The Child Ballads are a collection of 305 folk songs from England and Scotland which were compiled by Francis James Child in the mid to late 1800’s. In researching “folk songs of the British Isles” to be included in my performing repertoire, I found that I already knew (and played) a great many of them. Not surprising, in that they are the “standards” of the genre.
I’m preparing a new album, and inquired of the friends on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/MartynWyldeMusic) if any of them had suggestions for material. One friend recommended four songs – three of which were Child Ballads. My own selections for the album already included three others.
So I have now taken a slight detour from the album I had planned to make, and am in the process of recording several of the Ballads, probably to be released on their own. These are the songs I’ve selected:
Broomfield Hill, Willie’s Lady, Fair Annie, The Daemon Lover, The Wife of User’s Well, Willie of Wimsbury, Jock O’Hazeldeen, Tam Lin.
In addition, my band Celtic Mayhem, have already recorded a Child Ballad (Twa Corbies) for our new album!
Part of my research of the Child Ballads led me to a CD by the duo of Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, who earlier this year released an album titled Child Ballads. The seven songs are simply arranged primarily with two acoustic guitars and little other instrumentation, but with wonderful two part vocal harmony. This is one of my favourite albums of the last several years. Here’s a link if you’d like to give it a listen (while waiting for me to finish my album): Child Ballads.