On A Cold Winter’s Day / When ye Cold winter nights were frozen

Two more tunes found when looking for Christmas/Winter material.

‘On A Cold Winter’s Day’ is from O’Neill’s Music Of Ireland sourced, indirectly, from www.oldmusicproject.com/oneils1.html. It’s given by O’Neill in F# minor. That’s doable on a G/D, but I prefer to play it either in E minor, or in D minor on my C/G. Both options below.

Played on C/G anglo-concertina.

Played on G/D anglo-concertina.

‘When ye Cold winter nights were frozen’ or ‘The Banks of Yaro’ is from David Johnson’s edition of tunes from James Thomson’s Music Book (1702 – National Library of Scotland MS. 2833). I found it via www.folktunefinder.com/tunes/195715. The notes in the ABC transcription say

Posted June 29th 2000 at abcusers by Jack Campin during a discussion about tune identification algorithms.
Jack said: “Here’s a set of tunes that for a dead cert are genetically related.
Do any of the tune-matching algorithms suggested here detect that”

Among the other related tunes posted, I imagine there would have been ‘Sir John Fenwick’s the Flower Among them All’ and ‘The Smiths a Gallant Fireman’ – but as Chris Partington points out, in relation to another title, ‘The Flower of Yarra’

The dedicated tune spotter will find it appearing as an air, waltz, minuet, jig, reel, strathspey and hornpipe, often hidden behind alternative titles like Berwick Lasses, Carrick’s Rant, and The Smiths a Gallant Fireman (though with some of these versions we enter the realm of the old chestnut “at what stage of change does one tune become another”).

All good tunes, and all worth playing. This version is given in 6/4. I interpret that as a slightly lumpy march rhythm – I don’t think it wants to go any faster, and I for one couldn’t play it any faster when it gets to those runs of quavers.

Played on G/D anglo-concertina.

The Holly / The Holly Berry

Two tunes with seasonal sounding names, gleaned from a search of the Internet for Christmas and Winter tunes.

The first is ‘Y Gelynnen’ (‘The Holly’), a Welsh set dance, which I found at abcnotation.com, and which has been transcribed from Volume 2 of the Welsh tune collection, Blodau’r Grug.

And then ‘The Holly Berry’, which I found on folktunefinder.com. I assume it’s American, but actually I know nothing at all about it.

Both tune splayed on C/G anglo-concertina



The Rose Tree

It’s Bampton day of dance tomorrow – hooray!

So to celebrate, here’s the very first morris dance I learned, when I joined Oyster Morris back in September 1978.

C/G anglo-concertina, four-stop one-row melodeon in C

Lumps of Plum Pudding – Sevenhampton

I’ve been around morris dancers today, and that steady 6/8 rhythm just gets under your skin. So here’s an interesting version of ‘Lumps of Plum Pudding’ from the playing of Thomas Danley of Sevenhampton in Gloucestershire. This is one of five morris tunes and one country dance tune which Cecil Sharp collected from Mr Danley on 30th August 1909.

Sharp’s transcription shows some of the Cs as C#? I’ve decided to play all of these as C sharps just because it makes it less like the usual version of this tune (although they’re F sharps in my version, because I’m playing the tune in C on a C/G anglo).

Tip Top Polka

My most recent post at A Folk Song A Week features a Bb/F anglo which I’ve borrowed from Rob Fidler, fool with Bampton Morris. The main reason I asked Rob if I could borrow the instrument was to work out some song arrangements – there’s a few songs where I have an arrangement already on the C/G, but as I get older I find that I can’t reach the high notes as comfortably as once I did, so taking it down a tone is a blessing to both the singer and the listener.

But one can’t have an anglo in the house and not use it to play some dance tunes. And, as Bb is a natural brass band key, this tune popped into my head. It is, of course, associated with the Britannia Coconut Dancers of Bacup in Lancashire.

Here they are, recorded in their natural habitat, on Easter Saturday 2014. With the brass band playing, I now realise, in Eb!

Bb/F anglo-concertina

A Waterloo special

Today is the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Wellington’s defeat of the Emperor Napoleon was celebrated in song by the inclusion of the word ‘Waterloo’ in the title of a number of dance tunes – see this section of the Fiddler’s Companion for some examples. Probably the best known today is ‘The Waterloo Dance’. I believe this comes from the Hardy family MSS from Dorset, but I learned it from the Old Swan Band.

G/D anglo-concertina

The same tune was also in the MS of Thomas Shoosmith of Arlington in Sussex, and is one of three Waterloo tunes included in A Sussex Tune Book by Vic Gammon and Anne Loughran. The others, both from the Welch family of Bosham, are ‘Water Loo Fair’ or ‘The Henryco’ (i.e. ‘Enrico’) and a 6/8 tune simply titled ‘Waterloo’. The latter features as part of the arrangement on the current entry at my other blog, A Folk Song A Week, and I’m reposting it here.

Lovely Elwina / Waterloo

vocal, C/G anglo-concertina

Shipston-on-Stour morris tunes: Cuckoo’s Nest / Old Woman Tossed Up

Here’s two morris tunes which Cecil Sharp collected in 1909 from the fiddler Henry Sturch of Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire. I came across these just after Christmas when I was transcribing songs and tunes from Sharp’s collection into ABC notation for the Full English archive – if you fancy contributing to this collective effort, do get in touch with Laura Smyth, the EFDSS librarian.

I had no idea that there had been a morris tradition at Shipston-on-Stour and, looking now at Keith Chandler’s gazetteer (Morris Dancing in the English south Midlands 1660-1900 – see http://www.mtrecords.co.uk/mt_rec2.htm), there’s not an awful lot of information – although there are records of dancing in the village back in 1688. Indeed “One of Cecil James Sharp’s informants claimed that there never had been a morris dance set based specifically at Shipston, but there once was one composed of dancers from the nearby communities of Tredington, Honington and other surrounding villages”. That sentence comes from Keith’s article on the Sturch family, also for Musical Traditions, which provides as much information as you’re likely to find on the biographical details and musical activities of Henry Sturch and his family.

Henry Sturch, Shipston-on-Stour, 1909, photographed by Cecil James Sharp.

Henry Sturch, Shipston-on-Stour, 1909, photographed by Cecil James Sharp.

Cuckoo’s Nest

Not really a ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ of course – it’s actually from the ‘Buffoon’ family of tunes (and if you want to hear several more tunes from that family, all played exquisitely, get yourself a copy of Disguisings by the duo Dapper’s Delight).

Cuckoo’s Nest – Full English record

C/G anglo-concertina

The Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket

The Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket – Full English record

C/G anglo-concertina