Albert Farmer's Bonfire Tune

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ALBERT FARMER'S BONFIRE TUNE. English, Hornpipe or Polka. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. According to Ken Stubbs, Albert Farmer was born in 1893, lived all his life in Lingfield, Surrey. He was a butcher before World War I, but when he returned home from service he found the shop where he worked had been demolished and another built in its place. As work was scarce he found it where he could and subsequently worked in building construction, maintenance and as a painter and decorator. Largely self-taught, he learned to play the concertina and melodeon, and with a drum set he started a one-mand band. He also played the harmonica and tambourine together. Farmer was known to accompany carol singers on their rounds and devoted much time to developing the East Grinstead Olde Tyme dancing Club.

Farmer's home town of Lingfield had a bonfire tradition, much in the tradition of neighboring Sussex. English bonfires were a common form of celebration attached to many calendar customs such as November the 5th, Queen Elizabeth I's accession, New Year and midsummer, according to Simpson & Roud (English Folklore, 2000). As the authors say, "it has taken very little persuasion to get English people to make a bonfire." In former times they took an anti-papal character, with pope and devil effigies being burned in the conflagration, and they were encouraged, for example, in the time of Henry VIII as a way of communicating to the populace their good fortune in being delivered from the clutches of the Roman church. There is no evidence that bonfires were connected with Celtic tradition, nor that they were survivals of pagan custom, note Simpson & Roud.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 13.

Recorded sources: EFDSS CD 04, The Bismarcks – "Upstream" (2001). EFDSS CD13, The Bismarcks – "Hardcore English" (2007. Various artists). Topic Records 12T240, Albert Farmer et al – "Boscastle Breakdown" (1974. Recorded for the BBC in the 1940's).

See also listing at:
Hear a medium paced learning version from Paul Tyler at the Old Town School of Folk Music Fiddle Tune Archive [1]



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