William Winter’s Quantocks Tune Book by Robert Harbron, Nancy Kerr, Miranda Rutter, Tim Van Eyken
The tunes on
Track 1 are Rants
Tracks 2, 3, 8, 13 are Jigs
Tracks 4, 6, 10 are Polkas
Tracks 5, 11 are Waltzes
Track 7 are Reels
Tracks 9, 12 are Hornpipes
The musicians on the CD are
Robert Harbron - English concertina
Nancy Kerr - fiddle
Miranda Rutter - fiddle
Tim van Eyken - melodeon
Robert Harbron, in the sleeve notes, makes the point that, being aural transmission music, which is therefore open to individual interpretation, the tunes recorded are only outlines and skeleton forms of what William Winter and his contemporaries might have played. He makes the further point that on the CD “the dots of the tune represent perhaps ten percent of each final performance”.
This recording accompanies the publication “William Winter’s Quantocks Tune Book”, and, at present, is available only with the purchase of that tune book.
William Winter (1774-1861) was a village shoemaker and fiddler in West Bagborough in Somerset, a county in the West of England. He played for many years in the local church band, churches in those times often having bands instead of the more expensive organ, and the band, when not fulfilling its ecclesiastical commitments, would provide entertainment for the village and its surrounding area.
William Winter was evidently a very experienced musician when he compiled his personal collection of over 450 tunes in 1848-1850, and this experience is reflected in the wide range of his and his fellow musicians’ repertoire - music from English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and other European sources, as well as a sprinkling of classical pieces by Weber, Verdi, Corelli, Rossini and Handel.
In 1960 the tune book surfaced in a second hand bookshop in London. It was acquired by Geoff Rye of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and deposited in the library of Halsway Manor Traditional Music and Dance Centre in Crowcombe, Somerset. It has now been published by Halsway Manor under the editorship of Geoff Woolfe (who plays regularly in our Tuesday English session in Bristol).
The published tune book contains 377 of the 450-odd in the manuscript, those omitted being popular songs (without lyrics), well-known tunes such as the College Hornpipe, Haste to the Wedding, New Rigged Ship, the Irish Washerwoman, and others, and the aforesaid “classical” repertoire.
Geoff Woolfe has traced many of the tunes back to 17th and 18th century sources, and some have doubtless been “lost” until now. Geoff Woolfe provides copious notes and references, and a biography of William Winter (what little is known) and an account of the local life and music of a Somerset village in the 19th century.
The Tune Book and CD may be purchased from
Halsway Manor, Crowcombe, Taunton Somerset TA4 4BD
tel: 01984 618274
Halsway Manor have relaxed the usual copyright restrictions concerning this published tune book to the extent that “Pages may be photocopied by the purchaser or by the purchaser’s group, band, or school for use in music workshops or live performances by that group, band, or school”.
Note that the spelling of the tunes in the book and on the CD are as in the original manuscript and merely reflect the spelling of one individual in 19th century rural England.