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Thread: Cornish Tunes?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Thanks again Cornishman, but it seems like Ilow Kernow is out of print and not on Mike O'Connor's website. The only copy I can find on the Net is in USA and would cost about £45 including shipping...ouch! There are probably copies gathering dust in bookshops with little web frontage.

    Comment elsewhere suggests that the 'country house' styles of dancing done in Cornwall in 18th/19th Century may have been very similar to those in the rest of UK, using many tunes that were almost universal within UK at the time. I suppose the reason would be that the owners of the big houses and estates often travelled within UK and may have also had had property in London, Bath, or Edinburgh. Whether you were dancing to Petronella played by Nathaniel Gow in a Scottish castle, or the Banqueting Hall in London, or a Dorset country house by the then equivalent of The Mellstock Band, it was the same tune and a similar sort of dancing.

    What I'm looking for is uniquely Cornish forms of simple dances adaptable to riotous assemblies like end of evening at a local festival. It doesn't have to be authentic and it doesn't want to be complicated, just fun - the sort of gig you'd do with someone like The St Piran Pirates also taking part YouTube vids of dances annotated by John Old of Par in the early 19thC suggest that a number were a bit too 'polite' or else rather too complicated for what I have in mind, which is the Cornish equivalent of a modern West Highland village hall ceilidh. I'll email a friend who used to be in a troyle band and see what ideas he has.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Thanks again Cornishman. It looks like Ilow Kernow is out of print (Lyngham.co.uk don't offer it any more), and the only copy I can find is for sale in USA with a total cost of about £45 (mostly postage to UK) - ouch! I have Racca, Flooch! and a number of other Cornish tune sources. I'm a bit reticent about buying the old tune collections without knowing more. From what I read elsewhere, some have quite large numbers of 18th/19thC 'standard' UK country dance tunes like Petronella, There's nothing wrong with those tunes - but they're not Cornish in style, and a lot of them are rather too polite for what I have in mind. I'm looking for tunes you could use for the Cornish version of a West Highland village hall ceilidh, without the pop standards that many of the peripheral Scottish bands now also play.

    Does anyone know if any of the Lyngham House published books here http://www.lyngham.co.uk/catalogue.html are more biased towards Cornish character music?

  3. #28

    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    A shame about Ilow Kernow. We have a copy so if there’s anything you’d like to look up let me know. It picks out the tunes from the country house notebooks that he hasn’t found occurring elsewhere outside of Cornwall, or those that have some connection by name or assocIation. There are some great jigs and hornpipes in there. Politeness can also be altered :-)

    Of course tunes can’t be kept in boxes. Cornwall’s geographic position and the pre-railway connections with other regions and countries by sea routes meant that tunes came and left. Traditional music has always been fluid. People played what they liked and what was popular. Some of it was of home composition, others came from elsewhere and sometimes the two blended together to become something new. Some of it was passed down, some of it written down, and sadly, much of it forgotten.

    You say “Cornish character” - I don’t think anyone has managed to clearly define what that is. The 5/4 movement (even if there are early 19th century 5/4 tunes from Cornwall - see William Sandys’ collections) was an attempt and has kind of become ‘traditional’ through popularity. Defining character is always tricky no matter the background and people will argue. Irish trad is such a huge area and with the diaspora, it’s pretty hard to nail that either IMHO (and how to distinguish it from Scottish). And you’ll find ‘Cornish’ tunes in the Irish repertoire and vice versa. Any coincidence that there are daily ships arriving from or arriving to Waterford and Wexford from St Ives, Hayle, Falmouth or Penzance in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    I could probably help suggest a set list if you really wanted some help. Head to the contact page of Cornish Trad if you want to get in touch.

    Cornish music does work very well on mandolins too (hey, what music doesn’t!). If you ever fancy a Cornish-made mando check out Davey Mandolins (who are also part of Splann). I had one made for me and love it to bits. Bright, jangly, and beautifully made.

  4. #29
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Sorry about posting twice above, I thought the first one didn't go properly.

    I know what you mean about not being able to keep tunes in 'boxes'. My experience so far, though, is that the Celtic element which is very noticeable (and much promoted) in art and the landscape has some catching up to do in instrumental music. I'm Scottish, so maybe I'm just not subtle enough However since I started spending half my time in Falmouth, the most common question I hear from folk musicians based in other parts of UK is "Does Cornish music exist?". Well of course it does, and modern Cornish musicians have done a good deal to get it out there. However, the people who are asking this have visited Cornwall, gone to festivals of various kinds in the middle of summer, kept their eyes open for music, and and not encountered what they'd see as a definably Cornish ceilidh. That would be unusual in e.g. Brittany, Scotland or Ireland. I must keep an eye out for Sandys collections with 5/4 tunes - does anyone reprint them? I've only found hymns so far.

    Thanks very much for your kind offer of helping with a set list - but I've got some spadework to do before I get to that point, part of which is doing enough physio to get back fiddling again (rotator cuff stuff, one reason why I took up mandolin).

    Cas Davey did a very nice job of fitting a new bridge to my Eastman 315 mandolin. I haven't seen his own instruments in the wood, but they look very good on his website and appear good value.

  5. #30
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Cattle in the Corn?

  6. #31
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Is that an answer to the topic "What's your favourite reel?", or a Cornish tune I haven't heard of?

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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?



    maxr your post made me think of this...
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  9. #33
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Is that an answer to the topic "What's your favourite reel?", or a Cornish tune I haven't heard of?
    Attempted humor.

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  11. #34
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Yeah, but what we need is a metal version of Quay Fair, with Mongolian throat singing - think late Saturday night at the Front bar (Falmouth)

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  13. #35
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cornish Tunes?

    Many Homer and Jethro tunes are pretty cornish.

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