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Unaccompanied Folk Ballads

For Your Listening Pleasure And Opinion

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
An Enraged Musician


This originally was going to be a selection from the 100 Ballads site shared by Rosie Whinray and commented on by Julie Henigan in The Ballad Tree: Traditional Folk Ballads and Songs, but the site itself contains recordings of the songs for you to listen to, along with documents and the words, so I saw no point in trying to put them into a piece of my own. Ihave pondered what to do for a few weeks and thought I would simply trawl the world wide web for unaccompanied folk ballads. I think this will create a random feel and hopefully give some people something to listen to that they haven't heard before,

So here we go, I hope you enjoy these.

Corrine Coles - "Hope The Hermit"

This is taken from The National Songbook 1906 which was a collection of British songs edited and arranged by Charles Villiers Stanford and published by Boosey & Co London.

Catherine Earnshaw - "Rambleaway"

Rambleaway is a a tune from Somerset collected by Cecil Sharp, and performed beautifully by Shirley Collins and Norma Waterson amongst many others. This is Catherine unaccompanied.

More About The Song Here.

Christy-Lyn - "Green Bushes" (Roud 1040)

Green Bushes is an old English folk song that dates from the 1760s and speaks about a woman who agrees to forsake her true love and marry another!

More about the song here

Corrine Coles - "Silver Dagger" Roud(711)

Silver Dagger", or "Katy Dear", is an American folk ballad, first published in 1907. It likely traces its roots to the British Isles of late 19th century, though possibly much earlier.

In "Silver Dagger", the narrator turns away a potential suitor, as her mother has warned her to avoid the advances of men in an attempt to spare her daughter the heartbreak that she herself has endured. The 1960 recording by Joan Baez features only a few of the many verses in the 1907 version.

"Katy Dear" uses the same melody but different lyrics, telling a similar story from a different perspective.

More about the song here

"The Gardener"

I can tell you nothing about the song, the singer does not even name himself but has a lot of similar music on his YouTube Channel that you can check out here.

Some of the words match with this Roud song though it is not exactly the same.

Proud Maisrie / The Gardener / The Gardener Child

Helen Lindley - "Tom Potts" (Child Ballad 109, Roud Index 66)

Tom Potts is one of those songs in traditional folk music for which we have no idea of the original tune. A very abbreviated synopsis is: Lady Anne, the Earl of Arundel's daughter has fallen in love with a serving man, Tom Potts, and wants to marry him rather than the rich Lord Fenix her father wants. After a bit of an argument between her father, Lord William Fenix, and Tom Potts, in the end, Anne gets her man!

I couldn't find any more information about the song on the Norfolk site, but check out the YouTube link for a great deal more information.

Isla Cameron - "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme"

Cecil Sharp was sitting in the vicarage garden talking to Charles Marson and to Mattie Kay, who was likewise staying at Hambridge, when he heard John England quietly singing to himself as he mowed the vicarage lawn. Cecil Sharp whipped out his notebook and took down the tune; and then persuaded John to give him the words. He immediately harmonised the song; and that same evening it was sung at a choir supper by Mattie Kay, Cecil Sharp accompanying. The audience was delighted; as one said, it was the first time that the song had been put into evening dress.

More about the song here

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About the Creator

Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

Weaver of Tales, Poems, Music & Love

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Comments (5)

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  • Rasma Raisters2 months ago

    Thank you for the interesting journey through traditional folk music. Songs like this should not be forgotten,

  • Beautiful selection, Mike.

  • Michelle Liew2 months ago

    Thanks for your insights into traditional folk music! Often overlooked by us contemporary folk but must be appreciated.

  • Daphsam2 months ago

    Wonderful selection of songs, “Green bushes” was very beautiful. 

  • Kelsey Clarey2 months ago

    This is a great selection!

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