Monday, 20 April 2015

Singabout - Journal of Australian Folksong, Volume 1, 1956

Singabout 1(1), Summer 1956

earlier article on this issue

The Bush Music Club was founded in October 1954 & published the first issue of Singabout in first week in January 1956. This issue included notice of BMC's First Annual Conference on Saturday 11th February at the International Seaman's Club. 

The final issue published was Vol. 6, no. 2, 1967. 

Volume 6 no. 3 was prepared but never printed and BMC then relied on the Newsletter until Mulga Wire started in 1977.

My copy belonged to a newcomer to BMC - J A Forbes? - who noted the meeting details on the cover (Trades Hall, Room 34A @ 8 o'clock)

According to a musician, he was also learning the concertina as the notation on the back cover shows.  

Thanks to early member Frank Maher for allowing issues 2, 3 & 4 to be borrowed & scanned.

extract from Newsletter 1(1), October 1955

Twenty pages of songs, old and new, complete with music - articles, features, parodies, photos, folk and square dance tunes and calls, competitions and news! It’s all yours for two bob • SINGABOUT is your club magazine, Send news, articles, songs and photos of your group or yourself, to the editor:-
John Meredith, 5 Henry Street, Lewisham, N.S.W.

Send your cash donations, subscriptions and bulk orders to the manageress:-
Karin Winter, 15 Chelmsford Ave., Lindfield, N.S.W.

The deadline for material for the first issue is November 30th.
SINGABOUT” will be on sale the first week in January. Prices: - Single copies, 2/-; per year 7/6. Bulk orders 18/- per doz.

Back cover - 15 months after it's foundation BMC had an enviable list of publications.

New Songs 
Cane Killed Abel by Merv Lilley    Music: Chris Kempster
Lament for the Gordons by David Martin     Music: John Arcott
The Rueful Rabbit words & music by Stan Walkefield
The Farmer up a Tree by Merv Lilley (tune Jimmy Riddle)
 Swish Goes the Crane by a WA Wharfy, Victor Williams
West of the Blue Mountains - anon contribution  (tune Galway Bay)
We Gave A Fair Go by Merv Lilley, another version of his popular Ho - Give a Go.
It's Lovely Down the Pit My Lad by Mick Lawson   Music: John Arcott
Wally the Weatherman by Wally Goodbody set to an old bush tune
Bound for Darling Harbour by Merv Lilley (music included) 


Collected Songs
Bullockies' Ball
The Old Bullock Dray  (words remembered by Stan Wakefield from his youth)


Best Foot Forward
The Circassian Circle


Singing Folk Songs by E. Lancaster, the first mention of singing in unison vs. singing in harmony. See a reader's response in Vol 1(2)

Singing Folk Songs

In this journal we are going to print the words and tunes of a good many of our folk songs. If you can read the words and notes, you can learn to sing these songs. But the words and tunes are only the bare bones of a song, the style in which you sing a song is the flesh that covers the skeleton. How are you going to sing?

The traditional singer has a style of his own; his songs were created to be sung in that style. It would be useless to try to describe that style in words. If you want to know it, you must listen to the traditional singers or recordings of them, or else to recordings of professional singers who have adapted this style. We may mention that, in general, the Australian singers, like those in the British Isles, sang alone and unaccompanied; if a group sang, or joined in a chorus, they sang in unison, without harmony.

If you take an aria from an opera, and croon it to the accompaniment of a dance band, then you are re-making the song, translating it into another musical form. The result will probably sound very silly. If you take a rough and rowdy shearers' song and arrange it to be sung in four parts by a choir, then you are equally making a translation of the song into another musical form. And there is more than a fair chance that is will sound just as silly as crooned Wagner. Even if you sing a folk song with the voice production of a concert hall singer, or sing it to the accompaniment of a guitar (let alone a piano), you are still translating that song into a form different to the one in which it was created. Such things can be done successfully (thought not with all folk songs perhaps) and there is surely not the slightest reason why they should not be done. But they are usually done well only by people who have a wide knowledge of folk song and a deep sympathy for folk song.

Our folk songs are the heritage of all our people. We hope you will sing the songs we print, sing the best you can, but in whatever way you can, the way that gives you most enjoyment.

But we are concerned particularly with preserving the style of the traditional Australian singers, and at the same time developing that style to suit a new generation of singers and listeners. We want to find ways of accompanying our songs which seem natural and fitting (as the piano seldom does). The obvious way is to use the instruments which were commonly played in the bush by the kind of people who sang the songs; for example, the banjo and the concertina. We want to find easy and informal ways of singing the songs in groups, ways that will seem more natural to the songs that the academic harmonies of the choirs (without neglecting formal choral arrangements for formal occasions).

We will do these things successfully only if we listen to and study and learn from the traditional singers and players. It is because they have done that the The Bushwhackers, for example have been so successful. We urge you to to listen to the traditional performers, on recordings or best of all in the flesh, whenever you have the chance. These are the people who have created and preserved our folk music. They are the people who can best teach us how to carry on and develop the tradition of our folk music.

E. Lancaster



Singabout 1(2) Autumn 1956 


New Songs

The Stranger by John Manifold
The Tricky Sixpence by Dick Hackett  (tune - The Worried Man Blues)
Eight Bells by Merv Lilly   (tune - Ring the Bell, watchman)
The Cornpicker's Lament  Words; John Meredith    Air - Lady Munro
(note)  Lady Munro is an unprintable ballad recently collected from a shearer to the tune of a variant of Roisin the Beaux.
A Man of the Earth
by Jock Graham  Music by John Arcott
The Rabbiter
by Stan Wakefield
The Station Houseboy
by Ron Spain - music by Ron's 11-year old son Stephen Spain
Victory at Bowen
by Ross Tracie, music John Arcott


Collected Songs

The Overlander  reproduction of Bandicoot Ballad, no. 12.
The Hut That's upside Down - collected by John Meredith
Australia's on the Wallaby (collected in various locations)


Best Foot Forward

The Armatree Brown Jug Polka


from the Mailbag


Singabout 1(3) Winter 1956


New Songs

Bobby the Rep by Shirley Fletcher
Myxo by Ron Spain    Music; Beren Spain
Songs of Australia A song for children by Stan Wakefield
Shark Song by W J (Jim) Mann    Music: Jennifer Mann
Ameralia by W J Mann    Music: Jennifer MannThe Motor Car A New song in the calypso style by J. Scott


Collected Songs 
Look out below!
collected from Mrs Fielding of Dripstone, NSW
Young Les Darcy collected from Mr Arthur Buchanan of Maroubra, NSW
The Crocodile - collected from Mr Heather, Hurstville, NSW
Goorianawa - collected from Mr Croydon "Duke" Tritton of Gulgong, NSW.

Best Foot Forward
Four Sisters' Barn Dance




Singabout 1(4) Winter 1956

New  Songs

The Bishop and the Bullocky words & music by Gloria Fowler
Bogged at Little Billabong by Graham Ascott & John Meredith (tune Lazy Harry's)
The Rona's Last Trip by Merv Lilley   Music: John Arcott


Collected Songs
The Maid of Fainey
- collected from Mrs Sally Sloane, Teralba NSW
The Kelly Gang - collected from Mr Tom Gibbons, Gulgong, NSW
Lord, Bless Charlie Mopps - collected by Redd Sullivan, 
The Union Boy - collected from Mr Bill Coughlin, Gulgong, NSW
 The Darby Ram - collected from Mr Jack Jackman, Parramatta NSW


Best Foot Forward
Jacaranda Dance 


 Silvia Salisbury & Chris Kempster

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