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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:24 pm 
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https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1CAEA ... 00&bih=572

Jean Ritchie recorded the ´Appalachian´ melody version.

Hope this helps,
Bob

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:06 pm 
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an seanduine wrote:
Jean Ritchie recorded the ´Appalachian´ melody version.

Yes, I posted a link to that earlier.

Thanks for the photos; I never knew Ennis and Ritchie had met.

Peter Duggan wrote:
Since the first version I knew I was the Easy Club's, that's how I hear it... which, from a quick Google tonight, seems to be jazzed-up Christy Moore (which in turn seems to be a minor variant of the one Nano posted)!

Yes, it does seem that the Niles version isn't that far removed from the original, but enough of a shift to be significant to the ear.

When I first listened to Easy Club's setting, I thought, How dissonant that Swing style is to the lyric content! But then I remembered Giddens' own snappy version put me off some, too, so ... let's just call it artistic license. I've willingly committed my own share of outrages. :wink:

I would like to have learned more, but there's no Wiki page on Easy Club. Found this article, though:

https://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart595.htm

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:25 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Peter Duggan wrote:
Since the first version I knew I was the Easy Club's, that's how I hear it... which, from a quick Google tonight, seems to be jazzed-up Christy Moore (which in turn seems to be a minor variant of the one Nano posted)!

Yes, it does seem that the Niles version isn't that far removed from the original, but enough of a shift to be significant to the ear.

While I'd noticed and agree about some similarities between the Niles version and the others, I was talking here about your Jean Ritchie link, which basically shares the Easy Club/Christy Moore contours in a major key.

Quote:
When I first listened to Easy Club's setting, I thought, How dissonant that Swing style is to the lyric content! But then I remembered Giddens' likewise snappy version put me off some, too, so ... let's just call it artistic license. I've willingly committed my own share of outrages. :wink:

Well, I like the Easy Club's because it's my point of reference as the first I knew. But I also like Christy Moore's because it's clearly the same tune and tonality...

Quote:
I would like to have learned more, but there's no Wiki page on Easy Club.

Sure you'll recognise at least some of the personnel (as listed for 1985 album Chance or Design, from which this track comes):
Jack Evans on guitars, bass and melodeon.
John Martin on fiddle and phonofiddle (whatever that is).
Rod Paterson on vocals, guitar and bass.
Jim Sutherland on cittern, bodhran, congas and percussion.

And there's an informative article by Jack Evans about the band here:
https://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart595.htm

[Ha, you've found it and edited your post while I was composing mine!]

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:47 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
John Martin on fiddle and phonofiddle (whatever that is).

Just seen it on one of Kenny's videos, but have to say I prefer the regular type!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P08TjAQr4uI

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:53 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
... I was talking here about your Jean Ritchie link, which basically shares the Easy Club/Christy Moore contours in a major key.

Right, that's what I meant as well. Whether the Easy Club, Christy Moore, Nina Simone, what have you, I find the Niles version to be consistent and easily recognizable however it's treated stylistically, and it is clearly a minor-key variant of the one sung by Ritchie.

I'm reasonably satisfied that Ritchie's version would be the original, or at least as original as the mists of time allow us to see; she would have sung what she learned from the traditions of her Kentucky hills. No doubt she would have known of Niles' version as well, and known that it was a comparatively recent revision, so I suspect that what she sang was what she grew up with, since she was more a caretaker than a performer for performance's sake. Reinforcing this belief is that Ben also tells us that it closely matches the version he knows, and that it is relatively easy to find on your side of the Pond (moreso than on mine, where these days it is hardly found at all any more). Not the most ironclad of cases, but I find it highly compelling all the same. Too bad we no longer have Jean Ritchie with us to fill in the blanks; instead, we are left to infer as best we can.

Whatever your opinion of it, Niles' version has certainly gained quite the ascendancy.

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:36 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Peter Duggan wrote:
John Martin on fiddle and phonofiddle (whatever that is).

Just seen it on one of Kenny's videos, but have to say I prefer the regular type!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P08TjAQr4uI

Aha. That's a Stroh violin, a relic from the days when audio recording didn't have the juice it does today; it started falling out of studio use in the late 1920s, but held on for a time in theaters and music halls, because the instrument is significantly louder than a regular violin. It would have been donkey's years, but I seem to recall having heard one up close and personal, myself; the visual novelty aside, its sonic effect was ... surprising. In the above video, John Martin did better than mere volume, and was evidently able to get the best out of it. That would be a testament to his mastery as a fiddler, all right.

Now it is mostly played more as a curiosity, but apparently versions of it are still popular in a folk context in Eastern Europe, most notably Romania.

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:57 pm 
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Julia Clifford was a devoteé of the sstroh, particularly playing for the dance halls in London between the wars.
https://www.google.com/search?q=julia+c ... QE_enUS876

Bob

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:50 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Right, that's what I meant as well. Whether the Easy Club, Christy Moore, Nina Simone, what have you, I find the Niles version to be consistent and easily recognizable however it's treated stylistically, and it is clearly a minor-key variant of the one sung by Ritchie.

But it isn't! I don't see any similarities between the Niles tune and the traditional one (as sung by Ritchie). They're completely different tunes.

I'll post the version of the tune that's in my head soon. Once it's light and I've had my coffee ...

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:48 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Right, that's what I meant as well. Whether the Easy Club, Christy Moore, Nina Simone, what have you, I find the Niles version to be consistent and easily recognizable however it's treated stylistically, and it is clearly a minor-key variant of the one sung by Ritchie.

No, Easy Club/Christy Moore is clearly a minor-key variant of the one sung by Ritchie, but Niles isn't.

benhall.1 wrote:
But it isn't! I don't see any similarities between the Niles tune and the traditional one (as sung by Ritchie). They're completely different tunes.

I don't understand Nano's response either, Ben. While I saw some superficial similarities in places¹, I was careful to italicise the 'some', and agree that they're not the same tune at all. Whereas the Easy Club/Christy Moore version is quite closely aligned to Jean Ritchie's apart from its tonality. Matching contours between EC/CM and JR tell me they're the same tune despite the tonality, whereas matching tonality² between EC/CM and JJN means nothing...

1. For approximately the first line and a half I was trying not very successfully to equate it (JJN) with the tune I knew (EC), then gave up when I realised that couldn't done.
2. Not even convinced we've got that unless we're casually equating minor with minor-tonic modal.

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:02 am 
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I just listened to The Easy Club's version. I don't remember that one. I must have heard it, but it had slipped from memory. Not my usual style, but lovely stuff nonetheless.

Here's my version of the tune, which I have known since I was a kid. It's pretty much the same as the Jean Ritchie version. By the way, the crotchets (quarter notes) at the end of the first bar on line 2 are supposed to be triplets, but I can't see a way of doing that in ABC Navigator, which is all I've got (yes, I know = (3 but try it; it doesn't work):

Image

The words that I have, for the start, are:

But black is the colour of my true love's hair
His lips are like some rosey fair
He's the fairest face and the neatest hands
I love the ground whereon he stands

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:13 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
It's pretty much the same as the Jean Ritchie version.

Just went back to check hers having labelled it 'major' then seen yours, but excusing myself for that when she sharpens the low Ds* in first and fourth phrases and you don't!

*Yes, I'm aware she's singing a semitone lower than your notation.

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:17 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
benhall.1 wrote:
It's pretty much the same as the Jean Ritchie version.

Just went back to check hers having labelled it 'major' then seen yours, but excusing myself for that when she sharpens the low Ds in first and fourth phrases and you don't!

No. I've been trying to figure out, as well as all my other questions on this, where I got my version from. I have a feeling it must have been from a book with the old Cecil Sharp version in, but I can't find the book ...

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:32 am 
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OK. I've found the book. It's "Eighty English Folk Songs" by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles. A confusing title for the book, to say the least, when songs like this, that definitely aren't English, are included. In fact, it's a collection of songs from their trip to the Appalachians, so why they chose that title I have no idea.

It's No 41 in that book, and the tune is the same as mine except that it's written out in D and with the sharpened lowest note, as in the Jean Ritchie version. I don't know where I got the flattened lowest note from. Maybe at some point I just felt that it sounded better, but I think it's more likely that I heard someone singing it that way.

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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:49 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
... In fact, it's a collection of songs from their trip to the Appalachians, so why they chose that title I have no idea...
Consistency with the larger work maybe? https://www.amazon.com/English-Folk-Son ... 1935243179 Last line of the Amazon blurb "It remains one of the foundational collections of American folk music." :-?

Was English folk songs what they were looking for?


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 Post subject: Re: Black is the colour
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:04 am 
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david_h wrote:
benhall.1 wrote:
... In fact, it's a collection of songs from their trip to the Appalachians, so why they chose that title I have no idea...
Consistency with the larger work maybe? https://www.amazon.com/English-Folk-Son ... 1935243179 Last line of the Amazon blurb "It remains one of the foundational collections of American folk music." :-?

Was English folk songs what they were looking for?

Actually, having re-read Maud Karpeles' 1968 introduction to the "Eighty English Folk Songs" it appears that they believed that all of the songs that they were collecting were of "British" origin, that is, from people of "English, Scots and Scots-Irish" descent. She then, in that same introduction, goes on to conflate "British" (which, to me, is already a suspect term, given that she includes an Irish element in that) with "English". It's not something that anyone would do nowadays, so it's probably put me off the scent. It may have seemed perfectly reasonable to Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles to label all of the songs as "English", even when they patently weren't, according to any modern definition.

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