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01 May 2013

May Day at BL World & Traditional Music

As 1 May is May Day, we thought we would give you a glimpse of the Traditional Music in England collection available on BL Sounds. You can find many recordings of May Day celebrations such as this one recorded in the streets of Padstow on May Day in 1976.

Folklorist Peter Kennedy also recorded May Day celebrations. Here is an actuality recording of a May Day procession in Castleton, Derbyshire, England. You can hear the horses hooves march by to the tune of the brass band.

Padstow May Day
The Blue Ribbon 'Obby 'Oss: Market Square, Padstow, Cornwall, May Day (1 May), year not known (probably late 1940s); Photograph by Pictorial Press, London.

1 May is also a day for celebrating the international labour movement. Here are a few labour songs from around the world:

These women and girls, recorded in Uganda by Peter Cooke in 1964, are returning from doing their day’s work which would probably either consist of collecting grass or roofing.

The musicians and singers performing this song work in farming. In this recording, made by Rolf Killius in 2001, you can hear them describing the strains of the long agricultural year working in the barren fields in the mountains.

Our last recording was made by Peter Kennedy in 1953 at the Portland Stone Quarry in England. It was made for a film on the songs and work practices in the quarry entitled “Quarrymen’s Work Songs”. This is part of a group of work songs made by Kennedy, accompanied by the sounds of the work being carried out.


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