November 1937



agreeing about music's ability to express love. No doubt if the " Mood Music" catalogue develops, all sorts of fresh headings will suggest themselves, and I suggest for the next edition a l ist of romantic tunes ; and this suggests a very good competition. To the reader whose list of what he considers the best twelve romantic tunes, and is supported by the majority of competitors, we will award the usual album of his own choice (not a Society album). Entries for this competition-which must not be sent to Barra, but to the London Office of THE GRAMOPHONE, marked" Roman-

t ic Tunes" on the outside of the envelope-will close on November 16, 1937.

I am afraid that a more than usual fully-occupied visit to London has kept me from hearing any music of this last month, and so I shall have to postpone anything I have to say about recent records until nex t month. I know readers will appreciate how difficult i t is to find t ime for everything, and unless one has t ime to l isten to music one cannot write about i t with any profit either to oneself or to the reader.



RECORDS Issued by The British Drama League reviewed by S. P. B. MAIS

A VERY notable Committee, which included Lord Tweedsmuir, Miss Elsie Fogerty, Mr. William Will and Mr. Geoffrey Whitworth, were entrusted with the preparation of this series of dialect records, and it is typical of the thoroughness with which they set out to ·do their work that they selected a standard passage for all speakers based on Skeat's Phonetic Survey of 1884, which comprises in the shortest possible space all the sounds in the phonetic alphabet.

I find i t hard to believe that they took equal pains to find the most able dialecticians to speak these pieces, for the sad truth is that very few of the speakers convince me that they are really using what is to them the speech of every day.

The county dialects as I hear them every day in the village inns are still, in spite of the teacher and the B.B.C., racy, vigorous, individual and colourful.

I find much less standardization of English than I have been led to expect from articles in the press and hearsay.

But country manners and country customs are disappearing as quickly and finally as the villages which have been destroyed to make room for the arterial roads, and the danger of losing the county dialects is greater now than at any other t ime in history.

The improvement in transport is, of course, answerable to some degree for an intermingling of countrymen and a consequent pooling of pronunciations, and i t is therefore peculiarly important to have accurate recordings of the pure dialects while they are still easily obtainable and capable of being verified.

Now this is where some of these records seem to me at fault.

I play cricket for a Sussex village and in the heat of a crisis any of the eleven are l iable to forget their acquired school English and lapse into the real vernacular. But their vernacular-I speak of a. village west of Brighton-bears very little resemblance to the dialect spoken by Mr. R. W. White of Battle.

Perhaps the truth is that West Sussex differs from East Sussex as much as North Wales differs from South Wales.

" Plaace" and "geat" sound all wrong to me for Sussex, though "middlin'" and "sUl·elye" go through the whole county.

And why" muss " for" mister" ? A big fault with these records is that the speakers were required each to recite a poem, and the only one of the twenty-four who showed any capacity to read poetry as i t should be read was Mr. James Woodburn of Ayr, who had the great advantage of reading Burns as Burns probably meant his poems to be read .

I t is significant that the second best r eader of verse was Mr. John Lauric of Dumfries, who in the Scottish Border record was able to bring out the dramatic tension of " The Wife of Usher's Well."

But all the English dialect speakers fought shy of their poems.

The most musical, most natural, most witty, and most successful record by far is Mr. Tony Quin's Irish Free State record, for he gave us a slice of Synge's" Playboy of the Western World" and another equally astringent sample of O'Casey's "The Plough and the Stars," and none of the English records could vie with that in raciness of idiom or in musical cadences. Erse may or may not be dead, but the brand of English heard in South Ireland is as virile as the English spoken in South Carolina.

Indeed, some of the English dialect speakers made their speeches sound as forced and artificial as the antics of a townsman condescending to gambol round a Maypole. I had no idea before that the speech of my own county of Devon could be made to sound so turgid, witless, and devoid of colour as i t sounded from the lips of Mr. Abel Johns of Kelly. Cornwall was luckier in her interpreter, Mr. Richard J. Noall of Hellesvean, but both the West Countrymen lacked the fire that I am accustomed to hear any day of the week in the pub and on any Sunday in the year in the chapel.

Mr. Walter R. Bawler of Blackmore Vale is either an apt disciple of the poet William Barnes, or Barnes's Dorset still remains the speech of the county. It is perhaps significant that he confined himself to extracts from Barnes.

Mr. J. A. Garton of the Mendip Hills read one of his own poems. I detected no false quantities in his interpretation of Somerset, which once more bore out my theory that in essence good Somerset and good Devon are almost indistinguishable.