Solstice Shorts: Longest Night, the Midwinter Wife


The  Midwinter Wife got another outing at Longest Night. Here is the peerless Annalie Wilson reading the shorter performance version

You can buy the full length print version in Latchkey Tales Clockwise – Midnight Blues

World Premier… my very first tune


Organising Longest Night kept me away from my own blog for a while, but it was completely worth it, not least because it gave me an opportunity to share my first ever musical composition with musicians who would do it justice. Here are Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd singing The Cold Time.

This is a Trobairitz song from the late 12th Century, written by Azalaïs de Porcairagues, in what is now Languedoc. It is written in a form of Provençal known now as Occitan. The tune is lost, and I came across it in Meg Bogin’s book The Women Troubadours, while researching my historical novel about Cathars and Trobairitz, The Cold Time, which I may eventually finish.

I actually wrote the melody a very long time ago, but coming up with harmonies has been a slower process. Ian & Sarah were incredibly patient with me!

I learnt Provençal, and tweaked Bogin’s translation for poetic rhythm and sense. The original song is a much longer work, but only this first section stands alone without understanding the social mores of the time and the geography and architecture of the city of Aurenga (Orange) – it was only when I went there and visited the museum that I understood a reference later in the song to the ‘Arch with the Triumphs’. A Roman triumphal arch, which for several centuries was built into the castle, effectively forming the front door. This was certainly the case when Azalaïs knew the then count,  Raimbaut d’Aurenga. These days the arch sits on a roundabout to the north of the city centre, and getting to it is a death defying race across, dodging massed lorries.

Roman triumphal arch, Orange, Provence
Raimbaut d’Aurenga’s Front Door

Notionally the section here is a typical Troubadour song of the seasons, although Spring was a more popular subject than Winter. However, the song is in fact an extended metaphor and a farewell to Raimbaut, Azalaïs’ ‘Nightingale’. She does not say so, but he had died.

Join In: Folk Song Workshop for Winter


LESTER SIMPSON FOLK SONG WORKSHOP

SECULAR WINTER SONGS

LEARN AROUND 5 SONGS

long LONGEST NIGHT BASIC LOGO2 copy

SATURDAY 28TH NOVEMBER 2015

12:45- 17:15

ST HILDA’S CHURCH HALL

COURTRAI ROAD SE23 1NL

bus routes 122, P4, 171, 172 stop on the corner.

train to Crofton Park or Honor Oak Park 10 minute walk.

advanced booking required

Book Here

£25

INCLUDES REFRESHMENTS

all abilities welcome.

 

Folk. Always


I  have been singing folk carols for something like 6 hours today, because Vocal Chords, my regular (as opposed to occasional forays elsewhere) choir, are doing a recording. Carols in August, why not?

I love folk music. It’s something to do with the ability to tell a story, and not be afraid of really going for it, whether it’s the Dunstan Lullaby which gets its point across in 3 verses (one of which is repeated) of 4 lines, in which only 2 lines change, or something like Anarchy Gordon which goes on telling its deadly tale of lost love, brutality and despair for verse after verse after… (I’ve not counted – 24?) And then there’s the deceptively simple tunes, some designed to be sung solo, some raucously joyful harmonies. I like loads of types of music – I sing in operas, I was in a punk band briefly, but you could say that folk is my default setting.

So when the idea for Solstice Shorts Festival landed pretty much fully formed in my head in January, as soon as I realised that there would be music, folk rose steadily to the top of my list of possibles. Partly because the theme is Time, and I was struggling to find much classical music that was suitable and that I liked whereas folk is chock full of it; partly because it became clear there wasn’t going to be much room so the musical groups needed to be small; partly because so many pop/rock songs we thought would work turned out to have seriously dodgy verses (either plain bad, or offensive).

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund)

Folk is adaptable. That’s why folk carols exist – when the church took against the gallery musicians and insisted on carols that could be directly linked to the bible, the people who had been singing and playing carols since who-knows-when, stood outside the church and sang in protest, moving to the pub when it turned chilly. (Is this really how it happened? Or is it just another good folk story?)

Anyway, the point is, FOLK. so I contacted our friends Sue & Nyge at The Goose is Out and asked for suggestions. So, provided we get our funding, we have folk music happening on 21st December – the Winter Solstice – from Sunrise to Sunset, interspersed with new short stories.

Let me introduce you to our musicians:

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund – think of this as the chorus)

Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd

Ian and Sarah are local musicians who delight in blending their voices in live unaccompanied harmony. Their repertoire covers traditional folk songs, including nursery rhymes and the occasional long ballad. Having warmed their vocal chords at The Goose is Out Singarounds, they now regularly sing floor spots at the Goose club nights in Nunhead, Tooting, Sharps and Islington folk clubs and as far afield as the Towersey Festival. In the last year, they have supported both Thomas McCarthy and the Copper Family for sell out nights at the Ivy House Community Pub in Nunhead. Earlier this year, Ian and Sarah performed as a duo at Cecil Sharp House for the launch of the EFDSS Yan Tan Tethera textiles and song project. They are also founder members of the Dulwich Folk Choir.

Shadrack Tye

Shadrack Tye have won critical acclaim from audiences and promoters alike for their performances at venues and festivals in London and around the country. All members of the same family, they perform folk arrangements and original songs bringing to both a multitude of musical influences.Tina and Paul have had long careers playing for top London orchestras and as music educationalists, while Sony artist Sam also sings with vocal jazz harmony group Vive, recently featured on both BBC television and radio.

I look forward to hearing some more of their stuff because it’s different and very, very interesting…..like it very much …

Mike Harding- Folk Show

In their first year out Shadrack Tye were invited to play in the Folk Rising series at Cecil Sharpe House and also performed at the Purbeck, Wessex and Folk Thing festivals.In 2013 they debuted most successfully at the Rochester Sweeps and Broadstairs folk festivals, while this years firsts included Gate to Southwell and  the London Folkfest at the Bedford, Balham as well as an invitation to return to the main stage at the Wessex Festival. More recently they have headlined at venues in London and the south, most notably at the famous Bush Hall in west London.

Last year they achieved multiple radio plays on the Tom Robinson Show, BBC Introducing Mixtape and Mike Harding Folk Show and in addition, after being heard live by the producer of the International Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show, they were given the opportunity to record their much-loved cover of “Big Yellow Taxi” for the Joni Mitchell Special aired in the UK, USA and Canada.

They were also the featured band for Spiral Earth’s “Introducing” article in November 2013.

Their self-released EP – “The Lovers Tale”, was described by Mike Harding as “damn fine” and they are currently creating their next album due for release in 2014.

Rosemary Lippard

Rosemary has been singing British Traditional Music in folk clubs for nearly 3 years now. She often sings unaccompanied but is also in folk duos, with consummate guitarist Tim Graham, and as Country Parish Music with Steven Collins, founder of the Owl Service and Stone Tape Recording. She has played at gigs for The Goose Is Out in South East London, Leigh On Sea Folk Festival, Oxford Folk Weekend, The Islington Folk Club (from whom she won the Trad2Mad award in 2012) and the Green Note Cafe, Camden supporting artists such as Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, Ewan McLennan, Long Lankin, The Askew Sisters, and Jim Causley. Rosemary hopes to be doing a few gigs this September, with Tim Graham, around England and potentially Wales… and for there to be enough gigs to call it a tour…

Pepper and Shepherd

Pepper and Shepherd are James Pepper and Anthony Shepherd. They play intricate, honest folk music on mandolin, guitar, ukulele and harmonies. They formed in 2009 and both live in Peckham, South London.
Their second album, Kings on the Rye was released on last August Bank Holiday. A bittersweet collection of eight original folk songs, written, recorded and produced in a tiny flat on Peckham High Street in the spring of 2013.

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund – you are thinking of this as the chorus – yes?)

And finally, and most personally, Summer All Year Long

Summer All Year Long (SAYL) is a group of friends who meet in my living room to sing for the pleasure of it, and sometimes do this in public, usually in connection with an Arachne Press event.

Since January we have been ploughing through what seems like thousands of songs about or related to time, trying things out and rejecting them, or making up arrangements. A lot of wine has been drunk, many, many songs have been discarded, and we are getting very excited about the few that have passed the no-one hates it, we can all sing it, the arrangement sounds great test. Not all of them started out as folk songs, but they are now!

(Help us get the festival to happen – contribute to our crowd fund – We’ll be very grateful and there are loads of fun and interesting rewards…)