In Winchester Records Library, there is a manuscript book, ref. 210M87/1. The title page has R Pyle 19th January 1822 written in decorated script. The book contains 171 secular tunes, largely country dance tunes with a few airs and song accompaniments, and a few psalm and hymn settings in the back. It thus reinforces the classic idea we have of an English village musician, someone who plays for dances when required and in the church on Sundays. The book came from Nether Wallop, in the Test Valley in Hampshire, and was part of a collection supplied by Mr. Mouland, a descendant of the Pyles.
Whilst there are some familiar tunes in the book, my thoughts when I first looked through the material is that Id never heard of most of them. This was confirmed when I started looking into the background. I could only find references to around half the tunes, generally in publications dating between 1780 and 1820. When played, it was apparent that many would form robust, Southern English dance tunes, readily lending themselves to spontaneous harmonies and improvisations. It seemed that they ought to see the light of day again. A chance meeting with Roger Watson of TAPs (Traditional Arts Projects) led to some funding from Test Valley Borough Council to pursue this idea. The idea of a CD of selected tunes, played by local artists, emerged, together with an accompanying book containing a larger selection. Doug Bailey, of WildGoose Records agreed to produce the CD. Pete McClelland of Hobgoblin agreed to finance the book.
The playing on this CD represents modern, Southern English playing at its best. I hope you enjoy it.