These twelve ballads were recorded as part of a project for 21C Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. The recordings are the audio complement to 12 8'x 10' paintings of scenes from the ballads, which can be viewed online at dandutton.com (Click Image, then Ballad Image Index.) The songs are mostly ones that I grew up singing. When I began working on this project, I chose 36 ballads to record, and gradually narrowed down to the twelve that would be painted, and included on this recording. The recordings were made by Jody Kirkpatrick, who also designed electronic atmospheres for each ballad, with a host of electronic devices and manually controlled synthesizers that respond delicately to the tones and volumes of the voice and instrument. The recordings are all 'live', without overdubs. The instruments are a Ramirez guitar, charango, mountain dulcimer, m'bira, and an early type of hurdy-gurdy called a symphonia. These are traditional ballads, some quite old. True Thomas has a text from the 1400s, and probably dates to the mid-1200s. I haven't treated them like relics though, I approached the material just as any contemporary song should be, with every creative power available. I learned some of the songs from my parents, some from other singers, including mentors Jean Ritchie and Chapel Wallin, some from Sir Francis Child's 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Jean Ritchie has requested that I mention the sources for two of the songs I learned in part from her; The Farmer's Curst Wife includes lyrics from the ballad that her family, 'The Singing Ritchies of Perry County Kentucky' call 'The Little Devils', and The Boar Hunter has lyrics from her version of 'Bangum and the Boar'. The set of 36 ballads, and a book about the ballad project, are available from my website; dandutton.com.
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