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Friday, April 12, 2024

History Of The 1960’s Folk Song ‘Scarborough Fair’

All hymns and nursery rhymes rebated, "Scarborough Fair" remains the classic English folk song in the modern world

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UNITED STATES: Simon and Garfunkel, a musical duo based in New York charted billboard hot 100 with their song ‘Scarborough Fair’ in 1966.

All hymns and nursery rhymes rebated, “Scarborough Fair” remains the classic English folk song in the modern world. Bards would sing this popular folk song while going places in medieval England.

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Scarborough is a small coastal town in North Yorkshire, England. “Scarborough Fair” was a fashionable gathering in medieval times that attracted performers, artists and traders from across the country. The fair started every August 15 that lasted 45 days. Scarborough – as of today – is a quiet town with a rich history.

The song is believably 400 years old, the author of which is unknown and has been sung by various artists through time.

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Ultimately, the popularity of the song is owed to the American folk duo. The traditional version of the song, however, is volumed with lyrics.

Clannish melody and exclusory arrangement

The melody is best described as ‘haunting’. The surreal harmonies are not simple notes, there is a counterpoint usually found in classical music. Moreover, they incorporated not only melodic but poetic counterpoint.

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Precisely, these poly harmonies are very intricate harpsichord, that is, many delicate harmonies harmonizing at the same time. The harpsichord and the bells, furthermore, add to the ancient feel of Scarborough fair.

Vinyl album by Simon & Garfunkel (1966). Photo Credit: Twitter

This song, distinctively, is a medley of two songs sung simultaneously, ‘canticle’ and ‘Scarborough fair’. Hence, this song is often listed as “Scarborough Fair/Canticle“.

Lines” from “Canticle” alternate after the first line of the other verses. The first and the last verses, however, are of “Scarborough Fair”.

Also Read: Conservation Of Ancient Folk Cultures

The underlying romantic history

A momentous amount of information about the song lingers on the web, most of which aims to reinforce romanticized tales about its origin.

In medieval times, each spice represented ethics that contributed to the song. Parsley is comfort, sage is strength, rosemary is love and thyme is courage.

Moreover, it’s one of the many traditional British necromancy songs where the speaker is a ghost.

The lyrics of the song are about a man trying to obtain his true love. The yearning for the same is felt throughout the 7-minute song.

Interestingly so, the man is telling his true love after separation that she will be his true love again if she does a variety of impossible tasks. The tasks include making a seamless shirt or buying an acre of land between the beach and the sea.

Furthermore, all of the requests he makes are impossible because he is dead and can’t come back, just like how the requests can’t be addressed.

Some also interpreted it as a song of sorrow from the devastation of wars in general. Wherein, the herbs – parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme interpreted as a totem of remembrance for the deceased.


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