Category Editor: Dr Vic Gammon
There are many thousands of songs. There are many song collections and many versions of the same song. Where to start looking? That's the problem.
Note. Our intention is not to restrict this initiative to English Song, but to use the present headings as a starting point to view whatever develops from wherever it comes.
Traditional Songs by Theme
It's often difficult to categorise a song. Is the song of a Thames Bargeman a sea song or an industrial one? Likewise a Fishing song. Many industrial or rural songs had a political dimension. It doesn't do to worry too much about it - the categories are really just a rough guide to get to something that fits the browser's interest and in the spirit of the Wiki might lead to somewhere altogether unexpected!
Traditional sea songs are usually divided into two groups. Shanties were the songs sailors sang to help them with the hard work on board the big sailing ships like the "windjammers" of the 19th century. The songs the sailor sang for enjoyment and relaxation when he was "off watch" are often called forebitters, and although many of them were stories about sailors or the sea, they could be any kind of song.
The folk revival of the early 20th century revealed songs from the rural parts of England, and the songs reflected the life of farm labourers or rural craftsmen. Even at that time, these songs were seen by many as belonging to a bygone era. Most English working people by then lived in large cities and towns, and worked in factories, mines, and other places of intense mechanisation and industrialisation. Before the 1960s, it was assumed that these people did not have any "folk songs", but when the seond revival came about, the two people who are said to be most responsible for it both found this not to be the case. Bert Lloyd had been employed by the National Coal Board in the late 1950s to find songs from miners, and Ewan MacColl at the same time was engaged in researching the radio ballads, many of which were concerned with heavy industry.
Songs of Seduction
Songs of Good Company
Hunting and Poaching Songs
Songs or work, occupation and trade
Songs of Diversion
section editor Chris Coe
This is a tricky section to think of including. One doesn't always associate folk song and 'performance' but some of the techniques applied by the traditional singers can bear scrutiny, especially by those who want to sing the same sort of songs.
The intimate fireside delivery of Walter Pardon.......
Lizzie Higgins taking a deep breath, expanding to be a 'giant' and setting forth..........
Watch this space.
--JohnnyAdams 22:46, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Commercially Available Recordings
Currently available or deleted
- Kyloe Records
- Leader Records
- Musical Traditions Records
- Topic Records
- Wildgoose Records
- New World Records
Books & Bibliographies
Books of and about folk songs abound and seem to increase at an exponential rate. It is ironic that computerisation and digitalisation, which make this site possible, also make it much easier and cheaper to publish new books. In addition, many rare and inaccessible books from the past have been scanned and placed on the web in recent years, which has helped more and more people to find songs and contribute to scholarship and discussion. Probably the most complete and recent listing of books is the one given imeediately below. After that, there follows a short selection of some important books.
- Historic Books - Bronson, Chappell, Child, etc
- The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library online index including
The site also gives you access to the Roud Index, compiled by Steve Roud.
'The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of 143,000+ references to songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world.'