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The stories behind the tunes
The following articles about tunes played by traditional musicians from East Anglia appeared in EATMT newsletters from 2011 onwards.
Tracing a Tune No. 1 - The Perfect
by Katie Howson
The Perfect Cure is often thought of as a quintessential Norfolk tune, one of several jigs collected in the county that were played for the Long Dance. As so often, a little bit of musical archaeology reveals not only other regions that see the tune as being distinctively theirs, but also a glimpse of the way melodies moved between different performing contexts in an era before tunes tended to be pigeon-holed into different genres. The strength of the Norfolk connection comes from the fact that it was published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society: first in 'The Coronation Country Dance Book' in 1937, a year or so after it had been noted down from melodeon player Herbert Mallett of Aldborough by Joan Roe, and with a longer lasting influence, in 'The Fiddler's Tune Book' Vol 2 in 1954.
In July 1950, Herbert Mallett visited the BBC studios in Norwich and recorded several items including
The Perfect Cure. The EFDSS Vaughan Williams Memorial
Library holds the acetate recordings and this tune and others can be heard on
the Musical Traditions website, in Chris Holderness's article about Herbert Mallett
Further research has turned up a set of words, noted down from the Oxfordshire fiddler Sam Bennett in 1950:
Chris Holderness of the Norfolk music history group Rig-a-Jig has written a longer article about Herbert Mallett, which is on the Musical Traditions website.
Tracing a Tune
No. 2 - Starry Night for a Ramble
by Katie Howson
The tune Starry Night for a Ramble has been an old stalwart of the southern English repertoire since the revival spearheaded by Rod Stradling and the Old Swan Band in the late 1970s, although at least two distinct versions have now developed even in that short space of time and context.
I like to take my sweetheart out ("Of course you do", says she)
When you picture to yourself a scene of such delight,
The tune and lyrics were actually published in 1873, composed by Samuel Bagnall, and the song was recorded by Arthur Collins and Canadian tenor Harry McDonough in the early twentieth century. It is likely that these publications and early recordings were actually the sources for 'traditional' musicians, although in earlier days, when songs were printed on broadsides, they had sometimes, in fact, been "collected" from singers, and it is less clear where the source might lie.
Interestingly, the tune Starry Night for a Ramble has been far more
popular than the song, and it has been interpreted in different rhythms: the
original publication was in 6/8 timing, which is how it is still known in the
East Anglian and broader English traditions. There's also a tune by the same
title, again a jig, which is used in the US as a contradance tune. The same
melody was popularised in 3/4 timing by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, as
Starry Night in Shetland and, under its original title, Australian collector
John Meredith found that 'nearly every bush musician plays this beautiful waltz'
although he only collected lyrics to it on one occasion ("Folk Songs of
Australia"). There's also a lovely recording of Tasmanian fiddler Eileen McCoy
playing it on the CD 'Apple Isle Fiddler'.
What are the musical traditions of East Anglia?
Traditional Music Day Melodeons & More Workshops, classes & schools Community Projects
Traditional musicians Jig Dolls Dulcimers Stepdancing Vaughan Williams in the East
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