Martin Carthy’s rhythms
Keywords:1960s, Martin Carthy, rhythm, UK folk song
A relatively large number of popular songs in the late sixties are metrically irregular, probably because of the popularity of pre-War blues and UK folk song at this time. Most young people encountered the latter through the recordings of Martin Carthy. This essay concerns the many irregularly metered songs that he recorded between 1963 and 1970. I use five terms to characterize the relative irregularity of these songs: Regular, Less than Regular, Irregular, Highly Irregular and Variably Pulsed. I analyse seven songs in rhythmic detail, and include an appendix summarizing the rhythmic properties of about 100 songs from this time as well as from two later albums. The essay concludes that Martin Carthy, if unwittingly, both contributed to and absorbed the general trend towards rhythmic irregularity in late sixties popular music.
Ford, C. 1995. ‘ “Gently Tender”: The Incredible String Band’s First Five Albums’. Popular Music 14/2: 175–83.
——1998. ‘Robert Johnson’s Rhythms’. Popular Music 17/1: 71–93.
Harper, C. 2000. Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival. London: Bloomsbury.
Lerdahl, F., and Jackendoff, R. 1981. ‘On the Theory of Grouping and Meter’. Musical Quarterly LXVII: 479–506.
Sharp, C. 1965 (orig. 1920). English Folk Songs. Vols. 1 & 2. London: Novello.
Vaughan Williams, R., and Lloyd, A. L., eds. 1971 (orig. 1959). The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. London: Penguin.
Martin Carthy. Topic 1965.
Martin Carthy’s Second Album. Fontana 1966.
Byker Hill. Phillips 1967 (with Dave Swarbrick).
But Two Came By. Polygram 1968, Topic 1977 (with Dave Swarbrick).
Prince Heathen. Polygram 1969, Topic 1997, 1994 (with Dave Swarbrick).
Landfall. Phillips 1971, Topic 1977.
Crown of Horn. Topic 1976 (with Dave Swarbrick).
Life and Limb. Green Linnet 1990 (with Dave Swarbrick).
The Copper Family, Come Write Me Down: Early Recordings of the Copper Family of Rottingdean. Topic 2001.
Fairport Convention, Liege and Leaf. Island 1969.
Good Order! Ladies and Gentlemen Please: Traditional Singing and Music from The Eel’s Foot. Veteran 2000.
Steeleye Span, Pleased to See the King. B & C Records, 1971.
Dave Swarbrick, Martin Carthy and Diz Disley, Reels, Rags and Airs. Topic 1967.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.