The Marches music
The music of The Marches
A capella harmony singing, no-nonsense, boisterous and earthy, simple folk and morality tales, minimal instrumentation, heavy rhythms on guitars or concertinas. Themes of working the land, agriculture and fishing, harvest, enjoyment of food and drink, recognition of obligation to the land and its people.
The music of the Marches is drawn primarily from the folk song traditions of Devon and Cornwall, Derbyshire and Yorkshire: wassails, shanties, drinking songs, and work songs.
Commonly known songs
- Marcher battle song, invariably sung before battle!
- Bringing in the Sheaves, a harvest song (not the hymn), often sung for solidarity.
- Down to Earth, a song about the importance of good earth and common sense to the Marchers!
- Many people in the Marches will know one version of a Wassail
After every harvest, Marcher farmers perform a traditional ceremony, a Wassail, to scare away evil spirits from the fields and ensure a good crop for the coming year. There are more details on the wassail in the Marcher brief.
In the Marches, misdeeds are sometimes rewarded with a public shaming using noise, music, even satirical performance of some kind, called Rough Music. Some chants are known throughout the Marches such as those below (usually interspersed with verses detailing the misdeed), some songs/performances are written especially for the occasion!
- "Ran tan tan, raise your hand, a sin to us is a sin to the land"
- "Old Fred Thatcher (insert name of miscreant), we know your name, Old Fred Thatcher, you are to blame, Old Fred Thatcher, we know your shame, Old Fred Thatcher, we know your name!"
- Marcher battle song easy song for marching into battle
- Rebel March easy song for upsetting the Dawnish (and battles)
- Yet another Marches Battle Song
- Marcher At My Side - easy song popular with soldiers in the Marcher armies
- Bringing in the Sheaves medium harvest song (not the hymn)
- John Barleycorn medium folk song
- Wassail easy call and response, and lots of versions
- Harvest Time - song about the land and Britta's lost army
- Marcher Dirge - a bit heretical
- Turn the Circle - a song which can be sung as a round
- Carts Come Home - easy song about bring back Marcher dead from the wars
- Only Remembered For What We Have Done - medium harmony song
- Lay me Low - medium difficulty harmony song
Songs from Mournwold
- Mournwold Harvest - sad song about orphaned Mournwolders
- Jonah Gold - traditional miners song from Mournwold
- The Mournflag - a song inspiring the fight for the Mourn
One for the kids
Songs about notable people/entities in the Marches
- Jack in the Green - a song about the Marches Egregore
- The Culloch Boar - tells of the origins of the Culloch banner
- The Unquiet Grave
- Tom A'Bedlam's song
- Ye Mariners All - medium drinking song
- Here's A Health to the Company - easy drinking song
- His Banner's Not Mine - medium love song
- Pull Down Below - medium shanty with chunky harmonies
- One More Day - easy shanty: lyrics, tune
- Ten Thousand Miles - love song with easy harmony accomp
- Pretty Ploughboy - easy song about saving the lad you love from the war
- Silent Giants - easy song about standing stones
Instrumentation and tunes
Songs are usually unaccompanied in the Marches, typically sung in raucous harmony rather than using instruments. However sometimes drums, accordions, guitars, fiddles, and whistles/recorders are used. For instrumental music, look to the very heavy rhythms of trad English music (the kind of tunes used to accompany morris dancing would be perfect).
- The Chicken Dance - dance tune often brought out at hen parties and other festivities, by Cora and Kit score, recording
- The Bond Ring - dance tune for weddings and other bondings, by Cora and Kit score, recording
Other performance traditions
How to adapt your repertoire
The Marches is all about people singing together so choose songs that have a chorus, or even better, a call and response line. Nothing wrong with a bard leading a song but try to encourage participation from the people around you, even if just banging their tankards off the table. Can you turn your song into a drinking song?! Think of some harmonies ahead of time and if possible teach them to your group instead of using instrumental accompaniment. Any folk song will be fine but especially those in the themes listed above. If you are mostly a solo performer perhaps learn a few easy rounds and sing them with people between your solo numbers.
- Songs: Coope, Boyes and Simpson; Muldoon's Picnic; Fisherman's Friends; Chumbawamba (the folky stuff e.g. English Rebel Songs and ABCDEFG), and number of Welsh a capella choirs; all great acapella harmony singers. Seth Lakeman (sans guitar), June Tabor.
- Tunes: Florida, Eliza Carthy
- Great list of harvest themed songs: http://piereligion.org/harvestsongs.html
- Good list of sea shanty lyrics (stick to the very English sounding ones, preferably about fishing): http://www.boundingmain.com/Lyrics.htm
- Good list of sources for English folk suitable for the Marches: http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/folk/
Here is a youtube playlist of appropriate or inspiring music.