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> Scottish/English Ballads In Appalachia, A topic of musical research
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Haldur 
Posted: 03-Feb-2005, 10:21 PM
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The morning fog rises above the blue-tinged ridges as the sun casts its creamy, golden light upon every living thing. All around the chatter of the birds can be heard. The cool streams below whisper and sing harmoniously with the dancing wind. You look every which way and see nothing but elderly forests, green with life and full of mystery. You take in a deep breath and feel absolute bliss, observing nature and the quiet of the morn. No, you aren?t dreaming?perhaps you think you are. This is the feeling of walking through the countryside in Appalachia.

I grew up in Eastern Kentucky, in the Appalachian Mountains, where life is simple and full of music. In the mountains, one can walk far away from the hustle and rush of the city life and truly breathe pure freedom, uninhibited and sacred. There, one can capture an entirely unique perspective on life as told from the musicians? point of view. I never knew a time in my life when music wasn?t there to soothe me, to excite me, and to fuel my dreams. Much of my family played musical instruments, sang, or spun records in their homes and out on their front porches. Never so much as now have I grown to appreciate the legacy and history that has been fermenting in the hollows of Appalachia. I yearn to go back to the mountains to rediscover their mystique and tap into a culture that is as old as the first white American settlers.

I?ve started down this road by discovering the music of artists like Lydia McCauley, Stonecircle, and Jean Ritchie?just to name a few?as they are Celtic and folk musicians brought to my attention by my friends here on Highlander Radio. My interest has been furthered by my viewing of the motion picture ?Songcatcher? and its portrait of an Appalachian community and its local music, inherited from Scottish and English ballads that were brought over nearly 400 years ago. In the movie, several ballads are mentioned or performed in one form or another. Ballads such as ?Barbara Allen?, ?Pretty Saro?, and ?Mattlry Groves? are the backdrop for the film?s plot, as a young musicologist, Dr. Lily Penleric, hears a young girl singing ?Barbara Allen? in her distinctive southern fashion. She then embarks on collecting these ballads, preserved for hundreds of years in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina.

Since seeing this film I have been interested in collecting as much as possible regarding the Scottish/English/Appalachian musical links, their history, and the many similarities and differences between each version. I have posted this in hopes of getting some input on these ballads and any other Celtic music that might have been carried over the stormy seas to present day Southern Appalachia. My main geographical areas of interest are in (but not limited to) Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

I hope to get some articles that I have found regarding Appalachia and the Scottish/English music of the area, post them in this forum, and siphon everyone?s thoughts in regards to the articles! I also hope to reference more of the ballads I?ve discovered along the way and encourage all who find any information to do the same. I plan on referencing the readily available tools that I currently have: internet search, friends and colleagues, my public library, and of course, this site! As a musician myself, I also yearn to soak up some more knowledge by actually learning the songs both vocally and on the acoustic guitar.

I feel that musical heritage is something many take for granted. I plan on researching this heritage for quite a while, perhaps one day searching for musicians in the mountains to record. The technology is there, the drive is there, and most certainly the music is still there in one form or another. To tell you the truth, I feel like a songcatcher already!


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Haldur 
Posted: 03-Feb-2005, 10:36 PM
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Okay, to start off, here are all the ballads that were listed in the end credits of "Songcatcher"! I'd love to find a good version of each of these as I'm considering purchasing the album Songcatcher II which includes music for the movie (and apparently some that didn't get put in the movie)...happy hunting!

Scottish and English ballads from Songcatcher
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Barbara Allen
Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies
Conversation with Death
Down in a Willow Garden
Johnnie Scot
Leather Breeches
Lord Randall
Lord Thomas & Fair Ellinor
Mattlry Groves
Old Joe Clark
Pretty Saro
Sally Goodin
Silk Merchant's Daughter
Single Girl
Soldier's Joy
The Trooper and the Maid
The Two Sisters
Young Hunting
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Haldur 
Posted: 03-Feb-2005, 10:39 PM
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Oh and one more note before someone else catches it...smile.gif

I'm looking into getting the Forum title changed somehow...I was in a rush to post all I had written and had failed to capitalize English in the title. Note that this was not meant to denote the importance of the 'English' ballads, but was just a typo. Hey, I'm only human, right?

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(Or at least me thinks I am)
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Keltic 
Posted: 03-Feb-2005, 11:59 PM
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See what I can contribute here:

Pretty Saro - A version can be found on "John Doyle - Evening Comes Early"
- Notes from liner
QUOTE
The earliest publication of this song is in Lomax's North Carolina booklet from 1911. However, Dorothy Scarborough, a songcatcher, collected this song in 1930 in western North Carolina and suggests that an appropriate date of origin in America might be 1749 as this was a time of significant emigration from Scotland and Ireland. The Irish song Bunclody very closely resembles this one.


Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies - According to the liner notes from the Danu CD - "Think before you think", this had it's origins in North America. There is no shortage of versions of this song but this is the only version that I know that I have on CD



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Haldur 
Posted: 04-Feb-2005, 07:38 PM
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Very cool! Last night after I posted this thread I was tinkering around on Google and decided to go the Library of Congress's site. Let's just say it was a trip! I wish they only had more regarding Celtic and folk music, but it did point me to a short fiddle version of "Barbara Allen" by a Mr. Henry Reed.

Here are the links:

http://www.loc.gov/

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/hrhtml/hrhome.html
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Haldur 
Posted: 05-Feb-2005, 10:29 AM
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Here's a link I discovered today at work while fishing around for some information on Appalachian/Scottish ballads.

Follow this link for more stuff!
http://cass.etsu.edu/ARCHIVES/music.htm

But here's part of the article I found...

From the great treasure of ballads, songs, and tales that settlers first brought to southern Appalachian region in the 18th century, music has been an important ingredient in the cultural inheritance of the region. Such folk music was kept alive in Appalachia into the present century and has been adapted and blended into an array of popular musical forms such as old-time country, gospel, bluegrass, and folk music. In these forms, music continues to be a significant and conscious aspect of life for many people in the region. The first commercial recordings of country music were made in Bristol, Tenn. in the 1920s, and many musical groups and individual recording artists began their careers with performances on local radio stations in the region.

Here's another interesting link from the same site...seems these folks have already done plenty of research. No sense in re-inventing sliced bread, I guess!
Tell me what you think!
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Haldur 
Posted: 08-Feb-2005, 06:40 PM
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For the past couple weeks I have had in my position two very interesting pieces of literature. The first is "The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles" by John Jacob Niles. It details the travels, discoveries, and music of the Appalachians as recorded by this legendary folk musician. Truly is a great borrow, as I have it courtesy of my public library! The second, also a public library borrow, is entitled "Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians" by Jean Ritchie. It is also a book of ballads, having their roots in Scottish/English balladry. Interestingly enough, it seems that both of these folk artists have brought their own take on the ballads as they learned them. While very creative of them, in my opinion, I don't think that was right. But hey, that's just me!

In my opinion, if I were I to go about "catching songs" I would have this sort of equipment in mind:

a) some sort of portable recording device w/ microphone(s) - DAT, 4-track recorder, tape deck, etc.)
cool.gif a walking journal - for writing down notes about songs, the source's anecdotes, folklore regarding the song, and whatever else information might be gathered
c) proper transportation - I wouldn't go walking around getting this information! Would have to be something mechanically reliable and preferably fuel efficient
d) a good roadmap - for when you get lost
e) a digital camera - for photos, of course

And these are just a few of the 'essentials' and I know I've left out a few including but not limited to: names of sources and their addresses, etc., a handy carrying case for the recording equipment, perhaps another for everything else! Of course the meat and potatoes of the whole project would be knowing and recognizing the songs and having proper, legitimate sources from which to gather the songs.

I could go on and on...hope to hear some input on this forum soon!
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Annabelle 
Posted: 09-Feb-2005, 10:36 PM
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I love Balladeers.

Such earthy music!


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Haldur 
Posted: 10-Feb-2005, 10:22 PM
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My sentiments exactly, m' lady!

And what's great, is there's a wealth of information (namely the songs themselves) that lurk all around...it's finding them that's the fun part!
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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Feb-2005, 12:01 AM
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To change things up a bit ('cause I've been yappin' away here) here are some pictures of the Southern Appalachians!

This one is from my home state of Kentucky, which falls into the Cumberland region of the Appalachians!


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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Feb-2005, 12:02 AM
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Also from Kentucky...

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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Feb-2005, 12:04 AM
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These are some fantastic pictures from the North Carolina Appalachians, which I think (but I might be wrong) are included in the Blue Ridge region. Trust me, I've been proven wrong many a time!



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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Feb-2005, 12:05 AM
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Also from North Carolina! smile.gif

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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Feb-2005, 12:06 AM
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From the Tennessee/Smokey Mountain region...

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Haldur 
Posted: 11-Feb-2005, 12:06 AM
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Another from the Great Smokies!

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