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One Hundred English FolkSongs

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One Hundred English FolkSongs
Edited by Cecil J. Sharp. For Medium Voice. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 1975. Pg. 335. 1 B&W Illustration.) ISBN: 978-0-486-23192-1.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - June 3, 2009

One Hundred English FolkSongs is an outstanding collection of one hundred traditional English folksongs along with accompanying sheet music arranged for piano and medium voice. The songs in this anthology were collected by Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924) and they range from traditional Child Ballads to common peasant songs. All the songs in this anthology were collected personally by Sharp, and he copied the music as sung to him by his informants. This Dover edition of this phenomenal song book is an unabridged reproduction of the original 1916 edition of One Hundred English Folksongs.

In addition to the words and music, the book begins with a brief introduction to the development of English musicology and the movement to collect traditional English folksongs and to record English folkloric traditions, which began in the early to mid 1800's. One of the first men to begin to make a concerted effort to compile English folksongs was the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), the author of Onward, Christian Soldiers. Baring-Gould was also the author of Songs and Ballads of the West, one of the first collections of folk songs to be published that was geared toward a general readership. The best-known example of folksong collecting made during this period was Francis James Child's scholarly work The English and Scottish Popular Ballads which was originally published between 1882 and 1898. Baring-Gould and Sharp were compatriots, and they worked together on the 1907 edition of English Folk Songs for Schools, which was, for decades, a widely used textbook in England. However it was Sharp, who also collected and documented a range of English folklore - including dances, tunes, and folksongs, who came to be known as the Father of English Folklore Revival movement.

One Hundred English Folksongs is an intriguing book on two counts. Firstly, it is a superior collection of traditional English Folksongs, and one of the few such collections that include complete musical scores for each song. Secondly, this book represents one of the first efforts in the developing field of folklore. Sharp used anthropological field work techniques and scientific methods to collect these songs. In addition, in compiling this book, he included historical notes about each song including its known history, various version, and tidbits about where and how he collected the song. As such, this book will not only prove invaluable to folk singers, but also to social historians, anthropologist, and musicologist.

A sampling of some of the many songs that you will encounter in this volume includes:
Related Reviews:

The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, edited by Francis James Child.
Child's monumental comparative study of 305 English folk ballads. This five-volume edition is an unabridged republication of the original ten-part series published between 1882 and 1898.

Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, by Helen Creighton.
A collection of 150 songs and ballads collected around Halifax and Devil's Island, by Helen Creighton, the foremost authority on the folksongs of Nova Scotia.

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