Song collecting

The more I learn about folksong, it seems the less I actually know. It's such a vast subject, with some many fascinating characters and historical context. I always thought song collectors were middle class, genteel types who flitted about the countryside on bicycles at the turn of the twentieth century, listening to farm labourers with stalks in their mouths. Of course, there was a lot of that, but what I didn't think about is that song collecting has been going ever since, and continues to happen today. After all, there are still people singing, and still songs and stories to hear.

The Song Collectors Collective is one such group of people who have been calling in to Gypsy and Traveller communities to hear the songs they sing. Naturally I was interested, and kept abreast of their discoveries on their Facebook page.

But then Sam Lee, one of the founding members, got in touch and asked if I'd be up for transcribing some of the Collective's findings. I couldn't help myself, of course, and ended up transcribing a whole range of different stories and songs that the Collective recorded when visiting Hampshire Gypsy singer, Freda Black. It was quite tough at times, writing each and every word without seeing the singer in action, but it was absolutely gorgeous hearing these songs, the majority of which I didn't know, fall from the lips of such a lovely singer.

I was enthralled in no time at all, and I've since been listening to more recordings in order to put together short biographies of the singers which will be uploaded to the new SCC website, set to go live next month. I've had a sneak peek of the site and it's going to be fascinating, such a resource - especially for people so new to the subject, like me.