Hunting the Wren
brettwi at ix.netcom.com
Fri Sep 8 12:44:39 PDT 1995
>>>I'm looking for a period source for the song "Hunting the Wren".
>I've heard rumor that this song which was popularized by Hart and
>(on the album "Songs of Old England" I think) is actually period.
>I haven't been able to verify this - though the practice of hunting
>the wren is to mentioned in the Red Book of Hergest (see also:
>Tradition and Folk Life: A Welsh View, by Iorwerth C. Peate (London:
>Faber and Faber, 1972), or 'The Wren in Welsh Folklore', MAN, 1936,
>same author). Anyone got a source for this?
>>>- Liam Mac Mhuire
**much stuff snipped for brevity as I stupidly erased Lord Liam's reply
before I answered...ah, unfamiliar software!**
I replied originally:
>It's my personal suspicion that the tune for this particular version
>is old-- perhaps a couple of centuries, as it falls in the Aeolian
>mode/natural minor scale and, on recall, omits one note in that scale,
>but I can't back that up with anything other than opinion and some
>fifteen years of experience in folk song collection. This is a
>processional song with a steady pace suitable for walking; it's melody
>has rhythmic counterpoint vs. the steady beat of feet.
Specifically, the tune for The Cutty Wren (the version I know) reminds
me of The Lykewake Dirge, another one I haven't yet found in print and
I offer the assertion that this piece falls into that vast and grey
category of "unproven", just like Matty Groves-- though Matty Groves
appears as a reference in a play published in 1604 or so and the
audience is assumed to know exactly what the plotline of the song is, a
manuscript firmly placing any version of either the text or tune(s)
associated with the general plot of Matty Groves (Little Musgrave and
Lady Barnard, Child #84, I theenk off the top of my head since the
books are in a closet somewheres) has yet to be found.
And yes, I read Child and Bronson for amusement...(grin)
(who STILL makes that same typo, Unca Joe!)
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