A Heritage of Songs: The Folk Song Collections of Carrie Grover
Danielson, Steven Roy
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Carrie Grover, a homemaker and folk singer from Gorham, Maine via Nova Scotia, Canada, preserved, in her head, over 200 folk songs that she learned from her parents and other family members, passed down through the generations. She recorded many of her songs for ethnomusicologists in 1941, published 140 songs in 1955 in a volume titled A Heritage of Songs, and compiled a work with more of her collection called “The Maine Manuscript,” left unpublished at the time of her death in 1959. Only eight copies of A Heritage of Songs have known locations and “The Maine Manuscript” has been, until now, completely unknown and unavailable. The purpose of this document is to newly publish transcriptions of these two works and make them available for further scholarly research. The supplementary writing will point composers and choral conductors to use these collections in their future work. Whether working directly with the songs in the Grover collection or comparing the melodies to those found in other works, these collections offer valuable insight into the history and performance practices of the songs through Grover’s anecdotal documentation. Composers can use this information to inform their decisions while arranging the songs for choirs; conductors can, in turn, use the same information to inform performance choices. A comparison made between the Grover collection and other volumes aids in identifying the history and variants of a melody. Since Grover recorded some songs in multiple sources (e.g., both editions of her written works and the recordings), a comparison can be further made between songs contained within in her own collection to give further insight into the variances a singer might exhibit between different presentations of the same melody as well as the notation practices of multiple transcriptionists. Using these comparisons, composers can create new arrangements of the songs that aim to capture a more complete version of the song.
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