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Five-time in English traditional song.

In this paper we explore the history of the emergence of five-time in collected examples of English traditional song and explore the controversy that they engendered in the twentieth century. We define our research questions through this historical enquiry and we try to settle the controversy that emerged. Early in the essay we give a brief account of the place of five-time within the Western classical music tradition in order to create some understanding of the situation in which the idea of five-time in English folk song emerged.

The key research question that the essay addresses is whether five-time is an imposition on the material gathered by collectors (a kind of fiction) or an observable phenomenon in the pofirrnance of English traditional song: was it a reality or some kind of misconception? An answer is attempted through careful listening to a selection of post-1945 recordings of traditional singers, represented as transcriptions.

It is not our ambition to give a comprehensive account of the phenomenon of five-time (or other irregular metres) in English vernacular song, but rather the more modest aim of settling the historical controversy concerning the veracity of five-time in that song tradition. We come to the clear, if qualified, conclusion that a small proportion of songs collected have a five-time base. We are very aware that more research on aspects of this topic is possible and our hope is that the article opens up discussion of an area that has suffered from relative neglect in the past.

When Cecil Sharp published the song 'Searching for Lambs' in his 1916 compilation One Hundred English Folksongs, he remarked: 'Taking words and tune together, I consider this to be a very perfect example of a folksong.' (1) He commented on the song's modal ambiguity--'lacking the sixth of the scale'--but said nothing of its five-four rhythm (Figure 1). It is notable that Sharp's 'perfect example' is in a time signature that many commentators have found at least curious or amusing, and some deeply problematic. It is also to be noticed that five-time has been taken up enthusiastically by some post-1945 folk song revivalists: for example, A. L. Lloyd, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, and Chris Wood. (2) We will return to 'Searching for Lambs' later.

The history of musical utterances on five-time has not always been as uncontroversial as Sharp's lack of comment might suggest. We commence with a brief look at the use of, and attitudes to, five-time in Western art music, as this is the context into which examples of five-time in English traditional song emerged. Commenting on a brief use of five-time by Handel in the final scene of the second act of the opera Orlando, the eighteenth-century music historian and critic Charles Burney wrote: 'The whole last scene of this act, which paints the madness of Orlando, in accompanied recitatives and airs in various measures, is admirable. Handel has endeavoured to describe the hero's perturbation of intellect by fragments of symphony in 5/8, a division of time which can only be borne in such a situation.' (3)

Burney could tolerate five-time only in circumstances where the music represents madness and perturbation. Burney was an opinion-maker, but, evidence suggests, he may have been reflecting a widespread contemporary view. Although a few earlier examples of five-time can be cited, it is instructive that songbooks of the period between the Commonwealth and the Great Exhibition--a voluminous literature--show no interest in five-time as an ingredient in the making of popular songs, nor do we find much use of it in chamber and orchestral music during the period. There are a very few notable and rare exceptions, but these tend to draw attention to themselves as oddities and are often commented on as such. One example is the theatre composer William Reeve's Gypsy's Glee of 1796 ('sung with the greatest applause by Mrs. Henley, Master Woodham, Mr. Linton, Mr. Gray, &c. at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in the entertainment of Harlequin & Oberon'). (4) Here, five-time is dearly meant to represent the otherness and exotic quality of the gypsies. Around the same time the North-East-born composer William Shield produced trios with five-time movements. He commented: 'The movements which are written in the uncommon time of 5/4 have amused some of the most distinguished professors, both in England and Italy, which induces the author to hope that they will not be disagreeable to the public at large.' (5) Evidently Shield was testing the water with these unusual offerings.

Interest in five-time grew during the nineteenth century, partly as a result of musical nationalism and the growth of interest in different forms of indigenous musics. We could almost say that it forced itself upon art music composers' attention because of its presence in musics that were seen as possible bases For national musical styles. Notable here are works by the French composer Charles Valentin Alkan, dating from the second quarter of the nineteenth century, who took some of his influences from Basque music, combining the idea of complex rhythms with pianistic experimentation and the extension of technique. (6) The English composer Michael Balfe tried five-time in the 1860s, but puzzled some of his audience: 'A curious effect is produced in a portion of the sonata, by the use of five-four time (five crotchets to a bar), which conveys, somehow, the impression of alternate three-four and two-four time.' (7) The writer is technically correct, but it is to be noted that the effect is considered 'curious'. Both Chopin and Wagner made use of five-time, but probably its most significant use in the nineteenth century was by Tchaikovsky in the second movement of his Symphony No. 6 in B minor. Thereafter there was something of a feeling that five-time had been 'done' by a master and that lesser mortals ought to avoid it.

The latter part of the nineteenth century witnessed a developing awareness that five-time was used in many different parts of the world. In a fascinating series of letters in the Musical News in 1891, readers exchanged information on five-time. The correspondence was started by C. F. Abdy Williams. (8) Contributors noted that five-time music could be heard among the Basques, in Scandinavian and Finnish folk songs, and in Turkish and West African music. (9) Slightly later, a significant writer, Edward Sapir (later famous as an anthropologist of language), would add Native American music to the growing list. (10) Writing in 1909, Williams gives a contemporary feel for the appreciation and use of five-time:

  Quintuple time was much in favour with the ancient Greeks, and is
  found in the folk-songs of the Finns, Turks, Negroes, Basques, and in
  Bavarian and Bohemian dances. It can therefore hardly be said to be
  an unnatural kind of rhythm; in fact it was, perhaps, too much
  connected with the people's music to find favour when our classical
  instrumental music began to rise. Whatever the cause, quintuple
  rhythm is so rare with us that it is not familiar to the musical
  public, or even to musicians, and it is therefore apt to be looked
  upon as something of an eccentricity. (11)

In 1911, Williams was able to make the positive declaration that 'there are evidences that this beautiful form of rhythm is again coming into vogue'. (12) Williams was right in that many more art music composers experimented with five-time in the twentieth century than had previously been the case.

The use and endorsement of five-time, however, did not prevent it from being viewed in a suspicious light. In 1893, the eminent professor of music Ebenezer Prout had warned composition students off both five-time and seven-time, baldly stating: 'It will seldom, if ever, be advisable for the student to experiment with quintuple or septuple time.' (13) In 1918, an American composer, T Carl Whitmer, expressed some frustration over the reception of pieces that made use of five-time: 'If, perchance, we write in quintuple time we are asked whether duple time is not more natural and we are informed that our work is the result of a mental attitude. If we are simple in our outpourings we are using over again the things which have already been said simply, and are told the age is a complex one.' (14) After the First World War, a number of commentators saw the use of five-time as pretentious. A jokey article of 1930 could advise composition students to be circumspect in its use: 'Quintuple time should be rarely used; having been used by Tchaikovsky, it is now vieux jeu.' (15)

Old game or not, many twentieth-century art music composers experimented with the possibilities of five-time, notable examples including Holst, Bartok, and Prokofiev. Writing in 1926, music critic and folk music enthusiast Frank Howes explored the musical qualities of five-time. (16) Yet, despite occasional enthusiasm for the metre, the idea persisted that five-time is peculiar, even aberrant. In the authoritative New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, David Hiley asserts, 'Its irregularity has made it an oddity in Western music', but adds that its 'common occurrence in folk music (especially east European) was responsible for its more frequent appearance in the works of early 20th-century composers who drew on elements of folk music style. The decline of the use of regular metre has made the occurrence of bars of quintuple time unremarkable in later music.' (17)

Five-time was generally perceived as producing a 'curious effect', as being an 'eccentricity' or 'oddity', as being unnatural and not advisable for use by aspiring composers. It is in this context and intellectual climate that we have to assess the impact of the publication of traditional songs notated in five-time during the early decades of the twentieth century.

Five-Time, Transcription, and the English Folk Song Collectors

Frank Howes's awareness of five-time may have come about partly because of his interest in English folk music, yet awareness of five-time in English folk music had been relatively slow to develop. None of the pioneering published collections of the 1880s and 1890s contain any tunes in five-time (Table 1).

Table 1

Percentages of different time signatures in 435
tunes from five late nineteenth-century folk
song collections. (18)

Time signature                Number of tunes   Percentage

common six-eight                          146           34

six-eight                                 130           30

three-four                                 80           18

two-four (cut-common time)                 46           11

others (five categories)                   33            8

Totals                                    435          100

In these collections, four-four, six-eight, and three-four time signatures account for just over 80 per cent of the tunes represented.

It was only after the formation of the Folk-Song Society in 1898 that awareness of five-time in traditional song started to develop. The publication of a group of songs collected in Somerset by Cecil Sharp in the 1906 Journal of the Folk-Song Society established the presence of the time signature in the repertory; (19) although earlier issues of JFSS had documented some of the rhythmic irregularity of English folk song. (20) In 1906, for example, Sharp presented no fewer than four versions of the ballad 'Barbara Ellen', three of them predominantly in five-time, the other in a compound of two-two and three-two. (21)

The previous year, Sharp had talked about irregular rhythms in an interview in the Musical Herald:

  'Are the measures irregular sometimes?'
  'Yes. That seems to be peculiar to folk-song everywhere.
  Five-four time is a favourite metre, and it fits some songs
  very beautifully. I have some fine examples of genuine
  five-time. You know that it is only alternate two and
  three rhythm. "Barbara Allen" I always get sung to five-time. It
  is not a variation of six-eight time; the notes are perfectly
  regular. I tap the rhythm with my pencil to be quite sure.' (22)

There is no evidence to doubt that Sharp was a skilful fieldworker and transcriber. We note his enthusiastic characterization of five-time as 'a favourite metre', and his rather careless use of the word 'everywhere'. His analysis of the 'alternate two and three rhythm' follows contemporary music theory. For example, Ebenezer Prout had written in the 1890s that quintuple and septuple time 'are really irregular compound times, the former being a combination of alternate bars of triple and duple, and the latter of triple and quadruple time. Both are rare, but quintuple time is much the less rare of the two.' (23)

In English Folk-Song: Some Conclusions, Sharp elaborates his thoughts about five-time and gives some examples: 'Five-time is a very common measure in English folk-melodies. Certain songs, e.g., "The Bold Fisherman" and "Barbara Ellen", are always sung in 5-time by Somerset singers; very frequently, "Lord Bateman" also.' (24) Sharp recognizes that he may be observing the movement from one time base to another, when he adds: 'In the latter song, the 5-measure may be a variation of 3-2, due to the impatience of the singer in omitting one of the beats of each of the dotted minims.' Again we note the enthusiasm: five-time is said to be 'very common' in the repertory. A page earlier, Sharp has informed us: 'In 5-time tunes, the pause between the second and third phrases is nearly always robbed of one or two beats.' (25) So five-time need not necessarily be a succession of five-four bars, but may include a shortened bar in the middle without losing its characteristic. In his summary of the chapter on 'Rhythmical Forms and Melodic Figures', Sharp goes so far as to finish his list of characteristics with 'Prevalence of five and seven time-measures in folk-airs'. (26)

But Sharp has yet more to say on the subject. After a discussion of seven-time (which he found only once, in the song 'Riding Down to Portsmouth') he writes: 'It may, perhaps, be said that tunes in 5-time and 7-time, and irregular tunes like 'Cold Blows the Wind' [...] are found more frequently in English folk-music than elsewhere.' (27) Why should this be? and on what evidence does Sharp base this 'conclusion'? He is not specific, but we can infer that it is based on his knowledge of older collections of mainly Scottish and Irish material--and, crucially, five-time stands revealed because of the superiority of the collecting methods of Sharp and his colleagues: 'But this may be only because English folk-tunes, owing to their collection in more recent times, have been taken down with great care, and have, consequently, suffered but little From editings and "improvements".'

At this period, ideas of the difference between folk song and art song were explored in an interesting and insightful way by the singer Harry Plunket Greene. As a concert performer personally connected to some of the main movers of the English and Irish folk song movements, his comments are worth quoting because they probably reflect wider views within the folk music revival. Greene tried hard to understand some of the material he chose to perform and to negotiate his own position as a trained singer and performer of material from both countries. Ultimately, he admits failure--or rather, he admits that the performance of folk song by the trained singer is an act of re-presentation that can never fully recapture the quality of the original. Of the 'traditional' performer he writes:

  The singer may, in short, give himself a free hand, break
  every rule and just sing; and yet he has a rhythm of his
  own so strong that it sets the heart of the trained singer
  leaping, so subtle that it defies imitation--wholly
  fascinating, wholly unlearnable. It is Nature as opposed
  to Art. No man who has not got it in his blood, and who
  has not lived with it in his youth, can ever acquire it.
  The further he travels along the road of his art, the
  further he leaves that astounding sense behind. (28)

Greene represents learning and culture as necessary loss, a familiar romantic trope. He clearly articulates notions of folk song's difference, whereby culture comes to be equated with breeding, with art rather than nature:

  Unaccompanied folk-song singing is one of the most remarkable things
  in music. It breaks every rule of the art. It is the most ad libitum
  type of performance it is possible to imagine. The true singer of the
  people is born not made. He will drop an obvious beat here and put it
  in there. He will hold back a phrase to superimpose an ornament (this
  applies far more to Ireland, where ornament is used with an Oriental
  freedom, rather than to England where it is rare). He will dwell upon
  unaccented notes in unaccountable places. He may so juggle with the
  time that it may be impossible to give it a time-s1gnature. (29)

Greene attempts to understand some of the rhythmic quality of traditional song, and hovers between notions of deformation and creativity:

  There can be little doubt that many of the unaccountable changes of
  time in folk-songs--the interpolation of a 9/8 bar in a 6/8 song, or
  a 5/4 bar into a 4/4 song or vice versa--were due to some physical
  difficulty in phrasing on the part of some exponent, past or present,
  most properly noted down by the present-day collector. They have
  either put in an extra bear when singing unaccompanied--as the true
  folk-song does--to give themselves time to breathe or to emphasise a
  certain syllable; or have left out a beat that was not syllabically
  provided for, thereby in either case altering the structure in a way
  that at once becomes remarkable when the song is given an
  accompaniment. (30)

We note Greene's respect for 'the present-day collector[s]' (we are sure he has Sharp in mind, he goes on to give an example from Sharp's work) and his belief in the accuracy of their transcriptions.

Sharp held to a view that he was engaged in 'scientific' collecting, thus revealing the 'truth' of Folk song--crucially, its difference from theatre and art song. Along with modality, rhythmic intricacy and irregularity were important characteristics that set folk music at a difference from art music. Distinctiveness was important to Sharp, for not only did he want to use the products of his and others' collecting in educational settings, but he felt that folk music could Form a basis for the development of a national school of composition which would mean that the English composer would no longer have 'to lisp in the tongue of the foreigner'. (31) The value of folk music lay in what it brought that was different and yet was also rooted and national, and therefore, he argued, rejuvenating to the cultural mix. Sharp asserted that 'the sudden and unexpected discovery of an immense mass of melody, not only rich in emotion, but possessing withal a distinctive and national flavour cannot fail to produce some effect upon the musical life of England'. (32)

In proclaiming the significance of five-time in English traditional song, Sharp set off a low-level controversy that rumble on over the century. After Sharp's 'discovery' of five-time, other collectors published melodies with that rhythmic characteristic. A review in the Musical Times in 1917 off FSS, no. 20, casts doubt on the collector's interpretation in the transcription of some pieces: 'As usual, there are a number of songs noted as in quintuple time. Of these, "The Bold Lieutenant" is perhaps the most certainly in this rhythm [...] In some other tunes, such as "Lord Marlborough", noted by Mr. H. E. D. Hammond, it would seem at least probable that the singer's natural pauses have misled the collector, and that the songs should have been in common time, though sung with justifiable freedom' (Figure 2). (33) The criticism, although specifically naming Hammond, is equally aimed at Sharp, who contributed a related five-time version of the same song to the same issue of the journal.

We have little insight into the interpersonal discussions that took place over such matters, but the issue was a live one and surfaces in the literature from time to time. In his preface to E. J. Moeran's 1924 collection Six Folk-Songs from No7folk, his friend Philip Heseltine (Teter Warlock') commented on songs that were 'perfect specimens of the English tradition in its purest and most beautiful form', such as "Down by the River-side", one of the most natural 5/4 tunes imaginable (incidentally 5/4 is quite a favourite measure in Norfolk, and any suspicion of its being a possible distortion of triple or quadruple time is dispelled by the decisive thump with which mugs come down on the table or boots on the floor to mark the rhythm)'. (34) Heseltine was evidently responding to criticisms that cast suspicion on the ability of collectors to notate accurately, in this case backing his point up by first-hand ethnographic observation. If the rhythm of five-time was marked by participants in the singing session, then clearly it was meant. Moeran and his friends were unusual (though not unique) among collectors of the time in that they took delight in attending pub singing sessions, and so Hesletine's comments have credibility. (35)

The diminution of interest in folk song after the 1920s--characterized by many younger composers' dismissal of folk music as a source of material and inspiration, and epitomized in the label 'cowpat music', attributed to the composer Elizabeth Lutyens, (36) used to describe folk music-based compositions--and the sect-like isolationism of Sharp's followers, could have spelled the end of the matter. (37) However, the revival of interest after the Second World War meant that the issue of five-time arose again.

In 1968, Frank Purslow published an informative article on the Hammond brothers' folk song collection, to which was appended a selection of songs from the manuscripts. (38) One of these is entitled 'Sailor's Song' and is set in straight five-time (without any bars of a different length). Purslow observes: As Hammond points out, the tune is a variant of "The Rambling Comber" in Folk Songs from Dorset, which is also in 5/4 time [...] In this case, and also with "The Rambling Comber", I feel that the use of the 5/4 rhythm is idiosyncratic, probably originally in the case of one singer, but later copied by others. I am certain that the tune was originally in common time.' (39) He does not provide any evidence for this certainty.

At that time, FMJ allowed members of the editorial board to comment on any of the pieces it published (a practice it had maintained since the days of the Folk-Song Society). Some of this interaction and pooling of knowledge makes for extremely interesting reading. In this case, after an innocuous comment from Frank Howes (mainly querying the pitch of the piece), A. L. Lloyd came in with a savage response:

  I'm baffled by Mr. Purslow's point about the rhythm of this tune.
  Five-time is nothing odd; its presence in Europe was attested to more
  than two thousand years ago, and it is a commonplace of English song.
  The present variant moves comfortably and gracefully in the rhythm
  noted by Hammond. I wonder what grounds there are for being 'certain
  the tune was originally in common time'? Idiosyncratic? True, in the
  past some commentators felt that the 5/4 of folk song was an
  aberration, and that the singer was either performing an accidentally
  elongated common time or a breathless 6/4; but that was in the days
  when untempered intonation was considered 'out of tune'. With this
  tune anyway, five-four fits fine. (40)

Lloyd's reputation in folk music circles was riding high at this time. He had collaborated with the ageing Vaughan Williams on the classic Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (1959) and had not long since published his major work on the subject, Folk Song in England (1967), and he was generally considered to be an amiable and supportive scholar, notwithstanding his revolutionary politics (which either worried people or attracted them to the man). He had not been subject to the stringent criticisms that would later modify his reputation, (41) although some of the more conservative people around found his radicalism difficult, and critics grouped around the 1950s publication Ethnic had laid a (sometimes unrecognized) foundation for later criticisms. (42)

Lloyd asserts various things here. Five-time, he says, is 'nothing odd'; it is even (echoing Sharp) a 'commonplace'. In Folk Song in England, Lloyd wrote: 'five-time is common enough in English song [...] as a structural feature, and not merely as an effect of rubato'. (43) His reasons for rejecting Purslow's assertions are both external and internal. Five-time has been present in Europe for a long time (Lloyd is drawing here on his knowledge particularly of Eastern European music and his facility in languages, which gave him access to a great deal of material unknown to others). The song itself is said to provide evidence, as it moves 'comfortably and gracefully in the rhythm'. Frank Purslow is compared to people who, in the past, felt untempered intonation was 'out of tune'--in short, he was ignorant; he did not appreciate some of the special qualities of folk music. It seems clear to us that Lloyd is founding some of his criticism on Sharp's writings, and, like Sharp, is wanting to maintain a notion of folk song's independence from other genres.

To aid our understanding, it is important to think about the nature and status of transcription as practised by the late Victorian and Edwardian collectors. Direct pencil and paper field transcription was their characteristic method. It was a practice fraught with difficulty. In 1891, Frank Kidson had informed his readers that 'very great difficulty attends the notation of irregular old melodies from untutored singers'. (44) By the time Sharp and Vaughan Williams were starting their collecting in 1903, the Edison phonograph was becoming a practical alternative to the pencil and paper method. The advocacy of mechanical recording and reproduction by Percy Grainger stimulated a degree of debate between himself, Cecil Sharp, Annie Gilchrist, and other members of the Folk-Song Society, around 1908. Kidson gave an informed and intelligent assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of different collecting methods in the 1915 book English Folk-Song and Dance, stating that the phonograph 'at once suggested itself as a ready and accurate instrument for the work of notating traditional melody' but that there were nonetheless 'workers in folk-song who rather mistrust its claim to give the best results'. (45) Kidson found transcriptions taken from phonograph recordings 'generally complex and confusing', but referred readers to such transcriptions in JFSS. (46) He believed that 'mixed rhythms [...] can hardly belong to the original structure of the tune, but rather the method of singing it'--an interesting and problematic observation which seems to assume the existence of an original form of a melody, free from its interpretation as song.

Kidson was reflecting on an exchange that had taken place some years earlier. Grainger had stated: 'The gramophone and phonograph record admirably what our ears and systems of notation are too inaccurate and clumsy to take advantage of.' (47) Even Sharp had admitted: 'Subtleties of intonation can best be noted and studied on the phonograph.' (48) Nevertheless, Sharp preferred an impressionistic, aural method of notating the song directly from the singer on to paper. He particularly disliked the way the phonograph often disrupted the delicate negotiation between collector and informant. (49) In terms of the accuracy of the resulting transcriptions, Grainger was clear about his own use of the two methods: 'it is interesting and instructive to compare tunes noted down straight from the singers with notings down culled from many phonographic repetitions of the same songs. In my own case I must confess that such comparisons turn out sorely uncomplimentary to my recordings [i.e. notations] without the phonograph' (50) The transcriptions made with and without the machine look very different on the page, not just due to the 'through' quality of the phonograph transcriptions as opposed to the 'stanza with notable variations' of the pencil and paper method. Sharp went so far as to argue that 'it is not an exact, scientifically accurate memorandum that is wanted, so much as a faithful artistic record of what is actually heard by the ordinary auditor'; (51) science, it seems, could be conveniently overridden by the needs of art.

Grainger's phonograph transcriptions contain more information, more detail, more analysis than either his own direct aural transcriptions or those of other collectors. We have no doubt that C. J. Bearman is correct in concluding that Sharp's extensive collection would have been significantly smaller had he used the cumbersome and off-putting phonograph as a major method of collecting. (52) Crucially, however, we can compare Grainger's transcriptions with his audio recordings; we can assess the quality of his transcriptions. He was good--very good, though not perfect (we doubt perfection can exist in such an endeavour). No work has yet been done (to our knowledge) to assess how good a transcriber Sharp actually was, and until it is done--if the materials exist to enable it to be done--an important question mark has to remain over the quality of this aspect of Sharp's collection. We do not say this to cast doubts on Sharp's ability but merely to record the present state of our knowledge.

This is not the place to examine the whole debate over the use of sound recording by the Edwardian collectors, although we note with interest Bearman's recent reassessment of its significance. He makes a good case that some recent writers have overemphasized the significance of the disagreements over methods among members of the Folk-Song Society. (53) At the heart of the Edwardian collectors' difficulties with transcription lies their dual role as scientists and popularizers. They did not collect simply in order to record and classify, although they did genuinely aspire to (what they thought of as) scientific understanding. In addition, however, they wanted the items they collected to be reactivated as cultural artefacts, to provide material for their cultural agendas in education, art, and social well-being. (54) The collectors working in England notated ten thousand or so song tunes before 1920. In comparison, only a couple of hundred sound recordings have come down to us from the period, some of them in a very poor state, and they are mostly, although not exclusively, the work of Percy Grainger.

For the Edwardian collectors, the process of transcription and publication represented the fundamental way by which they could communicate folk songs to a new audience. For the connoisseurs, this could be in the 'naked' form of the single musical line of JFSS and its successor publications; or the songs could presented for a more general musical public in the form of the numerous arrangements for voice and piano, or other musical combinations, that were issued. Depending on the skill of the transcriber, what was produced was a more or less accurate representation (or perhaps re-presentation) of the performed song. It could never be the totality of the song itself (nor can an audio or a video recording), but it could be the basis for a new realization of the song in performance.

The individual songs combined into a body of material that had weight and substance. Many of the collectors felt they were doing something akin to exploration and discovery. Vaughan Williams declared that he had 'been among the more primitive people of England and have noted down their songs'. (55) Sharp celebrated the awakening consciousness of the 'belated harvest' of English folk song with a spatial metaphor--'the fresh prospects that have been brought into view'. (56) Each transcribed song was an abstraction, a representation of something that had existed in the moment of performance. Each contributed something to a sort of growing map of a previously unknown cultural England. Collectively, song transcriptions were evidence for a body of material that had existed traditionally and could exist again, albeit in a revived and changed form. For Sharp (and by implication for his friends), this growing body of material afforded 'incontrovertible evidence that, as a nation, we possess a natural and inherent musical faculty of no mean order'. (57) Collecting piled up evidence of inherent English musicality.

These important considerations render problematical the whole project of the Edwardian collectors, their methods, ideologies, and their overtly or covertly conflicting ideas. The evidence they have left us is not negated by its problematical nature, but we ignore its problems at our peril. This background gives a significant context for our investigation of five-time in English traditional song, which we can summarize in a few important interrelated questions:

* Is five-time 'commonplace', as has been claimed, in the repertories of traditional singers, or not? (This is a quantitative question that requires consideration of the notion of 'commonplace'.)

* Is five-time an illusion imposed by collectors on the material they obtained? (Is it a result of mediation, the imposition of the collectors' etic understanding?)

* Is five-time an aberration, or is it some sort of cultural norm within the singing tradition(s) investigated by the collectors? (Is it a type of corruption, or what we could term an emic form?) (58)

The second and third questions are to a degree logically exclusive, but we should not rule out the possibility of more than one process being at work. We think it is possible to advance beyond the present state of disagreement and, if not to determine conclusively all these issues, at least to inform the assertive slanging matches that have characterized past interventions on the subject. We intend to do this in two ways:

i. an examination of some examples of Edwardian five-time tune variants in order to say something about the characteristics they exhibit and to hypothesize on possible processes of transmission

ii. an examination of examples of some five-time and related tunes that have survived in sound-recorded performances of traditional singers made during the second half of the twentieth century; this aspect of the research will make use of careful listening aided by transcription from the sound recordings.

Having done this, we feel we will be in a position to draw some evidence-based conclusions, albeit of a tentative nature, about five-time in English traditional song.

Case Studies 1: Five-time in the work of Edwardian collectors

We consider here some examples of songs in five-time from the work of collectors active before the First World War. In particular, we take a comparative approach to particular song variants to see what information can be obtained or deduced from the examples.

(1) 'Barbara Allen' (Child 84; Roud 54)

'"Barbara Allen" I always get sung to five-time,' said Sharp of his Somerset collection. 'Barbara Allen' is an immensely popular song. Bertrand Bronson remarked that it has 'shown a stronger will-to-live than perhaps any other ballad in the canon'. (59) It has been popular since the seventeenth century and its popularity shows every sign of continuing. The Roud index produces over a thousand hits for the ballad (although some of these are duplications). Bronson includes about two hundred tune versions in The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads. Of these, around twenty, or approximately 10 per cent, are in five-time. Bronson, however, divides the tunes into four distinguishable groups, and it is in his group A that five-time tunes occur. Group A tunes he characterizes as 'major, heptatonic, and fairly equally divided between plagal and authentic examples. The tunes in this group are mainly English, and many variants lean to 5/4, especially Sharp's tunes from Somerset.' (60) The group contains thirty-nine tunes, of which fifteen are clearly in five-time, all of them collected by Sharp in south-west England. (61) Interestingly, all of the examples of five-time tunes in others of Bronson's groups were collected by either Sharp or Hammond. (62)

Although many of the tunes have in common a rise to the fifth degree of the scale, they nevertheless show marked differences, while maintaining their five-time character. If we compare two related versions of the tune, we see that the distance between some three-time and five-time tunes is not that great, particularly when we consider that they were generally sung unaccompanied (Figures 3a and 3b). In this comparison, the melodic contour remains quite close while the time base is in stark contrast.

The process of transition from one time base to another was considered long ago by Bruno Nettl, who argued that the rhythm of the 5/4 version (Figure 3b) was one of several possible variants of the rhythm of the 3/4 version (Figure 3a). (63) We can elaborate this point. The common underlying rhythmic pattern at the start of a lot of the 'Barbara Allen' tunes can be described as short, short, short, long, short, short, short, long (e.g. 'In Scarlet town--where I was born--'); we can call this the SSSLSSSL pattern. The 3/4 and 5/4 versions of this pattern make significant appearances among Bronson's 'Barbara Allen' tunes. This suggests that transformation between these two time bases was possible, and perhaps common. (64) We also notice that the SSSLSSSL pattern crops up in 6/8, 3/2, and 4/4 versions of 'Barbara Allen'. (65) It could reasonably be argued that what is happening here is that the basic SSSLSSSL pattern is being ascribed to a time base by a collector who hears it in a certain way; but it could equally be argued that different singers gave the pattern different emphases and interpretations. The final section of this essay, involving careful listening and transcription, may help to settle the question (see below).

The idea that such transformations are possible rests on the difficult to prove assumption that these time bases are 'naturalized' within the musical culture and that movement between them is part of the normal process of oral transmission. While we feel that this is hard to prove conclusively, the accumulation of examples of tunes that do seem to show such movement does strongly suggest that this is indeed the case. We will explore more examples to see what light they throw on the problems posed by five-time rhythm.

(2) 'A Jug of This' (Roud 1191)

This is a relatively rare song, collected in only three known versions in England, two of which are in five-time. (66) Mrs Russell's gapped minor tune (no sixth), imposing and striking, stands in marked contrast to Will Haines's rather plodding, scalic major tune which reiterates the tonic note in every bar but one. Nevertheless, both of these five-time versions have almost identical phrasing, which suggests that, however superficially dissimilar the two tunes appear, they could nonetheless be distant relatives (Figure 4a).

The third known version, collected by William Alexander Barrett, seems to bear no melodic relationship to the five-time versions (Figure 4b). However, the phrasing pauses in the same places as in the five-time versions, which may be no more than the logic of word setting, or could suggest that even here there is a distant link. Overall, we see a process of rhythmic but not melodic continuity in the two 5/4 runes, and melodic and rhythmic discontinuity with the version that Barratt collected.

(3) 'Searching for Lambs' (Roud. 1437) and its relatives

We encountered 'Searching for Lambs' at the start of this essay, Sharp's 'very perfect example of a folksong'. In a study of the tune family to which this version of this song belongs, Bronson, in a most useful and pioneering piece of work published in 1950, presented and discussed thirty-three tunes, all having melodic family resemblances. (67)

Some tunes show very marked melodic similarity to 'Searching for Lambs' and many of these, such as 'How Should I your True Love Know?', are set in simple time signatures (Figure 5). (68) In contrast, some other tunes in the family are complex compounds. 'The Man that Lives Is Born to Die' starts very like 'Searching for Lambs' and maintains expected pauses. Nevertheless, it lingers in interesting ways and finishes in a convincing six-time. Perhaps we are seeing here a tune in motion, moving between one time base and another, and indebted to other tunes (Figure 6). 'The Truth from Above' evinces a similar motion from five to six beats, and fascinatingly incorporates a phrase (the third line) in common with Mrs Russell's jug of This' tune, suggesting we are dealing with melodic commonplaces that can be reconfigured in various forms, or simply members of same tune family (Figure 7). (69)

For our purposes, Bronson's set of tunes points to the fact that five-time is a comparatively infrequent occurrence. Of the thirty-three family-related tunes, only three are clearly in five-time, while a few others show rhythmic complexity that might indicate five-time influence. Yet this is a tune family that has produced notable examples of five-time. The frequency of 3/4 and 6/4 signatures and the irregularity of some related tunes in Bronson's set suggest that the transition from these to five-time might be relatively easily achieved in oral tradition. The crucial question still remains: were the Edwardian collectors imposing a false order on inchoate musical material, or were they detecting intrinsic five-time rhythm in some of the material they collected?

Case Studies 2: Five-time in post-1945 recordings of traditional singers

In making descriptive transcriptions of post-1945 recordings we have found it helpful to think of three levels of depth (inspired in part by Ruth Crawford Seeger's notion of six stages of transcription). (70) These are as follows:

  Outline transcription--gives the 'bare bones' of a
  melody, illuminating its underlying rhythmic and
  melodic structure, simplifying some aspects of the

  Intermediate transcription--gives the melody and some
  selected or highlighted details of the performance.

  Detailed transcription--attempts to convey on paper
  as much as possible of the intricacies of the
  performance (this is the sort of thing attempted by
  Bartok, Grainger, and, sometimes, Vaughan Williams
  and Crawford Seeger).

Inevitably, the work of the 'paper and pencil' collectors is mostly outline transcription, sometimes straying into intermediate transcription. We would argue (with Grainger) that only with the use of sound recording is detailed transcription possible.

It is worth saying that transcription, once a basic procedure in folk song study and the wider ethnomusicological field, has suffered an intellectual retreat in recent years. Being seen as the imposition of an alien (literate) notation on an indigenous (oral) production, transcription can be seen as a sort of cultural imperialism--bringing into the conventionalities of Western art music, music that was not developed within those conventions. We have some sympathy with such views and readily concur with Crawford Seeger that 'it must be apparent what a small part of the original song and its manner of singing is represented to the reader in customary notation'. (71) Nevertheless, we believe that the act of transcription and the comparisons it enables can reveal information about musical conventions that may not be apparent to the ear alone. That said, transcription is in some ways like a sketch or a photograph: given the same object, no two graphic representations would be quite the same. Again, Crawford Seeger is helpful in this area: 'Each individual will have his or her own preferences in respect to what should be lost, modified or preserved. A transcriber is no exception, and consciously or unconsciously expresses his own preferences.' (72)

Like sketching, transcription can help us to focus on the musical object, can sometimes help us to hear or understand things we would not otherwise notice. Equally, a transcription can convey too much information for the purpose for which it is made (a look at transcriptions by Bartok or Grainger supports this point). It therefore seems reasonable to transcribe only certain elements of the performance--crucially, in this case, to decide on the 'reality' or fanciful quality of five-time. Where we have found suitable cases we have compared our post-1945 versions with examples gathered by Edwardian collectors. In terms of the typology given above we have produced intermediate transcriptions. It must be emphasized that the purpose of these transcriptions is to produce a record and interpretation of focused listening; it is the source performance that is of primary significance, not its representation. The emphasis here is on pitch and rhythm, and we have used straight lines to indicate pitch slides.

(1) 'Poor Old Weaver's Daughter' (Roud 1277)

George 'Pop' Maynard's version of 'The Poor Old Weaver's Daughter' (Figure 8) is one of only a few examples of the song gathered from oral tradition, although it crops up regularly enough on nineteenth-century broadsides. Five-time seems very clear and deliberate in this performance; the crotchet beat is strong and regular, although the pace is relatively slow at around 80 beats per minute (bpm). Notice that Maynard incorporates the shortened 'mid-point' bars that Sharp pointed out as typical of five-time tunes.

(2) 'Seamen Bold' ("The Ship in Distress') (Roud 807)

In Jim Copper's performance of 'Seamen Bold' or 'The Ship in Distress' (Figure 9) one is immediately struck by the remarkable quality of Copper's voice and, like the previous example, five-time seems very clear and deliberate in this performance, although some notes are held or paused. The crotchet beat is strong and regular though varying in the region of 110 bpm. We have pointed out some inherent problems in the exercise of transcription by notating the first stanza of this pair with pauses, and the second with strict counting and changing of bar lengths. These are simply different and, we would argue, equally valid and equally imperfect ways of representing the musical material. The underlying rhythm of Jim Copper's performance is a clearly articulated five-time interpreted with a flexibility that makes absolute musical sense.

The musicality of this song was of obvious interest to the Edwardian collector George Butterworth. On one page of his manuscripts Butterworth lays out four versions of the tune, three from Sussex and one from Shropshire (Figure 10). It is clear from Butterworth's work that the four tunes are very similar in underlying rhythmic structure, although modally they are different. (73) Tune 4 (Mr Locldey) is set in a major scale (Ionian mode), as is Jim Copper's; whereas tune 1 (Mr Ackhurst) could be described as major with an inflected upper seventh (or Mixolydian with sharpened lower seventh!). Tunes 2 and 3 (Mr Harwood and Mr Dearling) are both set in scales with minor thirds, and where the sixth note of the scale occurs it is as a major sixth, so the tunes could be described as Dorian. This page eloquently demonstrates the shifting nature of modality in English oral tradition (something Grainger emphasized), but for our present purposes what are striking are the congruencies between these notations of the song and the way it was performed by Jim Copper about half a century later. In particular, we note the very close similarities in the melodic contours and rhythmic qualities of all the versions. We think this sort of comparative evidence can strengthen our faith in the transcription skills of Butterworth certainly, and suggests that other collectors of the time were perhaps similarly skilled and perceptive. (74)

(3) 'Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping' (Rood 363)

We have given a full through-transcription of the whole ofTom Willett's performance of 'Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping' (Figure 11), which he rendered in a characteristic Traveller style. Once again, five-time is very clear and deliberate in this performance, the only exception being the start of verse 2 (bar 9), where variation breaks the rhythm, creating a bar in 4/4. Willett sings the song quite slowly at c.72 bpm but with ease and deliberation; there are no musical anomalies here.

George Maynard also had a five-time version of this song which has a number of features in common with Tom Willett's version. (75) There are Edwardian notations of this widespread song in 5/4, 3/4, 3/2, and irregular times. A version noted by Cecil Sharp from Robert Feast at Ely in 1911 is in five-time with the characteristic pivotal bar of four-time in the middle (Figure 12). It sets the words in a similar way to Tom Willett's version, and although the melodic contour is different, there is some similarity in that both tunes fall to the sub-mediant note at the end of the third line. Again, this comparison adds weight to the idea that Edwardian collectors were generally accurate in their transcriptions of traditional song.

(4) 'Her Servant Man' (Roud 539)

We do not want to suggest that five-time is a sort of mould into which tunes are poured and from which they emerge set. It is rather that five pulse is one of a range of rhythmic possibilities through which tunes can pass in oral tradition. Our last example can give some indication of just one set of these possibilities. The song 'Her Servant Man' ('Daughter in the Dungeon', also known as 'The Cruel Father and the Affectionate Lovers' and 'The Iron Door'), which Bob Copper collected from Mrs Gladys Stone in the 1950s, is complex and subtle (Figure 13). The song has been recovered from oral tradition, including other rhythmically complex versions, (76) and is on broadsides.

Gladys Stone's song is rhythmically complex but, except when varied, it is in a definite five pulse taken at a brisk pace of around 140 bpm. The 5/4 resolves into 4/4 at phrase endings. At the start of the third line there is breaking of the pulse which we have shown as a 7/4 bar (it could equally be expressed as a 3/4 bar followed by a 4/4 bar). Use is made of rubato, rallentando, and triplets to accommodate words, and yet in spite of this great rhythmic complexity the singing is relaxed and lyrical. It is a wonderfully understated yet very convincing performance.

Other versions of the song present a range of time signatures. The Sharp collection has a number of versions set in 3/2, and some transcriptions have it in 3/4. (77) Butterworth obtained five-rime versions in Sussex, including one from Mrs Cranston which is quite close to Mrs Stone's version but lacking the impressive second part of the tune. (78) He also obtained a version from George Knight of Horsham, mixing 5/4 and 6/4 bars. (79) The tune is distinct from Mrs Stone's at the outset but the ends of the lines show that it is clearly related to it.


Some people who have responded to our work have suggested that we should not be studying five-time but irregular rhythms more generally. We would respond that the historical controversy we have identified as the basis for this investigation centred around five-time. Our impression is that some form of five pulse is the most significant aspect of irregular rhythm in English traditional song, although we readily concede that it is not the only aspect of this subject that might be investigated. What we have shown in the section above is that careful listening to performances of traditional singers recorded since the Second World War (here represented by surrogates in the form of transcriptions) demonstrates that some singers, in some versions of songs, do perform with a distinct five pulse.

We can draw some tentative conclusions from this survey. Despite doubts expressed over a long period, a careful consideration of the evidence suggests that five-time is not an illusion imposed by collectors on the material they obtained. It is not an etic imposition. Careful listening to recordings of singers active after 1945 clearly reveals that some singers perform certain songs with a very natural-sounding five pulse. The quality of the singing does not suggest that these singers' use of five-time is an aberration or some form of musical incompetence. The consonance between older notated and more recent recorded versions of the same songs increases our confidence in the Edwardian collectors' work (with some due reservations!). Put more briefly, five-time is not an aberration; it is a cultural norm within the singing tradition(s) of the southern part of England. It is not a type of corruption; (80) it is rather an emic form which, it is likely, emerges in the process of oral transmission and thus became a norm for some songs and some singers.

That said, it seems clear that five-time is not 'commonplace' in the repertories of English traditional singers, not 'a favourite metre'--in the evidence we have it is relatively rare, notwithstanding the enthusiasm of Sharp and Lloyd. Some singers from whom collectors have taken substantial numbers of pieces have no five-time songs in their repertories, and many that do have only a few such pieces. Only three out of the thirty-three tunes of the 'Searching for Lambs' family considered by Bronson, and only three out of the sixty-five tunes in the performance repertory of the Copper family, are in clear five-time. Of the thirty-two songs on the George Maynard CD Down the Cherry Tree, two are clearly in five-time, and one other is irregular but with a strong five-time components. (81)

It would be pointless to try to compile statistics on the subject, but these examples give us some indication of the occurrence of five-time: it is present, but it is comparatively rare. It is also notable that the vast majority of five-time tunes have been collected in an area south of an imaginary line from the Humber to the Dee. Evidence of its existence in other English-speaking regions is sparse to non-existent. Finally, thinking of current revivalist performance and composition activity that takes some of its inspiration from traditional music, it is clear that five-time is a valid resource for those who wish to draw on the richness of English traditional song in their creative work.

Five-time is one of a number of musical features that distinguish English traditional song, as performed, from the popular and art musics of previous centuries. It is important that we look both for connections and for differences between traditional song and other forms such as art song and theatre song. An excess of emphasis on difference undermines our understanding of the ways in which traditional forms related to other literary and musical genres; an excess of emphasis on relatedness undermines our understanding of the ways in which traditional forms had their own distinct conventions and styles, irrespective of the origins of the material. It is in the exploration of this complex interplay of relatedness and difference that significant progress in understanding can be made.


The authors would like to thank the Research Committee of the School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University, for support for the research for this article.

An incomplete list of traditional songs with five-time tune
Title                         Roud  Variant titles

All You That Are to Mirth     2431  The Sinners Redemption

Barbara Allen                   54

Basket of Eggs                 377

Bold Fisherman                  291

Bold Lieutenant                396  The Lions Den

Bonny Blooming Highland Jane  2554

The Cruel Father and           539  Her Servant Man, Daughter in
Affectionate Lovers                 the Dungeon

Cruel Mother                     9

Died for Love                   60  There Is an Alehouse

Down in our Village           1113  The Shepherd Boy

Gamekeepers Lae Sleeping       363  Hares and Nan rations

Good Morning Mull              817

I Sowed Some Seeds             914  Hottess's Daughter

In Bruton Town                  18  A Famous Farmer

In Oxford City                 218  The Jealous Lover

Jack the Sailor               1454

A Jug of Dm                   1191  Ye Mar'ners All

The Lililc Room               2120

Locks and Bolts                406

Locks Bateman                   40

Lord Marlborough               233

Mary and William              1414

My Parents and I Could Never  2403

New York Trader                478

Poor Old Weaver's Daughter    1277

The Rambling Boy               490  Wild and Wicked Youth

Rambling Comber               1473

A Sailor by my Righi           568  Flame of Fire

Sailor Song                   1450

A Sailors Lire                 273  Sweet William

Searching for Lambs            576

Sheffield Park                 860  Castle Park. Yorkshire Park

The Ship in Distress           807  Seamen Bold

The Wreck of the Northfleet   1174

Ye Gentlemen of England        190  Bold Reynolds. Reynolds the
                                    Reynard the Fox


(1.) One Hundred English Folksongs, ed. by Cecil J. Sharp (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1916), p. xxxii.

(2.) There has long been a thought that Lloyd's interest in asymmetric rhythms related to his knowledge of and love for the musics of Eastern Europe (which certainly provide plentiful evidence for the idea of the 'normality' of such rhythmic structures).

(3.) Charles Burney, A General History of Music, 4 vols (London: printed for the author, 1776-89), iv, 364.

(4.) William Reeve, The Gypsies Glee (London: Muzio Clementi & Co., [1804?]). See also W. H. Plumstead, The Beauties of Melody (London: Dean and Munday, 1827), pp. 106-14; 'The Gyspies', British Minstrel, and Musical and Literary Miscellany, 2 (1844), 181-85. We owe these references to the kindness of Fynnian Tidord-Mock.

(5.) William Shield, Six Trios for Violin, Tenor and Violoncello, composed and inscribed to the memory of Jacob More, Esq. (London: Longman & Broderip, 1796). We owe this valuable reference to the kindness of Fynnian Titford-Mock.

(6.) William Alexander Eddie, Charles Valentin Alkan: His Life and his Music (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), p. 12.

(7.) 'Saturday Popular Concerts', Musical Standard, 16 (no. 765) (29 March 1879), 191-92 (p. 191).

(8.) Musical News, 1.6 (10 April 1891), 119.

(9.) Musical News, 1.15 (12 June 1891), 310-11; Musical News, 1.11 (15 May 1891), 226.

(10.) Edward Sapir, 'Song Recitative in Paiute Mythology', Journal of American Folklore, 23 (1910), 455-72 (p. 470).

(11.) C. F. Abdy Williams, The Rhythm of Modern Music (London: Macmillan, 1909), p. 125.

(12.) C. F. Abdy Williams, The Aristoxenian Theory of Musical Rhythm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911), p. 39.

(13.) Ebenezer Prout, Musical Form (London: Augener, 1893), p. 305.

(14.) T. Carl Whitmer, 'The Energy of American Crowd Music', Musical Quarterly, 4.1(1918), 98-116 (p. 98).

(15.) R. J. C., 'The Intelligent Student's Guide to Modern Composition', Musical Times, 71 (1930), 536-37 (p. 536).

(16.) Frank Howes, The Borderland of Music and Psychology (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1926), pp. 98-105.

(17.) David Hiley, 'Quintuple Time', Grove Music Online < subscriber/article/grove/music/22735> [accessed 1 January 2012].

(18.) S. Baring Gould and H. Fleetwood Sheppard, Songs and Ballads of the West, a collection made from the mouths of the people (London: Methuen, [1895]); Wm. Alexander Barrett, English Folk-Songs (London: Novell[degrees], [1891]); English County Songs, ed. by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland, (London: Cramer, 1893); Traditional Tunes: A Collection of Ballad Airs, chiefly obtained in Yorkshire and the south of Scotland, ed. by Frank Kidson (Oxford: Chas. Taphouse, 1891); M. H. Mason, Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs, both tunes and words from tradition (London: Metzler, [1878]).

(19.) JFSS, 2.1 (no. 6) (1906), 1-60, includes twenty-nine songs, many of them in multiple melodic versions.

(20.) See, for example, 'Our Captain Cried', with its alternation of five-four and four-four bars, in JFSS, 1.3 (no. 3) (1901), 131.

(21.) JESS, 2.1 (no. 6) (1906), 15-18.

(22.) 'Mr. Cecil Sharp', Musical Herald, 1 December 1905 (no. 693), pp. 355-58 (p. 356).

(23.) Prout, p. 147. Later, Frank Howes would disagree with this idea, arguing that the mind unifies the components: 'This is not to deny the possibility of having two standard-units in one's mind and attending to each alternately, but in practice the mind easily and naturally integrates them into a bigger unit unless the rate is very slow' (p. 99).

(24.) Cecil Sharp, English Folk-Song: Some Conclusions (London: Simpkin; Novello; Taunton: Barnicott & Pearce, 1907), p. 80.

(25.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 79.

(26.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 88.

(27.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 82.

(28.) Harry Plunket Greene, Interpretation in Song (London: Macmillan, 1912), p. 221.

(29.) Greene, p. 220.

(30.) Greene, p. 219.

(31.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 132.

(32.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 127.

(33.) 'Journal of the Folk-Song Society', Musical Times,1 March 1917 (no. 889), p. 110. We note that this is not too distant from Sharp's observations quoted above.

(34.) Roy Palmer, 'Neglected Pioneer: E. J. Moeran (1894-1950)', FMJ, 8.3 (2003), 345-61 (p. 351).

(35.) Palmer, pp. 349-50.

(36.) The term is attributed to Elisabeth Lutyens. See M. Harries and S. Harries. A Pilgrim Soul: The Life and Work of Elisabeth Lutyens (London: Michael Joseph, 1989), pp. 186-87.

(37.) Georgina Boyes, The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology and the English Folk Revival (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993; rev. edn, Leeds: No Masters Co-operative, 2010), passim. Boyes's is the best account we have of this period to dace, but has been subjected to stern criticism from some quarters and we feel further work would be enlightening.

(38.) Frank Purslow, 'The Hammond Brothers' Folk Song Collection', FMJ, 1.4 (1968), 236-66.

(39.) Purslow, pp. 264-65.

(40.) Purslow, p. 265.

(41.) Dave Harker, Fakesong: The Manufacture of British Tolksong: 1700 to the Present Day (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1985); Boyes, The Imagined Village. For a view that tries to balance obvious problems with his work with an assessment of his positive influence, see Vic Gammon, A. L. Lloyd and History: A Reconsideration of Aspects of Folk Song in England and Some of his Other Writings', in Singer, Song and Scholar, ed. by Ian Russell (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1986), pp. 147-64.

(42.) Ethnic: A Quarterly Review of English Folk Music, Dance ei Drama, 1.1-4 (1959). See, for example, no. 4, pp. 28-29.

(43.) A. L. Lloyd, Folk Song in England (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1967), p. 45.

(44.) Traditional Tunes, p. v.

(45.) Frank Kidson and Mary Neal, English Folk-Song and Dance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915), p. 48.

(46.) Kidson and Neal, p. 49; Kidson most probably had in mind Percy Grainger, 'Collecting with the Phonograph', JFSS, 3.3 (no. 12) (1908), 147-242.

(47.) Grainger, p. 152.

(48.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 72.

(49.) Erika Brady, A Spiral Way: How the Phonograph Changed Ethnography (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), ch. 3; Michael Yates, Percy Grainger and the Impact of the Phonograph', FMJ, 4.3 (1982), 265-75.

(50.) Grainger, p. 148.

(51.) Quoted in Yates, p. 269.

(52.) C. J. Bearman, 'Percy Grainger, the Phonograph, and the Folk Song Society', Music & Letters, 84 (2003) 434-55 (p. 452).

(53.) Bearman, 'Percy Grainger, the Phonograph, and the Folk-Song Society'; and see C. J. Bearman, 'The Folk Song Society and the Phonograph', FMJ, 10.3 (2013), 370-74.

(54.) Quite independently, similar difficulties faced the US composer and transcriber Ruth Crawford Seeger working on sound recordings made by John and Alan Lomax in the 1930s and 1940s. See Ruth Crawford Seeger, The Music of American Folk Song, ed. by Larry Polansky with Judith Tick (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2001), pp. xxxii--xxxiii and passim.

(55.) Ursula Vaughan Williams, R. VW: A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 100.

(56.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. vii.

(57.) Sharp, Some Conclusions, p. 132.

(58.) The idea of emic (insider's) versus the (outsider's) understanding was originated by the linguist Kenneth Pike. See Thomas N. Headland, Kenneth L. Pike, and Marvin Harris, Emics and Etics: The Insider/Outsider Debate (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990). Pike defines an ernic unit as 'a physical or mental item or system treated by insiders as relevant to their system of behaviour' (p. 28). It is not that traditional singers need to be able to notate five-time, but if they make use of it as a cultural convention, then it is ernic.

(59.) Bertrand Harris Bronson, The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, with their Texts, according to the extant records of Great Britain and America, 4 vols (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959-72; repr. CAMSCO Music/Loomis House Press, 2009), n, 321.

(60.) Bronson, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, n, 321.

(61.) Bronson, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, n, 321-91, nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 19, 20, 24, 25, 31.

(62.) Bronson, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballack, II, 321-91, nos. 83, 84, 97, 98, 99, 123, 124, 125, 126, 130, 133, 194; Iv, 476-77, no. 83.1.

(63.) Bruno Neal, Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973), p. 67. Some people who have responded to earlier versions of this paper have urged us to consider the potential influence of the prosody of the words on five-time, the implication being that five-time is somehow determined by the stresses in the language. This is an important idea and clearly language stresses can influence word settings. But given the wide range of rhythmic settings that can be applied to a basic set of words within the English tradition, we do not find it a very robust idea. Nerd would seem to support us in this regard. However, we would greatly welcome work on this subject that showed us to be mistaken.

(64.) The 3/4 time with an elongated second beat of the first complete bar is seen in Bronson, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, n, 321-91, nos. 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, and many others. The 5/4 time with the elongated third beat of the first complete bar is seen in nos. 12, 13, 20, 24, 25, 31, and in a number of others.

(65.) Bronson, Traditional Titnes of the Child Ballads, 11, 321-91, nos. 17, 48, 54, 55, 56, 76, 77, 79, 91, 92, 93, and others. 3/2 variants of the basic SSSLSSSL pattern that hold the longer notes are nos. 100, 104, 106, 110 (it is possible to think of these as elongations of the basic 5/4 rhythm, or as the 3/4 rhythm set out in double the time). Almost all of Bronson's examples demonstrate the basic SSSLSSSL pattern.

(66.) The closely related 'Jug of Punch' is well known in Ireland and was in print in nineteenth-century England (Roud 1808).

(67.) Bertrand Harris Bronson, 'Some Observations about Melodic Variation in British-American Folk Tunes', Journal of the American Musicological Society, 3 (1950), 120-34.

(68.) Reproduced in Bronson, 'Some Observations', p. 131, in 3/4 time, citing W. Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time, 2 vols (London: Cramer, Beale, & Chappell, [1855-59]), 1, 236, who prints the tune in common time but documents that versions exist in 3/4 time as well. Lucy Broadwood had noticed some of the family traits of these melodies in JFSS, 4.1 (no. 14) (1910), 16.

(69.) JFSS, 4.1 (no. 14) (1910), 17-18.

(70.) Crawford Seeger, pp. 8-11.

(71.) Crawford Seeger, p. 11.

(72.) Crawford Seeger, p. 29.

(73.) See also London, EFDSS Archive, George Butterworth Collection, GB/7a/43-46.

(74.) It is worth noting that The Copper Family Song Book: A Living Tradition (Peacehaven: Coppersongs, 1995) has other clearly articulated five-time songs - for example, 'Gentlemen of High Renown' (p. 37) and 'The Fisherman' (p. 82) - as well as what Nettl calls 'heterometric songs' which contain bars of contrasting lengths - for example, 'Banks of the Sweet Primroses' (p. 9), 'Bold General Wolf' (p. 11), and 'Rose of Allendale' (p. 36). In this almost definitive collection of the Coppers' repertory, three songs out of sixty-five are in clear five-time (under 5 per cent).

(75.) Pop Maynard, Down the Cherry Tree (Musical Traditions MT CD 400,2000), CD 2, track 10.

(76.) For example, London, EFDSS Archive, Hammond Collection, HAM/4/23/5; Butterworth Collection, GB/6a/57.

(77.) Peter Kennedy, Folksongs of Britain and Ireland (London: Cassell, 1975), p. 361, presents Mrs Stone's song in 3/4 time. This is a travesty of a transcription which irons out all the subtleties of the performance and presents an object lesson in how transcription should not be done.

(78.) Butterworth Collection, GB/7a/77.

(79.) Butterworth Collection, GB/66/8.

(80.) Although we would readily admit that change (which can incorporate both corruption and development) is an aspect of the creative process of oral tradition, and that such changes can then be reabsorbed into traditional performance. This is not the same thing as saying that five-time is a type of corruption.

(81.) The irregular song is 'Oxford City' (CD 1, track 7).
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Author:Gammon, Vic; Portman, Emily
Publication:Folk Music Journal
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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