Discover more from Sing Yonder: A Practical Guide to Traditional Song
The Sing Yonder substack!
Hello, I’m Karl (that’s me in the middle there, with my band The Gally Canters), you might know me as the writer of the Sing Yonder series of little books about traditional folk song. If you don’t know me from that… well, basically I am working my way through the Roud folk song index, writing a brief potted history of each song, and offering an easy to sing and play arrangement, hopefully suitable for all skill levels. You can see where I’m up to over at the Sing Yonder website. I thought I would set this up so that people can see a bit more of the process and research, and get more involved in the process. Plus there’s always loads of stuff I can’t fit into the books, due to the pesky laws of physics, and this seems like a nice place to put it all. Hopefully it won’t be taken over by an insane billionaire at some point. (Who am I kidding, of course it will. It may already be.)
What the heck is this Substack thingy?
It’s a kind of mailing list, in that each time I post here, you get an email. But it’s also a website and discussion forum, with other social media-type functions incorporated. As with most Substack subscriptions, this will have some content for free, and some which is “premium content” available for a small monthly donation.
I thought about doing this as a Patreon, but frankly it’s not great for writing text, and I’m not really into the idea of “tiers” where you are rewarded more based on how much you can spend. Not so much the principle, mainly that I don’t have anything particularly high value to offer (see below).
The free content
For each song I’ll post up any interesting sources I have found, and show you a playlist of songs I’ve been listening to. There will be other things as well, like announcements of things that Sing Yonder is doing, new merch, events, and stuff like that.
Benefits for paid subscribers
If you sign up for the paid subscription, you will get a warm glow knowing you are helping to keep these old songs alive, in a world where some of the more niche corners of creative endeavour are often driven to extinction by the cold dead-eyed misery of commerce. Also, there are a number of things I can offer you by way of thanks.
Early access. For each song, you’ll get an additional post which includes the draft version of the pages from the book, months before it’s published. You’ll also get to hear my audio demo. Some might regard that as a punishment rather than a benefit. However, I’m not forcing you to listen to it. Finally, you’ll be first to hear any announcements of new things happening, and you might get some cheeky advanced snippets of those things.
Join in. Feel free to correct my spelling and grammar, and highlight any historical errors, or things you think I’ve missed. I’d also love to hear from you if you’ve found (or made!) any versions of the songs that I have missed.
Free books! Every time I publish a book (once every couple of months, disasters notwithstanding), I’ll send you a free one (you’ll just have to pay towards the P&P if you’re overseas) - think of it like a subscription to Sing Yonder, with extras.
Free/discounted merch/other stuff! While subscribed you will get any merch or digital assets I produce for free as well (unless it’s something really expensive to produce or post in which case you will pay a discounted price). If there’s a particular item, perhaps a dog blanket or Sing Yonder pen, that is missing from your life, let me know, we can probably make it happen.
Sing Yonder Live in your Living Room. If anyone actually subscribes, I’ll do some live events over Zoom, maybe listening parties of the varous versions, or just chats about the song in hand. If we get a decent following, I might even be able to persuade artists to come on and talk about their feelings about a song that they perform. A bit like the brilliant Old Songs podcast, but less good.
Instant fame. I’ll add you to a list of patrons over on the Sing Yonder website. Again, you are welcome to opt out. If you have a website or a thing you think Sing Yonder fans might be interested in, I’ll happily link to it there.
Sign up gift. If you sign up as a paid subscriber, I will post a you a small gift. A little special something that I have put together to say thank you for your support.
REVIEWS OF SING YONDER:
"interesting, informative, and written with wit and humour; both the text and the arrangements meet the project's aims of being accessible for beginners and newcomers to folk song" Folk London
"a lovely project... want to break into traditional singing but don't know where to start? Check this accessible little guide." Old Tunes Fresh Takes Podcast
"marvellous... a key to the folkie locker and a simple first step to singing and playing trad songs...I hope it's picked up by everyone with access to a voice box and/or guitar etc." Phil Widdows, FolkCast
"a beautiful thing" Jon Boden
"a stunning piece of work... making folk songs accessible with lyrics, chords, well-written background info for each song, and recordings to listen to as well" George Sansome
"a super idea, beautifully simple and straightforward, excellent for beginners, particularly people who pick up songs by ear" Jim Causley
"a great resource... for all traditional singers" The Folk Forecast
"a rather lovely item... a beginner's guide to traditional song complete with words, chord charts, song backgrounds and downloadable audio guides that are all easy to follow" Martin Purdy, Harp and a Monkey
"beautiful... even if you know every song in Roud's index, these books are worth having for Karl's incisive commentary on the songs and sources." Piers Cawley