Open Thread #1


Start a discussion, make a comment! Have you started listening yet? Favorite songs? Records you wish Harry had never bought? Having a nice Labor Day weekend? No need to be on topic – just say hello if that’s all you’ve got today.

In honor of Labor Day, here’s a video of a waulking song – these have been sung for centuries by women beating new cloth in order to soften it.


4 Responses to “Open Thread #1”

  1. Tricia Hogan Says:

    I enjoy the music which is crystal clear, bright, and interesting. Much better than similar old recordings heard on UMB, WHRB and the like. Those recordings often had the scratches and background noise from old equipment used at the time and wear. How did you get rid of it, by “digitizing” ? Or are the recordings already this good?

    Through one of the recordings I found “LoudCity” radio station stream on the internet I now have Bookmarked. Am enjoying it especially while doing housework.

    I have access to Word now. This site is new to me and will take time to use if I haven’t already. Once mastered, I’ll go further with it.

    Thank you for the great effort and time you are putting into this course. I’ll look forward to pulling it all together in class once I get there. Now I’m whelmed over!

    Take time off too!


  2. Don Bashline Says:

    The music I’ve been posting is as found – from Youtube or the Internet Archive or my collection. I’ve shopped around for good examples, but that’s about it – I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

  3. Dan Watt Says:

    Thanks for posting this waulking song. In my “collecting days” 1967-70 in Cape Breton Nova Scotia I recorded dozens of these songs. In those days communities in Cape Breton would hold “Milling Frolics” every summer at which older members of the local community would gather in a community hall and sing these songs. They didn’t actually shrink any cloth, but instead had a long circular fabric that they pounded on the table and moved from hand to hand — same motions used for shrinking cloth. Both men and women participated. Since they no longer had a practical purpose for the waulking — nobody weaved their own clothing or blankets any more– they did oit for a community activity and to raise money–there was a small admission fee.

    The songs were all call and response, very similar to sea shanties, except all were the same pace and rhythm. Many of them told stories (in scots gaelic) similar to what we think of as ballads. Others were songs (like coo-coo bird) that were collevctions of travelling verses that could be put into any song. I imagine that there was some improvisation–but I’m not sure since I never asked.

    Norman Kennedy, the great scottish singer and stoiry teller operates a weaving school in Vermont, where he teaches people to weave on antiuque looms. He used to travel down to Cape Breton regularly, to sing with these folks, and he’d bring his weavings with him and get them to shrink his cloth using the old methods and songs. For vseveral years he brought a group of these singers to the Newport Folk Festival.

  4. Dan Watt Says:

    Peggy Seeger will be singing at St. John’s Methodist Church, Watertown, Saturday night Sept. 20th, 8 PM. This is a rare oportunity, not to be missed, to hear one of the greatest living folk singers, songwriters, british and american folk song “interpreters,” and folk song accompanyists to come out of the folk revival. She has a wide repetoire, and if past experience holds true her concert will include some of her own songs and some traditional material. She and her brothers, Mike and Pete Seeger have been among the greatest influences on my own –and thousands of others, lives and music.

    Peggy has been living in Boston for three years, teaching a songwriting class at Northeastern. This is her first public concert in Boston–and it may be her last for many years. Don’t miss it.

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