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Hal an Tow

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HAL AN TOW


Related threads:
Lyr/Tune Add: Helston Hal an Tow (21)
What does 'Hal an Tow' mean? (89) (closed)
Lyr Req: May songs (5)
Want first verse to Hal an Tow. (26)
Lyr Req: alt. verses to Hal An Tow (21)
Lyr Req: Sumer Is Icumen In/Summer Is A-Coming In (28)
Hal and Toe / Hal and Tow (20)
Hal An Tow: notes? (43)
hal an tow. What's it about? (5)
Hal an Tow (10)
Lyr Req: Hal n Toe? / Hal an Tow (22)
Hal and Tow (5)


GUEST, MBSLynne 24 Apr 02 - 04:36 AM
greg stephens 24 Apr 02 - 06:01 AM
Geoff the Duck 24 Apr 02 - 06:24 AM
Garry Gillard 24 Apr 02 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 24 Apr 02 - 07:53 AM
Big Tim 25 Apr 02 - 03:42 AM
Watson 25 Apr 02 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,MBSLynne 25 Apr 02 - 08:34 AM
catspaw49 25 Apr 02 - 08:39 AM
Watson 25 Apr 02 - 08:59 AM
greg stephens 25 Apr 02 - 09:07 AM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Apr 02 - 10:24 AM
catspaw49 25 Apr 02 - 10:36 AM
Watson 25 Apr 02 - 11:11 AM
Cllr 25 Apr 02 - 12:59 PM
MBSLynne 25 Apr 02 - 03:42 PM
catspaw49 25 Apr 02 - 03:52 PM
Herga Kitty 25 Apr 02 - 06:09 PM
MBSLynne 26 Apr 02 - 04:14 AM
Herga Kitty 26 Apr 02 - 03:30 PM
Kernow John 26 Apr 02 - 05:54 PM
pavane 26 Apr 02 - 06:25 PM
RolyH 27 Apr 02 - 03:14 PM
Gray D 28 Apr 02 - 03:19 PM
Gypsy 28 Apr 02 - 09:50 PM
MBSLynne 29 Apr 02 - 04:14 AM
greg stephens 29 Apr 02 - 07:08 AM
Big Tim 30 Apr 02 - 05:42 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 30 Apr 02 - 06:04 AM
Big Tim 30 Apr 02 - 03:09 PM
CapriUni 30 Apr 02 - 06:41 PM
GUEST,JohnB 02 May 02 - 12:32 PM
CapriUni 03 May 02 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,JohnB 03 May 02 - 12:08 PM
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Subject: Hal an Tow
From: GUEST, MBSLynne
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 04:36 AM

Every year as Mayday approaches, I revise, in my mind the words of "Hal an Tow". I still don't know what the words actually are for the first verse. I've been told several different versions, and even then, they all seem to be nonsense. They sound like something that once made sense and has now got slurred and blurred until no one really knows what it means. Does anyone know a) what the words are and b) what they mean?


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:01 AM

A lot of Cornish songs display this curious approach to the English language: I imagine its because we all talked Cornish till a couple of hundred years ago: thats my excuse anyway, though I notice it comes on worse when I've had a few beers.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:24 AM

There have been a few discussions in past threads. To check those out go to Forum Home then find the box which says Filter Pick a key word e.g. Hal then in the box saying Age select the search period - for something like this try the longest available (if you use too many words it might miss a thread with a slightly different combination - of course you will not find a misspelt version). Click on Refresh, and the Forum Search will try to pull up every occurrence of Hal in the titles of threads. Next check down them to find the ones which say Hal An Tow rather than songs about somebody's Uncle Hal......
Happy Searching!
Geoff the Duck


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:45 AM

Here is a thread to many threads.

Garry


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 07:53 AM

Beware the Cornish version in Peter Kennedy's big folksong book. It's a modern translation, not an old original, and you wont spot that unless you read the footnotes very carefully.It also doesnt seem to fit the tune very well, i believe because the translator was working to make it fit to the Furry Dance. I'm sure all this will be covered in the links to other threads, but I've put it here as well as a lot of people have been fooled by those translations into believing that they are old "Celtic" songs.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Big Tim
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 03:42 AM

Here's the first verse as recorded by the Oysterband:

Take the scorn and wear the horns, it was the crest where you were born, your father's father wore it, and your father wore it too.

This is an unconvention version, well it's the Oysterband afterall, but a real modern reworking, brilliant!


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Watson
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 05:34 AM

I've heard the Oyster Band's version described as the best folk-rock track ever - I wouldn't argue with that.

I've even heard it used on a trail for a radio programme recently.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: GUEST,MBSLynne
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 08:34 AM

Thanks guys. The Oysterband lines are just about the ones I've been given, but they still don't make much sense! Does anyone know the actual origin of the song? The origins of some of the verses are fairly obvious, but it could be one that's had contemporary bits added over the years. (True folk?)


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 08:39 AM

Please follow the hot link/blue clicky thing provided above. Had you bothered to do this, you would have read more about this than you'd probably care to know. For instance, this post from Malcolm:

.....You will be familiar with the following, some of which has turned up on earlier threads: The point I should have made more clearly is that Hal An Tow is a song associated with a single specific custom, place and time of year; it was not, so far as is known, sung anywhere else traditionally. Of course, it has changed over the years, but presumably differing versions in print were simply written down at different times. The earliest known printed version is from 1846, though the custom was referred to at least as early as 1790, in The Gentleman's Magazine (quoted by Charles Kightly in The Customs & Ceremonies of Britain, Thames & Hudson, 1986):

In the morning, very early, some troublesome rogues go round the streets with drums or other noisy instruments, disturbing their sober neighbours and singing parts of a song, the whole of which nobody now recollects, and of which I know no more than that there is a mention in it of the grey goose quill and of going to "the green wood to bring home the summer and the May-O": and, accordingly, hawthorne flowering branches are worn in hats.

With the folk song revival of the 1950s and '60s, songs like this one began to be sung outside their normal context, and it is perhaps at this point that new variations may have begun to creep in. It is possible that not everybody who has performed or recorded this particular song has provided proper information as to their source; when people subsequently learn the song from them, it may become so divorced from its original context that people may be singing the song with no idea that it has a context, and fanciful "pagan" interpretations -and, indeed, interpolations- may be introduced. That's all well and good, provided a distinction is made between "authentic" versions deriving from the ceremony and modern re-writes which are not connected with it. That may seem pedantic to some, but this is, I think, one of those special cases.

On the subject of the title, Inglis Gundry writes, in Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain & Ireland (1975)

The meaning of the title is disputed. According to one theory it is "heave on the rope", an adaptation by Cornish sailors from the Dutch "Haal aan het touw" ("tow" is pronounced to rhyme with "cow" in Helston today). Others think it might refer to the heel and toe dance of The Monk's March, which is still danced in the English Cotswold morris tradition. Mordon (second Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd) evidently inclined to this view, for he writes that it "has every sign of being a processional morris dance even to the slow part at the beginning of the chorus in which, when its steps were still known and used, the dancers in characteristic morris style would have spread out sideways for a few steps, waving their handkerchiefs before forming into line as before." But it seems a pity with such a Cornish-sounding title to despair of finding a link with the old language. In 1660 Nicholas Boson of Newlyn said that there the may-pole was set up by men singing "Haile an Taw and Jolly Rumbelow". It looks from this as though "tow" in the 17th century rhymed with "awe" rather than with "cow". (In Cornish "Hal an to" (taw) would appear to mean "Hoist the Roof".)

To confuse the issue further, Kightly mentions a 15th century "sea-shanty" from Bristol (no source given) which contained the following lines:

Haile and Howe, Rumbylowe
Steer well the good ship and let the wind blowe

He thinks that the custom, and the Furry Dance which takes place on the same day, is "a rare survivor of...the Robin Hood May Games once played from Cornwall to Southern Scotland".

Malcolm


There is a ton of other info just available for the simple effort of clicking the links and reading the past threads.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Watson
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 08:59 AM

You tell 'em Spaw.
That's a lot easier than following those pesky blue clicky things.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 09:07 AM

the touble with spaw's "look up the old threads"line is that if eveyone followed his advice we wouldnt get the comment and new information that that is occasionally raised by a new thread. Admittedly it would more easily retrieved in the future if it had been added to an old thread, but human nature is human nature,People tend to read new short threads more thoroughly than they do old long ones.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 10:24 AM

Oh, I think we'd still get new information; we'd also still get people repeating what has already been said because they couldn't be bothered to read what was already there, though. That's annoying when you've spent time and effort providing comprehensive information and references, of course, but not as annoying as when people repeat misinformation which has already been dealt with; and that's just as common, and unnecessary.

All that business about horns has been pretty well talked to death, for example. Why go over it all again, and silt the Forum up with more repetition? I'd be surprised if there was anything useful to add, though I'd be pleased to hear something new on the subject. So long as it really is new; I don't think that recordings by Revival performers are likely to add to our understanding of this song, as they're removed from the living traditional context where its significance extends beyond the words and the music and it has a specific social function.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 10:36 AM

Thank you Malcolm!

Greg, I am never trying to stop a thread or keep someone from commenting further. However, in some cases like this one where the subject has been hashed over and explored in depth, than it would behoove anyone asking the questions to see what has been said.

Frankly, it always strikes me as the height of egotism to ignore some of the excellent comments made before. It's like saying that your opinion is the only one that matters. Everyone has an opinion that matters but it gets pretty silly when the same thing is posted over and over and over, especially when the new poster comes off like it's an original thought!

It happens on all sorts of threads and to me, one of the great strengths of this forum is that we can call up anything written in the past. You can feel free to add additional comments of course, but to ignore the links and the past threads is a mistake.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Watson
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 11:11 AM

For me, Malcolm's erudite and thoroughly researched postings are a fine example of the most important part of the forum.
Time after time, if there's a traditional song that I am interested in, I find that he has exactly the answer I'm looking for. There is always room for discussion, and that is what makes us keep on coming back. Very seldom can we have the definitive answer, but Malcolm comes as close to it as you can get.
I don't think we should be too dismayed that people frequently raise questions on subject that have been done to death already, but it is a little frustrating that even when they are pointed in the right direction they don't seem to want to look for themselves. Mind you, GUEST, MBSLynne is obviously very intelligent "The origins of some of the verses are fairly obvious" She could well be a fruitful source of knowledge on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Cllr
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:59 PM

MBSLynne has some other obvious talents as well. Cllr


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: MBSLynne
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 03:42 PM

I'm sorry, Spaw, that I appear to have offended you by asking the question in the first place, but I am new to this and not very computer literate, so I was unaware of looking up the old threads and the procedure. Someone did explain to me, very nicely, how to do it, so I did. It wasn't that I didn't "Bother to look". By the way...do I know you Cllr? I have a funny feeling I do!??!


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 03:52 PM

I wasn't offended at all and I hope you aren't either. Click the links when you see them.....Starting the thread was fine as at the moment we don't list a procedure for checking first. Never a problem, but do click the links...lots of good info.

If I came off as griping....sorry....but a lot of people never bother to check back even after the links are given.

Spqaw


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 06:09 PM

MBSLynne

He's the MBS Cllr so yes you do know him.

I think it's inevitable that new Mudcatters will ask questions that have been asked before, but we're very lucky that Malcolm supplies the links to the previous threads.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: MBSLynne
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 04:14 AM

Ok, guys, thanks for the info and no offence taken. Hello my dear little Cllr. I thought it might be you!


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 03:30 PM

Hi Lynne

I've noticed that your most recent posts are from MBS Lynne, not GUEST MBS Lynne, so welcome to Mudcat!

What's a nice veggie girl like you doing singing about hunting the buck and hare and eating the roast? (somehow I don't think this means Mediterranean vegetables). And what herbs do you recommend to go with? (only teasing)

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Kernow John
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 05:54 PM

Only 12 days to go to this years Furry Day.
You've got to be there to appreciate it. There's a silence comes over the crowd at 2 mins before 7 am. The clock chimes the big drum bangs and the first dancers burst out through the doors and the tune starts and away we go.
KJ


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: pavane
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 06:25 PM

It was also recorded, in about 1969? by a group called Porterhouse on their only album (Bide Lady Bide, I think)

Why mention it? Because they came from Neath, where I have lived since 1971 (Just missed them)

The lead singer has a VERY distinctive voice, very low for a girl, but according to friends, she had (has?) a very wide range.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: RolyH
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 03:14 PM

No.49 in the Oxford Book of Carols


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Gray D
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 03:19 PM

The Porterhouse album *was* called "Bide Lady Bide".

It came out on the Cambrian label - MCT216 - in 1972.

The track is named "Hal on tow" on that album; first track, side one.

I saw them a couple of times - excellent.

One of the singers, Tony, was still around on the South Wales scene until a few years ago. He did a few numbers at Llantrisant Folk Club when I used to go there.

Perhaps we should start a "Porterhouse - where are they now" thread?


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Gypsy
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 09:50 PM

MBSLynne, that first verse refers to be cuckolded. Pretty sad thing for ALL of the men in the family to suffer from


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: MBSLynne
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 04:14 AM

So what is "Take the scorn"? And "It was the crest"? I don't think it's the cuckold's horns, I think it's the horns symbolic of Greenman, Cernunnos or whatever you like to call him. Thanks for the welcome Kitty!


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 07:08 AM

The earliest version of this line we have documented is "Take thou no scorn to wear the horn/It was a crest ere thou wast born/ Thy fathers father wore it/ And thy father wore it." (Shakespeare's version). The obvious sense is that you (the person the song is directed to) are "wearing the horn" ie your wife's been playing away, you've been cuckolded.It then goes on to say, ironically, dont be ashamed of wearing the horn,its your family crest( the distinguishing emblem on top of a battle helmet) because it happened to your dad and his dad before him (ie the insult is being extended, under pretence of telling you not to be ashamed). The whole thing is a (goodnatured)insult. But I suppose if you're seriously into Cernunnos/Celtic history you could interpret it as "dont be ashamed of wearing horns, Cernunnos the great horned god used to wear horns, and your family has been passing on this glorious tradition down the male line since that Golden Age. I favour the obvious first interpretation, though equally obvious any group of people fooling around with deers antlers will be carrying some ancient cultural baggage which does include animal magic way back...


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Big Tim
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 05:42 AM

It's just occurred to me that I don't even know what Hal an Tow means! I suspect that it's probably on the thread somewhere, or a previous one, but can any one oblige with a quick "translation". Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 06:04 AM

Big Tim: I'm afraid youre going to have to read all the threads. It'll take a while. At the end you will know a lot about all sorts of things, though I'm afraid you still won't know what "Hal an Tow" means! But you'll be in a better position to make an informed guess. That's folk music for you.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: Big Tim
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 03:09 PM

Thanks Greg!!!


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: CapriUni
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 06:41 PM

Greg wrote:

I favour the obvious first interpretation [Cuckoldtry]

Right. Unless someone finds direct evidence of an unbroken survival of conscious Pagan celebration, it's a pretty safe assumption that the 17th century [?] composer didn't know a whit about the religion of his forbears a couple thousand years earlier, any more than your average Joe on the street today would.

But...

though equally obvious any group of people fooling around with deers antlers will be carrying some ancient cultural baggage which does include animal magic way back...

Right again. After all the figure of a beast-man (with a stag's head, human body, and wolf's tail)has been found in the Cave of Les Trois Freres in France, dating back to at least 10,000 b.c.e. ... And cuckoos don't have horns. ;-) Wouldn't be surprised if there were some fertility magic involved.

Speaking of antiquity, did/does anyone else know the following verse (I learned it at my old high school May Day Celebration -- we sang it second)?

Since Man was first created
His life has been debated
And we have celebrated
The coming of the spring.

That a modern addition, or what?


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 02 May 02 - 12:32 PM

Somehow I ended up leading it at yesterdays dawn Mayday celabration in High Park Toronto. Started with chorus, half way through chorus mind went BLANK, could not think of first verse started at all. Muffed the Goose and Roast bit the wrong way around, really makes you spit feathers. Fortunately I aced Padstow by means of retribution. Happy May to one and all. JohnB.


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: CapriUni
Date: 03 May 02 - 12:01 PM

Fortunately I aced Padstow by means of retribution.

Congrats, on the save, John. And muffs not withstanding, I hope you had an excelent time...


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Subject: RE: Hal an Tow
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 03 May 02 - 12:08 PM

Thanks CU and YES WE DID. JohnB


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