Name that tune?
January 19, 2008 9:55 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me identify a freakishly old (I think) song that I recently found? I know nothing about it other than it is old, and has been used for many years in a Maypole dance.

*link to song* (mp3)
Note: Song is very catchy.
posted by ooklala to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
It's a polka, for whatever that's worth.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:02 PM on January 19, 2008

It sounds a bit like a morris dance. Maybe Staines Morris?
posted by your mom at 10:12 PM on January 19, 2008

I don't recognize the tune, but this is why they invented the Musipedia contour search. Enter this melodic contour (just cut & paste from here)


or else use Staines as a keyword search. First result. Looks like your mom has it.
posted by Dave 9 at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2008

It sounds more like an arrangement (for a school program?) than the version of Staines Morris I've learned, even given a lot of folk-processing. The musipedia link sounds peculiarly modal, like they've left out an accidental the whole way through. The top two videos here have the minor version that I'm more familiar with. The "Now to the Maypole haste away" part seems particularly different.
posted by nonane at 10:49 AM on January 20, 2008

@nonane: Your lyrics seem mostly correct. Never thought anybody would know about this song!
@your mom: I think you are correct that it is a different version of that song.
@Dave 9: How did you get that melodic contour thing you speak of?
posted by ooklala at 2:04 PM on January 20, 2008

ooklala: The concept of melodic contour is explained under "Parsons Code" on the musipedia page that I linked above. It's a way of identifying a tune with a minimal amount of information -- just the shape (the ups and downs) of the tune:

"Each pair of consecutive notes is coded as "U" ("up") if the second note is higher than the first note, "R" ("repeat") if the pitches are equal, and "D" ("down") otherwise. Rhythm is completely ignored. . . . You can enter an asterisk (*) in the Parsons code field for the first note.

"In his "Directory of Tunes and Musical Themes" (Spencer Brown, 1975), D. Parsons showed that this simple encoding of tunes, which ignores most of the information in the musical signal, can still provide enough information for distinguishing between a large number of tunes."

The Ups and Downs that I wrote out above are just my quick transcription, by ear, of the tune in your mp3.
posted by Dave 9 at 5:45 PM on January 20, 2008

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