Tune histories

Update 30th March 2021

I am gradually migrating my research writings to a new website Unsung Histories, which is still in development.

In this section are published a few contributions to the growing data and interest in the history behind our ‘traditional’ dance tunes. I began looking into these in the early 2000s, when preparing the book ‘Before the Night Was Out’ about tunes played in Suffolk and Norfolk. Any illusions I might have had (actually they were long gone even before then!) about any ancient regional roots of this music were well and truly shattered by the research I carried out then. But these stories are fascinating, showing the tenacity of a good melody and its ability to transcend social contexts and class across decades and even centuries.

The Perfect Cure

The Perfect Cure is often thought of as a quintessential Norfolk tune, one of  several jigs collected in the county that were played for the Long Dance. As so often, a little bit of musical archaeology reveals not only other regions that see the tune as being distinctively theirs, but also a glimpse of the way melodies moved between different performing contexts in an era before tunes tended to be pigeon-holed into different genres.

Read more … (link takes you to my new website unsunghistories.info)


Starry Night for a Ramble

The tune Starry Night for a Ramble  has been collected from two traditional musicians in England – both from Norfolk: it was noted down from Mr Newstead in Wickmere in 1932, and subsequently published in ‘The Fiddler’s Tunebook Vol 2’ and was also recorded from Herbert Smith from Blakeney, titled Starry Night for a Randy. It also turns up in waltz form in Scotland.

Read more …