sackbut a medieval horn, like a trombone.

sacred harp also known as "shape note", "patent" and "buckwheat", this is a style of hymn singing that arose in 18th-century New England and is still popular in folk circles today. Many of the folk groups of the 60s revival performed up-tempo versions, all full of references to "Mount Zion", "River Jordan" and so on. Unfortunately, they traded zest of performance for the very quality that made the hymns so popular, which was a type of counterpoint much more complex than folk music but simpler than classical. The hymns were often called "fuguing" songs to distinguish them from the more elaborate fugue; see round. The harmonies used depended much on the interval of the fourth, which is known as "quartal" harmony. Since the songs were taken up by many different denominations, they have been called "religious folk music".

The name "sacred harp" is obscure, although it's said to be from a popular 1844 songbook of the same name (where did *it* get the name?). The term "shape note" derives from the special notation sometimes used, which gave pitch values according to the shape of the note body, despite the fact that it duplicated information (the usual five-line staff was still used). Singers used the syllables "fa-so-la-fa-so-la-mi-fa" instead of the familiar do-re-mis; see hexachord for the origin of this system. Later in the 19th century, singers went to the current seven syllables, but the fasola system is still occasionally used by revivalist sacred harpists.

Examples of sacred harp songs still popular today are "Waters of Babylon" and "David's Lamentation" (aka "Absolom"), both by {Billings, William}, whose compositions contributed much to the style.

Many of the song names in sacred harp have nothing to do with the lyrical content. There are names like "Kittery" and "Judea". The reason for this is that many of the texts were set to various melodies, and to distinguish the versions the composers chose local place names, names from the Bible, etc. Another example is the hymn "Captain Kidd", which has nothing at all to do with Kidd, though the tune is the same as the well-known song (which you can also find, along with its relatives, in song family). The use of familiar folk tunes no doubt eased the learning of new hymns.

saddle if the bridge on a stringed instrument has a separate top part to support and locate the strings, this is called a saddle. They are usually small plastic or ebony strips. The advantage is that the removable saddle is easily modified to change the string spacing or height, unlike the permanently-mounted bridge itself.

Sainte-Marie, Buffy (1941- ) A Cree Indian, born in Saskatchewan and raised in New England, she was greatly successful through her concerts and Vanguard recordings of the 60s; she's perhaps best known for her songs "Until It's Time for You to Go", "Many a Mile" by Sky, Patrick, for her heartfelt song about the plight of native peoples, "My Country Tis of Thy People Are Dying", and for her "Universal Soldier". Still performing and recording, she is active in the native people's movement in both the US and Canada.

sair (Scot.) sore, sorely.

Salvation Army pitch see pitch.

Sandburg, Carl (1878-1967) the famous poet and historian was also a collector of American folk songs. He published "The American Songbag" (1927) and "New American Songbook". The books contain many folk standards, such as "I Ride an Old Paint", "The John B. Sails" (aka "The Sloop John B." or "Wreck of the John B."), "Careless Love", "Wanderin'", and lots of others that form the basic repertoire of American tradiional music. His recordings for Caedmon, Decca and Columbia were a great source of beautiful songs that were previously neglected, and were no doubt the popular source of "The Ship That Never Returned" (see Work, Henry Clay), "Eating Goober Peas", "The Horse Named Bill" and many others.

sarabande a court dance in triple meter originating in the 16th century.

sark (UK) shirt. See also cutty.

SATB songbooks with vocal arrangements for Soprano-Alto-Tenor- Baritone usually have this on the cover. The order shown is from highest-pitched to lowest (though there is a bass range below the baritone). Most men are tenors and most women are altos. See also vocal ranges.

Satie, Erik (1866-1925) French composer whose works were briefly popular among music fans (especially composers and instrumentalists) in the 60s and 70s. It's difficult to describe his music: it's either brilliantly adventuresome or incredibly aimless, depending on your point of view. Most of his works used a sort of modal approach that never settled down to any sort of keynote or satisfying resolution, leading one critic to write that "Satie brings a new meaning to the word `boring'."

saut (Scot.) salt.

Savakus, Russ (?-1984) a commercial bass player, Russ had a great interest in folk music, and during the 60s and 70s, he recorded with just about everyone in American folk music: Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Tom Paxton, Richie Havens, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mimi and Richard Farina, and many more.

SCA see Society for Creative Anachronism.

scale a series of notes spanning a certain interval. There are many possible types of scales, but the current one is seven notes plus an octave note. The scale can be extended in either direction by adding more octaves as desired, which means that the seven notes will repeat after the octave (see octave equivalence). For centuries the scale had only six notes, as described under hexachord; see also pentatonic scale for a five-note scale widely used in folk.

Usually the scales are either the major scale or minor scale. The major scale is the familiar do-re-mi system (see also sol-fa). How high or low in pitch you start the do-re-mis determines the key. There is no separate equivalent to the do-re-mi labels in the minor scale; the same symbols are used - see below. See also Guido d'Arezzo for the attributed origin of the do-re-mi names.

The sequence of the major scale is tone-tone- semitone-tone-tone- tone-semitone. This is from C to shining C on the white keys of the piano.

The sequence of the minor scale is tone-semitone-tone-tone-semitone- tone-tone. This is from A to A on the white keys of the piano (the key of A minor), or in the key of C, C D Eb F G Ab Bb C. This is called the "natural" or "pure" minor (note: throughout this lexicon, "natural" and "pure" are often used with reference to the physics of scale intervals - a different meaning entirely).

There are three other types of minor scales, the ascending and descending melodic, and the harmonic. Folkies don't make a distinction; they use the minor key shown above, and add sharps or flats as required by the tune. For reference:

    Ascending Melodic:   C D Eb F G A B C
    Descending Melodic:  C D Eb F G Ab Bb C  (same as natural)
    Harmonic:            C D Eb F G Ab B C

There are some scales with popular names, like "blues" or "Gypsy". These scales change one or more notes, either all the time, or as an accidental. For instance, one version of the blues scale often flats the 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes, but also keeps the unflatted notes (making, in effect, an 11-note scale). One "Gypsy" scale has a flatted second and a flatted sixth; another has a flatted third, sharped fourth, and flatted sixth.

For other types of scales, see mode, whole-tone scale.

For brief descriptions of the derivation of the scale, see temperament, equal-tempered scale, Pythagorean scale, just intonation, natural scale, meantone scale.

scale length the distance from the nut of a stringed instrument to the bridge or saddle; the length of the string that actually sounds when played open. With fretted instruments, it's commonly believed that the halfway point along the string is an octave, but this is true only of the harmonic on the open string; pressing the string down onto the fretboard or fingerboard stretches it and raises the pitch slightly, so the octave fret is a bit shy of the halfway point to compensate for this.

scan to get the meter of the lyrics to agree with the meter of the melody (for some of the terminology, see foot). For instance, the beginning of "Candlemas Eve" (see herbs) doesn't scan if you apply the ordinary accenting of the words:

"Down with the rosemary and bays
Down with the mistletoe..."

However, the trick is that "rosemary" is pronounced "rosemarie" in the song. That makes it scan nicely, with the accents falling like this (the apostrophes indicate the downbeats):

"Down' with' the' rose' mar'-y' and' bays'
Down' with' the' mis'-tle'-toe'..."

See foot for other examples of meter in lyrics.

Scansion is every which way in traditional music, often because the singers didn't know or care how it worked, though they sometimes inserted nonsense syllables to accommodate scanning. Often, a magical effect is produced in the best of the big ballads, as in the great "Matty Groves", in which Lord Arlen has discovered Matty in bed with his wife. You can almost see Matty's apprehension from the lumpy scansion:

"I won't get up, I shan't get up,
I won't get up for my life,
For you have two of the finest swords,
And I not so much as a knife."

And immediately the scanning returns to normal to portray Arlen's icy menace:

"It's true I have two beaten swords,
And they cost me deep in the purse.
You shall have the better of them,
And I shall take the worst."

And, of course:

There was a songwriter named Dan,
Whose lyrics just never would scan.
He said, "I do fine
Until the last line,
And then I always try to cram as much into it as I possibly can."

scansion (n.) the principle of getting lyrics to scan.

scat singing the jazz technique of substituting nonsense syllables for song lyrics (oodlee aw bop doo wah...). Compare with mouth music, diddling.

schottische (Ger., "Scottish", pron. in English "shotteesh") two-in- a-measure round dance. One of many types of country dancing. Occasionally called the "German polka".

scop Old English bard.

Scotch snap see Scots snap.

Scott, Sir Walter (1771-1832) the famous poet was attracted to traditional ballad styles, and these influenced a great deal of his work. He's known to traddies for his tasteful rewrites, such as "Bonnie Dundee" and the reworking of "John of Hazelgreen" ( Child 293) into "Jock of Hazeldean". His works on traditional songs, such as "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border", are widely quoted throughout the Child collection.

One of the most beautifully-written ballads in all of folk music is "The Wife of Usher's Well" ( Child 79). The particular version in question (Child's "A", one of many, some not so good) is taken from Scott's "Minstrelsy". It's interesting to speculate whether or not Scott had a hand in rewriting it. It takes a special touch to produce lyrics of such power and beauty while keeping the traditional aspects, and Scott was a master at this.

Scots snap an ornament so often used in Scottish music that its presence practically ensures the origin of the tune. Aka "Scotch snap". It consists of a short note immediately followed by a longer one, or vice versa. In notation (usually), a sixteenth followed by a dotted eighth, or vice versa. In "My Bonny Lassy", for instance, the Scots snap occurs on "heart are" and "pounding" in the first line "Drums in my heart are pounding". (This is set to the tune of "Scotland the Brave". If you ever see a pipe band in a news clip, they will be playing either "Scotland the Brave" or "Amazing Grace". That's the news clip for ya.)

scraper a rhythm instrument consisting of a piece of wood or other material with a series of notches in it; a rod is drawn back and forth across it.

scratch band (also "pickup band") a band put together on the spot from any musicians who are available. They're often extraordinarily good. Since most large get-togethers eventually lead to country dancing, scratch bands are the norm.

scratch team a morris side put together in the same way as a scratch band.

Scruggs, Earl (1924- ) North Carolina bluegrass banjo player who played with Monroe, Bill until he and Flatt, Lester left to form a group, the Foggy Mountain Boys, in 1948. They recorded many traditional bluegrass and mountain tunes from the 50s to the present, becoming known as Flatt and Scruggs along the way. The intricate and flowing Scruggs style set new standards for the banjo.

The two tunes Flatt & Scruggs may be most remembered for are "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" from the film "Bonny and Clyde" and the theme from "The Beverley Hillbillies".

Scruggs style a distinctive clawhammer banjo style, also called "Scruggs picking" and named after Scruggs, Earl. Fingerpicks on the thumb and first two fingers ( three finger picking) facilitate the rapid, complex picking patterns. It's distinct from frailing, an old-timey banjo style.

Scruggs, Randy son of Scruggs, Earl. With brother Gary, he made albums of up-tempo folk and bluegrass in the early 70s, using guitar, voice, and banjo.

Scruggs tuner a cam that can be adjusted to press on a banjo string near the tuning peg, allowing rapid tuning changes for particular styles of playing.

seanachie (pron. "shawn-a-kee". Also "shanachie") 1. Irish for storyteller, usually in the sense of someone entrusted to pass on a community's oral tradition. 2. A US record label that specializes in folk recordings.

Sebastian, John (1944- ) singer-songwriter-guitarist and a veteran of the Greenwich Village 60s folk scene. He left the Even Dozen Jug Band to form the Lovin' Spoonful in 1965. Since then, he has made many appearances and continues to perform. He has also written film scores.

second 1. The second note of the scale, counting inclusively; for instance, the note D in the key of C. 2. An interval consisting of two notes one whole tone apart; for instance, C to D.

second guitar usually, a guitarist supporting a vocalist who is also playing guitar. Generally, the second guitar plays lead, although it could also be rhythm chords. Lead guitar is sometimes called single string playing (even if chords get played as well).

Seeger, Charles (1886-1979) eminent folklorist, father of Mike, Peggy, and Pete. A favorite quote from one of his works, in which he discussed the meaning of "folk" and the folkies' relation to them:

"...thus, musically speaking, the people of the United States are divided into two classes: a majority that does not know it is folk; a minority that thinks it isn't."

He collected many of his writings in a book, "Studies of a Musicologist, 1935-75".

Seeger, Mike (1933- ) the brother of Pete. As a member of the New Lost City Ramblers, and a multi-instrumentalist, Mike brought old-timey music, blues, ballads, and every kind of American traditional music to a huge audience during (and long after) the folk revival of the 60s. He has also made a tremendous effort to locate many fine traditional musicians who would otherwise never have had wide exposure, and brought many to the audiences of major festivals. He is on several record labels, including Folkways, Mercury, Vanguard, etc.

Seeger, Peggy (1935- ) the sister of Pete and Mike Seeger. She has played piano, guitar, and banjo since she was a child, and in 1956 she went to England to appear in a TV production, where she met {MacColl, Ewan}, whom she later married. They toured together, and produced the famous "radio-ballads" for the BBC. She has recorded dozens of LPs of traditional and contemporary songs, both solo and with Ewan or others. As a songwriter, her best-known work (other than the songs co-authored with Ewan, such as "Ballad of Springhill") is "I'm Gonna Be an Engineer".

Seeger, Pete (1919- ) Arlo Guthrie wrote in 1992, "You can't put in words what Pete taught us all." In any event, it's impossible to describe even the mechanics of Pete's contribution to traditional and contemporary folk music in one tiny entry, but we'll have to make do:

Pete travelled widely in the 30s and 40s with people like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, singing American traditional songs of all types, and in the process, popularizing the banjo and 12-string guitar as folk instruments. He joined the Almanac Singers, People's Songs and the Weavers; in the late 50s he set out on his illustrious solo career.

He is also a superb songwriter. Some of his best work includes "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" (the version we know is Pete's original, but with verses 4 and 5 from Hickerson, Joe), "If I Had a Hammer" (with Lee Hays), and "Turn, Turn, Turn" (a setting of words from Ecclesiastes). His song from the late 60s called "Waist-deep in the Big Muddy" was a rather strong putdown of Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam war, and probably kept him off commercial TV (but see Rainbow Quest).

He has written extensively for Sing Out! ("Appleseeds") and has published a number of books, such as "The Incompleat Folksinger", "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", and "Henscratches and Flyspecks".

Perhaps no other person has had such a profound effect in stimulating interest in traditional and contemporary folk music. Truly a legend in his own time.

Segovia, Andres (1893-1987) Segovia was a famous 20th-century Spanish classical guitarist. He was self-taught, and literally revolutionized the classical guitar and its repertoire, particularly in his transcriptions of the works of Bach. His name has become a term for excellence in guitar playing, or it can be used ironically; for example, saying to a guitarist who has just blown a few clams, "Nice going, Segovia."

segue (pron. "seg-way") literally, "to follow". One piece ending and another immediately beginning would be a segue. A medley is a series of segues.

Seldom Scene a bluegrass, or if you prefer, newgrass group formed in 1971 by the Country Gentlemen's John Duffey. Popular through festival appearances and recordings.

semi-acoustic see acoustic.

semibreve see notation, British.

semiquaver see notation, British.

semitone one-half of a whole tone. Each fret on a guitar, banjo or mandolin is a semitone. There are 12 semitones in an octave, and in the major scale of C, they occur between E and F, B and C.

A semitone up is a sharp and a semitone down is a flat. The pitch increase for a semitone is about 1.0595 in our common equal-tempered scale, and the pitch decrease for a flat is the reciprocal, about 0.9438. See also cent, twelfth root of two.

In older scale systems, the semitone was derived from the harmonic series; see temperament for further references.

session man see sideman.

set any performance on stage - it usually consists of a set of songs about 30 to 60 minutes in length. Most folk clubs feature one or more short (three song) guest sets or an opening act by the residents, followed by two one-hour sets by the featured performer.

seventh 1. The seventh note of the scale, counting inclusively; for example, in the key of C the seventh is B. 2. The interval formed by playing two notes a seventh apart. In this case the term refers to a flatted seventh; for instance, C to Bb. If the upper note is not flatted, the interval is called a "major seventh". 3. A chord formed by adding a flatted seventh to a major chord; for example, C7 contains the notes C-E-G-Bb.

shades dark glasses worn indoors by performers unable to go the distance.

shake see trill.

Shakers a religious sect, an offshoot of the Quakers, who left Manchester to travel to Massachusetts in the late 18th century. They formed communities all over New England, with a few as far west as Ohio. Their way of life was ascetic and isolationist, together with the philosophy that everything should be done as perfectly as possible while retaining simplicity. Their beautiful style of furniture has been endlessly copied and is a popular type of reproduction cabinetry today. They wound down in the late-19th century, and by the early 20th, only a handful remained in New England.

The name comes from "shaking Quakers", a reference to the intensity of their religious ceremonies. The formal name is "United Society of Believers".

Many of their songs can be found in traditional songbooks, with the best-known being "Simple Gifts". Aaron Copland (1900-1990) included it in his orchestral "Appalachian Spring", and Carter, Sydney used it as the basis of his "Lord of the Dance". It is currently popular as the theme music of many TV programs and commercials, which some might consider to be a case of hijacking. The lines are always worth a quote:

"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free,
Tis a gift to come down to where we ought to be..."

shanties there is some discussion whether it should be a "shanty" (also "shantey") song (the forecastle of a ship was called a shanty) or a "chantey" (since they are, after all, chants). There are three main types of shanties.

Capstan shanty: a capstan is a large drum used to wind up the anchor chain. The men walking around it to wind it up sang a smooth, flowing song to pace themselves.

Halyard, pulling, short-drag, or rope shanty: pulling on the many sailing ship ropes to adjust the sails required a song with sharply punctuated rhythm to coordinate the effort.

Forecastle shanty: (mispronounced (aren't all sailor terms?) as "foke-sul") songs the sailors might have sung when they were just hanging around, which they did a lot of. Another name for this is "forebitter". The "bits" were large wooden protusions used for belaying ropes, and on which the sailors presumably sat when off-duty.

Today's performances of shanties are rather up-tempo and elaborate. At the time the songs were used for their intended purposes, they may have been rather rough, and probably were considerably more bawdy than the present versions. They were probably also slower, since their purpose is pacing. Shanties are generally performed unaccompanied, although the contemporaneous accounts mention fiddlers setting the pace. The concertina is often depicted as an instrument sailors used, but there's some doubt if this was true; concertinas were expensive and their steel reeds prone to rust.

shape see chord shape.

shape note a medieval system in which the time value was indicated by the shape of the note body. See also sacred harp, in which the system survives.

sharp 1. (v.) To increase a note's pitch by one semitone, the smallest precise unit in the musical scale (but see cent, microtone). 2. (n.) The symbol for a sharp, which looks like a "#" and is placed on music notation to indicate the key or a note that's to be sharped. See also double sharp.

Sharp, Cecil (1859-1924) English folklorist, collector of over 5,000 songs, ballads and many morris dances. He also collected songs in the Appalachian regions. His collections are considered to have saved English folksong from oblivion. He wrote that in the 1880s, "...it was generally assumed that we had no folk songs of our own." (See the last part of collectors for comments on this.) He was the source of the morris tune Country Gardens, which he collected and gave to Grainger, Percy for arranging.

With Herbert MacIlwaine, he published "The Morris Book" (1906), descriptions of and notations for various Cotswold morris dances. Cecil Sharp House in London was dedicated to his memory, and serves as the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society ( EFDSS). He was the founder of the "dance" part, and it was integrated with the already-existing folksong society.

See also Karpeles, Maud.

sharped a note increased in pitch by one semitone. See also sharp. Its opposite is flatted. Sometimes seen as "sharpened", which sounds a little odd.

shawm a medieval woodwind instrument somewhat like the oboe.

Shea, Red (pron. "Shay") Red Shea played lead guitar for Lightfoot (see Lightfoot, Gordon) for years, both on stage and on recordings. His fluid, inventive, complex fingerpicking is a source of amazement and inspiration to guitarists of all skill levels.

sheene see shoon.

shielen (Scot.) small house, hut.

shilling 1. In the old and new British systems, a coin equal to one-twentieth of a pound. 2. In the old recruiting methods in the UK, the acceptance of the King's (or Queen's) shilling from a recruiter was the equivalent of signing yourself into the military. See anti-recruiting songs.

There is a story that beer tankards sometimes have glass bottoms so that the drinker could see if the recruiter's shilling had been slipped into the beer. Since the glass bottom is also said to be for revealing an armed opponent coming at you, the story has to be considered fanciful until someone comes up with evidence.

Shines, Johnny (1915- ) a Mississippi bluesman who also plays the electric Chicago style, and plays country blues on the folk festival and club circuit. Johnson, Robert was a close friend and they travelled extensively together; Johnny said in an interview that they never played together in public - when busking, they would go their separate ways and meet later. He has recorded extensively for Biograph and Testament.

ship of the line the sail-powered warships of times past weren't too maneuverable, so naval battles used to be setpiece affairs, with one line of ships sailing past another and blasting away. The largest battleships (such as a 98) were at the head of the line, and because of this were known as "capital ships".

shithot musicians said to be shithot have such technical skill and inventiveness that they have arrived, they command awe, and they may become gaffers. An accolade equivalent to knighthood. On the other hand, musical brilliance may not hold audiences for long. A traddie may remark to a baffled neophyte "Well, sure, he's shithot, but he sucks", which may refer to stage manner or general attitude, or perhaps something indefinable.

shoon (UK, also "shone", "schon", "sheene") shoes.

shore (UK) often part of the name of a mine, as in "Walker Shore", from the song "Byker Hill".

short-drag see shanties.

short octave from the late 1400s to the mid-1600s, organs were often made with a lowest octave that omitted sharps and flats, although it didn't omit the black keys - there were five white keys and three blacks for the notes of the octave. They saved a bundle of money on pipes and the associated mechanisms. Little harm was done to the music, since the organs of the time were tuned in a temperament that limited the number of keys anyway.

shuffle 1. A repeated rhythmic figure used as fill, usually behind a vocal to avoid sounding intrusively busy. Also used as an intro by fiddlers - a simple, rapid rhythm on one string might be used to lead in to a tune. 2. A dance step in clogging.

shuttle a polished piece of wood like a miniature boat, thrown from one end of a manual loom to the other to carry the thread across the fabric.

sibilance sound systems with excessive treble response will over-emphasize the "s" or "ch" sounds, producing a hissing sound called sibilance. Rock mixers seem to like it.

siccan (Scot.) such a, as in "siccan sight it ne'er was seen".

side in general, a morris team. Specifically, the minimum set of dancers required for a dance, usually six (although there are dances for eight). Twelve dancers would perform a dance as two sides.

side drum a drum just large enough to be carried at the side of the drummer, used widely in parades, etc. Fairly bassy in tone, it's also popular for song accompaniment.

sideman (also "session man") someone of either sex who accompanies the main singer or group on a recording. The term includes both support vocals and instrumental work. Good sidemen are held in a certain amount of awe for their virtuosity. See Shea, Red.

sight reading reading music notation. Usually, it refers to the ability to sing a melody directly from notation.

Silber, Irwin (1925- ) in the late 40s, Irwin began working with the new People's Songs and the People's Songs Bulletin. When this closed, it was decided to start another magazine called Sing Out! and the first issue was in 1950 with Irwin as editor. He continued in that position until 1967.

Together with Asch, Moses he co-founded Oak Publications. He has written or edited many books on folk music and folklore.

silkie (Scot.) seal. In the seal legends, the silkie is often half-man, half-seal, or a seal in the water and a man on land; see skerry.

siller (Scot.) silver.

silver-headed pin see pin.

Silverstein, Shel (1932- ) cartoonist, author of children's books, and a superb songwriter. Other artists have recorded many of his songs, including "The Unicorn", "25 Minutes to Go", "A Boy Named Sue", "Susan's Floor", and countless others. He has also written clever parodies of folk songs, including one about a train that "got there on time and it did not crash." (See train songs if the joke is lost.)

Simon & Garfunkel Paul Simon (1942- ) and Art Garfunkel (1942- ) made their first recording of pop-rock music in 1957 ("Hey! School Girl") as Tom and Jerry. After some time spent in the folk revival scene, they (as Simon & Garfunkel) made "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.", an acoustic folk-oriented album for Columbia that included the song "Sounds of Silence". In 1965, Paul recorded "The Paul Simon Songbook", an acoustic collection of his compositions. Later that year, Tom Wilson, a producer with Columbia, added electric tracks to "Sounds of Silence", and its success led to folk-oriented but pop-arranged albums, with many of the songs re-arranged from the "Songbook" album. Paul's folk influences can be heard in the songs he learned during a stay in England, such as the traditional "Scarborough Fair" (from Carthy, Martin) and "Angie" (from Graham, Davey).

simple meter a time signature with two beats per measure, such as 2/8, 2/4, or 2/2, or three beats per measure, such as 3/2, 3/4, or 3/8, or four beats per measure, such as 4/8 or 4/4. Multiples of these (6/8, 12/8) indicates compound meter.

simple rhythm the same rhythm under one time signature throughout all or part of a work. Opposite polyrhythm, polymeter.

singaround a get-together at a house or club for the purpose of individual and/or group singing. Also called "song circle" or "round robin", since the singing tends to go around the room in a circle. Singarounds are extremely popular at present (1994) and seem to be the counterpart to the many folk clubs and coffeehouses of the 60s and 70s.

If there's an emphasis on instruments, it may be called a jam session or just jam.

There are no formal rules, although being a slave to a songbook or lyric sheet is frowned on (see Rise Up Singing). Some singer's circles don't like instruments, but this is usually made clear to begin with.

single string (also "single-string") to play melodic parts on a stringed instrument, usually as lead, as opposed to chording. Not that the occasional chord doesn't get in there as well.

Sing Out! the premier magazine about folk music, started in 1950 (with editor Irwin Silber and a new song on the cover - "If I Had a Hammer") and now (1994) more successful than ever, with the latest issue being 152 pages. Features articles, songs, how-to-play tutorials, bios of folk musicians, reviews, calendars, etc. See also Rise Up Singing.

Its predecessor was "The People's Songs Bulletin", founded by, among others, Seeger, Pete and Guthrie, Woody. See also People's Songs. In SO's early years, contributors included Pete, Woody, Walter Lowenfels, Lomax, Alan, Betty Sanders, Reynolds, Malvina and many more.

Woody Guthrie was quoted as saying that there's more good stuff on one page of Sing Out! than "all the dopey, dreamy junk dished up from the Broadways of the world."

Occasionally SO would insert a sound sheet (an LP on a thin flexible vinyl sheet) containing excerpts from that issue's published songs. It was a good way to learn lots of songs, but was apparently too expensive to continue. May we see its return - which would probably have to be as a small CD, as turntables head toward museums.

At present (1994), the songs in the current issue and issues back six months can be heard via any touchtone phone by calling (900) 454-3277. There is a fee charged; there is also voice mail available. For information, contact Music Access, 90 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217, (718) 398-2146. Music Access is not affiliated with the magazine.

If you can't find it in music stores or bookstores, the magazine can be contacted at Sing Out, PO Box 5253, Bethlehem, PA 18015-0253, (610) 865-5366. See also Internet folk for their Web page.

See also Come For To Sing, Dirty Linen, Living Tradition, The.

sirrah a form of address implying disrespect, mild derision, or the listener's inferiority.

sit in an invitation to join some other musicians, either formally on stage, or in a jam. Or to accept that invitation.

sixth 1. The sixth note of the scale, counting inclusively; for instance, A in the key of C. 2. The interval sounded when two notes are played a sixth apart; for instance, C and A.

See also relative minor, which is based on the sixth note.

skerry (UK, also "skerrie") a rocky islet in the sea. Its most famous appearance is probably "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry", Child 113.

skiffle a type of music popular to some extent in Britain in the 50s. Skiffle bands played a mix of folk, jug band, pop and music hall sounds. The word seems to be connected to improvised jazz bands of the 20s. An example of skiffle/music hall that was briefly popular in North America in the 60s was George Formby's "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On the Bedpost Overnight" recorded by Donegan, Lonnie.

Skillet Lickers an old-timey band from Georgia, led by Gid Tanner (1885-1960). Their recordings from 1924-1934 influenced many of today's followers of the old-timey sound. Their singer/guitarist was Puckett, Riley. The name, like many names used by the early country bands, was a contrivance; the "hillbilly" sound was selling well at the time and the stereotype was exploited - see Grand Ole Opry.

skilly (Scot.) skilled; (Eng.) food (from "skillet"?).

skin the membrane stretched across the hoops of drums, banjos, etc. Although membranes made of animal skin are available, they're plagued with tension variations as the humidity changes, so most musicians prefer those made of an artificial material. "Skins" is also slang for drums.

Skinner, J. Scott (1843-1927) (James Scott Skinner) Scottish composer of violin tunes. Tunes from his publication "The Scottish Violinist" will be in the repertoire of most fiddlers, such as "The Hurricane", "Bonny Lass o' Bon Accord", "The Spey in Spate", "Laird o' Drumblair", and many others. He was well-known in his time as a superb concert violinist, and was occasionally referred to as "The Strathspey King" (see fiddle tunes). "Bon Accord", incidentally, is a Scottish term for Aberdeen.

skins see skin.

skipping songs a subgenre of the folk tradition, skipping songs are passed from one generation of children to the next with no interference from adults. Oral transmission at its best. A skipping song with some currency among folkies is "Green Rocky Road", arranged by Chandler, Len and widely recorded.

Sky, Patrick popular in the folk circuit of the 60s and 70s, Pat was the author of "Many a Mile" and recorded several albums for Vanguard. According to his article in a 1978 Sing Out!, he came out of four years of semi-retirement to form the Potstill Band, a group that did traditional Irish music. They disbanded shortly after, he said, because of poor economic conditions in folk clubs - an opinion that is shared by many; see Cooney, Michael, gig, and money. He hasn't been heard from much since, and is missed.

slack tuning tuning a guitar down one to three tones from concert pitch. The bass notes become richer and the string tension is relaxed somewhat for easier playing. This is favored by blues players and 12-string guitar players. The disadvantage is an increase in the strings buzzing against the frets, although heavy-gauge strings may ease this. Occasionally the term is used to mean open tuning.

slate (Scot., also "slait") to whet a sword.

slide a metal bar or cylinder used to fret a slide guitar; see also bottleneck style.

slide guitar a guitar in open tuning, fretted with a metal bar. See National, Dobro. Also known as the Hawaiian guitar. The effect is often duplicated by using a bottleneck style.

slide whistle a whistle with a tubular slide that can change the pitch. The continuous glide up or down produces a comic effect. Not in wide use, although with some practice it's possible to play simple tunes on it. This is seen as a waste of time.

slip jig see jig.

slur 1. See bend. 2. In music notation, the curved line over a group of notes to indicate that they are to be played smoothly.

smear synonymous with bend. Not used very often.

Smith, Bessie (1894-1937) considered the greatest of the women who sang the blues, her solo work and her work with Rainey, Ma set the standard for everyone who followed. She recorded for Columbia from 1923 on, with some of the best musicians of the 20s and 30s. Her songs included "Downhearted Blues", "Gulf Coast Blues", and her version of "St Louis Blues".

Smith, Michael Chicago singer-songwriter best known for writing "The Dutchman", "Spoon River" and "The Last Days of Pompeii". While he is relatively popular at clubs and festivals and is hailed as one of the best songwriters around, fame has eluded him.

Smothers Brothers in the early 60s, Dick and Tom Smothers became famous for hilarious parodies of folksongs and recorded many wide-selling albums. They used this style of comedy for cutting social satire as well. Eventually they were given a CBS TV show in 1967 and it proved popular, introducing the public to a wide range of folk musicians and comedians, but it was seen as too controversial and eventually canceled. Another show was started on NBC in 1975, but had little success, said to be due to its blandness. They continue to perform and are seen in the occasional TV guest spot.

snake this is the main cable that connects the sound board to the equipment on the stage. It's the one you've tripped over at festivals and concerts. Aka "umbilical".

snare a small drum with wires stretched across the head; these provide a loud rattling noise when the head is struck. A lever lifts the wires clear of the head for use as a normal drum.

Snow, Hank (1914- ) (Clarence Snow) a Nova Scotia picker and vocalist who idolized Rodgers, Jimmie, Hank was quite successful in Canada with his country sound, but didn't catch on in the US until his song "Wedding Vows" reached the Top Ten in 1949. Two of his most famous songs are "Movin' On" and "I Been Everywhere". He has an enormous number of albums and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979.

Society for Creative Anachronism an international organization for researching and recreating the customs of pre-17th-century Europe. Their gatherings feature tournaments, medieval feasts, accurate costumery and music, etc. They're occasionally seen on the television news, and the TV people always focus on the fighting because it looks good on camera, to the neglect of their many other talents. If you're interested in medieval/Renaissance history, try to see them first-hand - you'll want to join on the spot.

There are branches in various major cities. See Internet folk for their Web site; there is also a Usenet newsgroup, rec.org.sca.

sodger (Scot.) soldier.

sol-fa 1. See tonic sol-fa. 2. By convention, the notes of the scale are assigned the names do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do, and this is often called "sol-fa notation". There is a wide variation in the spelling of these note names; "sol", for instance, is often "so"; "ti" was originally "si" when musicians changed from the six-note hexachord to our current seven-note scale, and "si" still turns up occasionally.

See Guido d'Arezzo for the origin of the note names.

solmization the designation of note pitches by syllables rather than the conventional C-D-E note names. In other words, the do-re-mis.

solo 1. To sing and/or play an instrument without accompanying musicians. 2. To take a lead part of your own, even though there are accompanying musicians. 3. For a band member to make an album under his or her own name (even if the band accompanies).

song circle see singaround.

song cycle see cycle, suite.

song family musicologists can often trace a number of song variants back to a common source. One example would be the enormous family that sprouted from the ancient English "Villikins and his Dinah". The variants include "The Nightingale", "The Nightingales Sing", "The Bold Grenadier", "One Morning in May", "The Wild Rippling Water" (a cowboy version), "The Soldier and the Lady" (Canadian and southern US), "Keepers and Poachers", and many others. A variant of the tune was used for "Sweet Betsy From Pike".

Another song family is formed by the descendants of "The Unfortunate Rake". The rake is dying of syphilis (or mercury poisoning resulting from the treatments of the time) and laments his errant ways. In some variants, the victim is a woman (sometimes called "The Whore's Lament" or "Young Girl Cut Down in her Prime"). The two most famous variants are the American cowboy version collected by John Lomax, "The Dying Cowboy" (better known as "Streets of Laredo") and the jazz/blues song "St James Infirmary". There is a lesser-known variant from the American south called "St James Hospital". It's fascinating in that it's a perfect blend of "St James Infirmary" and "Streets of Laredo", set to an interesting modal tune (see mode).

Another example is the song family related to "Farewell to Tarwathie". According to MacColl, Ewan, this whaling song was written in the 1850s by George Scroggie of Aberdeenshire, although the tune might be borrowed from an earlier song. This tune appears in the US as "My Horses Ain't Hungry" and "Rye Whisky". An up-tempo version was a hit in the 1950s as "Shrimp Boats Are A-Comin'". Dylan, Bob borrowed the tune for his "Farewell, Angelina", recorded by Baez, Joan (see borrowing).

In 1701, a man named Jack Hall was executed in England for burglary. In the same year, William Kidd was executed for piracy. Before long, there were broadsides ( goodnight ballads) about them, one called "Jack Hall" and the other "Captain Kidd" (often called "Robert Kidd" in the lyrics), both with the same tune and structure. Musicologist Bronson, Bertrand said that it's "difficult to say which song got the start of the other." The Jack Hall story (in which he's a chimneysweep) also came to be called "Sam Hall" from the mid-19th-century British music hall, according to Kidson, Frank.

The tune and structure of Hall/Kidd proved so popular that it led to the ballads "Admiral Benbow" and "Admiral Byng", and also songs about seafarers Paul Jones and Lord Nelson. In an 1835 sacred harp book, there's a hymn with the title and tune of "Captain Kidd", though the lyrics have nothing to do with piracy. The tune and lyrical structure were adapted by Burns, Robert for his song "Ye Jacobites by Name", and the Scottish song "My Love's in Germany" (aka "Germany Thomas") is a close cousin, as are many others. Jack Hall apparently turned to Sam in the popular mid-19th century music hall version, though he might have appeared earlier (some songbooks even say that the music hall version was the original).

Of the two main versions of the hanged Hall still around, Sam is in one something of the Robin Hood figure that he was in the original:

"I've got twenty pounds in store, that's no lie, that's no lie, (2x)
I've got twenty pounds in store, and I'll rob for twenty more,
For the rich must help the poor, so must I, so must I."

In the other variant, Sam is an unrepentant man of steel as the noose tightens:

"The parson he did come, he did come.
Oh, the parson he did come, and he looked so goddamned glum,
Well, he can kiss my bloody bum, (alt: "As he talked of Kingdom Come")
You're a bunch of muckers all - damn your eyes!"

song finding if you're after a particular song or types of songs, your best bet is a major library; if you have Internet access, try "The Digital Tradition" lyric database, or ask around on rec.music.folk on Usenet - see Internet folk.

song structure in its simplest form, the repetition of verses with the same meter and melody: A-A-A... A popular form in folk music is the chorus song. The chorus repeated after every verse would give it the structure A-B-A-B-A... Another method of adding variation is to insert a verse with a new melody and (perhaps) meter, A-B-C-B-A, depending on how many times the B part (called the bridge) is used. There are many other methods used by inventive songmakers. See also burden, rondo.

sonsie (Scot.) jolly.

Sons of the Pioneers originally the Pioneer Trio, founded in 1949 by Roy Rogers (yep, that Roy Rogers), Bob Nolan, and Tim Spencer. The name was eventually changed, as was the personnel when Roy left for a movie career. Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer wrote some of the songs they made famous, such as "Tumblin' Tumbleweed", "Cool Water", and "Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women". Their sound is occasionally referred to as Western Swing.

sookie see sukey.

soprano the highest range of the voice; some women with high voices are sopranos, although most are altos. The usual specified range is from E above middle C to the first G above the top line of the treble staff. Some men can achieve the soprano range using falsetto. See also vocal ranges.

Sorrels, Rosalie singer and songwriter, Rosalie has a huge repertoire of traditional and contemporary songs. She has recorded over 14 albums.

soul-cake (UK) a cake prepared for All Souls' Day (Nov. 2). They're celebrated in the song "A-Soulin'" (recorded by PP&M as "A'Soalin'" and mixed up with Christmas). The distribution of these cakes (usually by churches) is related to our candy-binge at Hallowe'en. The song has the more general meaning of a community ceremony, house to house, to collect in memory of the departed.

sound board 1. The wooden diaphragm that transfers the energy of an instrument's strings to the air. A guitar top is a sound board, as is the bottom or back of a piano. 2. The large console for controlling the relative levels of the stage microphones, usually located at the back of the audience, which causes the operator to get thoroughly confused as to who's singing into what mike.

sound check the sound equipment is checked out for balance/quality at concerts and festivals, resulting in much "Test! Test! Check! Check!" (These words are used to test for sibilance.) Since festivals tend to have a large number of acts playing for a short time, there are multiple sound checks as the microphones are reset for the next performance. This can get very lengthy and boring.

sound hole the circular hole in the top of guitars, etc., or the f-shaped holes in the top of violins, etc. The hole is not, as is popularly believed, "to let the sound out"; it forms a Helmholtz resonator with the enclosed volume of air in the body and boosts the volume of the lower octave. This can be demonstrated by blocking a guitar's sound hole with a thick magazine and then playing a chord. The mid and high frequencies will still be there as usual; only the bass notes are attenuated.

Guitarists who use a pickup often block the sound hole. This minimizes feedback in the lower frequency range, since the guitar/pickup combination makes a good microphone for receiving stage sound and sending it around again. The attenuated bass can be compensated for to some extent with EQ.

sound post a wooden post inside members of the violin family, used to transfer part of the pressure of the bridge to the back. If the sound post is missing or badly out of place, the instrument will sound very squawky (assuming the player isn't doing it).

sound sheet a thin, very flexible 33RPM record on a vinyl sheet that can be bound into books and magazines. Sing Out! used them for a while. Usually, the sound sheet contains excerpts from the music covered in the publications. A boon to those who can't read music. They are rarely seen these days, no doubt because of cost.

sovereign in the old British system, a coin equal to a pound.

Spaeth, Sigmund (1885-1965) American song collector and folklorist. He was a specialist in sentimental songs of all types, and published them in his "Read 'Em and Weep" and "Weep Some More, My Lady", among others. Some of his other wonderfully readable works include "History of Popular Music in America", "The Common Sense of Music", "The Importance of Music", and "Stories Behind the World's Greatest Music".

spait (Scot., also "spate") flood.

Spanish guitar properly, the six-string, nylon-strung classical guitar. In general, any six-string acoustic guitar. See also flamenco guitar.

Spanish tuning (also known as classical tuning) the usual tuning for guitars - E A D G B E. The B string is one semitone below middle C. See notation, guitar.

spasm band a turn-of-the-century word from the US south, meaning a band using washboards, jugs, etc. Similar to a jug band or a washboard band.

spate see spait.

speer (Scot., also "spier") inquire.

spinet (pron. "spinnet") a small upright piano or harpsichord.

spiritual a general sort of word for a hymn-like song or gospel song, usually associated with black music. It might be said that they're a cross between the European hymn style and African rhythm and ornaments. They began to be notated about the time of the American Civil War, and since notation can't capture the subtleties of the black style, many popular versions of the traditional spirituals are in the whitebread style, lacking any sort of intensity or verve.

Spivey, Victoria (?-1976) Texas blues singer who lived in NYC. By the 20s she was recording for Okeh, and by the 30s was in films. First-rate jazz and blues musicians like Louis Armstrong, Tampa Red, Johnson, Lonnie, and Williams, Big Joe backed her on the records. She retired in 1951, but returned to performing in 1961 and was very successful with her brand of jazz-blues. She began her own record company, and one of her records ("Three Kings and the Queen") in the early 60s includes the young Dylan, Bob on harmonica, which was probably his first recording. A photo of that session showing Victoria with Dylan appears on the back cover of Dylan's "New Morning" LP.

Spoelstra, Mark (1940- ) singer, songwriter and 12-string guitarist. His recordings of traditional and composed songs for Folkways and Elektra in the mid-60s inspired many folkies to experiment with the sound of the 12-string. He was much influenced by the ragtime and blues of Fuller, Jesse. Anti-war songs were one of his favorite topics, and he both recorded them and published them in Broadside.

spondee see foot.

spoons a rhythm instrument made by holding two spoons back to back and striking them against the hand or the leg, or running them up and down the open fingers. The clacking sound lends itself to rapid dance tunes and the like. Compare with bones.

squaredance has its roots in country dancing - many of the steps and calls are similar. It is fairly popular with folkies, although country dancing seems to be preferred in Canada - and folkies shun the western-style costumes worn so often in public squaredances.

Squaredance *tunes*, now. Folkie instrumentalists will play those until the cows come home.

squeezebox see melodeon, accordion, concertina.

squire (also "esquire") 1. A rather vague term - generally a title of respect referring to a member of the landed gentry. 2. In songs about medieval times, a young man of noble birth who tended a knight. 3. In the morris, the person in charge of the dance team. The squire has general organizational duties. May be elected or just informally appointed.

staccato in staccato playing, the notes are abruptly sounded and damped out quickly afterwards. The opposite is legato.

staff the five horizontal lines and four spaces used in music notation. In notation for the piano, for instance, there will be two sets, one over the other (the "great clef"). The upper is the treble staff and is denoted by the treble clef, which looks like this: &. The lower is the bass staff and is denoted by the bass clef, which looks like this

) and between the two is an imaginary line, which is middle C. See also clef, leger line.

stall ballad see broadside.

Stampfel, Peter see Holy Modal Rounders.

stane (Scot.), stone, stone wall.

Stanley Brothers Ralph (1927- ) (banjo) and Carter Stanley (1925-1966) (guitar) began playing in the 40s, forming the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys. They played a mix of old-timey, gospel, and bluegrass, all in their distinctive mountain harmony. They made a number of albums, leaving many songs that are favorites to many outside bluegrass and old-timey: "Rank Stranger", "I Saw the Light", "White Dove", and many others. After the death of Carter in 1966, Ralph continued to tour; his banjo playing was distinctive enough that it became known as "Ralph Stanley style".

stanza lines grouped to form the basic divisions of a song lyric or poem. In the ballad, stanzas are almost always four-line. "Stanza" and "verse" are generally used interchangeably, though verse really refers to the entire work.

star 1. The finale of sword dances usually features the swords interwoven into a geometric shape called the star, lock, or nut. 2. In country dancing and the squaredance, two couples facing each other shake right hands diagonally (righthand star) or left hands diagonally (lefthand star}.

Steeleye Span groundbreaking English electric-folk group. They started in 1969, with the original members being Tim Hart and Maddy Prior (who had previously performed as a folk duo), Terry and Gay Woods, and Hutchings, Ashley. After the Woods left to form their own band, Carthy, Martin and Peter Knight were added. When Martin and Ashley left, they added Ric Kemp, Robert Johnson, and Nigel Pegrum (Nigel in 1973, resulting in the "Now We Are Six" album name). The last three (on bass, electric guitar, and drums) propelled them toward a more powerful electric sound.

They successfully transferred many traditional songs to the pop idiom. Naturally, there's some argument about just how well they did this (see commercialized), but in general, they're well-received by all except hardcore traddies. Some of their arrangements tended to excess, but they exposed a lot of people to the wealth of British traditional music. They even had a UK commercial hit with "All Around My Hat" and its flipside, "Black Jack Davy", and a hit with "Gaudete", a medieval Latin chant that predated the current craze for Gregorian chants by some 20 years. (For those who'd like to sing along on the chorus, the words are "Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus, ex Maria Virginae." "Rejoice, rejoice, Christ is born of the Virgin Mary.")

Their name comes from Martin Carthy, who found a character of this name in a Lincolnshire song, "Horkstowe Grange". The membership changes periodically, but they continue to perform, and many of their LPs have been reissued on CDs.

steel guitar the National, an acoustic guitar actually made from sheet steel. The term is often used to mean the pedal steel.

The steel guitar is stopped with a metal slide in the left hand. The sound is as loud and bonky as you'd expect it would be. It's ideally suited to blues, ragtime and old-timey music. Compare with Dobro, a wooden acoustic guitar with a steel resonator made by the same company as the National.

step a whole step is a tone; a half-step is a semitone.

stereo from the floor if performers in a studio record directly onto a 2-track stereo tape, the final product is captured then and there. There are two advantages: it eliminates the cost and complexity of multitrack equipment and post-recording editing, and it forces the performers to polish their act so they can get it right in one go (very little fixing is possible afterwards). The disadvantage is that a small mistake means starting everything over. See also track.

stick dance a morris dance in which the dancers carry heavy sticks, which are clashed in intricate rhythms. See also handkerchief dance.

stock (UK) 1. Pillory. 2. The side of a bed opposite the wall. The beds were often a box and enterable only by the stock side.

stone (UK measure) 14 pounds.

stool of repentance (UK) aside from being the name of a fiddle tune, it was also the church stool used to humiliate sinners in times past - also called cutty stool.

stop 1. (v.) to press a string down onto the fingerboard or a fret, or otherwise terminate the string length, as in bottleneck style or steel guitar playing. 2. (n.) A control on an organ that selects a certain tonal effect (see register).

See also double stop.

storytelling the telling of traditional stories is a subdivision of the subculture. The stories can be slice-of-life anecdotes, or full-scale mythology with lots of good supernatural elements, or amusing tall tales. Some people specialize in storytelling, and others keep short ones on hand to add variety to a musical performance.

Not all storytellers have a good stage manner, even if they're experts on folklore. Some think that the mere recitation of the Holy Words is all that's needed, with the result that the performance is generally a snore. Others are brilliant, and can hold an audience captivated as well as the best instrumental or vocal virtuoso.

See also seanachie.

stour (Scot., also "stoor") fight, brawl. Also dust - the miller's flour is sometimes referred to as stour.

Stracke, Win (1908-1991) Chicago singer and broadcaster. He was deeply involved in the union activities of the 40s and 50s, and suffered from the blacklist, as did his close friend Terkel, Studs. In 1948 he founded the performing group "I Come For to Sing" (which is no doubt the source of the magazine title Come For to Sing); over the years it presented many folk musicians (such as Broonzy, Bill), who were later to become established. In 1957 he started the Old Town School of Folk Music and in 1963 the Old Town Folklore Center. The school ran courses in folk music taught by well-known experts in every aspect of folksong and folklore, and also did concerts ( Prine, John got his start there, as did Goodman, Steve).

strand (UK) all-purpose word used with many meanings - a beach, a road, the countryside. Child said it was used mostly as a handy rhyme.

strathspey a slow Scottish dance, four-to-the- bar, and full of Scots snaps. It's actually a slower version of the reel.

streen (UK) yesterday evening. Also "yestreen."

street cries miniature verses or little songs shouted by street vendors who could have been selling just about anything. Many of these found their way into songs and stories. One example would be "Cockles and Mussels" from the music hall tradition. Another deriving from cries would be the song "Three Jolly Fishermen" ("My bonny silver herring, mind how you sell them, while the merry, merry bells do ring. We sell them three for four pence, while the merry, merry bells do ring.").

string band a loose term to describe performers such as old-timey groups. The "string" usually refers to guitars, banjos, fiddles, autoharps, etc., to distinguish the group from full bands using horns and so on.

stringwinder a crank for rapidly turning the tuning pegs on stringed instruments, thereby shortening the agony of string changes.

strophic having the same melody for each verse - nearly all folk songs are strophic. An exception might be African songs, which tend to have melodic variations as the song progresses.

strum to play the chord notes of a stringed instrument over and over rapidly, as opposed to picking melody notes.

subdominant see progression, note names.

submediant see progression, note names.

sukey (also "sookie") an early 19th-century word for a slave, so a "sukey jump" was a party in slave quarters. The term came to mean any lively get-together with music and dancing. ( Leadbelly, who played for sukey jumps, said that he believed it to be an old word for "cow".)

Sunnyland Slim (1907-?) (Albert Luandrew) a blues piano player from Mississippi who moved to Memphis and then Chicago. He recorded briefly in 1947, but is known mostly from his performances with musicians like Johnson, Lonnie and Waters, Muddy.

supernatural a large number of ballads deal with the supernatural. In some cases, the underworld and its inhabitants are detailed, especially in the context of an earthly visitor to them ("Tam Lin"). In others, the newly dead lover is allowed to return to say goodbye to a loved one ("The Unquiet Grave") - and in some songs always has to be back in the nether world "before the cock doth crow" ("The Grey Cock").

Occasionally the supernaturals become the object of ridicule. In "The Farmer's Cursed Wife", the wife nearly destroys Hell and is thrown out again. In songs like "The False Knight Upon the Road" or the early versions of "Riddles Wisely Expounded" (see riddle songs). Satan appears in disguise and presents strange questions to someone. When they're cleverly answered, Satan is bested and disappears.

It's interesting to consider that what we now see as poetical was standard fare for the old balladmakers. As Friedman, Albert put it, "We are tempted to find in [metaphorical ballad elements] a mystical or at least supernatural value. Actually we are dealing with primitive superstition."

supertonic see progression, note names.

suite a collection of dances in one work. Also used to denote a work that's made up of a series of themes, perhaps loosely based on the older suite structure. Seeger, Pete put together a wonderful, eclectic collection of songs for Folkways called "The Goofing Off Suite".

The dances that made up the baroque suite, and still seen today in period dancing such as Playford, include the bourree, galliard, gavotte, minuet, and pavane, which are also often part of the names of the tunes for those dances.

suits office managers, sales types and other administrative personnel who grate up against the more laid-back folkie. The bigtime record companies and the media tend to be dominated by suits who may be more interested in dollars than the music.

sus the name of a suspended chord, as in Csus4.

suspended chord see suspension.

suspension a note in a chord that would otherwise belong in the previous or following chord. If you're playing a G chord, for instance, and you insert a C note, this suspension naturally leads to the next chord being C Major - although it doesn't have to be. The interval from G to C is a fourth, so the chord is named Gsus4.

sustain how long a musical note lasts. An organ or bowed violin can produce infinite sustain, while the sustain of guitar notes or pizzicato violin notes is quite short.

Swarbrick, Dave (1941-[2016]) fiddle and madolin player without peer; he backs Carthy, Martin and was a founder of Fairport Convention.

sweep the slope of the neck of instruments with reference to the strings, particularly on fretted instruments like the guitar. The neck is not parallel to the strings (as seen from the side), but is canted upward slightly; this slight tilt is necessary to minimize buzzing of the strings on the frets. On some models, the neck is adjustable via the truss rod.

sweeten to adjust the tone controls of a recording or stage PA to add interest to a sound that might otherwise be considered dry. It could also refer to adding something like choral voices, or special effects, at least subtle ones like reverb.

swing (v.) a loose term that means, in general, shifting the rhythmic accents of a melody; see rubato, syncopation. A favorite of jazz musicians, it can be used to get away from the stiff tick-tock of many folk and classical tunes. It occasionally outrages purists.

sword dances there are a number of different styles in the folk tradition. Scottish sword dancing is a performance of complex steps over swords crossed on the floor. English longsword and rapper are danced by a team holding the swords at both ends. The steps weave in and out to produce various patterns of the swords. The end of the dance usually features the swords locked together in a star shape, also called the "nut".

The style of sword dance from the north of England called rapper, said to be from the French "rapier", uses swords with wooden handles on both ends. The dances follow much the same idea of weaving in and out to form sword patterns.

See also country dancing, morris.

Sykes, Roosevelt (1906-1983) an Arkansas blues pianist who began recording for Okeh in 1929. He was occasionally called "The Honey Dripper", supposedly because people would gather around him when he played, "like bees". One of his songs is "Highway 61 Blues", which no doubt influenced Dylan, Bob in his choice of song titles.

syllabic with reference to meter, a song in which each syllable gets one note. Opposite melisma.

sympathetic resonance the sounding of a string or strings by other strings at the same pitch (or harmonics of that pitch); these unplayed but sounded strings are called "sympathetic strings". See drone strings, Hardanger fiddle, hurdy gurdy.

sympathetic strings see sympathetic resonance above, drone strings.

syncopation producing rhythmic interest by accenting the weak beats, such as beats two and four in 4/4 time. It's the very stuff of interesting music - without it, the sound would become a dreary tick-tock, like listening to a metronome.

synesthesia a psychological effect in which people experience a crossover in sensory perception - hearing colors and seeing notes, for example. Something like this is quite common in writing about music, especially when someone is attempting to describe the quality of a sound. We write (or speak) of "warm tones", "brown tones", a "sour" sound, or a melody that "feels" smooth.

In his book "The Man Who Tasted Shapes", neurologist Dr Richard Cytowic said that the effect occurs in only ten people per million. It would be instructive to know if more musicians than non-musicians "see" tones. The people in the book who mixed color and sound had varying opinions as to what the colors should be. Of course, a C major chord is blue, D is light yellow, D minor is light yellow with black fringes, and G major is white (your author was quite surprised to discover that his synesthesia is an unusual thing).

synthesizer (also "synth") an electronic keyboard instrument that can generate reasonable imitations of other instruments. At one time they were large and expensive and the sound wasn't all that convincing. Now they're small and inexpensive and fairly good. In a band with a lot going on, they can fool anybody. On their own, the sound isn't quite subtle enough.

There are basically two types: the full synth, which can generate original sounds, and the type called "electronic piano" or similar; these usually have settings for organ, harpsichord, etc., as well. They're popular as a substitute for the bulky acoustic piano.

syntonic tuned together exactly, as in two instruments, or two notes in any particular scale - the term is used mostly in explanations of scale derivations.

syntonic comma in scale derivation, the difference between the third made up of two pure tones of 9/8 each and a pure third of (5/4). The difference is 1.2656 to 1.25, often expressed as the ratio 81/80, and often confused with the comma of Pythagoras because its value of 21.5 cents is close to the Pythagorean comma's 23.5 cents. It turns up a great deal in naturally-derived scales - it's also the difference in cents between the natural whole tone (9/8) and the natural minor tone (10/9).

Another more modern definition is the difference between a third generated by a sequence of four fifths (C G D A E} and the pure third of 5/4 (plus two octaves).

It's something only encountered by those working with scales such as the Pythagorean scale; it doesn't occur in our equal-tempered scale. See temperament for more on scale derivation.

syrinx an ancient Greek term for the panpipes.

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URL: http://www.folklib.net/folkfile/s.shtml
Created by Bill Markwick (1945-2017)

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