Rough Music

Rough music, or some musical(-ish) works in progress

commoners lite.jpg
Commoners Mock, a dance band I played with for a while in Shropshire. 

Back in the 1970s, the much-missed Bill Caddick released an album on Park Records called Rough Music: the title song referred to the custom of raucous ‘bands‘ formed to express the community’s disapproval of certain individuals by gathering outside their dwellings at night and making as much noise as possible. A bit like carol-singing, except that bad carol-singers usually expect to be paid after a few lines, and then wander off to visit the next victim. To be fair, Commoners Mock gigs were a lot more polished than the chorus renditions in Bill’s song, in which he was, if I remember rightly, assisted by Taffy Thomas’s Magic Lantern folk theatre company, of which Bill was a former member. (That’s not a reflection on the quality of that very excellent album, by the way: the roughness of the choruses of that particular song was evidently intended and entirely fitting to the subject matter.)

This ‘rough music’ page is a little different: it’s a page intended for songs I’m in the process of writing/learning, so the performance is as rough as it gets, and the tune and lyrics may change dramatically (not to mention traumatically). I’m moving some things that were previously individual articles onto this page because I have a tidy mind. Though you’d never guess it if you saw my office.

The next stage in the creative process, at any rate as far as this site is concerned, is to post songs that are pretty much finished, but not yet recorded as a reasonably polished performance. Those posts go under the general category of ‘demos’ and there will now be a separate page for those.

Material that is relatively polished will continue to appear as individual articles and/or on pages that reflect a project rather than an individual song, such as the forthcoming ‘Tears of Morning’ project.

David Harley 




  1. They Hang the Man and Flog the Woman

The demo version linked above has now been replaced by the version recorded for the ‘Cold Iron‘ album.

The Inclosure Acts enabled the passing into private hands land that had previously been designated as either ‘common’ or ‘waste’. This process preceded by several centuries the formal Inclosure Acts (which began with an Act if 1604) and continued into the 20th century, resulting in the enclosure of nearly seven million acres. While enclosure facilitated more efficient agricultural methods, that increased efficiency and loss of communal land was a factor in the enforced move of so many agricultural labourers into towns. There are a number of variations of this poem, which is usually assumed to date from the 1750s or ’60s, when enclosure legislation started to accelerate dramatically. The tune here is mine: I haven’t yet learned it properly, so not a polished performance. 🙂

There’s a relevant thread on Mudcat here.

They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common’
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

Words by Anonymous, tune by David Harley

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