Catalogue description Discussion of folk music and performance

This record is held by Birmingham: Archives, Heritage and Photography Service

Details of MS 4000/5/4/
Reference: MS 4000/5/4/
Title: Discussion of folk music and performance
Held by: Birmingham: Archives, Heritage and Photography Service, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Administrative / biographical background:

The recordings for this section have been divided into two areas:


MS 4000/5/4/1/ contains recordings of discussions and teachings by Ewan MacColl.


Numbers MS 4000/5/4/1/3 to /6 appear to be a sequence of recordings titled 'Ears to Hear'.


These recordings may have been undertaken by Charles Parker as part of his research work for three radio programmes made in 1964 and 1965: 'Instant Salvation'(BBC Third Programme), 'Blessed Assurance', (which was not broadcast), and 'New Wine into Old Bottles' (BBC Home Service). These were programmes about modern evangelism, its language and music and a personal assessment by Parker of some aspects of the Church's search for new forms of expression and new members. Papers concerning these programmes may be found at MS 4000/2/98, 99, 100.


MS 4000/5/4/2/ contains recordings of the Critics Group. This was a group of singers and musicians who met regularly with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger from 1964 to 1971 to explore the art and politics of performance and provide criticism for each other.


As well as exploring the development of folk singing, they took part in theatre projects such as the 'Festival of Fools', giving annual performances based on political satire. They also recorded, in 1966, as a radio ballad, a modern version of 'Romeo and Juliet' for schools. Some of the group were also involved in the 'Folksingers against Vietnam' anti-war movement, and in the Women's movement.


Tape recordings were made of the sessions by Charles Parker and transcripts made of the recordings.


Transcripts of the sessions for the folk song course led by Ewan MacColl in 1964 can be found in MS 4000/1/8/9 as can a few other miscellaneous transcripts. There is also a reading list and bibliography for the Folk Song Course and there are copious notes by Charles Parker on various meetings from 1964 to 1970.


The other topics discussed by Ewan MacColl with the Critics Group include love, sex, marriage etc.; thetare; song analysis;


Members of the Critics Group included: Frankie Armstrong, Rex Benjamin, Bob Blair, Phil Colclough, Aldwyn Cooper, Pat Creedy, John Faulkner, Donneil Kennedy, Sandra Kerr, Ewan MacColl, Jim O'Connor, Charles Parker, Brian Pearson, Shirley Peters,


Buff Rosenthal, Peggy Seeger, Dick Snell, Phil Sweeney, Jack Warshaw, Terry Yarnell.


Performances by many of the above members can be found in the sequence of tapes recorded at the Grey Cock Folk Club (MS 4000/5/3/5/4/...).


Nine of the tapes digitised for this section (MS 4000/5/4/2/) were donated to the Charles Parker Archive in 1992, and have been added into the chronological sequence. There were four empty tape boxes with this donation, which are also included. They form the numbers MS 4000/5/4/2/2 to 14.


A listening cassette called 'The Voice of Experience', which consists of selections from the teaching of Ewan MacColl with the Critics Group, 1964 - 1969, made from the recordings done by Charles Parker, is available to be listened to in the City Archives [MS 4000/LC 90] and a copy may also be purchased from the Charles Parker Archive Trust.

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