn up in Laws. This is number 371 in the Roud Folk Song Index, and has been found mostly in the west and south-west of England. There have been a number of discussions about this song here in the past, but people have sometimes failed to understand that not all songs which mention nightingales necessarily have anything at all to do with one another, so some confusion has often arisen. The onsite search engine will find you more references; try looking for word-clusters rather than a title, though.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Susan of DT
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 04:55 AM

And the words are in the Digital Tradition. I searched for "fond tale"


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: VIN
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 07:44 AM

Great version of the Nightingale (sung by Alan Bell i think) on the Taverners 'Seldom Sober' album....great group, great song!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: IanC
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 08:31 AM

The song is usually called "The Sweet Nightingale" to distinguish it from "One Morning in May/Hear The Nightingale Sing" and also from the ghost song "The Nightingale" (from the name of the ship).

Though it seems to have been common in Southern England (and probably still is, thanks to its inclusing in the BBC's "Singing Together" in the early 1960s), the song doesn't seem to have appeared very often in print before this century.

It is included, with notes, in Robert Bell's Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England.

Bell says (for what it's worth):

Ballad: THE SWEET NIGHTINGALE; OR, DOWN IN THOSE VALLEYS BELOW.   
AN ANCIENT CORNISH SONG.

THIS curious ditty, which may be confidently assigned to the seventeenth century, is said to be a translation from the ancient Cornish tongue. We first heard it in Germany, in the pleasure-gardens of the Marienberg, on the Moselle. The singers were four Cornish miners, who were at that time, 1854, employed at some lead mines near the town of Zell. The leader or 'Captain,' John Stocker, said that the song was an established favourite with the lead miners of Cornwall and Devonshire, and was always sung on the pay-days, and at the wakes; and that his grandfather, who died thirty years before, at the age of a hundred years, used to sing the song, and say that it was very old. Stocker promised to make a copy of it, but there was no opportunity of procuring it before we left Germany. The following version has been supplied by a gentleman in Plymouth, who writes:-

I have had a great deal of trouble about THE VALLEY BELOW. It is not in print. I first met with one person who knew one part, then with another person who knew another part, but nobody could sing the whole. At last, chance directed me to an old man at work on the roads, and he sung and recited it throughout, not exactly, however, as I send it, for I was obliged to supply a little here and there, but only where a bad rhyme, or rather none at all, made it evident what the real rhyme was. I have read it over to a mining gentleman at Truro, and he says 'It is pretty near the way we sing it.'

The tune is plaintive and original.


The words from Bell are printed below.

The Sweet Nightingale

'MY sweetheart, come along!
Don't you hear the fond song,
The sweet notes of the nightingale flow?
Don't you hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below?
So be not afraid
To walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below,
Nor yet in those valleys below.

'Pretty Betsy, don't fail,
For I'll carry your pail,
Safe home to your cot as we go;
You shall hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below.'
But she was afraid
To walk in the shade,
To walk in those valleys below,
To walk in those valleys below.

'Pray let me alone,
I have hands of my own;
Along with you I will not go,
To hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below;
For I am afraid
To walk in the shade,
To walk in those valleys below,
To walk in those valleys below.'

'Pray sit yourself down
With me on the ground,
On this bank where sweet primroses grow;
You shall hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sings in those valleys below;
So be not afraid
To walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below,
Nor yet in those valleys below.'

This couple agreed;
They were married with speed,
And soon to the church they did go.
She was no more afraid
For to (70) walk in the shade,
Nor yet in those valleys below:
Nor to hear the fond tale
Of the sweet nightingale,
As she sung in those valleys below,
As she sung in those valleys below.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: GUEST,Alli
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 10:36 AM

Thank you to everyone who helped, it was surprisingly difficult to find anything on the web concerning the collections including this song or any of its history. I did find it in the Digital Tradition but without any background to it, so I figured I'd check with the experts here ;) Thanks again!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 11:08 AM

THE NIGHTINGALE:  DT entry. No tune given or source specified. There is a midi linked to, though, and in spite of doubts expressed (and no indication being given as to where it came from) it is the right tune; or at least the tune most commonly heard nowadays. Noted by Baring-Gould in Cornwall, where, according to him, it was the usual tune: date(s) unspecified but end of 19th/ beginning of 20th century. He considered the tune to be of the second half of the 18th century. He further pointed out that the words were written by Isaac Bickerstaff for the opera ("dramatic pastoral") Thomas and Sally, or the Soldier's Return (Covent Garden, 1760) with music by Thomas Arne; and that Bell's guess at a date was way out. Arne's tune seems not to have made it into tradition. Baring-Gould published the tune, with words from Bell, in Songs of the West, English Folk-Songs for Schools, and so on.

All the subsidiary links in the DT file are to other, unrelated Nightingale songs; mostly versions of The Grenadier and the Lady (and many other titles). This brief earlier discussion does relate to it, though:

To hear the birds whistle and sing...lyr


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: IanC
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 12:30 PM

Thanks, Malcolm, for the Baring-Gould details. The text of "Thomas and Sally" ought to be available somewhere, as he appears to have published the libretto in 1761. I've looked in the BL catalogue but it's not there, though about 5 others are.

According to this site it was first perfomed on 28th November. It must have been fairly popular, as it appears to have been performed in Newcastle during the 1770s also.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 01:28 PM

Two BL references might have the goods:

The bashful Maid. A new song. [London, 1780?] s. sh. 4o. 11621.k.5.(5.)

Clio and Euterpe, or British Harmony. Vol 4, 1778. (ref. from EASMES) Perhaps BL D.412.c

There are several editions of the latter; the above seems to be the latest at c.1780.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 01:43 PM

I won't get too picky but Baring-Gould didn't actually collect the song. He had two tunes sent to him, one from Cornwall (EF Stevens 'the air to which sung by the miners in Cornwall 1850' - this is the tune in 'Songs of the West' - ie the usual tune) and the other from Plymouth (similar). In the Ms he quotes Arne's 'Thomas and Sally' as the 'A' version (dating it to 1768) and as his 'B' version gives Bell's version with the note "He has clearly cooked up the words". A strange case of the Pot calling the Kettle black!

Tune iii in the Ms is Arne's - I have seen the book in his library with this in

Martin


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 01:51 PM

The Traditional Ballad Index has it under the title, "Well Met, Pretty Maid (The Sweet Nightingale)."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'the nightingale', laws or child??
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Nov 03 - 03:19 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Martin. SBG was a bit ambiguous in his note in SoW. For the benefit of anyone not having the book, he wrote: "The air was first sent to me by E.F. Stevens, Esq., of the Terrace, St Ives, who wrote that the melody 'had run in his head any time these eight and thirty years.' We have had it since from a good many old men in Cornwall, and always sung to the same air. They assert that it is a duet, and was so set in our first edition."

I should perhaps add, further to clarify my reference, that Baring-Gould didn't feel able accurately to note tunes without a piano to hand, so that part of the work was handled by more expert friends, generally fellow-clergymen F.W. Bussell or H. Fleetwood Sheppard.

I was wrong, it seems, to say that Arne's tune had not been found with this song in tradition. On looking a little further, I see that a set noted by the Hammond brothers from Mrs Hallet, Mosterton, Dorset (Purslow, The Constant Lovers, 106) is described by Frank Purslow as "A surprising survival of an 'aria' from Dr. Thomas Arne's little opera Thomas and Sally, to a variant of Arne's original tune and with Isaac Bickerstaffe's original text, which Mrs. Hallett had preserved in maunuscript."

A.H. Fox-Strangways (Journal of the Folk Song Society, VI (22) 1919, 91) traces the Baring-Gould tune to another song in the Arne/Bickerstaff opera, The Echoing Horn.

I quoted the first stanza of Bickerstaff's text in the other thread I mentioned earlier, but neglected to say where I had got it; for the record, it was quoted by Frank Kidson in the Journal of the Folk Song Society, I (3) 1901, 73.


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