Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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vi.
INTRODUCTION.
It might be supposed that the registers of the Company of Stationers would furnish a complete list of ballads and ballad-printers, but, having seen all the entries from 1577 to 1799, I should say that not more than one out of every hundred ballads was registered. The names of some of the printers are not to be found in the registers.
It appears from an entry referring to the " white book" of the Company (which is not now existing), that seven hundred and ninety-six ballads were left in the council-chamber of the Company at the end of the year 1560, to be handed over to the new Wardens, and at the same time but forty-four books.
Webbe, in a Discourse of English Poetrie, printed in 1586, speaks of " the un-countable rabble of ryming ballet-makers and compylers of senseless sonnets," and adds, " there is not anie tune or stroke which may be sung or plaide on instruments, which hath not some poetical ditties framed according to the numbers thereof: some to Rogero, some to Trenckmore, to Downright Squire, to galliardes, to pavines, to jygges, to brawles, to all manner of tunes; which every fidler knows better than myself, and therefore I will let them passe." Here the class of music is named with which old English ditties were usually coupled—dance and ballad tunes. The great musicians of Elizabeth's reign did not often compose airs of the short and rhythmical character required for ballads. These were chiefly the productions of older musicians, or of those of lower grade, and some of ordinary fiddlers and pipers. The Frog Galliard is the only instance I know of a popular ballad-tune to be traced to 'a celebrated composer of the latter half of the sixteenth century. The scholastic music then in Yogue was of a wholly different character. Point and counterpoint, fugue and the ingenious working of parts, were the great objects of study, and rhythmical melody was but lightly esteemed.
In the reigns of James I. and Charles I., we find a few " new court tunes" employed for ballads, but it was not until Charles II. ascended the throne that composers of high repute commenced, or re-commenced, the writing of simple airs, and then but sparingly. Matthew Locke's " The delights of the hoMe" is perhaps the first song composed for the stage, that supplied a tune to ballads.
My former publication contained two hundred and forty-five airs ; the present number exceeds four hundred. Of these, two hundred are contained in the first volume, which extends no further than the reign of Charles I. This portion of the work may be considered as a collection; but the number of airs extant of later date is so much larger than of the earlier period, that the second volume can be viewed only in the light of a selection. To have made it upon the same scale as the first would have occupied at least three volumes instead of one. My endeavour has therefore been, to give as much variety of character as possible, but especially to include those airs which were popular as ballad-tunes. Some of those contained in the old collection have now given place to others of more general interest, but more than two hundred are retained. Every air has been re-harmonized, upon a simple and consistent plan,—the introductions to the various reigns have been added,—and nearly every line in the book has been re-written.
I have been at some trouble to trace to its origin the assertion that the English