Barford

Book 3 in the Evergreen Band series of copyable band and piano parts: 10 old Norfolk tunes from the playing of Billy Bennington of Barford and Billy Cooper of Hingham

Billy Bennington

Billy Bennington was born in 1900. His mother played melodeon and his father tin whistle, but it was his grandmother who gave Billy his first instrument, a glockenspiel, when he was about six. He first heard a dulcimer when he went to Hingham Show where Billy Cooper was playing. Billy C's father had taught him and subsequently taught Billy B. Billy B said "He taught me in the band master style. He used to stand beside me with his little baton and if I went wrong I got a tap. Of course, me being a boy I was a bit nervous of him. I used to bike to Hingham and I was so afraid I was going to make a mistake I used to get off about a mile before I got there and get into a gateway, take the dulcimer off my back and have a tune at the side of the road."
After the First World War the two Billys used to go round to different villages to play for 'hops' and other social occasions, together with the fiddler Walter Baldwin. The three of them travelled in a motorbike and sidecar, with the two dulcimers and fiddle in a basket and Billy B standing up at the back hanging on for dear life! At other times Billy would cycle with the dulcimer on his back, and with the ends of it sticking out above his shoulders, earned himself the nickname of the Barford Angel.
Billy had a variety of ways of playing the dulcimer, the more usual one being striking the strings with cane beaters, but for some particular tunes, he would pluck the strings with the nails of the first finger and thumb. He was a gardener and diligently wore plastic gloves for any task that might break the nails of his dulcimer plucking fingers. He knew a wide range of tunes, including hornpipes for stepdancing, polkas and schottisches for couple dancing, a jig or two for the Norfolk Long Dance and also played song tunes and a number of marches and more complex pieces.
In his later years Billy performed at his local Folk Festival in Norwich and was also a guest at Festivals farther afield. On one memorable night he shared the evening at Norwich Folk Club with singer Walter Pardon and it proved very difficult to get him to stop playing and let Walter sing!
The dulcimer was Billy's life, and he welcomed interested visitors to his Barford home Rose Cottage, where his wife Iris supplied the tea and home-made cake while Billy supplied the talk - and, of course, the music. He died on 18th October 1986.

Taken mostly from an article by John Howson in the
newsletter of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust.
Reprinted by kind permission.

Billy Cooper

Billy Cooper was well remembered in his community and wherever he played. He learned to play the dulcimer from his father and although by trade a grocer, he perhaps regarded this as secondary to his music making, playing most lunchtimes and evenings in one of Hingham's several pubs, as well as elsewhere. He tended to play in pubs rather than in village halls for dancing, although he certainly knew a lot of country dance tunes. After the First World War he regularly teamed up with Walter Baldwin (playing fiddle) and Jack Bunn (playing autoharp and, later, guitar), the three travelling all round the Hingham area to play, as well as making frequent excursions to Wells-next-the-Sea.
Reg Hall met Billy Cooper three times and played with him, and musicians Walter and Daisy Bulwer in the Bulwers' Shipdham home. He recalls that Billy had an amazing musical ear; very quick to pick up music played to him. On the first hearing of a tune he would be able to vamp along, whatever the key; on the second hearing he would play a second part to the tune; on the third hearing he could play the tune in its entirety. This was of course to great advantage for these recording sessions, as these musicians of several generations met for the first time to play through old country dance tunes. Reg also recalls that Billy once played a long medley of hornpipes to himself and Mervyn Plunkett - the man who had set up the recording sessions. This is unsurprising, perhaps, as he seems to have had the nickname 'The Hornpipe King' at some point, although, somewhat surprisingly with that title, nobody in his family remembers him playing for step dancing.
Billy had several dulcimers and would repair others for other players, 'all over Norfolk' as he told Reg Hall. He had two instruments tuned to the piano in Hingham Eight Ringers. Each one had over 120 strings and when he played in Shipdham, Reg recalls that he had to retune one to Daisy Bulwer's piano, a task he completed in 15 minutes, happily reversing the process to play in the pub in the evening. For dance tunes he struck the strings with cane beaters and for song tunes and waltzes he plucked the string with his first finger and thumb. Reg also remembers him trying out a concertine he found in the back of Mervyn Plunkett's car; an instrument he once played regularly as well as the dulcimer.
A highly regarded musician in and around his home area, Billy's recordings - made very late in his life - exposed his music to a much wider audience than his local community in Norfolk.

Taken from an article by Chris Holderness in the
newsletter of the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust.
Reprinted by kind permission.

Download Music Files

Click on either member of the pairs of tunes below and choose to save the zip file from the menu that will appear.
Since each file consists of this pair of tunes, it doesn't matter which member of the pair you pick, as they both link to the same file.

Band Arrangements:
Title Key Form of tune From the playing of
I like to say Good Morning
Obadiah
F
G
32 bar Polka
32 bar Polka
Billy Bennington
Billy Bennington
Pony Trot Polka
On The Green
G
G
32 bar Polka
32 bar Polka
Billy Bennington
Billy Bennington
Billy Bennington's Polka
Redwing
G
G
32 bar Polka
32 bar Polka
Billy Bennington
Billy Bennington
Soldier's Joy
Brighton Camp
D
G
32 Bar reel
32 Bar reel
Billy Cooper
Billy Cooper
Yarmouth Breakdown No 2
Yarmouth Hornpipe No 5
C
F
32 bar Hornpipe
32 bar hornpipe
Billy Cooper
Both

Piano Arrangements: Click here to download and save all the Barford Tunes for piano

In the downloaded files, parts for each pair of tunes are listed as follows:
In C:
01 Melody at pitch (Violin, Flute, Recorder, Melodeon)
02 Harmony at pitch
03 Simple harmony at pitch
04 Bass in bass clef (Double Bass, Bass Guitar, Cello, Tuba)
In Bb:
05 Melody for Bb instruments (Clarinet, Cornet, Trumpet)
06 Harmony for Bb instruments
07 Simple harmony for Bb instruments
08 Bass for Bb insts, treble clef (Tenor Sax, Baritone, Bb Bass)
In Eb:
09 Melody for Eb instruments (Alto Sax, Tenor Horn)
10 Harmony for Eb instruments
11 Simple harmony for Eb instruments
12 Bass for Eb instruments (Baritone Sax, Eb Bass)
Other:
13 Simple accompaniment (Piano, Organ, Accordion)
14 Chord charts (Guitar, Ukulele, Banjo, Accordion, Bass)
15+ Score