Happy Solstice/Light Festival!

Every year since moving to New England (with one snowed in exception) my wife and I have gone to see the "Christmas Revels" at the Sanders Theater in Cambridge, MA.

https://www.revels.org/shows-events/christmas-revels/

Though the theme changes every year, they still work a few of the same traditions each time.  One of my favorites is a performance of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

And every year I leave thinking to myself that I should work up the tune on banjo.

So today I sat down and arranged it for two banjos.  It lays quite nice in A minor.

I have attached a terrible midi file ("piano" tone) that gives a general idea of the tune.

It is easy to play so give it a try this evening!

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MP3

Not letting me add the files?

Hi Joel a very Happy Christmas to you and your family.

NING are having real support problems at the moment. I have been waiting for a fix on another problem for nearly two weeks..now it it the holidays!!! I Have noticed the upload attachment problem too and will try to resolve it a.s.a.p.

test upload

I'll cheat...

PDF...

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QtuPQGkwNlicBzSju1QdQr6dtp1TKwSO/v...

Terrible computer midi tone.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/12axZmT6dCe8nCANg6ddYXcNqOesi_ikX/v...

Notice that I put no "copyright" on it-- my arrangement is a gift to all banjoists to do with as they want.

This is what I've been talking about. This is folk music and dance.  It is all about continuity and not about nostalgia. The ABHD has been done every year in the same little village since at least the 15th century and possibly since the 12th. Not one dancer or musician looks back longingly to "the good old days".   

Perhaps I just don't like the word "folk."  I have to admit that "vernacular" might be worse.

At any rate, I am all for Pagan harvest and solstice/light festivals.  It is a great way to break up all these dark winter nights.

Nevertheless, I am quite happy with how the arrangement came out.

I'm not very happy with that word either. I think maybe you distrust revivalist music.  There are plenty of good reasons for this. Each awful player is yet another reason. But isn't what we're all doing with classic banjo a sort of revivalism?  

Joel Hooks said:

Perhaps I just don't like the word "folk."  I have to admit that "vernacular" might be worse.

At any rate, I am all for Pagan harvest and solstice/light festivals.  It is a great way to break up all these dark winter nights.

Nevertheless, I am quite happy with how the arrangement came out.

Yes, at least for me, classic banjo is totally nostalgic and based in the past.  We our lucky though, the central people in what we call classic banjo were fond of writing about it in magazines, letters, books, catalogs, sheet music, and newspapers.  That history is easy to find.  Very little blanks to fill in.

Jody Stecher said:

I'm not very happy with that word either. I think maybe you distrust revivalist music.  There are plenty of good reasons for this. Each awful player is yet another reason. But isn't what we're all doing with classic banjo a sort of revivalism?  

Joel Hooks said:

Perhaps I just don't like the word "folk."  I have to admit that "vernacular" might be worse.

At any rate, I am all for Pagan harvest and solstice/light festivals.  It is a great way to break up all these dark winter nights.

Nevertheless, I am quite happy with how the arrangement came out.

Much or most of the continuous history of the vernacular styles of playing the five-string banjo is also known. Those who knew and know generally did not write down and publish their knowledge. Being born in 1946 and receiving my first banjo in 1957 I was easily able to meet any number of banjo players who were born in the 19th century and who were very clear about who their mentors or exemplars were. 

What we call classic banjo is one  sweet water branch of a larger banjo river. If those writing about other streams misrepresent the facts and if they confuse their branch for the entire river  it does not mean that all the thousands of banjo players living on the banks of the streams that are not Classic Banjo are deluded or misguided or worse. 

What IS their fault (of many)  is the dumbing down of the old repertoire to cartoonish levels. 

Anyway, Happy New Year, Joel. 

Joel Hooks said:

Yes, at least for me, classic banjo is totally nostalgic and based in the past.  We our lucky though, the central people in what we call classic banjo were fond of writing about it in magazines, letters, books, catalogs, sheet music, and newspapers.  That history is easy to find.  Very little blanks to fill in.

Jody Stecher said:

I'm not very happy with that word either. I think maybe you distrust revivalist music.  There are plenty of good reasons for this. Each awful player is yet another reason. But isn't what we're all doing with classic banjo a sort of revivalism?  

Joel Hooks said:

Perhaps I just don't like the word "folk."  I have to admit that "vernacular" might be worse.

At any rate, I am all for Pagan harvest and solstice/light festivals.  It is a great way to break up all these dark winter nights.

Nevertheless, I am quite happy with how the arrangement came out.

The folk music revival in England was spearheaded by Cecil Sharp and his associates Maud Kapeles and Mary Neal who travelled around the UK collecting folk dance tunes and long forgotten songs. In 1911, they formed the English Folk Dance Society, later to become The English Folk Dance and Song Society and the E.F.D.S collection became the main source material for many later performers and singers when the revival set off apace in the early 1950s. In 1916, Sharp and Keppels visited the US and travelled around the Appalations collecting around 1500 tunes and 500 songs. When I was at elementary school in the early 1950s, it was mainly English folk songs that we sang in our music sessions and we also partook in what was then called English Country Dancing, dancing to the strains of 70 rpm records played on a wind up gramophone. It was this early association that influenced my passion for traditional music. Without the efforts of Cecil Sharp, and in the US Alan Lomax, the folk music that we know today may well have been forgotten...Steve.

Through his books and Library of Congress recordings Alan Lomax, and John Lomax before him,  spread knowledge of the songs to a different demographic from those who sang the songs to the Lomax-s.   Many of the descendants of those who sang for them did reject the old music in favor of what  was on the radio, but not all of them.   As for Cecil Sharp you are right in respect to England. He found English songs in Appalachia that had been forgotten in England. The texts existed in books but the melodies had been forgotten. Until recently Sharp's books were not well known in the USA.  Sharp was in my opinion a very good listener and a skilled musical scribe. His notations of what he heard in Appalachia are believable to me. Perhaps I am ascribing virtues to Sharp that really are due to Maud Karpeles. At any rate the notations are good. Another very astute listener was Ralph Vaughn Williams. His classical arrangements of folk melody show a real appreciation and understanding of what he was arranging.  "Soy Bean Barren Ghoul" was another matter entirely.  He purged both words and melodies of all the good parts.
Steve Harrison said:

The folk music revival in England was spearheaded by Cecil Sharp and his associates Maud Kapeles and Mary Neal who travelled around the UK collecting folk dance tunes and long forgotten songs. In 1911, they formed the English Folk Dance Society, later to become The English Folk Dance and Song Society and the E.F.D.S collection became the main source material for many later performers and singers when the revival set off apace in the early 1950s. In 1916, Sharp and Keppels visited the US and travelled around the Appalations collecting around 1500 tunes and 500 songs. When I was at elementary school in the early 1950s, it was mainly English folk songs that we sang in our music sessions and we also partook in what was then called English Country Dancing, dancing to the strains of 70 rpm records played on a wind up gramophone. It was this early association that influenced my passion for traditional music. Without the efforts of Cecil Sharp, and in the US Alan Lomax, the folk music that we know today may well have been forgotten...Steve.

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