Blyth Voices-Ralph Vaughan Williams
This book contains fourteen songs which were noted down in 1910 by the composers and folk song collectors Ralph Vaughan Williams and George Butterworth in the area around Southwold on the Suffolk coast. A number have not been previously published, and in each case there has been a fair amount of research needed to match words and tunes. Publishing them together, as here, gives a sense of place and time in away that few other historical artefacts can do.
Here are songs of courtship and tragedy, with a strong flavour of the sea, as is to be expected from an area where fishing and coastal trading was as important as the holiday business in the nineteenth century. The reader may be surprised to find the stories told in these songs to be tough and even gruesome in some cases; there are shipwrecks, robbery, adultery, the threat of violence and even murders. A popular perception of folk song is that it can be rather twee and precious: this collection evidences the working populace’s interest in the seamier side of life, which may be said to have its modem day equivalent in the tabloid press.
The songs are grouped so that the reader can see the range of songs performed by each singer, but it is likely that the songs noted down make up only a proportion of their repertoires. It is also inportant to remember that these were working people who sang to entertain their own families and communities in an era before radio, film and television became influences on musical taste and style.
Some of the songs are known to be very ancient, but it is often difficult to be precise about their age, because although they are sometimes found in print (most frequently on single ballad-sheets or broadsides) they also existed in an oral tradition where people learned songs from listening to each other, and the broadside printers sometimes published songs that were already in oral circulation.
Blyth Voices : Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Loss of the London
Three Jolly Butchers
When I Was Bound Apprentice
The Royal George
Bold Princess Royal
In London Town I Was Bred and Born
|On Monday Morning I Married a Wife
The Isle of France
The Rich Old Farmer
Index of Songs