Penguin Book of English Folk Songs

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Analysis of the 70 tunes in Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd (1959) The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs

The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs contains 70 tunes. Of these 31 are plagal and 13 are authentic. There are 25 tunes that are mainly authentic but that contain at least one note that is below the keynote (sub-keynote), or, in one case, (Number 31, Jack, the Jolly Tar), two notes that are above the keynote (super-keynotes). One tune (Number 29, The Grey Cock) has 2 variant keynotes, one of which renders it as authentic and the other as mainly authentic. These tunes in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs all have either D or G as their keynote. With one exception, (Number 52, The Red Herring, which is authentic) these tunes whose keynote is G are plagal, whereas tunes whose keynote is D are authentic or mainly authentic and, except for Number 31, Jack, the Jolly Tar, they have sub-keynotes such, for example, as the C below the keynote.

Full seven-note Heptatonic scales number 58, or c.82 per cent. There are 11 (c.15 per cent) six-note Hexatonic scales, and 2 (c.3 per cent) five-note Pentatonic scales. One tune, (Number 19, Droyelsden Wakes), has a 4 note scale.

There are 21 tunes (c.30 per cent) in the Ionian, or major scale (17 pure heptatonic, 2 heptatonic with accidentals, 1 hexatonic and 1 --'Droylesden Wakes'--with only 4 notes of the scale). There are 11 (c.16 per cent) Mixoydian tunes (7 pure heptatonic, 2 heptatonic with accidentals, 1 hexatonic and 1 pentatonic). The Aeolian melodies number 12 (c.17 per cent) of which 7 are pure heptatonic, 4 heptatonic with accidentals, and 1 pentatonic. There are 25 Dorian tunes (c.36 per cent) of which 16 are pure heptatonic, 2 heptatonic with accidentals, and 7 hexatonic. Finally, 1 tune --'The Trees They Grow So High'-- is pure heptatonic Phrygian.

For definitions and explanations of authentic and plagal scales, and of the different scales and modes, see Scales and Musical Modes in Celtic, Anglo-American and English Folk Songs.

Full Detailed Listing


1 All Things are Quite Silent [1904] Heptatonic D Dorian Authentic
2 As Sylvie Was Walking [1911] Heptatonic D Aeolian 1 B natural--sharpened 7th, so tune modulates between Aeolian and a modern minor key' Authentic
3 Banks of Green Willow, The [1904] Hexatonic G Ionian no C (4th) Plagal
4 Banks of Newfoundland, The [1926] Heptatonic D Mixolydian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote A
5 Banks of Sweet Primroses, The [1892] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
6 Basket of Eggs, The [1903] Heptatonic G Aeolian Plagal
7 Benjamin Bowmaneer [n.d.] Hexatonic G Dorian no E (6th) Plagal
8 Blacksmith, The [1909] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
9 Bold Benjamin, The [1907] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
10 Bramble Briar, The [1914] Heptatonic D Ionian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
11 Broomfield Hill, The [1910] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
12 Cock-Fight, The [1905] Heptatonic D Aeolian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
13 Cruel Mother, The [1907] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
14 Daughter of Peggy, O, The [1908] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
15 Death and the Lady [1946] Heptatonic D Ionian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynotes C and B
16 Death of Queen Jane, The [1907] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
17 Deserter from Kent, The [1907] Heptatonic D Ionian Plagal
18 Devil and the Ploughman, The [1903] Heptatonic E Aeolian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynotes D and C
19 Droylsden Wakes [n.d.] 4-note scale G Ionian no C (4th), E (6th) or F (7th) Plagal
20 False Bride, The [1904] Heptatonic G Ionian 1 flattened F (7th) so tune modulates between Ionian and Mixolydian Plagal
21 Fare Thee Well, my Dearest Dear [1904] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
22 Gaol Song [1906] Pentatonic D Aeolian no B (6th) or C (7th) Authentic
23 Gentleman Soldier, The [1907] Pentatonic G Mixolydian no E (6th) or F (7th) Plagal
24 Geordie [1908] Hexatonic G Dorian no E (6th) Plagal
25 George Collins [1906] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
26 Golden Vanity, The [1906] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
27 Green Bed, The [1909] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
28 Greenland Whale Fishery, The [1906] Heptatonic G Mixolydian 1 sharpened F so tune modulates between Mixolydian and Ionian Plagal
29 Grey Cock, The [1951] Heptatonic D Aeolian or F Ionian with alternative keynote. Authentic as D Aeolian, Mainly Authentic--sub-keynotes E and D as F Ionian
30 I Wish, I Wish [1951] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
31 Jack the Jolly Tar [1904] Heptatonic D Ionian Mainly Authentic--super-keynotes E and F
32 John Barleycorn [1909] Heptatonic D Dorian Authentic
33 Lisbon [1904] Heptatonic D Dorian 2 Cs (7ths) both sharpened--influence of modern mior scales? Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
34 Long Lankin [1909] Heptatonic G Aeolian the 1 F is sharpened so tune modulates between Aeolian and a modern minor scale. Plagal
35 Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor [1904] Heptatonic D Mixolydian Authentic
36 Lovely Joan [1908] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
37 Lucy Wan [n.d.] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
38 Manchester ‘Angel’, The [1906] Heptatonic D Aeolian Authentic
39 Man of Burningham Town, The [1908] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
40 Mermaid, The [1906] Heptatonic G Aeolian Plagal
41 Mother, Mother, Make My Bed [1906] Heptatonic D Mixolydian Authentic
42 New York Trader, The [1921] Hexatonic D Dorian no B (6th) so tune could be either Dorian or Aeolian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
43 O Shepherd, O Shepherd [1906] Hexatonic G Dorian no E (6th) Plagal
44 Old Man from Lee, The [n.d.] Hexatonic D Dorian no B (6th). If flattened D Aeolian. Only 2 Cs (7ths) both sharpened so tune modulates between Dorian, Aeolian and a modern minor key. Authentic
45 On Monday Morning [1909] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
46 One Night as I Lay on my Bed [1907] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
47 Outlandish Knight, The [1908] Heptatonic D Mixolydian Authentic
48 Owd Yowe Wi’ one Horn, T’ [1905] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
49 Oxford City [1905] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
50 Ploughman, The [1904] Heptatonic D Aeolian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
51 Ratcliffe Highway [1905] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
52 Red Herring, The [1906] Heptatonic G Mixolydian Authentic
53 Robin Hood and the Pedlar [1906] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
54 Rounding the Horn [1907] Heptatonic D Mixolydian Authentic
55 Royal Oak, The [1912] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
56 Sailor from Dover, The [1909] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
57 Sailor in the North Country, A [1904] Heptatonic G Dorian Plagal
58 Sailor’s Life, A [1899] Heptatonic G Mixolydian Plagal
59 Salisbury Plain [1904] Heptatonic D Aeolian 3 of the Bs (6ths) are naturalised so tune modulates between Aeolian and Dorian. Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
60 Ship in Distress, The [1907] Heptatonic D Dorian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
61 Six Dukes went A-Fishing [1906] Hexatonic G Mixolydian no F (7th). If this were sharpened tune would be G Ionian, so tune could be either Mixolydian or Ionian. Plagal
62 Streams of Lovely Nancy, The [1905] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
63 Trees they Grow so High, The [n.d.] Heptatonic G Phrygian Plagal
64 Whale-Catchers, The [1900] Heptatonic D Dorian 3 of the Fs (3rds) are sharpened so tune modulates between Dorian and Mixolydian Mainly Authentic--sub-keynote C
65 When I was a Little Boy [1947] Hexatonic G Dorian no E (3rd) Plagal
66 When I was Young [1920] Heptatonic D Ionian. 4 of the Gs (4ths) are sharpened. Authentic
67 Ye Mar’ners All [1907] Hexatonic G Dorian no E (6th) Plagal
68 Young and Single Sailor, The [1908] Heptatonic G Ionian Plagal
69 Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low [1907] Heptatonic G Aeolian Plagal
70 Young Girl Cut Down in her Prime, The [1909] Heptatonic D Mixolydian. One of the Fs is flattened so tune modulates between Mixolydian and Dorian. Authentic