My Obsession Has a Name: Child Ballads

*waves excitedly* Hey guys! Quick update: I’m really enjoying my temp job, I’m gathering some awesome story ideas that fell in my lap, and little by little, preparing for MomoCon!

And heads-up, I’m also making plans to redirect my sites (including this one) to puelladocta.com, and combine my online presences. So prepare for some different branding going on with my Christina A. Nelson {Author} stuff, particularly on my Youtube and G+ pages. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, because of it’s no-name-changing page nonsense. >.< But just wanted to warn you. Anyway, I said something about my temp job? Yes, while I'm sitting at a desk all day, I've started listening to Pandora and Spotify a lot more, and in my musical wanderings I came upon a very talented musician named Anaïs Mitchell. I realized I’d heard her version of “Willie’s Lady” on The Thistle and Shamrock radio show on NPR, and I didn’t know it was her at the time, so I was excited to find her again! She’s written a lot of fantastic music, but this…THIS album reintroduced me to something amazing. Child Ballads:


Your soul looks a little tired, let these
tracks give you a lovely soul massage.

I say “reintroduced” because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of Child Ballads at some point, even though for some reason I’ve failed to remember them til now. In case you’re new to my blog, folk songs and folk tales are kind of one of my favorite things ever, so let’s just say I’m in denial.

Child Ballads are a list of well-known British and Scottish folk ballads compiled by American folklorist Francis James Child in the late 1800s. They were later included in a more comprehensive list made by Steve Roud, but they’re better known (at least the British & Scottish ones) by their old name, Child Ballads. Like only the most classic of folk songs, most speak of love, tragic deaths, general cruelty and teenage pregnancy…and have nothing to do with being for children, as many first assume by the name.

But after going over the list I realized that a few of my favorite folk ballads are there: “Tam Lin” (adapted by the Mediaeval Baebes), “Clyde’s Water” (or Drowned Lovers by Kate Rusby), “The Suffolk Miracle” (covered by Jim Moray) and EVEN “THE TWA SISTERS!” omg omg omg! I had no idea that my favorite type of folk songs had a curated source! I thought the singers found them randomly along their travels from a troubadour or something — I don’t know what I was expecting.

Well, if you’re a folk song lover looking for some folk songs to sing, there is essentially a DATABASE of 305 songs on the Child Ballads list, including a lot about Robin Hood. Child collected many different variants of songs with similar plot lines and sorted them accordingly, because (as I’ve said many times before) the farther a song or story travels orally, the more details change. I was trying to chronicle all the variations I could of the different Twa Sister songs, but this means I don’t have to do it all over again! I can just consult his very large body of work! ^_^

I love connecting, or re-connecting, the dots between things I love. So I just wanted to share the overflow of my enthusiasm. I’ll be hunting for more beautiful renditions of Child Ballads, for sure. Maybe the Thistle and Shamrock will oblige again.

But seriously, if you’re bored, go check out the Child Ballads list on Wikipedia and read the synopses. A lot of them sound like medieval Jerry Springer guests:

“A man meets three sisters and threatens to kill each one in turn if she will not be his wife. He kills the first two, but when he tries to kill the youngest, he finds that he is their brother and takes his own life.” (The Bonnie Banks of Fordie)

Good times.

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Edited 5/20/15 – Adding more details here and there 😛

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Christina {PuellaDocta}

Christina is an artist and graphic designer, fantasy writer, and a huge geek. She chronicles her creative process--as well as her love for storytelling, the arts, tea, and more--in blogs, portfolio posts, vlogs and on social media. Read more about her here >>

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