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What are the musical traditions of East Anglia?

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   What are the musical traditions of East Anglia?

 

       We're talking about folk songs, dancing and instrumental music that have been kept alive through an oral tradition.

 

       Frequently found in a pub setting, with tunes, songs, dances and chatter all part of the evening.

 

       This page gives you links to various areas of the website which should give you more idea of what it is we're so anxious to preserve -

       although that sounds too restrained - really we want to keep it "alive and kicking"!

 

      Much of this information is original research carried out through EATMT community projects

 

Songs

Music

Dancing

Jig Dolls

People

Places

 

 

We have recently updated this area of the website and hope you now find it easier to use.

 

 

A guide to online research articles

 

For nearly thirty years, the founders of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust have been involved in original research, collecting and recording songs, music, dance and recollections in the eastern counties. Many other folk music collectors have been active in the counties for the last hundred years or so, since a song from Mr Edge, from Wells-next-the-Sea were first noted down in 1897 and published by the Folk Song Society in 1899.

 

On this website, some of this research, and further historical and social information, is gradually being published. Much of what is here at the moment is recent research, carried out for specific projects since the foundation of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust in 2000.

 

Our long-term projects include the publication a DVD of stepdancing containing archive footage, and a online publication of our original research into duclimer makers, players and construction in East Anglia. A brief summary of the latter is provided here.

 

Anyone wishing to cite any of this research for academic or other purposes should credit it to the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust.

 

 

SONGS

 

For over one hundred years, folk-song collectors have been fascinated by the songs and singers they have found in the rural communities of East Anglia. Traditional singers learned their songs from their families and communities. They usually sang solo without any accompaniment but with companions or audience joining in on any choruses. The songs they sang ranged from ancient ballads to songs reflecting the coastal and rural life of the region, with the occasional item relating specifically to local events and characters. More light-hearted lyrics also went down well in the pubs, which frequently provided convivial settings for singing gatherings.

 

Many of the songs noted down by the early collectors were published in books and journals, and in 1934, commercial recordings - of the great Broads singer Harry Cox - were issued: the first in a steady stream to be released on 78 rpm and later 33rpm records. Folksong collectors have been active in the region throughout the twentieth century and in the latter hald, many recordings were made - see our online shop for the biggest range of recordings you'll find anywhere.

 

North End Voices

Based on projects we have run in King's Lynn, Norfolk in 2005-8. Includes original research into the singers visited by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1905/6. Further research into his visits to other areas of Norfolk is ongoing.

 

Blyth Valley Voices

Singers in Southwold area, Suffolk. Songs collected in 1910 by Ralph Vaughan Williams. A book with the song words and tunes is available from our online shop. (They are not published on the website.)

 

Behind the Song.

A new series started in 2011. Behind the Song No.1 is about Roy Last's song "Peter the Paynter" a.k.a. "Escape from Bury Gaol".  No.2 is about "The Captain's Apprentice" - a song reputed to be based on true life events near King's Lynn.

 

Two Singers from the Stour Valley

Research into singers Maurice Cardy and Thomas Sparkes from Bures near Sudbury, from whom Thomas Wood collected some songs in 1929.

 

If you're looking for the words to songs, go to our online shop, and look through the albums listed - there are direct links to lyrics for most of them. Unfortunately there is no search facility for song titles or lyrics at the moment.

 

 

 MUSIC

 

Instrumental music was off less interest to the early collectors, as it was usually functional music, to accompany dancing - either social dancing ("country" dancing) or step dancing. Some tunes are hundreds of years old, many from the nineteenth century, and even more recent song tunes were absorbed into the traditional repertoire in the twentieth century. Typical tune types are hornpipes, jigs, schottisches and waltzes, with a few jigs. Instrumentation was typically melodeon (from the 1840s) fiddle or dulcimer. The latter instrument had a distinctive regional style, popular between 1850-1930.

 

'Before the Night Was Out ...'

A sample from our book of tunes collected in Suffolk and Norfolk (published 2007 and available to order from our online shop).

 

Tracing Tunes

A new series started in 2011. Tracing Tunes No.1 is about "The Perfect Cure".  and No.2 is about "Starry Night for A Ramble". You may also be interested in an older article by Mike Yates about "Oh Joe, the Boat is Going Over".

 

Dulcimers

A brief summary of research by us and others into the dulcimer in East Anglia. Instrument style and construction, makers and players.

 

200 year old tunes from Bury St Edmunds

In November 2012 we published (on the website only) tune and dance instructions originally published in1812, by J.Gray, including some tunes composed by local musicians.

 

Tunes from Cambridgeshire

An article about the poet and traditional musician John Clare, and a link to further tunes from the west of our region.

 

 DANCING

 

Traditional dancing in the eastern counties includes social dance ("country" dancing) and informal solo dances - stepdancing and broom dancing. There is little evidence for morris dancing in Suffolk and Norfolk, although in the 1930s a localised version, "Molly" dancing was observed and described. This was practised in the Fens of east Cambridgeshire and west Norfolk and is now danced by many teams across the UK.

 

Stepdancing

Photographs and information about stepdancing. Photos, descriptions and reports on stepdancing events and also more pictures on the Traditional Music Day page.

 

 

 JIG DOLLS

 

 

Photographs and information about jig dolls, from a 2004 project and exhibition at Traditional Music Day. Further information has been added since, with additional pictures and contact details for makers of jig dolls. The fruits of our research since 2004 are due to be published soon, as a book in collaboration with Pat Pickles, author of "The Brightest of Entertainers", the only existing book about jig dolls. It will be available via our online shop.

 

 

 PEOPLE

 

Profiles of Traditional Musicians from East Anglia

A series of over 30 biographies of traditional singers and musicians, written by people who knew them, for the EATMT newsletters.

 

North End Voices

Based on the various projects we have run in King's Lynn, Norfolk, includes original research into the singers visited by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1905/6. (This came out of the several projects we have run in King's Lynn from 2003 to 2008.) Further research into singers in King's Lynn in the 1950s and 60s is to be presented at the Traditional Song Forum meeting on 11th October 2014. Email us for further details of this event.

 

Blyth Valley Voices

Singers in Southwold area, Suffolk  in 1910. Plus information about local singers and musicians in the later twentieth century in the same area. (Originated from project work in 2003-5.)

 

'Before the Night Was Out ...'

A sample from our book of tunes collected in Suffolk and Norfolk (published 2007 and available to order from our online shop). The book has full biographies of all the musicians. (They are not published on this website.)

 

 

 PLACES

 

North End Voices

King's Lynn, Norfolk - Ralph Vaughan William's folk-song collecting in the early 1900s. (This came out of the several projects we have run in King's Lynn from 2003 to 2008.) Further research into his visits to other areas of Norfolk is ongoing and research into singers in King's Lynn in the 1950s and 60s is to be presented at the Traditional Song Forum meeting on 11th October 2014. Email us for further details of this event.

 

Blyth Valley Voices

Singers in Southwold area, Suffolk  in 1910. Plus information about local singers and musicians in the later twentieth century in the same area. (Originated from project work in 2003-5.)

 

Tuning In

Singing and music-making in four Suffolk communities: Orford, Lowestoft, Benhall and Mendlesham. (Based on research carried out for EATMT's first project, Tuning In, in 2001-2.)

 

Playback

Singing, music-making and dancing from all over Norfolk (Based on research carried out in 2004/5 for the EATMT Playback project.)

 

Profiles of Traditional Musicians from East Anglia

A series of over 30 biographies of traditional singers and musicians, written for the EATMT newsletters by people who knew them.

 

Village Portraits

A new series started in 2011. Village Portrait No.1 is about Mendlesham in Suffolk, No.2 is about Blaxhall and No. 3 will be about Worlingworth.

 

Two Singers from the Stour Valley

Research into singers Maurice Cardy and Thomas Sparkes from Bures near Sudbury, from whom Thomas Wood collected some songs in 1929.

 

North Norfolk

Chris Holderness (fiddler with Rig-a-Jig-Jig) has written a number of articles about traditional music and dance in north Norfolk, which are published on the Musical Traditions website.

Click here to go to an index of these articles.

 

 

Do you like what we do?
Now would be a really good time to show your support and join the Friends of EATMT.

 

We’d like to encourage everyone who appreciates the work we do - whether it be this website, the events, the research and publications, the schools and community projects, the exhibitions, the workshops and classes ... to join the Friends of EATMT and support our work into the future.


If you sing or listen to a local song, play or hear a local tune, dance or watch or stepdancing, at least part of that is probably down to the work of EATMT, which has been working to keep our local traditions alive and kicking into the twenty first century. If you receive a printed copy or an email version of this newsletter, it’s down to the hard work of our part-time staff and volunteers - and the same goes if you are reading this on the website now!


We are a small organisation but with a serious reputation for delivering professional projects and “punching above our weight”. We became a registered charity in 2000 and are governed by a board of trustees. The membership fee starts at £15 per year. Donations are always very welcome, a Gift Aid declaration helps it go even further, and we also welcome longer-term enquiries about legacies etc.

Please visit our membership page to download a form. Thank you.

 


Home      News      Diary of events    About EATMT     Friends of EATMT     

What are the musical traditions of East Anglia?

Traditional Music Day     Melodeons & More      Workshops, classes & schools      Community Projects       

          Profiles of traditional musicians        Research         Jig Dolls        Dulcimers     Stepdancing

Resources      Shop        Links      Press Room     Contact Us