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History in Review

Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia

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Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia
By Helen Creighton. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 1992. Pg. 334.) ISBN: 0-486-21703-5.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - June 3, 2009

In Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, Helen Creighton (1899-1989) has compiled an extensive collection of folksongs from Nova Scotia. These songs include seafaring ballads and ditties, as well as songs about love, murder, war, and non-seafaring work songs such as the Lumbering Boy. Most of these songs were collected around Halifax and on Devil's Island, and are representative of the Maritimes as a whole. It is also not surprising that most of the songs in this collection are related, in one degree or another, to sailors, fishing, and seafaring.

Creighton spent years collecting the songs in this collection, and in her introduction she provides an intriguing overview of what her life was like as a song and ballad collector. In the end, she was well known as an expert on the songs of Nova Scotia, and published many books on the subject. This book, Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, was first published in 1932, and this Dover edition is true to the original edition, with the exception that some minor corrections where made to the music of a handful of songs, and a postscript to the author's original introduction has been added. In all, this collection includes 150 songs, accompanied by complete lyrics and music for the melody of each song. The songs in this collection are organized according to Child's groupings. Notes about who her informant was for each song are also included. Historical information is also provided for some of the songs.

Many of the songs, or song variations, contained in this collection are unique to Nova Scotia. This collection is a valuable edition to any library dealing with folklore, social history, musicology, the history of Nova Scotia, and related fields.

A sampling of the songs contained in this collection include:
Related Reviews:

One Hundred English Folksongs, edited by Cecil J. Sharp.
A collection of one hundred English folksongs accompanied by musical scores for piano and medium voice, as well as historical notes on each song.

When This Bloody War is Over, by Max Arthur.
Soldiers' Songs of the First World War - Historically annotated lyrics to nearly 100 songs from The Great War.

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