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The Midanbury Tunes: Music from Southampton

Ten years ago I joined the Southampton Folk Orchestra, an ensemble which plays folk tunes, as the name suggests. A few months later I came across a 12 bar tune that I had written in 2007 and had the idea of writing an arrangement of it for the orchestra. I gave it the title “Witts Hill”, after a local landmark that I live near in Midanbury, a suburban area of Southampton. I presented the arrangement to the folk orchestra and it soon became part of the repertoire.

I shortly followed this with “Round Mousehole and Up Vanguard”, named after two local roads, Mousehole Lane and Vanguard Road. More tunes followed in 2015 to 2018 which I similarly named after road names in Midanbury, and it was then that I had the idea of compiling a book of tunes and giving it the title of The Midanbury Tunes. I had only written arrangements for four of the tunes, which had all been performed by the Southampton Folk Orchestra, so it took until 2021, after recording and releasing my album Love and Harmony Combine, to have enough tunes with arrangements to fill the book.

The book contains eight tunes, arranged for three parts with chords for accompanying instruments such as guitar and accordion. Generally, the tunes are played two or more times through and can be performed as concert pieces or for dancing. The collection includes two jigs, a hornpipe, and a waltz.

The cover was designed by local artist Ann Ridley. I had seen some of her work displayed at October Books in Southampton, where I work, which included illustrations of many of the shops in Portswood in Southampton. I approached her to see if she had ever drawn any of the buildings in Midanbury – she hadn’t but said she would take a trip up there to have a look. She thought the location was just up her street, so I asked her for a drawing of a few of the shops. Hopefully the result will be familiar to anyone who knows Midanbury.

The tune book is available in my online shop for £8.50, and is also for sale at October Books in Southampton.

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