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Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 22 November 1859

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:34 am
by dbennett
Cecil James Sharp (1859-1924) was born in England.
Sharp was the founding father of the folk-song revival in England in the early 20th century. He felt that English music had become over-dominated by German influences, and wanted to revive melodies with native roots. He listened to hundreds of village folk-singers and promoted Morris dancing, which had almost died out. In 1911, he founded the English Folk Dance Society.

In 1915 Cecil Sharp learned that many Appalachian singers were singing old English songs. During the First World War Sharp found it difficult to support himself and decided to make an extended visit to the United States during the years 1916–1918. He toured the Southern Appalachian region collecting over 200 “Old World” ballads in the region, many of which had varied only slightly from their British Isles counterparts. The Ritchie family was visited by Sharp. Jean Ritchie’s grandfather, Austin Ritchie (1833-?), was documented by Sharp in 1917 as were Jean’s sisters and May (1896-1982) and Una (1900-1989).

In 1917 Sharp, co-authored with Olive Dame Campbell, published their collection in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. In the introduction to English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, Sharp wrote of the dulcimer: “I came across but one singer who sang to an instrumental accompaniment, the guitar, and that was in Charlottesville, Va. Mrs. Campbell, however, tells me that in Kentucky, where I have not yet collected, singers occasionally play an instrument called the dulcimer, a shallow, wooden box, with four sound-holes, in shape somewhat like a flat, elongated violin, over which are strung three (sometimes four) metal strings, the two (or three) lower of which are tonic-drones, the melody being played upon the remaining and uppermost string which is fretted.”

The work of Sharp confirmed what many folklorists had suspected, that the parts of the Appalachian Mountains were a storehouse of older forms of music. Sharp was greatly struck by the dignity, courtesy, and natural grace of the people who welcomed him in the Appalachians, and he defended their values and their way of life in print.
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Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 22 November 1859

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:36 am
by dbennett
See the 1912 film featuring sisters Maud and Helen Karpeles, co-founders of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, along with Cecil Sharp. These are the earliest known examples of English folk dance on film

Re: Today In Mountain Dulcimer History: 22 November 1859

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:39 am
by dbennett