One type of song that has remained popular across English speaking traditions is the ‘chorus song’. These are often led by one singer (in a pub, for example) with the community joining in with the repeated chorus, refrain or burden. This can be simple unison or improvised harmonies of varying levels of complexity. You can hear (and join in with) chorus songs in many folk clubs, singarounds, concerts and festivals.
In the Folk Chorus Songs Selection pack, available from the PDF tab at the top of this panel, are some well-known chorus songs to provide some starting points for social singing from The Full English digital archive. Due to their popularity many of these songs are geographically widespread and may appear in many versions with all kinds of variation in words and melody. Audio recordings of each song are available for free download from the Audio tab at the top of the panel. The songs have been recorded by Ben Moss and Laurel Swift (www.benandlaurel.com).
We have presented examples from various collections in the digital archive, together with ‘standard’ versions of the lyrics and tunes you might hear today. Where the printed words here differ from those in the digital archive, it is because we have presented a common form of the song for broadest social appeal. Other interesting and unusual versions often exist within the digital archive which you can access at www.vwml.org. We have provided the Roud Number for each song, which you can use in the online Advanced Search to locate different variants of the songs presented here.
There are many different types of songs from a range of historical periods which reflect both the social climate at the time of their creation and some of the tastes of those groups and individuals who continued to sing and adapt them. You can find out more about different types of songs at www.efdss.org/resourcebank
The songs in the pack are:
- The Barley Mow (Harry Albino Collection)
- The Sweet Nightingale (Sabine Baring Gould Collection)
- Fathom The Bowl (Clive Carey Collection)
- Young Banker (Percy Grainger/Frank Kidson Collections)
- Pleasant and Delightful (Collinson Collection)
- The Farmer’s Boy (Lucy Broadwood Collection)
- Abroad for Pleasure (Lucy Broadwood Collection)