The Traditional Music of Cumbria
I have lived in Cumbia for over 20 years and have been ‘involved’ in traditional music for 10 years. In spite of this I still struggle to decide exactly is, or was, the traditional music of this area on a par with say the Traditional Music of Northumberland, or Ireland etc.
Notwithstanding the fact that modern-day Cumbria (UK) was originally three counties (Cumberland, Westmoreland and the some parts of Lancashire) there is a "Cumbrian" core area based around the Lake District.
There are (sometimes very long :( ) ballads, generally sung a capella by one person with a chorus joined by all, some of which seem authentically local, but I am more interested in tunes.
There seem to me to be three main categories which might allow tunes to qualify as local, but none of them are entirely right:
(a) Old Tunes with reference to Cumbrian placenames - there a quite a few of these once you start looking
But the title does not necessarily indicate that the tune was played locally, and in some cases (For example "Trip to…" tunes) the opposite is implied
(b) Old Tunes in manuscript collections of Cumbrian musicians
This seems to be closest to the ‘true’, historic music of the areas as musicians, typically travelling fiddlers playing for dances, would be playing regularly in the area so the music would be regularly heard.
For example the Rook Manuscript (http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/musicfiles/rook/) is the personal collection of John Rook of Waverton (which is incidently about 5 miles from where I currently live) dating to 1840. There are a great many tunes in it. But these will not all be ‘local’ in origins and such collections are likely to reflect the wide ranging tastes of the musicians themselves.
(c) Tunes being played now in Cumbria
This includes tunes in the categories above, but my sense is that this is predominantly a result of revivalist input so I would be inclined to call it "neo-traditional". And in pubs in Cumbria, you will find the same mix of tunes as probably anywhere else, with a loose focus on "Irish" tunes in instrumental sessions
Any thoughts anybody?