This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

This fine collection of contemporary political It became a prized and, increasingly, rare
song is a demonstration of this. The book was possession. This completely revamped version
launched at a memorable concert held at The contains 250 tunes with chords. Many of the
Pleasance, Edinburgh on 2 November 2008. later tunes have gone in order to concentrate
It is now, not surprisingly, into its first reprint. on the main course – the aforesaid hornpipes.
No singer, songwriter, choir – or anybody else, There are some stunningly good tunes here,

should be without a copy at the amazing price ranging from reasonably straightforward to
of £5 (+p&p). Available from Scottish CND at fairly virtuosic; the typesetting is wonderfully clear, readable and logical, the paper quality
excellent and the whole thing makes one itch to
Geordie McIntyre
getting playing.
So far so good, but this is a vanished tradition
and performers will need help to make the
Historical & Political Ballads
tunes come alive once more. The book comes
and Songs of the Stuart Era
with some rather confused and confusing
Trafford ISBN9781425137045
notes. The Introduction contains much
good material, but littered with speculation
This doorstep tome contains close on two
- “perhaps”, “could have” and “seems to”
hundred songs covering the momentous
rule the day, along with a number of startling
events from the escape of Queen Mary from
but unattributed quotes: “Music has been
Lochleven Castle in 1567 up to the restoration
called “the most stupid of the arts””. Really?
of the forfeited lands in 1784. As can be
By whom? Let me at them! There is then
imagined this is a feast for both singer and
a section on bowing techniques, based on
recent inconclusive work done on stylistic
No-one has worked harder on behalf of this historian, with much unusual and fascinating
reconstruction of the tunes of a later period
timely book than Penny Stone; passionate material presented. The songs are given
– but nothing from the huge raft of instruction
activist, singer and choir leader of ‘Protest chronologically (by event, not by composition)
manuals and commentaries contemporary
in Harmony’. In her lengthy, informative which allows one to see the bitterness
to the music in the book, or even anything
introduction she describes the book as a and bigotry, the political machinations and
about the instrument which at that period this
collection of ‘fifty years of peace songs that their effect on ordinary people. There is an
music was being performed was undergoing
have been written in the context of the CND in introduction, by necessity skimming through
momentous changes in shape and technique
Scotland and throughout Britain’ and elsewhere the history of the period but which does its
(not least in the bow).
she writes ‘it tells the story of anti-nuclear job very well. There is also a chronology of
campaigning through the songs that have been dates, which allow you to see exactly what was
The author then, when discussing the original
sung. Many of these songs are difficult to find going on when. Each song has an explanatory
sources, says that he has omitted printed slurs,
hidden in the attics and drawers of peaceniks note (although for us non-specialists a bit
often because they appear inconsistent. What
and musicians from across the country and the more information would sometimes have been
a shame – this is the sort of thing, which could
world and we are guided through the narrative welcome, not least because it is explained so
be really helpful (a facsimile of one tune shows
largely by ear-witness accounts and by the well). In short, this is a major addition to the
the slurring – perfectly useable) and, given the
writers of the songs themselves. subject. In the “ha’porth of tar’ department
is the music. When appropriate the songs
inaccessibility of the originals, we are rather
hamstrung by this. The upside of this is that
This ‘scrapbook of song’ as Penny too are given their tunes, mainly taken from
this shows just how much there is still to be
modestly calls it is a quite superb collection Simpson’s work, are clearly printed, but poorly
discovered in this field – an area, which could
of; over 100 songs plus notation, personal set – spacing is all over the place, tails are
provide rich pickings for University research
memories, commentaries, cartoons and regularly the wrong-way up, slurs are random
students. I only harp on about it because I
graphics, which clearly has involved an army and the wrong-way up. This is really off-putting
feel that this is still such a superb, useful and
of contributors. It is bound in handsome to the reader and could have so easily been
inspiring volume. All instrumentalists should
laminated cover: A4, ring-bound, fold-flat avoided. Also, no help is given with scansion
own this book.
format. In short, a practical handbook. – as to how the words fit with the notes, so this
is not a songbook, which one can pick up and
Paul Burgess
The chronological sweep is from Hiroshima immediately use.

Song (1945) through Polaris-in-the-Clyde (or
rather Anti-Polaris) Aldermaston Marches, This has been published using the self-
Greenham Common and back to Faslane. One publishing house Trafford (www. Trafford.
of the most recent songs being the brilliant com). They do a good job! It can be bought ScOTTISH cELLISTS
Better Things from Karine Polwart, adjacent to direct from them as well as from other internet
Taigh na Teud ISBN1871931045
a quite different song, of the same title, Better bookshops.
Things written forty years previously by Peggy
Although presumably non-Scots are also
Seeger. Here are just some of the songsmiths, Paul Burgess
allowed to play them? 80 tunes from Scotland,
past and present, whose songs are included:
Ireland and the Shetlands (plus a couple from
Freddie Anderson, Frankie Armstrong, Morris
England and America). Beautifully typeset,
Blythman, Jim Brown, Ian Campbell, Ian
easy to read and well edited with fingerings,
Davison, Sheila Douglas, David Ferrard, Dick
The Famous triple-time Horn-
positions and bow marks to aid any would
Gaughan, Woody Guthrie, Hamish Henderson,
pipes of North-West England
be session musicians in playing the tunes.
Alistair Hewlett, Enoch Kent, John Mack-Smith,
Green Man Music
Although there are a couple of Grade I tunes,
Matt McGinn, Jim McLean, Ewan MacColl,
most are between Grade II and IV, allowing
Ewan MacVicar, Nancy Nicholson, Eileen ISBN9780955632402
any budding ‘cellist to use the book whilst
Penman, Karine Polwart, Leon Rosselson,
progressing in ability.’ Some cracking tunes
Peggy Seeger, Pete Seeger and Ian Walker. In 1985 John Offord published a book,
and useful tips on style, plus an Introduction,
erroneously entitled ‘John Of The Greeny
which tells you how exciting it is to use the
I’m reminded of an interview I did with Hamish Cheshire Way’ consisting of a number of the
‘cello to play things other than the tunes!’
Henderson back in 1973. I asked him if the old Lancashire/Cheshire “double” hornpipes in
Again impressively supported by Scottish Arts
explosion of new song writing was an indication 3/2 and 9/4, as well as some other tunes from
in direct contrast to their English counterparts,
of the success of the Revival. His reply was an manuscripts. This was a bit of a revelation to
who appeared to have declared war on the
unequivocal ‘Absolutely. The Revival will sink many and several of the tunes immediately
traditional arts. Recommended.
or swim by its capability to throw up new and found their way into the repertoire of bands
constantly fresh thinkers and writers...’ such as Blowzabella and The Late Night Band. Paul Burgess
Sponsored by BIrnam CD The Living Tradition - Page 45
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