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The Folk Handbook: Working with Songs from the English Tradition (English Folk Dance/Song Societ) Spiral-bound – 31 Mar 2007


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Product details

  • Spiral-bound: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; Spi Har/Co edition (31 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879309016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879309015
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 3.1 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Created in association with the English Folk Dance And Song Society, the world authority on English-language folk music for more than a century.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 63 people found the following review helpful By the new strummer on 22 Oct 2010
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
I had to make my own index so thought I would share it with y'all, sorry the cuttin' and a pastin' has left a squiffy format. The number in brackets is the track number on the enclosed CD which is hugely enjoyable if you like unpretentious unaccompanied singing. Alternative titles are given in brackets below.

ps the companion website for this book is at [...]where there are MIDI files of the tunes of all the songs.

Songs of Death

Death and the Lady 70
The Death of Queen Jane 72
Geordie 74
George Collins 76
Rosin the Beau 78
The Trees They Do Grow High 80
The Unfortunate Rake 82
The Unquiet Grave (Cold Blows The Wind) 86
What is the Life of a Man?
Read more ›
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Pismotality on 4 Oct 2007
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
For educational purposes this is superb: concise articles explaining aspects of folk singing and the folk revival in America and Britain; songs arranged thematically; endorsements by Shirley Collins and Martin Carthy; a CD of recent-ish field recordings and an accompanying website with many riches, including MIDI files for all the tunes in the book, plus PDF files for errata, a forum for user comments and lots of useful links.

The only mild niggle, as a newspaper review has already pointed out, are that the lack of an index of song titles/first lines makes speedy cross referencing difficult, if this is intended as an educational resource - ie checking what you already have on CD if you're trying to build a library of recordings for students is more bothersome than it might be (though a selection of recordings are handily listed alongside the excellent notes which accompany each song). And fourteen field recordings (not the twenty indicated above) isn't overly generous (though a CD of more varied versions of some the book's songs, Old Wine, New Skins, will be available separately in a few weeks so that will help).

But this is carping: the key thing is that this book offers clarity and concision in guiding the novice through a minefield of information. Don't throw away the big Peter Kennedy book, as it is far more comprehensive, but point students here first.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sturgess TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Mar 2009
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
If you're interested in both the origins and development of English folk music, together with an interest in past and present performers, then this book is a very affordable purchase. Unusually, it is spiral bound inside a really strong hard cover. The songs are a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar, which is always a good idea. The songs are also collected into various themes, which is another good idea.

The CD contains a small number of original recordings and there is a reference to a website from where you can access a set of midifiles .... but that website is now offline. However, if you look at the comments that follow this review, you'll see that the midifiles are now available again from a new website.

For anyone with an interest in folk music - especially melody lines and associated historical information, I also recommend that you look for the website of 'The Contemplator'. (Use that in your search engine)

-------------------- UPDATE 2013 -------------------

I recently found a VERY interesting collection of unusual English folksongs which is well worth checking out. There are also two CD's by the authors. I've reviewed the book and uploaded some photos to illustrate the contents.

THE BOOK

The English Folksinger: 159 modern and traditional folksongs

THE CDs

Staverton Bridge

Invitation to North America, The New World Seen Through English Folk Song
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. G. Hawkes on 13 Oct 2013
Format: Spiral-bound
Don't be fooled by the cover photos of Martin Carthy and Kate Rusby (resplendent with guitar in hand) this book is as anti guitar as the most finger in ear singer of the 70s. No tabs , no discussion of guitar technique and no quarter given to the demon instrument. Even Carthy's hypocritical contribution to the book (a section on working with folk song) has him stating that he "tends to avoid chords" and that the best instrument for accompanying this stuff is the fiddle - even though he chooses a photo of himself clearly playing a chord using a capo and singing with guitar !! A bit rich . Guitarists have made a significant contribution to the survival of the folk song and deserve better - but this book has notation only , small snippets at that , and despite a few entertaining and well researched articles on folk is simply another example of the English Folk Dance and Song Societies tunnel vision and rejection of guitars AND guitarists . If you read music and transcribe to your fretboard this is for you if you are a serious guitarist wanting to explore folk though don't be sucked in to parting with your cash and Mr Carthy - you were a guitarist once shame on you ! Dave Hawkes
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