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In praise of English music and dance

Gervase 06 Sep 06 - 09:09 AM
Mo the caller 06 Sep 06 - 09:03 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Sep 06 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,Dazbo 06 Sep 06 - 08:19 AM
Ringer 25 Aug 06 - 10:04 AM
Old Grizzly 25 Aug 06 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,stigWeard 25 Aug 06 - 07:36 AM
Grab 25 Aug 06 - 07:25 AM
Paul Burke 25 Aug 06 - 03:08 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 25 Aug 06 - 12:05 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 25 Aug 06 - 12:02 AM
Ron Davies 24 Aug 06 - 11:01 PM
Old Grizzly 24 Aug 06 - 05:54 PM
treewind 24 Aug 06 - 04:29 PM
Desert Dancer 24 Aug 06 - 02:41 PM
Desert Dancer 24 Aug 06 - 02:34 PM
pattyClink 24 Aug 06 - 01:54 PM
Marje 24 Aug 06 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 24 Aug 06 - 01:47 PM
JohnB 23 Aug 06 - 07:52 PM
treewind 23 Aug 06 - 03:51 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Aug 06 - 03:26 PM
sciencegeek 23 Aug 06 - 03:25 PM
Richard Bridge 23 Aug 06 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Aug 06 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Jon 23 Aug 06 - 01:56 PM
The Sandman 23 Aug 06 - 01:09 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Aug 06 - 12:41 PM
greg stephens 23 Aug 06 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Jon 23 Aug 06 - 07:45 AM
The Sandman 23 Aug 06 - 07:38 AM
Scrump 23 Aug 06 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Jon 23 Aug 06 - 07:25 AM
jonm 23 Aug 06 - 07:16 AM
Marje 23 Aug 06 - 07:12 AM
Paul Burke 23 Aug 06 - 07:09 AM
Crystal 23 Aug 06 - 07:05 AM
treewind 23 Aug 06 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Dazbo 23 Aug 06 - 06:26 AM
Richard Bridge 23 Aug 06 - 06:22 AM
Pete_Standing 23 Aug 06 - 06:18 AM
treewind 23 Aug 06 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,Jon 23 Aug 06 - 04:45 AM
Paul Burke 23 Aug 06 - 04:15 AM
Dave Hanson 23 Aug 06 - 04:06 AM
Dave the Gnome 23 Aug 06 - 02:57 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Aug 06 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,Rowan 22 Aug 06 - 06:10 PM
skipy 22 Aug 06 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,emily s 22 Aug 06 - 05:45 PM
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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Gervase
Date: 06 Sep 06 - 09:09 AM

Cor, isn't it grand how, like the wheel of fortune, the fears for the death of the English tradition keep rolling round? ;-)
For me, too, the English tradition is my first love. Even now, in Wales, the songs I sing are nearly all from the English tradition. And it's a tradition that shows a remarkable resilience, whatever the effects of the X-Factor, the Chart Show and MTV.
But it's good sometimes to stop and take stock of what it is we cherish, so wassail to Dave the Gnome for starting this thread. Meanwhile, here's an earlier take on the subject, with links to some even earlier thoughts (including Mike of Northumbria's superb essay on the English tradition).
Now, all together now: Round goes the Wheel of Fortune, don't be afraid to ride... and let's hear it for the glories of the music of the people.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Mo the caller
Date: 06 Sep 06 - 09:03 AM

If Captain Birdseye thinks we don't have dance tunes in interesting modes he's not danced any Playford (who published popular danced tunes from 1651- 17 something). His dances were revived by Cecil Sharp 100 years ago and are danced in clubs all over the world.
Spine tingling tunes.
What a variety we have that goes under the name 'English Music'.
And we can enjoy other folks music and dance too (Irish set dancing, American squares etc etc.)

I think I made a boob in Whitby when I suggested a Morris tune in an English session in the Middle Earth (not that the Whitby programme specified anything other than 'Music Session'). Johny Handel's reply was "that ok, they don't play our music, but we can play theirs". It's all music to me.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Sep 06 - 08:46 AM

The Inclosure(sic) Acts were indeed a great theft of the land from its people


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 06 Sep 06 - 08:19 AM

<< "Folk Clubs"; the quotes are because there was more blues & singer-songwriter stuff than folk >>

Sounds just like Cambridge "Folk" Festival LOL


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Ringer
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 10:04 AM

I was made to "Sing Together" (Home Service, 11:00am on Mondays) with William Appleby at primary school. Some "filthy Mozart" stuff, some Victorian melodrama (eg Ash Grove), but not a little English Folk Song (eg The Keeper, High Germany). Quite enjoyed it, thought nothing of it then, certainly didn't thinkof it as "English Folk Music".

As a late-teenager (mid 1960s), I had a mate who played a mean blues guitar who took me along to some "Folk Clubs"; the quotes are because there was more blues & singer-songwriter stuff than folk (OK - I still have a liking for Howlin' Wolf, Julie Felix, etc). But the folk blew me -- songs (not just English; there was Irish stuff as well), particularly, whose music seared my soul, whose words taught me poetry, and whose style I was familiar with from Singing Together: thereafter I sought out the clubs where this material predominated (I still do).

Then, as Steeleye Span and their ilk were becoming popular, as a student I got into dance, first the social- then the ritual-dance, at first both in University clubs, later outside. It seemed enormously popular then: I could dance every night of the week -- possibly excepting Sundays -- if I wanted (and occasionally I did want), in halls absolutely packed with people of all ages, from pre-pubescents to pensioners (only when, of course, I was outside the university). But I had work to do, folk song clubs to go to, even Irish sessions (The Exiles of Erin, in Ardwick, was it? How memory fails).

I gave up the Morris when my first son was born, and took up bell-ringing instead (the Church was nearer than my Morris side). My dancing has dropped off to two sessions a month, my song-club sessions to once a month. The popularity seems to have waned almost completely among the general population; dance clubs, particularly, seem to be folding regularly; is it at all likely that a folk(ish) song will ever be on today's version of Top of thr Pops?. When I go dancing now, there are almost no youngsters; the clubs seem, literally, to be dying off. My regular club, of which I am the youngest member, staggers on with a core of about 8.

Ichabod! The glory is departed. Or is that an incorrect impression?


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Old Grizzly
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 07:54 AM

Hi stigWeard,

I will never consider myself reactionary again. You are out of my league !

I blame it all on our 'arold for not wearing safety goggles in what was clearly a hazardous environment ;O)

Dave


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,stigWeard
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 07:36 AM

The reason why the English don't have a strong sense of national identity is because we have never been under threat from an oppressive regime.

What? The nation has been labouring under the Norman Yoke for nearly a thousand years and they're still here, sitting in their stately piles, owning land they took from ordinary folk after the invasion, not lifting a finger to help the lot of the common man or woman.

As for being royalist, thank the maker lots of English song is not - and for the royal family, along with the landed gentry - up against the wall with the lot of 'em I say. Knock down that Victorian eyesore outside Buck Pal and put up a statue of Harry Cox. Knock down Buck Pal and turn it into the Gerald Winstanley allotments. Let people graze their livestock in Green Park and turf the Marquis of Bath out of Longleat and open the grounds (minus lions!) for sustainable organinc farming co-operatives so people can grow decent food to feed their children.

Repeal the Acts of Enclosure!

Wassail!

stigWeard


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Grab
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 07:25 AM

I see what you're getting at, Anahata, although as Jim says it could be misinterpreted. Maybe a better way of saying it would be that the English have not been ruled by an external government.

And a large part of the current upsurge in "English-ism" is IMO the fact that now we are in many ways (Welsh and Scottish MPs setting laws for England, EU, and following the US lead in a whole bunch of things).

Patty, there's no connection at all between royalism and English (or even UK) culture. You might as well say that you don't listen to C&W music because you don't like presidential politics - it's a total non-sequitur. About all you can say is that there are a bunch of English tunes relating to various deeds of kings, lords and knights, but mostly either for the same reason that Hollywood puts out a bunch of films about politicians and soldiers, or for remembering some injustice done by the kings/lords/knights. Royalism just ain't in it.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Paul Burke
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 03:08 AM

"More likely some parent would complain that such practices were against their religion or offended their race. " said Old Grizzly.

I'm sorry, but it's that kind of comment that makes many people suspicious of any move to revive "Englishness", as it often doesn't seem able to say what it is, apart from being agin "that lot".


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 12:05 AM

Sorry, I was referring to "Anahata's" comment regarding Britain never having been under threat from an oppressive regime.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 25 Aug 06 - 12:02 AM

Not even Hitler?


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Ron Davies
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 11:01 PM

As an American of Welsh descent (no surprise there then), I really like English vocal music---(I like Welsh song also--but know precious little of it)--especially the harmonizing groups. Copper Family, Watersons, Young Tradition, Beggars Velvet, etc.--what a wealth of goose-bump music--which is also so much fun to sing it can't be legal.

A chance to belt out the drinking songs--by which I mean anything people like to sing in a pub---with a group of like-minded singers--is worth the price of a plane ticket over the Pond--even with the current stupidity about carry-on luggage. Especially the wonderful choruses of "Miner's Lifeguard", "God Speed the Plow", Cadgwith Anthem and others, and more recent contributions like John Tams' Rolling Home, and others I've heard in the Middle Bar, for instance, provide some of the best singing that exists.

The parodies are excellent--- and unique in the world--especially something like the Kipper Family or Les Barker.

And of course the sea songs are indispensable--and summon up a centuries-long nautical tradition.



Of course I also think that Tallis and Byrd probably wrote the best a cappella music ever created---so probably I can't be considered an unbiased observer.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Old Grizzly
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 05:54 PM

Hi to all,

About time we stood up to be counted !

From the age of 6 or 7, I had a most fortunate introduction to English song in the form of a family friend, then in his nineties, who lost no opportunity to joyfully unload his marvelous songs on me. God Bless 'Old Master Thorpe'
I think the passing on of tradition comes from regular and un-forced exposure to the music and the link is, I suspect, best forged at quite a young age. This is especially evident in the number of children of 'folkies' (mea culpa) and like minded souls, that do grow up to follow in their parents musical footsteps ...albeit often with quite a few 'adolescent gap years' in between :o)
I have done my best to pass on my enthusiasm to my kids and can count 2 lads who danced Morris for many years and revelled in the 'stick' they got from their schoolmates, and one tone deaf daughter well into 70s rock... perhaps a tradition in itself.
Maybe if I'd listened to my Irish wife and had 8 kids ....Thankfully I'll never know...

Once the link between the generations has broken down, it is all but impossible to repair.... a state of affairs in this country that traditional singers and musicians have been struggling against, probably since well before WW2 and I would suggest much influenced by the sudden increase in popularity of cinema and especially , television.

It would seem to me that the television and radio has positively descriminated against traditional music over many years and any contact with the music would appear to have been purposely taken out of he school curriculum, In these 'enlightened' days of the 'multicultural society' do kids today sing any traditional songs in the schools or do any even most basic traditional dance? Sadly I think not. More likely some parent would complain that such practices were against their religion or offended their race. Instead of young kids singing London Bridge in rounds, they are now served up with Tellytubbies and the like ........ God help us!

Peter Standing said "English people like me have been struggling to find a sense of identity. I've still not made sense of it, but I'm further along the road"
Perhaps I am older than Peter, I do not know, but I have, and always have had, a very strong sense of identity as an Englishman (as opposed to Irish, Welsh or Scottish).
Given the huge changes in the make-up of society over the last 40 or 50 years, I can well see how succeeding generations are in some confusion. So far as I can see, however, the creation of Scottish and Welsh parliaments has served clarify matters somewhat for many...in that they feel less 'British' and more 'English' by the day.
Maybe in time a little of 'culture shift' will 'rub off' on the music - I don't know.

I love all forms of music from these Isles but am firmly rooted in English music and there is more than enough there to keep me content for several lifetimes.

I play in a band for Barn/Country Dances (or Ceilidhs as folks insist on calling them these days) and so many times it turns out that people think we have been playing all Irish music and seem genuinely amazed that they have been dancing English dances all night to English tunes ....or, to save digression into a fruitless argument about 'ownership', ....I shall say 'tunes long established in English tradition')

It is a truly sad state of affairs when people do not recognise, or even know that they have, their own rich tradition.

What is most heartening is watching, regardless where it comes from, just how much they enjoy the dance. The ultimate challenge for a caller .....** and we have the best ** .....is how to coax, cajole and occasionally bully the teenage lads and young men, dragged there under sufference by cruel and uncaring parents, out onto the floor. Once prised away from the bar or out of some other dark recess and up to dance, even they , to their amazement find they are really enjoying themselves.
The greatest reward is when you see them turn up a few weeks later at another Dance.

The English tradition is very much alive but with only token coverage in the broadcast media and the schools, it will perhaps be a never ending struggle to keep it in clear public view.
To all those sterling folks engaged in carrying our own music forward, I would say 'count yourself lucky to have such a fascinating and enjoyable task'.
Tradition must evolve or die, but please do remember to look back often to the rich written and recorded resources available today of the old singers and musicians.... It does us all good to recall where we have come from.

So.... do my rantings make me a reactionary old fart - not for me to judge - but should that cap fit, I shall wear it with pride....... and continue to fart for England !.

Regards

Dave

** Eamon Holmes, our caller - just WON the Whitby Folk Festival Ceilidh Calling Competiton ....
BRILLIBOBS ! - good on yer Lad !

PS
anahata said :
"The reason why the English don't have a strong sense of national identity is because we have never been under threat from an oppressive regime. There's nothing quite like that to make you cling on to your culture and strive to preserve it."

hmmmmmm.   maybe the current government is helping our cause after all :o)

D


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: treewind
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 04:29 PM

Royalism has very little to do with most of English culture, and nothing to do with folk music. Obviously various political clashes in the past have given rise to songs, in some cases royalist or anti-royalist if that's what the battle happened to be about, but that's no different from any other country. We have more songs about Nelson and Napoleon than we do about kings and queens.

The reason why the English don't have a strong sense of national identity is because we have never been under threat from an oppressive regime. There's nothing quite like that to make you cling on to your culture and strive to preserve it.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 02:41 PM

Actually, in the interests of full disclosure (though I'm not sure anyone asked for that), my first husband and Steeleye Span must bear some of the blame as well.

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 02:34 PM

Sorry, but if someone says "music and dance," I interpret the "music" part as inclusive of vocal and instrumental music. DtG in the opening post described performers of both sorts.

"Music and song," is a bit like "fruit and apples," if you ask me!

With that out of the way, I'll take all three (tunes, songs & dancing), old and new, particularly if they're English and from the folks (not the royals)!

I don't get many samples of any English folk music live; performers on recordings I've enjoyed (in no particular order) are
- Spiers & Boden (loud, if I'm home alone and need to accomplish active things)
- Waterson:Carthy (together & separately)
- Young Tradition
- the amazing cast of "Voice of the People" ;-)
- Walter Pardon
- Sam Larner
- Harry Cox
- Bob Hart
- Louis Killen
- A.L. Lloyd
- Tim van Eycken
- Tim Laycock, & the New Scorpion Band
- Belshazzar's Feast
- Ian Robb (ex-pat)
- Bare Necessities (U.S. interpretation of English dance tunes)
- Brass Monkey
- The Mellstock Band
- Cyril Tawney
- Frankie Armstrong

Live and on recording:
- I have heard and met the Copper family (Bob, John, Jill and Jon-the-honorary) more than once over here and treasure that.
- My favorite ambassadors of the English tradition to North America are John Roberts & Tony Barrand (together & separately). It's all their fault.
- Elle Osborne
- Peta Webb & Ken Hall

(I've just a little song bias, I'll confess.)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: pattyClink
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 01:54 PM

I like what little I've heard of English trad. But I've never been drawn into investigating English culture in any way because I dislike royalism.   Can it be that royalism hijacked the English national identity long ago, and is there a movement on to separate the two?


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Marje
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 01:53 PM

Yes, I was also wondering where Shimrod was coming from.

For one thing, the thread began as a discussion of English music and dance, with only incidental mention of English song. Solo unaccompanied "source" singers were not mentioned because they weren't very relevant to that discussion.

There is therefore no reason to suppose that most of us haven't listened to any of them or have dismissed them as not worth listening to. But for many of us, recordings are only a small part of what folk music is about. If we're looking for the musicians and singers who will carry the tradition forward and keep English music alive, we need to look to the younger generation and those who are playing, singing and dancing (and alive) now.

Marje


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Aug 06 - 01:47 PM

All I said was that the old singers and musicians weren't mentioned - it would be so easy to forget who they were and forget their contributions to English music. I'm just concerned that any newcomers to this subject might well think that English music/song started with M.Carthy et. al.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: JohnB
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:52 PM

God we're good, not perfect but good.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: treewind
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:51 PM

I don't know who Shimrod was addressing that to.
I've heard most of the people in that list, some live, even been on the same stage in a concert with one of them.

William Kimber, Alistair Anderson, John Kirkpatrick, Bob Cann and some of the old boys from Norfolk and Suffolk like Percy Webb and Oscar Woods are the ones that made me sit up and listen when I first started learning all this stuff.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:26 PM

What makes you think we have not listened, Shimrod? I for one, have. William Kimber in particular because of his work on Anglo Concertina - my preferred instrument. I also met Fred Jordan on a couple of occasions at Fylde and he was a fine man as well as an amazing repository of song. We do however move on and while there is no doubt of their contribution to English folk it is a sad fact that they will contribute no more:-( Peter Bellamy is in the same category unfortunately but, as I said, I am fond of Anglo concertina and Bellamys interpretation of Kipling verse is a also a particular favoutite.

Like you say, the previously mentioned are not the whole story, neither is the list you give. If you want to make a definative list of every exponent of English folk feel free to do so but please don't tell us to 'come back', to my thread (bloomin' cheek) only when we start to discuss your favourites.

Jon, apologies if I mis-interpreted. Not on purpose I assure you. Thanks for clarifying anyway.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: sciencegeek
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:25 PM

yes indeed... we should all sing the praises of good music and there are many fine songs and tunes from England and the rest of the UK or British Isles or however you wish to put it...

as an American of multi-national heritage ( mongrel you might say) I don't always pay close attention to which culture produced a fine song or tune. Sorry, but there are lumpers and there are splitters and I tend to lump more than I split.

I've learned many fine songs from old Topic records - usually on maritime music and I enjoy listening to folks like Alistair Anderson and Brian Peters - both live and well thank god - or old recordings of Bob Roberts or Bert Lloyd.

We have more than a few expatriots over here on this side of the pond from all over the UK & Ireland and I regret that I've only made the trip over there once. Hopefully, will make it over again.

PS: a big plus for English songs is that I don't have to learn a new language to be able to sing.... sorry, warped humor making an appearance... but I'm trying to learn a song done by Llan de Cubel and I am acutely aware of how little I know of proper pronunciation in non English languages.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:18 PM

I am not all that into the source recordings but what I have heard so far leaves me thinking that the early recordings are at least sometimes an obstacle past which you need to get to discover the beauty of the songs being sung.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:02 PM

Odd isn't it - a thread, generally in praise of English traditional music and song, and not a single mention of an English traditional singer or musician!! Carthy, Bellamy et. al. may be/have been fine interpreters of English trad. music but they are not the whole story.

Please come back and talk about English music when you've listened to people like: Sam Larner, Harry Cox, Joseph Taylor, George Dunn, William Kimber, Jumbo Brightwell, Bob Copper, Fred Jordan etc., etc. And no excuses, please because although these people are, sadly, no longer with us there are plenty of recordings available these days.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 01:56 PM

what they were accused of saying!

Not by me, Dave, (if thats what you read into what I said),


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 01:09 PM

to marje, 23 aug. as usual I am agreeing with a lot that you are saying[ but english tunes played with lift is that which gets them dancing]you might discover that these very same tunes are ones that the irish consider irish or the scots scottish, or is it more to do with the way they are played. of all the three nationalities, I think the scots are leading the way as regards country /ceilidh dancing, they have more variety of dances strathspeys hornpipes reels, they have developed ornamentation but never to the detriment of lift or pulse.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 12:41 PM

Hey, there is more of us! :-)

Couple of points - There is a vast difference between someone saying 'for me, it is the best', which was said and 'it is the best' which is what they were accused of saying! I have never said and never will say one form of music is better than another. Only that I like one more than another.

And to anyone saying there is no distinct English style - Try going to an Irish session and playing Constant Billy or The Nutting Girl in G. There will instantly be half a dozen people telling you they 'don't do' English music:-)

Keep celebrating it anyway.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 12:26 PM

I would like to aded my support for this thread, but to also add that i do not really believe there is a definable kind of music called "Emglish music", and would resist the various attempts to create it as far as I can. There are a lot of kinds of traditional folk music in England, and I think it would be a shame to create a mishmash: you cant mix Billy Pigg and Scan Tester and create something appropriate for the whole coutry). "Music in England" perhaps, would be my preferred term, rather than "English music". Having said that, I shall continue to celebrate it loud and clear, with everyone else here. But it's not better than anyone else's, or worse: it's just more English. And Irish music is more Irish.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:45 AM

Scrump, had the situation been reversed (morris Irish, etc), I would have ended up discovering and turning to English music. It happened because of musical differences and nothing "political".

I suppose the only way a "national identity" could have come into play with that sort of choice would have been if I felt rather more English than I do and felt some sort of obligation to English music because of my nationality.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:38 AM

well I love english dance and song,likewise scottish and irish dance and song. However when it comes to dance tunes, much as I like english dance tunes I find irish and scottish more interesting, because they have more tunes in interesting modes such as the mixolydian [flattened seventh] and the dorian [flattened third flattened seventh of the major scale]the main problem is the way some people play irish tunes[ in my opinion too fast]good dancing and playing speeds for jigs 115, reels 210,polkas slides 140,hornpipes 147,setdance hornpipes 140.players of english and scottish tunes generally have their speeds better sorted, and i love the way scottish players play hornpipes and strathspeys with real swing,something only fifty per cent of irish players manage to achieve.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Scrump
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:27 AM

Some interesting thoughts above. I wonder how much the (lack of) popularity of English music when compared with Irish or "Celtic" music is to do with the issues expressed in other recent threads about English national identity (being hijacked by football thugs, BNP, etc.)

Even when I started out in the late 1960s, the folk clubs were full of people singing Irish songs, even rebel songs which at that time were mostly seen as tongue in cheek (although there were exceptions - and following the political events of the early 1970s many of the once ubiquitous Irish rebel songs all but disappeared from the English folk clubs). I 'got into' Irish dance music in those early (for me) days, for many of the reasons expressed by others - the tunes were (to my ears) interesting and fascinating. I wasn't aware then of the wealth of English material, simply because hardly anyone seemed to play it in folk clubs (at least, not the ones I went to).

Ashley Hutchings deserves praise for his efforts to raise the profile of English music in the 1970s, with Steeleye and other projects - the original "Morris On" album is still one of my favourites.

Not sure where I'm going with these thoughts, but I wonder whether the consciousness of English identity, which seems to be becoming more widespread amongst "normal" English people (as opposed to the elements mentioned above) will help English music to become "fashionable" as Irish/Celtic music has been for many years?

(Of course all the above could be b****x, I never was much good at discussing this sort of thing.)


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:25 AM

I've been told that and read the same. Needless to say, I don't agree with it although I suppose it could help some develop a feeling. Hard to say. I've heard some horribly wooden "dancer/players"...

For me I just try to get a feeling through listing to and playing with others. I think I do OK at that too, I'm not a particularly good player, can never get the triplets I want, can't play anything really difficult, can make some horrendous mistakes, etc. but I do seem to have quite a natural sense for rythym and timing. And on the positive side, a couple of very good players have told me over the years that I can put "life" in to a tune, and I suppose that "life" is so much of what it is all about to me (if that makes any sense).


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: jonm
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:16 AM

I've been dancing and playing for various types of morris for nearly thirty years, have been fortunate to find teams with vim, vigour and imagination and I feel that, danced properly, there is no other national traditional dance which can compare for energy, dynamism and impact.

As regards the origins of tunes, I'm with Alistair Anderson (I think) who said something along the lines of "it's not where it comes from but who is looking after it." I've played Irish tunes English-style and vice versa in sessions, both knowingly and unknowingly, I'm sure. I tend to regard the Irish style as "warp eight, Mr. Sulu" with ornamentation in the melody and very little accompaniment, whereas with English style the ornamentation can be much more in the accompaniment, chords, counter melodies and harmonies. My view, not necessarily rooted in tradition, although a reflection of what the English greats (Kirkpatrick, Carthy etc.) do. I find fast diddly-diddly sessions pall after a while, all very same-y.

Can you beat English song for variety? Wide harmonies in the big chorus songs, dark ballads, rude, lewd and comic songs, such beautiful use of descriptive language in so many cases from supposedly uneducated peasants etc.

The other thread seems to be cycling round the theme that "Celtic" is a misnomer for a lot of music but is used to make it marketable in a musical world where "English" or "British" are not held in high regard. Such a shame when there is so much great music to hear and get involved in.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Marje
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:12 AM

Well said, Anahata, I saw the Devils' Interval at Dartmoor Festival and they are stunning.

And well said, Dave and others - English music and dance are great, and endlessly interesting and varied if you really get into it. As for new tunes - well, if I set out to learn a new English tune every day, I'd have no trouble finding enough for several years' worth.

I think that one reason I like English dance music is that it is still just that - dance music. Many of those who play it are also used to playing for dancing and know how to keep the feel of the dance in their playing even when they play in sessions. Sure, you could play most of the tunes faster if you wanted to, but they'd flatten out and lose some of their bounce and vigour.

The way Irish music is often played in sessions appeals to some because of the way it pounds along so breathlessly, but to my ears it seldom has any feel of being dance music because it's all about speed. It has a pulse but, to many English ears, no real dance rhythm.

This difference is only what you'd expect, because English dance (morris, clog and other ritual dance as well as ceilidh/country dancing) is still very much alive in England, whereas Irish dance in England is restricted mainly to certain communities and organisations with strong Irish connections.

It's encouraging to see that at weddings, parties, anniversaries etc there's a big demand for English Ceildh bands and dancing. Many of the guests probably don't realise that it's mostly English music they're dancing to, but English tunes (played at the right speed) are the ones to really get them dancing with energy and "lift".

Great stuff.

Marje


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Paul Burke
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:09 AM

I was, more than once, told quite definitely that I MUST not play Morris because, as I don't dance, I couldn't possibly understand it. Maybe true, but those playing it often showed little understanding of how a tune should sound, or excruciatingly poor taste. Ken Loveless, anyone?


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Crystal
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 07:05 AM

I grew up with English folk music. I was a "team tot" for my mothers morris team and moved into North West as I got older. My parents are both keen and I caught the bug off them. I adore English traditional music and dance, there is NOTHING else like it for the sheer joy!


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: treewind
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 06:28 AM

Harmonies? Try The Devil's Interval for a tasty udate on the "young Tradition" theme!

Anahata


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 06:26 AM

I really like English folk music too. It too many fruitless years of searching before I was able to start finding Engish recorded music in any quantity and quality (about the mid-nineties) in England. Now things seem to be a lot better on that front (although most chain stores still mainly only stock Irish or Scottish it they stock any folk music at all).

Why was there such a dearth in English music and dance from the 1960s to the 1990s? To paraphrase Paul B above: was it a combination of the only exposure many people had was to seeing either(i) morris dancing (which was music played for dancing to and therefore not, perhaps, the most exciting to listen to or play without dancers) or (ii) the Irish migrant workers playing tunes in pub sessions for joy of playing tunes together (and without the necessity to cater to the needs of dancers)?


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 06:22 AM

I listen to quite a range of stuff, but still nothing from the folk/contemporaryacoustic range of stuff stirs like the Young Tradition harmonies.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 06:18 AM

When I was rediscovering folk music about 10 years ago, the celtic side of music (Irish/Scottish) was more glamourous and appealing but as the years have gone by, I have come to appreciate what I believe English traditional music, dance and song is. Maybe I'm wrong, but English trad seems to be relatively understated or even shy of its qualities - I love it.

A couple of years ago, I was chatting to a friend of mine who discovered the tradition by way of experimenting with morris. She and I both agreed that this was the first time that we actually felt a sense of being English as opposed to being stateless. With the Scots and Welsh having their stonger sense of identity reinforced by their local parliaments, English people like me have been struggling to find a sense of identity. I've still not made sense of it, but I'm further along the road.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: treewind
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 06:07 AM

What Jon said, the the second paragraph especially.

As for the Irish music being more challenging - I enjoy the challenge of finding good English tunes. That doesn't mean there aren't many, there's lots of fabulous stuff but you do have to look a bit harder for it.

Anybody who's interested in traditional English music and song should know about WildGoose (see the mission statement on the home page!) and, if you're a musician, The Village Music Project as a source of hundreds of tunes.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 04:45 AM

I'm similar, Paul. I didn't really find what I was sort of looking for until about 1987 when I started trying to play the tenor banjo and going to Irish sessions. I'd done some Morris dancing stuff and trying to play the melodeon before that... Why? really because I found the Irish stuff I was hearing more exciting, interesting and challenging than the English stuff I knew at that time.

As for Eric saying "English, to me it's the best folk music in the world", I don't believe (at least these days) one country's folk music is better than another's by nature but there are differences that can lead one to generaly prefering one to another.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Paul Burke
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 04:15 AM

"Let's show the rest of the world we are not ashamed of out culture."

Outed as a Morris dancer Dave?

Perhaps a little history will explain why many of us DIDN'T go for English music back in the late 60s/ 70s when we were starting out. I must have been about 16 (oy it rhymes) when I took my first serious camera to Manchester centre to look around. In St. Peter's Square there was a Morris side dancing. I couldn't believe it- colour, movement, blood- stirring, exciting and MENACING. I quickly got into folk music of all sorts.

So I went to folk clubs, dances etc. First off, all quiet and respectable for Traditional Ballads, no weaselly music hall or yankee stuff here thank you, though Ewan McColl stuff acceptable. That was OK, the ballads were full of dark history, tragedy and comedy. Dances I soon went off, apart from the three left feet, dancing with someone's granny to a fiddle, accordion, piano and drumkit (it was ALWAYS that) soon palled. And I never (well, hardly ever) found a Morris side like that again.

And then I found Irish music- pubs in Manchester, late smoky nights of battered Guinness-soaked old Micks bashing out EXCITING music that I couldn't get my brain around- I set out to understand it and never looked back.

Looking back in Anglo, it was only in the later 70s, when I was well set into my adopted culture, that the requirement to wear knee- britches and ribbons and carry a pewter tankard while humptying on the melodeon was dropped.

That's a personal history, but I know dozens of musicians who have travelled similar paths. Yes, we listened to Carthy, Fairport, Steeleye Span, Albion etc., but in the same way that we listened to Leadbelly, John Lee Hooker, and Ravi Shankar.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 04:06 AM

I'm with you Dave, as I play tenor banjo and mandolin I don't play a lot of English music but 80% of my large collection of recorded music ie. CDs, vinyl and tapes, are English, to me it's the best folk music in the world.

eric


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 02:57 AM

Perhaps there isn't enough of us after all:-(


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Aug 06 - 06:17 PM

Nice to see it said.


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 22 Aug 06 - 06:10 PM

You'd have been most welcome in The Old Empire Band, about which I've posted before. Now that it no longer congregates as such, you'd still be welcome around these parts. If you're ever in Australia around Easter make a beeline for the National in Canberra. There's lots of just about anything that can be called folk music, folk dance and folk tradition (even camp oven cookery) and you'll find lots of company in your interests. English is well supported even though we're probably even more multicultural than the US.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: skipy
Date: 22 Aug 06 - 05:49 PM

Count me in, I can't sing, I can't play, I can't dance, but it has been my life.
Skipy


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Subject: RE: In praise of English music and dance
From: GUEST,emily s
Date: 22 Aug 06 - 05:45 PM

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the thread. I'm a Morris dancer (former really since our mixed side fizzled out) and I also love the English music. Just recently, here in Houston, an English tune sessions has started. At the Black Lab, every 1st and 3rd Wed. if anyone is interested. It's mostly tunes but some singing and sometimes a Scottish group comes and dances with us. Or there is the occasional Morris dance. And of course the occasional slide into Irish tunes. Many people don't know the English repertoire which is a shame. It's good to know that others are promoting English music and dance.
Emily


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