The volunteers visit the English Folk Dance and Song Society
On the 1st February 2017 we travelled to the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) with Michelle Cook to find and research songs and music that from the time of the Napoleonic wars and the Battle of Waterloo. This is a part of the Saving Samuel Godley Project at the archive, where we have focused on telling the story of his life (from 1778 to 1832) as part of a school-level outreach programme in which we hope to teach them a little more about their local history. Godley was a part of the regiment of 2nd Life Guards in the Battle of Waterloo, there the lifeguardsmen aided the Duke of Wellington and defeated Napoleon in 1815.
Within the building of the EFDSS is the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library which houses music books on various subjects from street cries and nursery rhymes to sea songs/shanties. There, the three of us were assisted by the wonderful staff that had a stack of music books from the Napoleonic wars waiting for us when we arrived, and guided by Ian Stewart, musician and well-known researcher of folk music. We learnt from Ian about the variety printed and online resources for researching music, and how best to use them, looking at #broadsides, #ballads and lyrics set to unknown music.
After many hours, we had narrowed our search down to five pieces of music. They have similar themes of attempting to get the soldiers and the public to feel more patriotic in the face of Napoleon’s army’s. We will annotate the lyrics to make sense of the obscure symbols, set them to music (for the ones for which the tune was unknown) and condense the lyrics before teaching them to the schoolchildren this Spring! Most of the pieces that we chose to represent the Napoleonic era mention “Boney”, which was what a British soldier would have called Napoleon Bonaparte at the time. The ballads that we found will become a great addition in helping the Samuel Godley Project to be one step closer to completion.