Tenants of The Earth

by The Mellstock Band

Music of English Village bands of the last century: instrumental, male and female vocals and harmonies from The Mellstock Quire, early nineteenth century instruments, clarinets, flute, serpent, trombone, oboes, vox humana, fife, violin, concertina, percussion.



This album highlights the sacred and secular nature of the work of the jobbing local musician in the last century. The varied music ranges from vigorous dance music to the marches of the militia bands, and from the carols of the West Gallery choirs to the songs of the pub and the fireside.

The Mellstock Band appeared in the 1996 BBC Television production of Pride and Prejudice as well as film versions of the Return of the Native and The Woodlanders.

On BBC national radio, as well as guest appearances on Round Midnight and Folk on 2, they provided the music for the 1994 classical serial version of the Mayor of Casterbridge. More recent television appearances include Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

The band has toured Europe and Africa for the British Council and has also toured in the USA.

They take their name from the fictional name which poet and novelist, Thomas Hardy, gave to his home parish of Stinford in Dorset, South West England. Hardys vigorous portrayals of music, song and dancing have been an inspiration to the Mellstock band and they perform music from the Hardy familys collection of manuscript books.

They usually use instruments in their early nineteenth-century forms for their distinctive authentic sounds such as the clear incisive tone of the boxwood C clarinet, the warmth of the classical oboe and its tenor cousin, the vox humana, the purity of the English concertinas tone, and the deep rich note of the serpent.

Old Wiltshire
Sample not available
The Persian Dance/The Waterloo Dance
Sample not available
How Happys the Man
Sample not available
Money Musk/Billy Boy/This Day the Stag Must Die/Fred Williams Irish Jig
Sample not available
Budmouth Dears/The Downfall of Paris
Sample not available
Sweet Jenny Jones
Sample not available
Devils Reel/Money Musk/Haul Away the Hawser
Sample not available
Newtons or St Pauls
Sample not available
The Swiss Boy/William Giles Quadrille
Sample not available
With Raptures Abounding
Sample not available
The Original Polka/The Redowa Polka
Sample not available
Great Things
Sample not available
Grandmothers/Hooks no. 27/Cuckoos Nest
Sample not available
Rejoice Ye Tenants of the Earth
Sample not available
The Wounded Hussar/Time to Remenber the Poor
Sample not available
Derby/The Knifegrinder/Ware Out Mother
Sample not available
Rejoice All men
Sample not available
Boneys Farewell/Hythe March/Newark Quickstep
Sample not available
The Shepherds Amazed
Sample not available

Dirty Linen

Dan Willging

The tradition of English country dance bands dates back to when each village or town had their own band for community dances. Today theyre still non-commercial ventures who play solely for enjoyment at local barn dances and ceilidhs. This year the Bursledon Village Band (BVB) celebrate their 20th anniversary with this fascinating collection of polkas, jigs, reels, hompipes and waltzes played in the slightly slower Southern english style. The melodies are primarily carried by fiddles, melodeons and concertinas, while the rhythms are pumped out by a bass drum and tuba. Since this is dance music, there are no frontmen or dazzling soloists - the tunes are kept pretty straight. Overall, the BVB are quite enjoyable, not only in their conviction but in their impeccable timing, as well. As an extended courtesy for their dancers, many tunes repeat the melody eight times rather than the original six.

Similarly, the Mellstock Band play English 19th-century dance music, but extend their repertoire with songs and carols. Both bands find inspiration in novelist/poet Thomas Hardy and have borrowed numerous tunes from the Hardy family manuscripts. (The name Mellstock comes from the fictional name Hardy christened his native Stinsford in Dorset.) Where Mellstock differs from the BYB is that several of their instruments (clarinet, serpent) were built in the 19th century or replicated (oboe, vox humana) from the original models. The low frequencies are provided by the serpent, which sounds similar to a muted trombone. Mellstock not only capture the eras authenticity, but articulate the melodies balanced with intricate sets of counter-melodies. Additionally, Mellstock are particularly rousing on military marches Boneys Farewell and Newark Quickstep which, like the rest of this disc are not lacking any spirit.