R

R&B rhythm and blues - a style based on country blues that evolved in the 40s and 50s, particularly in Chicago. Characteristics are the electric guitar, a rhythm section with a backbeat approach, much verve in the performances, and often, a sax. Founders of the electric sound would be Walker, T-Bone, who is said to be the first blues guitarist to go electric, and Waters, Muddy, who went with electric guitar, electric bass, microphones, etc.

race records 78s turned out in the 30s and 40s for black people of the US rural south and industrial north. Typical labels were Arhoolie, Adelphi, Brunswick, Biograph, Okeh, Paramount, Vocalion, and Yazoo. Columbia had a division called "Columbia Race". It's through these records that many famous blues and folk musicians were discovered (for instance, see Johnson, Robert and Hurt, John). Some of the labels are still in business today, without the racist attachments.

According to Arnold Shaw, author of "Black Popular Music in America" (1986), a PR agent for Okeh and Paramount used to hire barnstormer pilots to drop leaflets about new record releases onto baseball games. This would indicate that race records were somewhat successful outside the black community.

rag a ragtime musical selection, popular with folk guitarists, especially those who play finger-style.

ragtime a cheerful variant of the blues, based on piano and jazz band music of the 1920s and 30s. A typical chord progression in the key of C would be C-F-C-F-C-F-E-F-A-D-G-C. Many of the chords would be played as sevenths. The beat is usually two or four to the bar with a fairly fast, tight tempo, and a syncopation that gave it its name ("ragged rhythm").

Many songs thought of as blues or called blues are actually ragtime. "San Francisco Bay Blues" by Fuller, Jesse is an example (the above chord progression is from it).

In the 60s and 70s, there was a craze among musicians for adapting ragtime piano pieces to the guitar using intricate fingerpicking. A typical example (at least to guitarists) would be the arrangement of "St Louis Tickle" by Van Ronk, Dave.

Ragtime Jug Stompers a jug band formed in the 60s, with (among others), Van Ronk, Dave, Kalb, Danny and Charters, Sam. They recorded an album on the Mercury label, featuring jug band standards like "Stealin'", "Sister Kate", and "Take It Slow and Easy", the last being by Fuller, Jesse.

Rainbow Quest Pete Seeger's TV program of folk musicians that appeared on the PBS non-commercial network in the 60s, featuring guests such as Collins, Judy, the Stanley Brothers, Hurt, John and many others. There were also shows on Guthrie, Woody, Leadbelly, etc.

As of 1994, the shows were available on video cassettes. Contact Central Sun Video, Box 3135, Reston, VA 22090.

Rainey, Ma (1886-1939) (Gertrude Pridgett) a blues singer who worked with and influenced Smith, Bessie, she recorded for Biograph and Milestone in the 20s with such musicians as Louis Armstrong and Thomas Dorsey. She started in the minstrel and vaudeville tradition and recorded about 100 titles during her career, including "See See Rider", "Oh My Babe Blues", and "Deep Moanin' Blues".

rainstick a length of hollow tubing about 2" in diameter and three or four feet long, containing a small amount of fine gravel or other dried material. When inverted, it produces the sound of heavy falling rain, and can also be shaken for rhythmic effects.

Raitt, Bonnie (1946- ) an LA singer and bottleneck style guitarist who began in blues in the 60s, with her first album in 1971. She played with blues greats like McDowell, Fred, Wells, Junior, Howlin' Wolf, and others. She continues to perform and record, and has been called "one of the best female singers of the 70s and 80s" by country music writers.

Raney, Wayne see Delmore Brothers.

range 1. The range of notes that an instrument or singer is capable of, from lowest to highest. See also vocal ranges. 2. Sometimes used as a synonym for register, as in "Play it in the high range of your whistle."

rant a dance step apparently originating in northern England.

ranting (Scot.) revelling, roistering.

rapper see sword dances.

rasgueado (also "rasgado") from Spanish guitar playing, especially flamenco, a style of rapid guitar strumming. The righthand fingers are curled like a fist, and then unrolled rapidly one at a time across the strings. The extended fingers can then pluck upward as the hand is re-curled for the next one.

Ready when you are, C.B. curiously for such an obscurity, this turns up fairly often. It is used by a singer, instrumentalist or sideman to indicate mock inattention, usually when money is at stake, as in a recording studio.

The origin is an old Hollywood joke: Cecil B. DeMille is filming a complex and expensive location shot for an epic. After the extras go through the scene, he asks the cameramen on the intercom how it went. #1 says "My camera jammed!" and #2 says "Someone forgot to put film in my camera!" #3 says "Ready when you are, C.B.!"

Reagon, Bernice a singer from Atlanta, Georgia, active in the civil rights movement of the early 60s and a member of the Freedom Singers. She began to produce festivals and school programs in the mid-60s. A songwriter and musical director for the group "Sweet Honey in the Rock", she has recorded several albums.

real ale more and more small breweries and brewpubs in Canada are making beers and ales using old-fashioned recipes, without the addition of preservatives and other chemicals. This is a great favorite of folkies, who tend to shun the thinner, mass-produced bubbly. Festivals with a licensed area will usually have the beer supplied by a microbrewery whenever possible. There is also a high percentage of good amateur brewers among folkies.

rebec a medieval bowed instrument with a sort of teardrop shape - the ancestor of the violin.

recessional aka "morris off". The morris dancers' traditional farewell dance after performing for a crowd. The usual tune is "Bonny Green Garters". The opposite is the processional.

recorder a wooden or plastic whistle. It has a mellower sound than a metal whistle, and is available in a wide selection of sizes and keys. A big advantage over the usual whistle is the thumbhole on the back, which allows jumping octaves without forceful blowing.

recordings it would take an encyclopedia to detail all the recordings available. Many of the best recordings from the 50s to the 70s are now out of print, although some companies have been reissuing collections of songs on CDs. If you find a record store that stocks the old vinyl recordings, labels to look for include Folkways, Topic, Vanguard, Stinson, Elektra, Leader/Trailer, Prestige/Folklore, Mercury, and Folk/Legacy. Many of the major labels also carried folk musicians during their heyday.

Today's recording releases are impossible to keep up with; each issue of Sing Out! lists page after page.

If you could have only one record that summed up folk music, what would it be? That should cause endless hot debates.

Folkie instrumentalists must mourn the passing of the 16RPM setting on turntables. It could be used to slow down an instrumental passage on a 33RPM disk so you could figure it out - and now even the turntable itself is headed to museums...

Redpath, Jean (1937- ) born in Scotland and living in the US, singer Jean has contributed an enormous amount to the popularizing of Scottish traditional music. Her deeply personal arrangements have always seemed to capture the spirit of the song perfectly. She has many albums on Elektra, Philo, Folk-Legacy, etc. Those looking for an introduction to Scottish songs, whether a tiny love song or an epic ballad, need look no further than Jean.

reed a small strip of metal, plastic, cane, etc., that vibrates to produce the sound in instruments such as the clarinet, oboe, harmonica, bagpipes, reed organ, concertina and many others. If the reed is free to vibrate rather than hitting on the edge of the air slot or another reed, it's called a "free reed" instrument, which is also the name of a folk record company and the name of a British magazine for concertina players.

reed organ a small organ that uses reeds instead of pipes; a foot pedal operates a bellows for the air flow. These were very popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries for the parlor or small churches, and were often marketed as "melodeons" or "harmoniums". (Today, the term melodeon refers to a portable, accordion-like instrument.)

reed pipe a whistle cut from a reed (or a tube of tree bark, etc.); it is unrelated to instruments that produce their sound with an actual reed.

reekit (Scot.) smoky.

reel a tune, generally used for dancing and generally played on the fiddle. Most are in 2/4 time, although the rhythmic grouping is what defines it. The rhythm goes "da-diddle-da-diddle-da-diddle". See also strathspey, hornpipe and jig.

The word is also occasionally used in a general sense to mean any type of cheerful group dance.

Reece, Florence author of "Which Side Are You On?" See also Appalachia, union songs.

refrain 1. Synonymous with chorus and often burden. See also nonsense syllables. 2. A general term for any melody. 3. The main or "A" part of a rondo.

register in popular usage, whether the range of pitch is high or low. If you play a tune on the guitar while staying up the neck, you're said to be in a high register. Some instruments, such as the whistle or recorder, have distinct low and high registers. The upper register is obtained by forceful blowing in the case of the whistle and a thumbhole in the case of the recorder.

In pipe or electronic organs, the registers are groups of pipes (or the electronic equivalent) that can be assigned to notes with the organ controls (stops).

relative minor 1. A minor key based on the sixth note of a major scale. For instance, the sixth note of C major is A, and A minor is the relative minor key. The word "relative" arises because the two keys share the same key signature - in this case, no sharps or flats. See also parallel. 2. A minor chord based on the sixth note of a major scale. The relative minor chord to C major is A minor. See also parallel.

Renaissance the flowering of the arts in Europe is usually dated from about the 14th century to the 17th, depending on what book you use. In music, the careless occasionally confuse it with medieval. Sometimes synonymous, at least in general usage, with Elizabethan. See also Society for Creative Anachronism. Internet folk lists Web sites related to medieval/Renaissance history.

Renbourn, John British guitarist who worked with Pentangle in the late 60s, and also made many solo recordings. He's noted for bringing complex classical techniques to folk guitar playing, and his intricate folk instrumentals are second to none.

reprise a repetition of a composition's opening theme or stanzas at the end to give a nice tidy ending. The reprise is one of the methods of writing a coda.

residents also "resident singers" or "resident performers", and occasionally, "house singers" or "house band". Many folk clubs have the same performers open each night with a set perhaps thirty minutes long. In general, residents tend to be amateurs or semi-professionals who do performances of high quality. The word seems to have been borrowed from British folk clubs.

resin see rosin.

resolve (v.) see resolution.

resolution to get the melody and the harmony back to the keynote. Any straying from the keynote creates musical interest, which is what it's all about, but we have an innate urge to want the tune to end satisfactorily, and to bring it home with a nice splashy end on the tonic chord is the way to do it.

There are subdivisions of the resolution. For instance, in the key of C, a chord change to the F chord might urge a resolution to the G, or the composer might surprise you with a change to some other chord.

This is not to say that all tunes must end on the tonic. Some songs end on the dominant note (see progression) or the third of the scale, or others.

resonator 1. The tops of guitars, the heads of banjos, and the steel cone in a Dobro are all resonators. In general, they amplify the sound in instruments by providing a method of transfering the energy of the strings to the air. They also affect the tone of the sound by adding some sound of their own, plus altering the loudness of harmonics - see formant. 2. An enclosed volume of air with a opening to the outside - the familiar Helmholtz resonator of highschool physics texts. The body and sound hole of a guitar is a Helmholtz resonator; the effect is to boost the loudness of the lower frequencies, usually the bottom octave.

resultant tone see beat, sense 4.

Respighi, Ottorino (1879-1936) Italian composer who, like Williams, Ralph Vaughan, used many traditional tunes in his peerless arrangements without ever losing their beauty. Try "Ancient Airs and Dances" (all three suites), or "The Birds".

rest a pause in playing, a silence. The time value of a rest is notated in exactly the same way as a note - an eighth, a quarter, etc. If a rest is on its own in a measure, it assumes whatever value is needed to produce a full-measure pause.

reverb (from "reverberation") any emitted sound will bounce off any reflective surfaces, including the ground. This results (especially in a room) with a vast number of reflections, each with its own delay time before it meets the original and mixes with it. The result is usually a fuller, richer sound. Too much of it, however, begins to obscure the original; it all depends on the room.

In recordings, the reverb is controlled by using a room with a minimum of reflections (if possible) and adding the multiple path lengths by means of a mechanical or digital delay line that is designed to ensure multiple returns. Occasionally, this is overdone or omitted completely - see wet and dry.

In stage work, a room's path length and subsequent delay might become large enough for the return to be heard as a separate repetition of the original, which is referred to as echo. This can be quite disconcerting, so to speak, and the only cure for long reverb times is to slow the tempo of the performance.

reverb time the time between the creation of a sound and its return to the performer via reflections, either from the room itself or from an artificial delay line. The definition can also mean the time for the sound to die away, in which case it's usually called decay time. Long reverb times can be confusing, as described in reverb, above. It's usually measured in milliseconds, though in the case of a complete sound decay, a large, reflective hall can go to two or more seconds.

revival singers a loose term to describe those who came to folk music through recordings or the folk revival, as opposed to those who grew up with the music. Most folkies are revivalists.

rewrites there are two types of rewrites of older songs, the censorious hacking of a Baring-Gould, Sabine and the careful polishing of someone with some respect for the song and tradition. Many singers (see Carthy, Martin) cobble together verses taken from many older variants, and often set them to a tune taken from another ballad, or dance music. This collating is just part of the folk process. As long as the basic content and meaning are preserved, it's usually for the better (if the editor is a good one). The real problem is weak-kneed rewrites by the artless, who want to purge folksongs of sexuality, political punch, etc. See also genteel, bowdlerize.

See also Scott, Sir Walter for a good example of an excellent rewrite. See also Lass of Roch Royal for a song that probably inspired Burns, Robert in his writing of "My Love is Like a Red, Red, Rose". Burns did a fair amount of borrowing from the folk tradition.

Reynard all foxes in folksong seemed to be named Reynard. This is said to be from a medieval tale "Reynard the Fox". See also foxhunting songs.

Reynolds, Malvina (1901-1978) "Little Boxes", "What Have They Done to the Rain?", and "Turn Around" will probably be around forever, and are just a few of the hundreds of songs written by this amazing songwriter from Berkeley, California. She began writing in the 40s, but first came to the attention of folkies when Pete Seeger had a hit with "Little Boxes". (Incidentally, some people have tacked on extra verses to say that we all end up in little boxes after death. Malvina disagreed with this editing and said that it jarred with the song's purpose, which was a sendup of populist conformity.)

Besides her many songs, she leaves three songbooks and at least seven albums.

rhapsody a composition suggestive of improvisation, impressionism, etc., and generally one that escapes other categories. Originally it referred to part of an epic poem.

rhythm tapping your foot to a tune is following the rhythm. You can follow the beat, which is regular (and more difficult to do for beginners), or you can follow the melody, which is irregular.

When it comes to actually figuring out the rhythm in terms of music notation, you'll find that we've been led astray. A large number of songs have four beats per measure according to the book, but this isn't really true: each beat is subdivided into the downbeat, which is when your foot taps the floor, and the upbeat, which is when your foot rises up. If tutorials would just tell people this simple fact, it would make everything a lot easier for beginners. To avoid an abrupt start, many songs begin on a upbeat, with the next word or syllable coming on the stronger downbeat. An example would be Greensleeves: "Alas, my love you do me wrong.." The "A" of "Alas" is an upbeat, with the "las" strongly accented by the downbeat.

See foot of examples of rhythm and meter in the lyrics.

Folk music from the English-speaking countries tends to have uncomplicated rhythms, such as double time (2/2, 4/4, etc.) and triple time (3/4, 3/8, etc.). See time signature. Occasionally musically illiterate traditional singers will vary the time signature to suit themselves, resulting in a melody with multiple time signatures in the same line (there's nothing wrong with this, and in fact it results in a more interesting song than the usual regular tick-tock would produce).

The "pulse" of the song is only peripherally related to the time signature. The note groupings produce a particular beat that may not be apparent from the written music. For instance, 6/8 produces a strong feeling of two beats per measure (see jig). Also, for songs four-in-a-measure, folk music accentuates the first and third beats: *one*, two, *three*, four. Pop and rock music, on the other hand, accentuate the second and fourth: one, *two*, three, *four*. The song "C'mon, let the good times roll" is a good example of the latter. Try counting the four beats and you'll see the effect, which is usually known as "backbeat".

See also cross rhythm, simple meter, polymeter, polyrhythm.

rhythm and blues see R&B.

riddle songs the best-known riddle song is probably "I Gave My Love a Cherry". There are many others - in some, Satan appears in a disguise and demands the solution to impossible riddles. A small child, who represents Christ, solves the riddles and Satan vanishes ("The False Knight Upon the Road"). In others, such as "Riddles Wisely Expounded", a man asks riddles of several women, with the one who can solve them becoming his bride (the earliest versions of this song are a contest between someone and Satan - see supernatural). In "Captain Wedderburne's Courtship" (aka "Captain Woodstock"), the man desiring to sleep with the woman must successfully answer riddles.

riding the rods see hobo songs.

riever (UK, also "reaver") robber.

riff (from jazz argot) 1. (n.) A short melodic phrase that may be repeated, or a series of phrases. May be played as a solo or used as an accompaniment. Synonymous with licks. 2. (v.) To play these phrases.

rill a word that only seems to be used to aid the rhyming in old folk songs ("mid the rocks and the rills"). It means a rivulet or brook.

rimshot when the drummer strikes the rim of a drum with a drumstick, producing a loud, abrupt sound. It's often used to accentuate the weak beats offbeat.

Ring see morris Ring.

Ring book see morris Ring.

ringing if the volume or EQ of a sound system is turned up too high, but not high enough to cause full feedback, the result is often the generation of a tone whenever anyone begins to talk, sing or play, with the tone occurring only as the performer makes sounds. The cure is a reduction in level or proper adjustment of any feedback filters.

ringing the changes see change ringing.

Rinzler, Ralph deeply involved in the Newport Folk Festival and the Smithsonian's American Folklife Festival, he brought much traditional American music to the public. During the 50s he played old-timey music and joined the Greenbriar Boys in 1959. He is considered a master of the mandolin.

Rise Up Singing a book of folk song lyrics published by Sing Out!. While it's a wonderful resource with 1,000+ songs, it's causing a flap at the present (1994). Since multiple copies are at every singaround, the argument against seems to be that the book is (a) enforcing a carved-in-stone approach to folksong (see collectors) or something similar, and (b) making people sing songs in a rigid, inexpressive manner as they read from the book's lyrics, instead of taking the trouble to learn the mechanics of it and then sing from the heart.

The argument for is that it's a wonderful memory-jogger and an inspiration to learn new songs, and that the fault lies with the rigid singers, not the book.

Since the same argument has been going on about collectors and other folklorists since they started work, there may never be a satisfactory resolution.

An oddity: in 1973, Fred and Irwin Silber brought out "The Folksinger's Wordbook", containing the lyrics for 1,000 songs. There wasn't the slightest fuss.

ritard (also "ritardando", "retard") a slowing of the tempo. Often used to end a performance or introduce a bridge. The whole trick in group playing is to get everybody slowing down at the same rate. The opposite is accelerando (and presents the same problem).

Ritchie, Jean (1922- ) Kentucky singer and dulcimer player Jean has been a part of the folk revival since the 50s. Her repertoire is a huge collection of American traditional music, much of it from her family. She has a number of albums and dulcimer tutorials, and is the author of "The L&N Don't Stop Here Any More" under the alias "Than Hall".

It's interesting to note that the ancient English song "Nottamun Town", thought to be lost in the UK, was discovered in the repertoire of the Ritchie family. Bob Dylan used the tune for his "Masters of War". See also borrowing, Appalachia.

ritual the folk subculture preserves many rituals, such as morris dancers greeting the sun on May 1 (see Hal-an-Tow, mummers plays, and various other seasonal ceremonies. Folksong has always been connected with these; see carol for further comments on secular songs for specific occasions.

"The Boar's Head Carol", sung at Christmas feasts, is one example. The song below, as sung at Queen's College, Oxford, is from 1521 from Wynkyn de Worde's manuscript, but there are versions from the 15th century. Steeleye Span released this as a 1970s single in the UK in an attempt to repeat their success with "Gaudete". It's a fascinating blend of English and classical Latin:

"The boar's head in hand bear I, bedecked with bays and rosemary,
And I pray you, masters, be merry, quot estis in convivio. (1)


Chorus:
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino. (2)


The boar's head, as I understand, is the rarest dish in all the land,
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland, let us servire cantico. (3)


Our steward hath provided this, in honor of the King of bliss,
Which on this day to be served is in reginensi atrio." (4)


1. as many as are in the feast
2. The boar's head I bring, giving praises to God
3. serve with a song
4. in the Queen's hall

The carol is sung, not only at Oxford, but anywhere people have an interest in British folk music - although few actually prepare a boar's head. A Christmas turkey serves well.

Roberts, John see Barrand, Tony

Robertson, Jeannie (1908-1975) a Scottish traditional singer who was unknown until she was discovered in the early 50s. She knew a wealth of Scottish folk songs and folklore, and much of her repertoire was recorded, especially by Henderson, Hamish. She was awarded the MBE in 1968 for her contribution to folk music. Many record labels have released her recordings.

Robertson, Robbie see The Band.

Robeson, Paul (1898-1976) Singer, theater and film actor, activist - truly an amazing figure in the 20th century. He is well-known to the public for his powerful version of "Ol' Man River" from "Showboat", or his 1943 "Othello", but few may know of his struggles on behalf of civil rights. Part of the reason for this was the blacklist - activists did not sit well with the witch hunters. He was a member of the original People's Songs group. He went to Spain during the Civil War, and later lived in England - he wrote in his book "Here I Stand" that it was through his travels that he learned "the essential character of a nation is determined not by the upper classes, but by the common people..." He was to continue the struggle for freedom from his home in Harlem until ill health prevented it in the 70s.

In 1973, a large group of theater people, artists, etc., held a celebration of his birthday at Carnegie Hall.

Robin Hood the index to the Child ballads lists 53 entries for Robin Hood. Along with King Arthur, this must be the most enduring folk tale in the world. The songs are not that popular in clubs and festivals at the moment, but historically speaking, we're just going through a little lull (though Steeleye Span did record "Gambol Gold and Robin Hood" with an electric arrangement).

The characters from the Robin Hood legend turn up often in morris dancing pageantry.

rock mixers the mixer is the individual in charge of the festival sound board or its equivalent in the recording studio. When the equipment is being run by someone from a rock or pop background, it's immediately obvious to folkies. The rock mixer accentuates the instruments with a loud punchy sound, and sees the vocals as just one more part. Folkies prefer it the other way around, with the all-important vocal dominating. In a slow ballad, for instance, the instruments must provide quiet support to the singer. It takes an ear sensitive to the music to prevent them from becoming obtrusive.

Since folk music is not a huge industry, performers tend to put themselves in the hands of rock mixers all the time, often with disappointing results.

rococo refers to the art, architecture, etc., of the late baroque period, and is often taken to mean a lightening of the massive, ornate baroque style, but is also used in the sense of *really* excessive, since the lightening-up was occasionally done by adding lots of scrollwork and gold paint.

rod (UK measure) 5.5 yards (aka "perch" or "pole").

Rodgers, Jimmie (1897-1933) Aka "The Yodelling Brakeman" and "The "Singing Brakeman", Rodger's songs, singing and guitar picking were enormously popular in the 20s and 30s, and have remained so since among folk and country fans. He had a tremendous influence on country music. His songs include "T.B. Blues", "All Around the Water Tank", "Apple Picking Time in Georgia" and "T for Texas".

Not to be confused with Jimmie Rodgers, below with a "2" in his name to distinguish him from the above.

Rodgers, Jimmie 2 (1933- ) often confused with "The Yodelling Brakeman", which is why there's a "2" in his name, this Rodgers had a hit in 1957 with "Honeycomb" and another later in the year with "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine", which is by the Weavers via Leadbelly. In 1962, he had yet another success with "English Country Gardens", which is from Grainger, Percy via Sharp, Cecil. With all that folk going for him in the midst of the folk revival, he brought out a forgettable album of traditional songs. He seems to have been ignored (or confused with the other Rodgers) by all the pop and rock encyclopedias; this might have to do with his whitebread approach to rock and folk.

Rogers, Stan (1949-1983) Ontario singer-songwriter-guitarist who was tremendously successful singing his own compositions before his untimely death in an airliner fire. He wrote songs about historical figures, fishers, farmers, and workers of all types; he had a hit when one of his atypical love songs, "Forty-five Years From Now" was recorded by Mary O'Hara and released in the UK and Canada. Some of his best-remembered songs are "Northwest Passage", "Barrett's Privateers", "Field Behind the Plough", "Make and Break Harbour", and "The Mary Ellen Carter", and many of his songs have been recorded by dozens of people. "Safe in the Harbour" by Bogle, Eric was written for Stan. His death was a tragic loss to the Canadian folk community.

rondeau writers on classical music often mistake this for an upper-class way of saying rondo. It ain't.

rondo though it's primarily a classical form, the rondo does turn up in folk music, though not very often. You need a good jam with a bunch of virtuoso fiddle, banjo and/or guitar players. It means nothing more than a theme and variations, of the form A-B-A-C-A-D and so on (the "A" part is called the refrain). You could say that the usual song structure of A-B-A is a rondo in its most basic form (see bridge). Not to be confused with the rondeau, which is a type of medieval chorus song, although it did lead to the rondo form. A classical rondo of latter-day fame is the theme from PBS's "Masterpiece Theatre" (Mouret's rondo from his "1st Symphonic Suite").

Rooftop Singers formed in 1962, the group consisted of Darling, Erik, Bill Svanhoe, and Lynne Taylor. They performed in clubs and coffeehouses, and had a big hit with "Walk Right In" (see jug band), popularizing the sound of the 12-string guitar. They recorded three albums for Vanguard before disbanding in 1967.

root the note in a chord that determines its name. For example, the root note of a C chord is the lowest C note in the chord. Often used interchangeably (and incorrectly) with tonic. It can also refer to the order of the notes in a chord - see chord inversion.

roots music a term that came into vogue after the 70s in an attempt to find a word that expressed more clearly what "folk" music was all about, since "folk" in popular usage had come to mean whatever the speaker wanted it to mean - usually any performer using an acoustic guitar.

Roots music can be used to describe the folk music of a particular culture - "My musical roots are Celtic" - but it's quite common for people to take up the roots of another culture. Someone from Japan might well be obsessed with bluegrass, and feel that this is the music that really stirs the soul. They may well know more about it than people born into the bluegrass tradition. On the other side of the coin are people raised with a particular musical tradition who pay no attention to it, and prefer whatever the pop media has to offer.

While it's a handy catch-all, the word is imprecise and sheds no more light than saying "folk" in the first place.

rosette the decorative ring around the sound hole of a guitar or other instrument. Luthiers often make these masterpieces of inlay. See also purfling.

rosin (pron. "rozzen"; also, "resin") 1. (n.) A hard, yellowish resin extracted from pine oils and rubbed along the bows of the violin family; it increases the friction of the bow on the strings and improves the volume and tone. Occasionally called "colophony". 2. (v.) To apply rosin.

There is a fiddle tune and song with a punning title: "Rosin the Beau".

Rosmini, Dick guitarist and banjo player. In the 60s, he backed performers like Gibson, Bob, Camp, Hamilton, and Dane, Barbara. He made an album of instrumental folk tunes for Elektra, and dubbed the guitar sound for the film "Leadbelly" (see movies).

Rosselson, Leon a UK radical songwriter, composer of "World Turned Upside Down", "Palaces of Gold", "Stand Up for Judas", and many more. Songs of his have been recorded by such artists as Carthy, Martin. His political stance can occasionally give the impression of axe-grinding rather than persuasion.

round singing a song in multiple parts, with each part starting somewhat after its predecessor, produces a round. Singing or playing melodies together, but with different starting points, is called "counterpoint" or polyphonic, and the folk or "campfire" round is the simplest form. Since the multiple voices singing different things coincide every now and then, they produce chords (which may or may not be consonant (see harmony) - some adjusting may be necessary). See also quodlibet, bitonal.

The terms canon and the round tend to be used interchangeably - they both consist of two or more identical melodies, staggered as to when they come in ("entry" or "entry point"), but the canon can get more complicated since the following parts may be pitched differently from the first, producing parallel harmony. For instance, in sacred harp harmonies, the parallel fifth was a great favorite.

The classical fugue is the biggy in the world of counterpoint. The parts can be completely different melodies, making for incredible complexity (but it's a joy to hear when you grasp what's going on). J.S. Bach was the Fugue King.

roundelay 1. A song in which a line or phrase is repeated. 2. A round dance.

round robin see singaround.

rubato a word with a complex definition. In general, it's used in the sense of flexibility of rhythm and meter. Recordings of traditional singers made by collectors show extreme use of rubato, to the point that a traditional song often has several changes of time signature.

rubbish though they might look like a Monty Python sketch, good morris teams are concerned with precision in their dancing. To prevent this from getting clinical, advice is given to errant dancers by other dancers in the sidelines shouting "Rubbish!". Well, it beats lectures and written exams. It works, too.

run an interesting little instrumental bit, used as fill between verses or as an intro. A bass run is one of many little instrumental cliches used to accent a chord change. For instance, a bass run from a G chord to a C would contain the notes G-A-B-C in the bass register.

Rush, Tom (1941- ) singer-guitarist who was greatly successful after beginning in the Boston/Cambridge folk scene. His wide repertoire included blues, ballads, train songs, love songs, etc. His finger-style guitar playing was copied by legions of folk revival pickers, including his open tuning rhythmic method. He was adept at re-arranging the songs of earlier performers (such as Lewis, Furry and Fuller, Jesse) and bringing them to the new, larger audiences of the 60s and 70s. He appeared at every major festival and folk club.

Tom was one of the first to record the songs of Mitchell, Joni, doing "Circle Game" and "Urge for Going" (which was released as a single in the 60s). He has a large number of albums and continues to perform.


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The Folk File: A Folkie's Dictionary Copyright © 1993-2009 Bill Markwick, All Rights Reserved.