The traditional British ballads are very old, and
not widely sung. They are of unknown origin, but resemble stories told
or sung all over the world. The jealous sister, the poisoned lover, the
battling brothers, royalty in disguise, magical transformations, and
love and trickery are familiar themes, as well as hunting and ghosts
and doomed romance, kings and queens, sailors and shepherds; they are
simple story songs, usually sung by one person. There are hundreds of
ballads and many versions of most, some no longer heard in Britain but
kept alive in the rich musical heritage of Appalachia.
In this workshop, we will talk about the Scots accent/language, common
in the Ballads, with a few guidelines for understanding and pronunciation.
We will hear or sing one version each of as many ballads as we can manage,
with preference given to experienced singers and NO repeats.
Sadie Damascus grew up hearing ballads on records, mainly, in rural
Vermont. She collects new and different versions of lots of ballads,
and delights in synopsizing the story before singing it, to enhance understanding.
She lives on the Russian River, where she copy-edits, grows herbs, and
reads stories Sunday nights on Radio KGGV (streaming at www.kggvfm.org).