The project team feel it is important is to provide details of the song sources. This page explains the approaches used for each main source and the various ‘copies’ provided on the site.
Cecil Sharp Collection of Songs
Many songs from Sharp’s collection were published in books from 1909 onwards. His original notebooks are held by Clare College, Cambridge, and copies of his collection are held at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML). The collection includes ‘Folk-Tunes’ (FT) which in the case of songs are usually the first verse of the song. Sharp did not always collect all verses of a song, but when he did he wrote the words in a separate notebook from the song tune. These words were later typed as ‘Folk-Word’ (FW) pages. We have used the VWML collection of tunes and typed words, and NOT used the original notebooks (held at Clare College) for the words. Each song makes reference to FT and FW sources. For example The Cherry Tree Carol sung by Mary Anne Roberts ‘Source: Sharp manuscript ref FT2151 for tune and FW2018 for typed words’
Gwilym Davies Collection
Transcription by ear of the tune and verses from the recording, with additional background from Gwilym.
Peter Shepheard Collection
Transcription by ear of the tune and verses from the recording, with additional background from Peter.
Transcription by ear of the tune and verses from the recording.
— About Song Versions —
Each song entry by a singer is presented in several ways for listening and singing. Firstly the ‘Copy as collected’, secondly the ‘Copy for singing and download’ and finally ‘Contemporary recordings’ of the songs.
Copy as Collected
For every song we provide the original words and tune as collected. This may have inconsistencies and may only have one verse. To hear the tune we either provide the actual ‘archive-recording’ or a sound file (MIDI) of the tune when there is no recording.
Copy for Singing and download
Some collected songs are complete and in a key that most voices can manage. If songs are incomplete and/or too high for the average singer we provide a PDF document that can be downloaded containing full words and score in a lower key, and also a sound file (a MIDI). When creating this copy the edit/addition of extra words is a matter of judgement and we try to include notes to explain choices.
If we know of contemporary recordings these are provided as links. This can breathe life into a song for listeners not used to unaccompanied singing or tune files (MIDIs).