Traditional and contemporary folk from the British Isles

The Voice Of The People

THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
THE TRADITIONAL MUSIC OF ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND & WALES

The first TWENTY volumes : TSCD651-670

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“My favourite sit-down-and-listen records”
Norma Waterson

This series makes available nearly 500 recordings of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh traditional music drawn from the archives of Topic Records and from private collections.

Compiled as thematic anthologies, each volume stands on its own, but the series as a whole presents an extensive and varied picture of traditional singing, instrumental music-making and dancing throughout the course of the 20th century. Many of the singers and musicians and their recorded performances presented here are classic, but the inclusion of some less well-known performers and genres broadens the horizon by offering glimpses at some little-known nooks and crannies of traditional music-making. This is the home-spun art and entertainment that enriched the lives of working people in pubs and cottages, in social clubs and village halls and on the street, and was made, in the words of one of the musicians in the series, “by people with dirt under their finger nails.”

Society has moved on, but the artistry of these singers and musicians and the emotional impact of their performances are timeless. The timbres and textures of the language and musical expression, the performance skills and techniques, the social values contained in both the material and the performers’ life stories, and the subtleties of meaning in the song texts could easily be lost sight of forever. The cultural voices of these farm workers and men on the buildings, the housewives, the shepherds and cowmen, the gardeners and estate workers, the miners and trawlermen, the dealers in scrap, the country policeman and the village postman, the chambermaid and the hospital nurse are therefore worthy of serious and prolonged attention. Their singing and music-making have made a striking and significant contribution to the cultural roots of these islands.

Best known as a dance musician, Reg Hall is a visiting research fellow at the University of Sussex and, in compiling and annotating this series, he has called on the experience of a long, personal involvement with traditional music-making and an academic historian’s view of its history and social context. His commentary pays tribute to the pioneer pen-and-paper folk-song-collectors of the Edwardian era and to those professionals in the early post-war years equipped with tape recorders. The 1960s and 1970s saw the rise of a small number of enthusiasts, both professional and amateur, who recorded traditional music and broke new ground in discovery and evaluation, and this series owes a great deal to their creative efforts and co-operation.

Ever a critic of the concepts of ‘folk-song’ and ‘folk-dance’, Reg Hall challenges the ground rules of both movements and directs the emphasis in this presentation towards the lives of the performers and the communities and circumstances in which they performed. The songs and dance music had meaning and purpose for the singers and musicians, and the exploration of those realities, as far as we are able to understand them, is far more exciting than perpetuating the myths.

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