Marie Hare, Strathadam, New Brunswick, Canada :
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CD & Song List
Bok, Muir & Trickett - TURNING TOWARD THE MORNING
Ed Trickett - The Telling Takes Me Home
Helen Schneyer - Ballads, Broadsides and Hymns
Bok, Muir, Trickett - A Water Over Stone
Bok, Muir, Trickett - The Ways of Man
Marie Hare, Strathadam, New Brunswick, Canada
Billy Grimes the Drover
Round Her Mantle So Green
Banks of the Miramachi
Billy Grimes the Drover
Green Grows the Laurel
Jam on Gerry's Rocks, The
Maid of the East, The
Round Her Mantle So Green
During the 1960s, we attended several of the Miramichi festivals of traditional music in New Brunswick. It was there we first heard this fine traditional singer, and arranged to make this field recording. The unaccompanied broadside ballad tradition is a strong one in the Maritimes. Marie Hare knew many of them and sang them extremely well.
General Remarks on Marie Hare's Singing
by Edward D. Ives
Of the eleven ballads and songs appearing on this record, seven are part of the common British-American tradition. Of the four remaining, three - "Gerry's Rock," "Billy Grimes," and "Peter Emberly," are from general native American tradition (unless we want to call the last one a local song), and one, "The Banks of the Miramichi," is by a local song writer. The imported songs are all of the later or "broadside" tradition; there are no Child ballads. Child ballads are found in tradition along the Miramichi, but they are not popular; I have had several men sing versions of them for me and then tell me they "don't much care for that sort of song." The broadside tradition is clearly the norm, and Marie's record shows this well. Then, too, it shows the preference for story-songs, in that all but three (numbers 1, 2, and 6) are ballads and even the first two lyrics imply a narrative background.
Love is the great theme, and tragic love of some kind is the norm. Only one ("Billy Grimes") could be called a cheerful song. Death is not far behind as a favorite topic. Of the three murders we have here, one man kills his daughter, and another his true love, both to avoid an impending marriage. Two of the ballads are "woods songs," and they both deal with violent death — one in the lumberwoods, the other on the river-drive. Love and death! Only Pat Hurley's little lyric, "The Banks of the Miramichi," does not touch either of these two strings. Again, Marie's repertoire is normal.
In prosody, seven of the ballads make use of the double stanza (four 7-foot lines rhyming aabb). Two, "The Maid of the East" and "Billy Grimes," use the ballad stanza (4343, abcb), while the two love songs use a long metre stanza (4.4. 4.4. aabb). In "Green Grows the Laurel" a trisyllabic foot is used; the poetic metre is duple in all the other pieces, but this metre is often cross-cut by the triple metre of the music.
Moving on to the music itself and taking up scales first, we find that six of the pieces are clearly major. "Gerry's Rock" is hexatonic. There are no pure (i.e., uninflected) modal tunes. "The Banks of the Miramichi" has a mixolydian feel to it, but it is hexatonic and has the raised seventh in places. "Peter Emberly" is mixolydian except for the raised seventh in the cadence. There are two pentatonic tunes: "The Maid of the East" and "Billy Grimes."
However, it should be pointed out (as it was pointed out to me by Norman Cazden) that such mechanical scale-counts may obscure as much as they reveal. A good number of hexatonic and heptatonic tunes show a basic pentatonic structure by emphasizing certain degrees of the scale and frequently skipping others, and this fact may be much more important than the mere presence of, say, the raised seventh in any of them. (See, for example, "Green-Grows the Laurel," "The Jam on Gerry's Rock," "The Banks of the Miramichi," and "Peter Emberly.")
As for range, only three pieces exceed a minor ninth (actually, the octave plus the leading tone).
All but three of the tunes are built of two phrases, and the favorite arrangement of these phrases is cyclic (ABBA or ABCA). The upbeat opening is everywhere, and the cadential pattern in which the final is anticipated in the next-to-last measure (usually followed by the leading tone) is present in every song but two ("The Maid of the East" and "Billy Grimes"). Wilson noticed this pattern and attributed it to the strong Irish heritage of Miramichi singers (see Bibliography; his p. 105).
This record also shows us some of the "workhorse" or general utility tunes popular in the Northeast. "Peter Emberly" and "The Banks of the Miramichi" are popular tunes that are used for several other songs, but we have some extremely interesting problems when we come to the tunes for "Patrick O'Donnell," "Gerry's Rock," "The Wexford Lass," and "Jenny Dear." The notes will go into more detail, but only measure-by-measure comparison can show how complex the interrelationships can be. Questions will inevitably ask themselves: At what point can we say we are dealing with separate tunes and not merely with different sets of the same tune? When does a singer (or a community) consider one tune as different from or the same as another? How do singers identify tunes? Do singers have "personal" utility tunes in the same way that areas do? And so on.
There are several traditional formulae that I might point out. Three of the ballads are in straight confessional form, two of them having the opening "naming" stanza. And "Mantle So Green" and "Jenny Dear" begin with the beloved "As I walked out" formula, also popular in French folksong. About a third of the pieces end with a moral stanza, and several more hint at it.
Everything I have said documents a conclusion we could pretty safely jump to: Marie's repertoire (insofar as this record is any sample of it, and it is) is heavily in debt to the later or British broadside tradition, whose favorite pattern is a double stanza with a cyclic tune (usually ABBA) on the subject of love or violent death, with a formulistic opening and a moralizing close. Although it is harder to prove, the evidence also indicates a strong Irish element within this tradition. The two pieces that fit this stereotype least well (at least formally) are, of course, "The Maid of the East" and "Billy Grimes," which thus seem to owe allegiance to quite a separate tradition from that of the others.
I am tempted to say English as opposed to Irish tradition, but I don't think it is all that simple.
A few comments on Marie's singing style. She keeps a rather steady rhythm, occasionally getting over toward parlando-rubato, but I would not call it her basic style. She uses ornamentation sparingly, limiting herself to single grace notes and slides, usually up to and away from high notes. I find it interesting that she speaks none of her endings on this record, while she used to do it all the time in her Festival performances. (Louise Manny says that Marie sang the endings for the Patons, instead of speaking them, because she thought the Patons would like the songs better with the endings sung.) It is no less interesting to see her break away from traditionally dramatic performance in "Billy Grimes." In the 1962 Festival, the expression was not only in her voice, she all but acted the song out on the stage.
Marie also often sustains the opening upbeat of a stanza to upwards of a full measure, a common feature in lumber-camp style as I have heard it. If this upbeat is a vowel, she is likely to precede it with an "n," so that "as" will become "nnas," for example, and this too seems to be a usual enough feature of woods style.
Side 1, Band 1
(Ives) The girl who sings of her faithless lover and her broken heart is certainly a folksong fixture, but, while the stereotype is common, this particular song does not seem to be common at all. The only published variants I know of are the two in Helen Creighton's Maritime Folk Songs (p. 86), one of which came from Nova Scotia, the other from New Brunswick. Both have the stanzas in different order, and stanza 5 appears in neither. That stanza appears in other contexts, though, particularly in a song known as "The Blue-Eyed Boy" (see Brewster, p. 339; Henry, p. 51). There is a song, "Green Valley," collected by Alan Lomax in Beaver Island, Michigan, in 1938 (LC 2297 Al), and Bascom Lunsford sings a version of a song called "Must I Go Bound" (LC 1784 A3). Wilson (pp. 23, 67) prints a variant of the song as sung by Marie's brother, Harold Whitney, which, while obviously the "same song," is different enough in both words and tune to make an interesting comparison. Marie also sang this song in the 1958 Festival (see ATL 2175.5), the only important difference being that she spoke the last words.
(Manny) This song of the forsaken sweetheart was a great favorite of the Whitney family, and it was much sung by others in Strathadam. Marie's brother, Willie, who died in 1925, was fond of singing it, but Marie is not sure where he learned it. Every year the young men of Strathadam went west for the harvesting, and brought home songs, but this is not necessarily one of them. May MacLean, Jared's sister, sang it.
O, the first young man that came courting me,
I'll make no doubt that he loved me,
With his false heart and his flattering tongue,
He was the first to entice me when I was young,
0, the first six months his love proved kind,
Until at last he changed his mind.
Saying, "My parents call, and I must obey,
So it's goodbye, love, I am going away."
"I will hold you fast, I'll not let you go,
For you are mine by right, you know;
Fulfill those vows that you made to me
As the bright sun rose on Green Vallee.
"It was on this book, love, you made me swear,
And those few lines you soon shall hear,
That no other marriage was I ne'er to make,
With no other young man, all for your sake.
"Now, must I go bound while he goes free?
Must I love a man that don't love me?
Or must I act a childish part
And love a man who has broke my heart?
"O, I must not think of his curly hair,
His cherries lips nor his wav 'ring curls,
With his fond heart and his flattering tongue,
He was the first to entice me when I was young.
"It was on the green, love, where we sat down,
Nothing but small birds came fluttering round,
Changing their notes from tree to tree,
As the bright sun rose on Green Vallee.
"I will sing one verse, and I'll sing no more,
Since the boy has gone that I adore.
I will change my mind like the wavering wind,
And I'll depend no more on false mankind. "
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