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The songs and travels of a Tudor minstrel
University of York / York Medieval Press, 2012
This is a kind of biographical study of the Northern English harper and ballad singer, Richard Sheale of Tamworth. This scholarly study is very readable, and draws together a number of disparate sources in a speculative but convincing reconstruction of the repertory and life of a 16th century English harper. This is of particular interest to us as we tend to think of the Gaelic harpers as uniquely preserving the older styles of playing harp to accompany epic and traditional vocal performance, but this book clearly shows that such oral tradition harping continued in England as well into historical times. The book includes a detailed commentary on a manuscript thought to have been penned by Sheale, which includes his versions of traditional ballads such as Chevy Chase - the commentary connects Sheale with his patrons and with the political scene between England and Scotland in the 16th century - and also some items composed by Sheale himself for his patrons. There is very little discussion of the actual musical side of things but that doesn't matter - the social and ballad discussions are just fascinating.
£4.00 (UK only - select for overseas postage)
£9.00 (Airmail within Europe)
£13.00 (Airmail outside Europe)
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© Simon Chadwick
First published February 2015.