AS13: Shady Grove

This one surprised me.

The tune I use for Musgrave is my own invention as far as I’m aware, but it’s not the tune I first thought of. After reading that Fairport’s “Matty Groves” (which I’d never heard) used the tune of “Shady Grove” (of which I’d never heard), I looked for a performance of “Shady Grove” online and was lucky enough to find this one:

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Anyway, at the time I wasn’t entirely happy with my Musgrave tune; I liked the melody, but it had a rather plodding verse-speaking rhythm (“Musgrave to the church had gone to see fair ladies there“). “Shady Grove”, particularly in Jean Ritchie’s rendition, gave me the answer: that springy dotted rhythm gives it that bit more pace and interest.

When I scheduled in Musgrave for 52fs, “Shady Grove” was the obvious song to go with it – and when I got my zither, it was the obvious choice of accompaniment. What happened after that I’m still not entirely sure, except to say that if it is possible to make a zither sound like a dulcimer I’m not the person to do it. Anyway, it came out sounding about as unlike Jean Ritchie’s version as it’s possible for the same song to sound, without actually going down the death metal route, and when I first got it finished I was seriously considering junking it and starting again. Then I left it for a while, listened to it back again and… well, I think it’s OK. See what you think.

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Filed under folk song, Jean Ritchie, traditional

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