Music of the Travelling People || Mrs Loïs Blake 1890-1974

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<ul><li><p>Mrs Los Blake 1890-1974Author(s): P. N. S-S.Source: Folk Music Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, Music of the Travelling People (1975), pp. 94-95Published by: English Folk Dance + Song SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4521977 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 21:08</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>English Folk Dance + Song Society is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to FolkMusic Journal.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.56 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:08:23 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=efdsshttp://www.jstor.org/stable/4521977?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>of Scottish traditional song and culture, the importance of the travellers has long been recognised. An ancient caste of metal-workers and other craftsmen, their once recognised status was gradually eroded during the break-up of clan society, and their numbers swelled by those dispossessed during the century which culminated in the tragedy of Culloden. Their enforced isolation, and their exposure, while travelling, to many different kinds and sources of tradition: these were two factors behind the strongly individualistic tradition forged at the travellers' campfire gatherings. The discovery of Jeannie, their greatest star, was the culmination of many years' work in their midst by Hamish Henderson, of the School of Scottish Studies,-"Big Hamish", Jeannie affectionately called him, and it was to him she continued to turn for advice over 22 years. </p><p>For the musician, Jeannie's sing- ing is a source of never-ending delight: her superb voice, her shaping of phrases so that words and music become an inseparable whole, her wide-ranging repertoire and match- ing versatility of style, her subtle use of rubato and ornamentation as means of expressiveness, above all the paradox of a traditional timeless objectivity combined with dramatic, consciously histrionic power. In A. L. Lloyds' phrase, "a singer sweet and heroic." </p><p>Ave atque vale. Jeannie's singing lives on, in the mind's ear of the countless numbers who heard her, in the many recordings she made over the years, and in the young singers to whom she gave and taught so much. </p><p>AILIE MUNRO. </p><p>of Scottish traditional song and culture, the importance of the travellers has long been recognised. An ancient caste of metal-workers and other craftsmen, their once recognised status was gradually eroded during the break-up of clan society, and their numbers swelled by those dispossessed during the century which culminated in the tragedy of Culloden. Their enforced isolation, and their exposure, while travelling, to many different kinds and sources of tradition: these were two factors behind the strongly individualistic tradition forged at the travellers' campfire gatherings. The discovery of Jeannie, their greatest star, was the culmination of many years' work in their midst by Hamish Henderson, of the School of Scottish Studies,-"Big Hamish", Jeannie affectionately called him, and it was to him she continued to turn for advice over 22 years. </p><p>For the musician, Jeannie's sing- ing is a source of never-ending delight: her superb voice, her shaping of phrases so that words and music become an inseparable whole, her wide-ranging repertoire and match- ing versatility of style, her subtle use of rubato and ornamentation as means of expressiveness, above all the paradox of a traditional timeless objectivity combined with dramatic, consciously histrionic power. In A. L. Lloyds' phrase, "a singer sweet and heroic." </p><p>Ave atque vale. Jeannie's singing lives on, in the mind's ear of the countless numbers who heard her, in the many recordings she made over the years, and in the young singers to whom she gave and taught so much. </p><p>AILIE MUNRO. </p><p>Mrs Lois Blake 1890-1974 Just as the English Folk Dance and Song Society owes a vast debt to the Scotsman, Douglas Kennedy, so </p><p>Mrs Lois Blake 1890-1974 Just as the English Folk Dance and Song Society owes a vast debt to the Scotsman, Douglas Kennedy, so </p><p>is the Welsh Folk Dance Society equally indebted to the work of an Englishwoman, Mrs Lois Blake. A Londoner by birth, after some horrific experiences as a Red Cross nurse in Russia during the fil st World War, she married and settled in Liverpool where she became a keen folk dancer under Miss Holbrow, maintaining her interest in all aspects of the work of the EFDSS through- out her life. A close friend of the late Violet Alford, she was also a keen student of folk lore and it was not by chance alone that she chose finally to live in Marshfield, home of one of the few surviving traditional groups of mummers. But it is for her pioneer work in the field of Welsh folk dance that she will be most remembered. In 1930 she settled with her family at Llangwm near the Denbighshire-Merionethshire border and it is here that Welsh folk dancing as it is known to-day was born. She devoted an imnmense amount of time and energy to digging out such slender evidence about genuine Welsh traditional dance as could be found, delving into the Llangadfan and other manuscripts and searching through various dancing master collections for dances with Welsh references in their titles which might possibly have had some Welsh ori- gins. Here she got together a group of dancers from the Corwen area who became the first group ever to show Welsh traditional dance outside Wales, at any rate in modern times. This was at a festival of folk music and dance from all parts of Britain organised by the Scottish Anthro- pological and Folklore Society in Edinburgh in July 1948, and the writer had the honour of dancing with the team at the final perfor- mance, taking the place of one of the men who had had to leave early. </p><p>Shortly after moving to Wales, Mrs Blake had the good fortune to meet W. S. Gwynn Williams who published his fine study on "Welsh </p><p>is the Welsh Folk Dance Society equally indebted to the work of an Englishwoman, Mrs Lois Blake. A Londoner by birth, after some horrific experiences as a Red Cross nurse in Russia during the fil st World War, she married and settled in Liverpool where she became a keen folk dancer under Miss Holbrow, maintaining her interest in all aspects of the work of the EFDSS through- out her life. A close friend of the late Violet Alford, she was also a keen student of folk lore and it was not by chance alone that she chose finally to live in Marshfield, home of one of the few surviving traditional groups of mummers. But it is for her pioneer work in the field of Welsh folk dance that she will be most remembered. In 1930 she settled with her family at Llangwm near the Denbighshire-Merionethshire border and it is here that Welsh folk dancing as it is known to-day was born. She devoted an imnmense amount of time and energy to digging out such slender evidence about genuine Welsh traditional dance as could be found, delving into the Llangadfan and other manuscripts and searching through various dancing master collections for dances with Welsh references in their titles which might possibly have had some Welsh ori- gins. Here she got together a group of dancers from the Corwen area who became the first group ever to show Welsh traditional dance outside Wales, at any rate in modern times. This was at a festival of folk music and dance from all parts of Britain organised by the Scottish Anthro- pological and Folklore Society in Edinburgh in July 1948, and the writer had the honour of dancing with the team at the final perfor- mance, taking the place of one of the men who had had to leave early. </p><p>Shortly after moving to Wales, Mrs Blake had the good fortune to meet W. S. Gwynn Williams who published his fine study on "Welsh </p><p>94 94 </p><p>This content downloaded from 62.122.79.56 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:08:23 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>National Folk Music and Dance" in 1932. Together they published a number of collections of dances which still contain the backbone of the Welsh repertoire. She felt that the Welsh people had a need for a revival of their own folk dance tradition and worked hard towards the formation of a national folk dance organisation, but with the advent of the second World War, this did not come about until 1949, when she became the first President of the Cymdeithas Ddawns Werin Cymru (Welsh Folk Dance Society). </p><p>Here she realised that almost all the evidence not only of dances but of dance-style having disappeared as a result of the great religious revival in Wales, the only way in which a genuine Welsh style could be achieved, was by allowing it to grow naturally out of the dancing of Welsh people and not by inflicting personal ideas on it from outside. How successful she was in this can be judged from the number of Welsh folk dance groups that are now invited to attend festivals abroad, as well as the fact that a few years ago a Welsh folk dance team successfully won the folk dance competition at the International Eisteddfod at Llan- gollen. She realised too that a folk dance society could not flourish on the tiny repertoire of genuine Welsh traditional material that existed, and could be enlarged not only by using material with titles having Welsh associations in the dancing master collections of the 17th to the early 19th centuries, but by the composi- tion of new dances in a genuine Welsh style. She herself created a few such dances which have taken their place in the repertoire, the most successful being Pont Caerodor, a lively dance to an old Welsh jig tune. In talking about Welsh dance, however, as in everything else she was extremely honest. She never pretended that all the borrowed or made-up material was genuinely </p><p>National Folk Music and Dance" in 1932. Together they published a number of collections of dances which still contain the backbone of the Welsh repertoire. She felt that the Welsh people had a need for a revival of their own folk dance tradition and worked hard towards the formation of a national folk dance organisation, but with the advent of the second World War, this did not come about until 1949, when she became the first President of the Cymdeithas Ddawns Werin Cymru (Welsh Folk Dance Society). </p><p>Here she realised that almost all the evidence not only of dances but of dance-style having disappeared as a result of the great religious revival in Wales, the only way in which a genuine Welsh style could be achieved, was by allowing it to grow naturally out of the dancing of Welsh people and not by inflicting personal ideas on it from outside. How successful she was in this can be judged from the number of Welsh folk dance groups that are now invited to attend festivals abroad, as well as the fact that a few years ago a Welsh folk dance team successfully won the folk dance competition at the International Eisteddfod at Llan- gollen. She realised too that a folk dance society could not flourish on the tiny repertoire of genuine Welsh traditional material that existed, and could be enlarged not only by using material with titles having Welsh associations in the dancing master collections of the 17th to the early 19th centuries, but by the composi- tion of new dances in a genuine Welsh style. She herself created a few such dances which have taken their place in the repertoire, the most successful being Pont Caerodor, a lively dance to an old Welsh jig tune. In talking about Welsh dance, however, as in everything else she was extremely honest. She never pretended that all the borrowed or made-up material was genuinely </p><p>traditional and she admitted freely to making certain alterations in her interpretation of the Llangadfan dances where the original had gone against her ideas of symmetry. </p><p>In this way she guided the Welsh Folk Dance Society wisely through its earliest years aided by a number of devoted friends whom she had infected with her enthusiasm, until at last the child became a man and could stand firmly on its own feet. Even after that right up to the time of her death she was to be seen at nearly every major Welsh folk dance event. In recognition of her great service to Welsh folk dance, she was made a bard of the Welsh Gorsedd, an honour bestowed on very few who hail from outside the Princi- pality and of which she was justly proud. Apart from various collec- tions of dances already referred to, she wrote two small booklets; "Welsh Folk Dance and Costume" which went through three editions, and later in 1972 there appeared "Traditional Dance and Customs in Wales". She also from time to time contributed valuable articles for this journal. She will be missed by many both in and out of Wales for her knowledge and vision, her wisdom and continuing enthusiasm and her unfailing honesty and kindness, qualities she herself appreciated so much in others. </p><p>P.N.S-S. </p><p>traditional and she admitted freely to making certain alterations in her interpretation of the Llangadfan dances where the original had gone against her ideas of symmetry. </p><p>In this way she guided the Welsh Folk Dance Society wisely through its earliest years aided by a number of devoted friends whom she had infected with her enthusiasm, until at last the child became a man and could stand firmly on its own feet. Even after that right up to the time of her death she was to be seen at nearly every major Welsh folk dance event. In recognition of her great service to Welsh folk dance, she was made a bard of the Welsh Gorsedd, an honour bestowed on very few who hail from outside the Princi- pality and of which she was justly proud. Apart from various collec- tions of dances already referred to, she wrote two small booklets; "Welsh Folk Dance and Costume" which went through three editions, and later in 1972 there appeared "Traditional Dance and Customs in Wales". She also from time to time contributed valuable articles for this journal. She will be missed by many both in and out of Wales for her knowledge and vision, her wisdom and continuing enthusiasm and her unfailing honesty and kindness, qualities she herself appreciated so much in others. </p><p>P.N.S-S. </p><p>Frank Howes 1891-1974 </p><p>The EFDSS has always been fortu- nate in attracting a number of distinguished people who have generously given of their time and talents to help it in a number of different ways. Frank Howes was one of these. In 1927 he took over the editorship of the Folk S...</p></li></ul>