Acknowledged as the first to collect English traditional songs directly from the singers was the Rev. John Broadwood, who published privately a small volume of Sussex Songs in 1843.
Some forty years later a small number of enthusiasts, among them Frank Kidson of Leeds and Sabine Baring-Gould of Lewtrenchard, Devon, started to note songs from the tradition and publish them. But it was not until 1903 that Cecil Sharp began the systematic collection of folk songs in Somersetshire.
Sabine Baring-Gould was a West Country parson. Born in 1834, he settled back in his native Devon in 1887 and soon after began to collect and publish folk songs. Aided by Rev. Fleetwood Sheppard and Rev. Bussell, who noted the melodies, Baring-Gould traversed Devon and Cornwall in his quest for folk songs. He called at inns and cottages where he persuaded the singers he met to give him their songs.
The rescue of the melodies was his prime motivation. Baring-Gould believed that the melodies, particularly those in modal tuning, were more precious than the words, which he described as, often commonplace and could frequently be found on broadside ballad sheets.
A broadside is normally considered to be any subject material printed only on one side of a sheet. Song sheets were produced in increasing numbers from the sixteenth century onwards. There were usually two songs printed side by side on each sheet. The subjects were often topical: a murder, a disaster, a political scandal or national figures and events.
The song sheets were printed and passed to ballad sellers who hawked them around the streets and fairs singing or shouting the songs as they went. Keen to learn the latest song people eagerly bought the sheets for a small sum and picked up the tune by ear or fitted the words to an already known tune. This accounts for the same songs being found across wide areas, and for the variations in texts and tunes.
James Reeves, in his book, The Everlasting Circle, notes that a sense of urgency coupled with a genuine concern that this heritage of songs and music should be saved before it perished with the old singers, drove the Rev. Baring-Gould to write, as late as 1905:
Few counties of England have been worked. Sussex has been well explored by the late Rev. John Broadwood, and then by Miss Lucy Broadwood; Yorkshire, by Frank Kidson; Northumberland, by Dr. Collingwood Bruce and Mr. John Stokoe. Mr. Cecil Sharp is now engaged on Somersetshire, and Dr. Vaughan Williams on Essex. Who will undertake Lincolnshire, Dorset, Hampshire, and other counties?
As if in direct response to this appeal, two brothers, Henry and Robert Hammond, began collecting songs in 1905 in Dorset and simultaneously Dr. George B. Gardiner in Hampshire.
Gardiner and the Hammonds already knew each other, having previously collaborated earlier that year collecting songs in Somerset. But with Cecil Sharp covering Somerset so thoroughly, it was suggested by Lucy Broadwood, niece of Rev. John Broadwood and secretary of the Folk Song society, that they turn their attentions to Hampshire and Dorset.
Both Henry Hammond and George Gardiner submitted articles to the Folk Song Societys Journal detailing their collecting activities.
In the introduction to his article JFSS III (1909): 247-317, Gardiner refers to the modes in which the tunes were sung. About a third of the present selection are Major tunes, less than a third are Dorian, less than a fifth Æolian, and less than a sixth Mixolydian. The modal tunes were chiefly collected in the heart of the county in the district between the Basingstoke and the Alton lines of railway; the New Forest yeilded only two Dorian tunes. My musical colleagues inform me that most of the tunes they have noted are Major tunes. Hampshire would therefore appear to be less rich in modal tunes than the counties farther west.
In his notes for the 1974 LP Folk Songs from Hampshire (FT 2006), John Edgar Mann wrote:
How did Gardiner go about discovering his singers ? He simply asked anybody. "If I am driving to Micheldever or Lyndhurst. I tell the driver what l am doing, and ask him to name anyone who can sing an old-world song. If he cannot tell, I go to the blacksmith or the innkeeper, who know the neighbourhood as well as most men, and invariably I am received with the utmost civility. When I make my first visit I explain what l am doing and the kind of song I want, and when people really understand my object I find them not only willing but eager to help me." Sometimes, of course, the good doctor was misunderstood. "Are you travelling for the Gramophone Company?" and "Do you represent Novello and Co.?" were just two of the questions he was asked. Once he called on an old lady who was prepared for his visit. But someone else answered the door. When Gardiner spoke of old songs, he got the reply: "We don't want any. We have no money to give for old songs - we really don't require any today..." His letter (later re-published in the Journal of the Hampshire Field and Archaeological Society) was principally intended to interest readers in folksong and thus enlist their support in passing on the names and address of would-be informants. We do not know what response he received, but it is a fact that Gardiner managed to collect at least 1,460 songs. After his death his notebooks and those of his associates came into the possession of the Folk Song Society and it is from these manuscripts and, those of the Hammond Brothers that Frank Purslow prepared three excellent collections, published by the English Folk Dance and Song Society- "Marrow Bones," "The Wanton Seed" and "The Constant Lovers," source books of the repertoire of many folk club singers.
Gardiner's associates, referred to above, included two church organists, Charles Gamblin (1834-1921) of St.Cross, Winchester, and C. F. Guyer of Southampton, and the composer H. Balfour Gardiner (no relation). The latter lived at Sutton Scotney and it was he who promised to note down tunes when Gardiner first began his labours. And in one month - June, 1905 - they collected 60 songs in Twyford, Cheriton, Hursley, Ropley, and Itchen Abbas. Then haymaking started, and the workers were too tired or too busy to sing! The following year, this time assisted by Gamblin and Guyer, the collector began again. The organists, however, did not usually accompany him on his expeditions. Armed with his notebooks they normally returned to the singers to take down the tunes. Cecil Sharp refers in his writings to the immediate importance of collecting; he called that lazy, golden decade before the holocaust of the First World War as "the eleventh hour." Gardiner knew it and was from time to time reminded of it. In January, 1909, Gamblin was taking down tunes to songs collected by Gardiner the previous September. Sometimes it was too late, and two sad words, "singer gone," had to be added-to Gardiner's text...
Even in those far off days, 70 years ago, the aged had the greater number of songs, for the oral tradition was already dying and most of their sons and grandsons were more familiar, or at least more interested in, the songs of Marie Lloyd and her colleagues. So naturally Gardiner found "goldmines" in the workhouses. At one such establishment an old lady hid beneath the bedclothes when called on to sing; but the good doctor fortified her with peppermints and reassurances, and she "sang for her supper" (the Hampshire Observer," now merged with its rival weekly, the "Chronicle", later wrote of Gardiner's relationship with his singers, of "his little acts of kindness in monetary gifts and gifts in kind" which "won him heaps of friends among the people of our poor houses").
After reading John's notes above, Bob Askew emailed 26.07.09:
I don't think Gamblin was collecting in 1909. This was probably Guyer revisiting singers, or possibly going to singers that Gamblin was previously supposed to collect from. It is possible that Gamblin lost his powers and became rather senile at this time. This would explain a delay in collecting, before getting Guyer to do it.
Gardiner certainly seemed to get on well with his singers. He loved to sing the songs himself, and we can imagine him swapping songs with the locals.
The late Malcolm Douglas, who worked on the re-issued Marrow Bones, often contributed to the discussion groups on Mudcat.org. Here is a reply he wrote to thread about the morality of collecting. link
Subject: RE: morality of collecting From: Malcolm Douglas Date: 29 May 07 - 03:58 PM
"The major early 20th century song collectors paid their informants for their time, in cash or in kind (not infrequently including alcohol and a nice dinner) or, indeed, in both. As a rule, this was a private matter between collector and singer, but surviving correspondence can sometimes provide details. Of course, there were a lot of people who just picked up the odd song here and there; whatever arrangement they had will have depended on their relationship with the singer.
They weren't 'buying' the songs, but paying the singers for their time and trouble. In cases where the songs were published, this was typically done at a loss. Published versions were frequently edited, collated and arranged for accompaniment, and the editor was entitled to copyright in the resulting version. In practice this was rarely insisted upon, though normal courtesy demanded that permission be obtained for commercial use. On one occasion, Sharp declined permission (he wasn't happy about the proposed use) and was roundly criticized by the gentleman concerned for asserting proprietory rights over a traditional song. Sharp pointed out that only that particular form was at issue; all the fellow had to do was go out and spend his own time and money collecting one of his own; from the same singer if he liked.
Towards the end of his life, Sharp actually started to make a modest profit from publishing, but he was very unusual in this. George Gardiner not only paid his singers, but the collaborators who took down the tunes for him; and the only 'commercial' selection he published had piano arrangements commissioned from the young Gustav Holst. No cash profit there.
That was a century ago. I don't know what precise arrangements might pertain nowadays, but I can tell you that folk music books rarely achieve large sales and make only modest profits; and that small publishers typically pay royalties as a percentage of net, not gross, receipts. If you edit a book for somebody, then (if you haven't actually done it for nothing) you will either get a fee at the time or a royalty on sales; not both."
That, of course, tells you nothing about what arrangements might exist for payments to living source singers/musicians or the heirs of deceased ones in the case of material provided by them and included in new collections. It is necessary to obtain formal permission for the use of material, but I don't think there's any hard and fast rule beyond that. Each case is likely to be different. Note that I'm talking only about print here; different rules apply in sound recordings.
Map of Hampshire dating from around 1900.
This map shows the boundary as it was before the 1974 local government boundary changes which at that time included Bournemouth and Christchurch (now in Dorset). The villages and hamlets Gardiner visited can easily be traced along with the railway branch lines that served them. There are references to train timetables amongst his notes.
The map does not show the Meon Valley Line (LSWR) which ran between Fareham and Alton. The line was opened in 1903 and followed the course of the River Meon, with stations at Wickham, Droxford, West Meon, Privett, East Tisted, Farringdon. Gardiner collected songs in Upper Farringdon and there are a lot of other Meon Valley names and places mentioned at the end of one of his notebooks.
The map can be viewed here.
The railways belong chiefly to the London and South-Western system. A trunk line from London enters the county on the north-east at Farnborough, passing by Basingstoke and Winchester to Southampton. The South Coast line extends out of Sussex to Portsmouth. A branch of the South-Western line extends from Gosport to Salisbury, crossing the main line at Bishopstoke. The Southampton and Dorchester line throws off branches to Lymington, Christchurch, and Bournemouth. There is also a line from Redbridge to Andover, and from Basingstoke to Salisbury. One from Ash and Farnham to Winchester passes by Alton, and there is another from Southampton to Netley, and from Bishop's Waltham to Petersfield. Porchester is intersected by a line from Havant to Fareham. The direct Portsmouth railway from London runs by Guildford, Haslemere, Petersfield, and Havant. A branch from Reading to Basingstoke connects the Great Western system with the South-Western. The South-Eastern line from Guildford viâ Ash to Reading passes Farnborough and Blackwater. The Midland and South-Western Junction railway runs from Andover Junction to Swindon in Wiltshire, and thus gives communication from north to south.
According to the census returns issued in 1893, the chief occupations of the people of the county were:Professional, 35,835 males and 9003 females; domestic, 4123 males and 50,331 females; commercial, 27,381 males and 548 females; agricultural, 37,312 males and 750 females; fishing, 605 males and 75 females; industrial, 91,318 males and 23,096 females; and "unoccupied," including retired business men, pensioners, those living on their own means, and others not specified, 47,355 males and 183,508 females; or a total in the county of 243,929 males and 267,311 females. The number of men employed in the leading industries was as follows:Agricultural labourers, 19,137; general labourers, 16,719 ; carpenters and joiners, 6396; seamen, 5253; and farmers, 2926. The chief occupations of women weredomestic service, with a total of 40,015; millinery and dressmaking, 11,033. There were also in the county 549 blind persons, 539 deaf, 233 deaf and dumb, and 2346 mentally deranged.
Census and railways information transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5.
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