sound recordist // folk musician // producer // broadcaster
In earlier centuries, life was just as rich with music as it is in modern times and musicians played their fiddles, flutes, cellos, bassoons etc. in a variety of styles and for a range of purposes. They often wrote down their repertoire in music manuscript books. Some of these have been transcribed and published in recent years. The Village Music Project grew out of a realisation that these few manuscript books were actually the tip of a medium sized iceberg and in fact there were many more books lurking beneath the surface, hidden in archives and libraries.
Along with my colleague Chris Partington, I formulated a proposal to assemble as many copies of these manuscript books as we could get access to and transcribe them for the internet using abc code, a widely used method of sharing simple tunes electronically. and managed to raise some embryonic funding.
A number of people have contributed to the work of the project by volunteering help in unearthing manuscripts, transcribing the contents and researching the history of the original owners where possible. The results so far can be seen on the web site.
Paul Graney was a man with tape recorder. I remember him arriving at a Muckram Wakes folk club gig and asking us if he could record our set. We agreed and that was our first encounter with this rather brusque and forthright man. He gave us a number of songs in the following years and was similarly generous towards numerous other performers in the North of England.
I was stunned in later years to discover that when he died in 1982, he left behind hundreds of tapes recorded both out and about and at home by himself or off the radio over a period of 30 years. The tapes have been in the trust of Barry Seddon and the late David Hall, who raised funding to have them preserved, outline catalogued and transferred to digital media.
The aim now is to make a selection of the recordings available for online listening and to web publish the outline catalogue with a view to promoting the study and use of this audio slice of life from the middle 20th century. Help is needed in cataloguing the collection and if you would like to help, please contact me.
Hear Paul Graney speak on unemployment in the 20s & 30s
Buy the Paul Graney book -
One Bloke - edited by Barry Seddon
Hosted by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Folkopedia is an attempt to assemble a comprehensive set of pages and links to enable online research into English traditional arts and the associated global equivalents. It is a peer reviewed project and while it points to a number of external sources including Wikipedia, it brings expert comment to the subject matter in order to maintain accuracy.