FS19: In the month of January

An Irish song from the singing of Sarah Makem.

Learning this, I went to the length of notating the rolls, trills, swoops and other decorations applied to this song by different singers: Sarah Makem, of course, but also June Tabor and Jon Boden. On close listening, it turned out that Jon Boden hardly did anything to it, and Sarah Makem herself was quite restrained. What was even more interesting was that the words (and syllables) where Sarah Makem ornamented the tune were, as often as not, words that June Tabor left alone. I began by trying to copy June Tabor’s reading of the song, then tried to follow Sarah Makem, and finally gave up and did something that isn’t quite like either of them.

The other thing I was planning to emulate was Jon Boden’s strikingly plain & sparing concertina accompaniment. As it turned out, working out the chords wasn’t so simple (I suspect the playing isn’t as plain as it sounds), and I ended up with just voice and drone. Maybe another time.

As folk songs go, this is the real thing; a glorious song, up there with Lemady and Searching for lambs.

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Filed under folk song, Jon Boden, June Tabor, Sarah Makem, traditional

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