Blog No.4: A Musical ‘History’ Of Northumberland & Durham – Part 1 – 18th Century – Tracks 5 to 9

BLOG NO.4 – CLICK HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO READ BLOG NO.3 FIRST.  If you’d like to read first why I wrote these 65 tracks, then click HERE to read that blog. (Blue text are external links, which will open in a new browser window.)

(Those getting this via email won’t be able to see the tracks. Clicking on the title of the blog will open it in a tab of your web browser. For those reading on a iPad, the tracks will open in a separate browser windows and not play on the Page. Apologies.)

Welcome to a blog about tracks 5 to 9 of ‘album’ (Part) one of these five ‘albums’ (65 tracks in all) covering over three hundred years of history – both real and fictional – relating the English northeastern counties of what were Northumberland and Durham, but now Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and Durham including Teesside. As such, some of the songs are sung in the old Northumbrian, Geordie or Pitmatic accents and dialects. I’ve included explanations of the words used where necessary, and sometimes give lyrics in Standard English. Part 1 covers the 18th century.

The dates by the track are either just where I have placed them (e.g. c.1710); this is when the traditional song was written; or this is when the historical event they portray happened. Keep in mind the music styles will change greatly from Parts 1 to 5 as they reflect the time they depict.

If any ex- or working miners out there spot any technical mistakes, please let me know in the comments section at the bottom of the page. If anyone else spots typos, please let me know. Thanks.

Anyone can give a Rate This star rating at the top of the blog or leave a Comment at the bottom of the page, and you can Like this blog if you’re a WordPress member at the bottom. If you’d like each blog to be posted to your inbox, click on the Follow Mak’s Music Blog tab at the top of the sidebar to the right if you’re with WordPress, or FOLLOW (THROUGH EMAIL) if you’re not. Please do rate the tracks in the Poll after them.

Recorded in Weston Lullingfields & Oswestry, Shropshire © Mak Wilson 1974, 1976, 1977, 1993, 2007 & 2017

Track 5 – The Peasants Are Revolting – Set c.1710,  this track is a comical, and somewhat caricatured song from a lord about his dislike for the smelly peasants of the region. We do have this rather skewed view of the landed gentry of the time, and we know they weren’t all greedy bastards! This one, however, is.

All virtual instruments in Garageband and Logic Pro X.

Track 6 – The Miners Of The Dales – The men, women and children of the lead and iron ore mines in the dales of the region often get forgotten about. (Hopefully this will readdress that.) These were very different mines to their coal equivalents, not least due to the fact the lead seams rose almost vertically.

For those unfamiliar with the dales, they are the valley regions of Northumberland, Durham and North Yorkshire, where their rivers are flowing out from the Pennines (known as The Backbone of England) and cutting their ways through the high moorland towards the eastern plains. Quite a bleak and challenging territory, especially at this time. When they weren’t mining, they were farming this land.

Created with Garageband and Logic Pro X virtual instruments.

Track 7 – The Ballad Of Ralph Wood (The Causey Arch Bridge – 1726) – A ballad from the three hundred year old ghost of the builder of this, the very first single span railway bridge in the world – 100ft span, 80ft high – who laments the fact that he went and committed suicide thinking the bridge wasn’t going to stay up! His first, wooden bridge had fallen down, so he did have reason for concern. Needless to say, it’s still there, and now a huge tourist attraction.

This song is close to my heart, as this bridge and its stream, the Causey Burn, were once part of our extended ‘playground’. Now it’s all a heritage site with safety rails to stop you falling 80 ft to your death. No such luxuries when I was a lad. It’s also home to a steam railway and very well worth the visit. Of course, when the bridge was first built, there were no steam trains, or iron rail tracks come to that. The huge wooden wagons on wooden tracks were pulled by horses, and the tracks had to be cooled with water to stop them igniting. The Wagon Way connected the Tanfield collieries – Tanfield being more prominent than Stanley at this time – to the main Wagon Way to the River Tyne for export. Over 900 horses and their wagons travelled back and forth would cross the bridge every day. (The Causey Arch bridge is near Stanley, Co. Durham, England.)

(In case you were wondering, the trees of the Causey Burn Gorge aren’t really that colour! 😉 )

Most instruments and choirs are virtual ones in Garageband and Logic Pro X. Strings are from a Korg Triton LE.

Track 8 – The Shepherds’ Shields Row – A romantic and fictional love story, which I’ve set c.1740 based on the shepherd and shepherdess story of Beamish, County Durham, with an explanation of the origins of the local place name Shield Row, which is where I grew up. ‘Shields’ were the sheltering huts for shepherds (or fishermen – hence North and South Shields) and these ones were situated on the Beamish South Moor (now to the east of Shield Row); not to be confused with South Moor to the southwest of Stanley.

I’m sure the shepherds and shepherdesses of the time didn’t look like the romantic painting by François Boucher I’ve used for the track on SoundCloud!

All instruments in Garageband and Logic Pro X.

Track 9 – Fare Thee Well My Darling – A fictional sad story set c.1750 about a boat’s captain – who could have sailed out of any of the region’s main rivers – singing his verbal last ‘letter’ to his loved ones as his boat is about to be engulfed by the waves. It’s incredible enough to think what modern fishermen have to deal with out in the North Sea, let alone those in the 18th century.

This one is my orchestral and rousing than in a folk style, and I used a mix of instruments in Garageband, Logic Pro X and the Korg Triton LE.



4 thoughts on “Blog No.4: A Musical ‘History’ Of Northumberland & Durham – Part 1 – 18th Century – Tracks 5 to 9

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