Song Circle Resources
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Compiled by Kate Marks
Revised 1995 Copyright by Kate Marks
If you buy one book to use as a reference for song circles, it should be this book. Many books just list the lyrics. This book starts at the very beginning and teaches you how to read the music and goes from their to provide all the basics for creating your own song circles and facilitating them. The person who wrote the book has a great sensitivity for the breadth and depth of a whole range of experiences that can be had in conjunction with song circles. The book maintains a nice balance between the down to earth and ecstatic.
Copyright 1998 by Julie Forest Middleton
This book has about 400 songs with their music, and makes a great reference book for song circle enthusiasts. However I find more of the songs that strongly call to me in the "Circle of Song" book. "Songs for Earthlings" seems to call a bit more to the head and "Circle of Song" a bit more to the heart, and I think a song circle is best when focused on a heart experience. I also felt the underlying philosophy of "Circle of Song" was more on track than "Songs for Earthlings". I recommend it as a great second book to add to a collection of song circle books.
It's not easy for me to learn to songs, and probably not for others also. It really helps to have a friend (in the form of the singers on the CD) with a strong voice to carry the tune while I am learning. So, I'm on a search for CDs with simple arrangements for the kind of songs used in a song circle, and the words printed out in a booklet. Usually the print is way to fine, but it is easier to transcribe from tiny printed words to a doc with a nice large plain font than to transcribe while listening to the song. As I find more CDs, I will list them here.
by Reclaiming Collective
Audio CD 1997; Serpentine Music
There are a few high-energy chants and songs on this CD I like to sing. I almost like several of the others, but they edge in towards anger and the dark side of life, and I would rather sing to raise my spirits; the news provides plenty of balance for that. The vocals come through very clear, with some great basic percussion in the background on a high quality recording. This recording has a very strong feeling being right there inside a circle of a people singing.
Words for "Chants: Ritual Music" songs
by Phillips/Di Micele/Epstein/Bur; ASIN: B0000005SA
Audio CD (August 19, 1997) Wea/Atlantic/Rhino/Hightone
This CD is a little fast for a relaxed song circle, but most of the songs are sung
through at least once with a relatively simple arraignment, and I really enjoy several
of them. There is some classic song circle material on it, and it is usually very
inspiring to sing along while it plays, when there isn't anybody around to sing with.
Here are the words to the basic arrangements of the songs I like best to sing from this
Words for "Circle Of Women" songs
Audio CD © 1997 by Lisa Thiel
Lisa Thiel has some of the most beautiful and peaceful nature oriented music that I have heard. Some of it will make great song circle material; some of it is probably too long and complicated for most song circles.
Words for "Invocation Of The Graces" songs
Cassette Tape by Earth Dance
This is a cassette of chants and short songs for song circles. The production quality varies from song to song, but this is one of the greatest learning recordings I have found. The music is mostly arranged in a very straightforward way. Most groups of people, sitting around a fire, with ordinary singing skills, should be able to quickly pick up most of these songs.
Sometimes both songbooks and the recorded song all use somewhat different lyrics, so in all cases, the lyrics are "as sung" so this can be used as a reference to sing along with the tape while learning the song.
There is a wide range of styles, content, and arrangements, and most everybody should find something to their liking. Some songs are very short, and sung only once, but that is how they got 50 of them on a singe tape
Words for "Songs Of The Sacred Wheel" songs
I always believe in supporting local businesses, and usually their expertise is helpful getting started, but sometimes it seems to be impossible to get exactly what you need. Here are a few online options.
There are a lot of CDs not in distribution channels, so if the CD isn't listed online, start watching for live performance dates and by it directly from the artist. On top of this, many artists can only afford small runs, and the CD will go out of print pretty quickly. So when I go to listen to a performance, I always go prepared to buy a CD or two, because that might be the only chance I will ever have of getting one.
Self described as "The only place where you can find extensive listings of Pagan music in all genres, information about the artists, and the understanding of Pagan culture that puts all of this in context for you."
The Serpentine Music catalog contains over 150 albums, books, and videos. After several hours of web surfing, I failed to find any other online business focusing on pagan music, so they might still be the only ones focusing on this market. I am very pleased with the song circle recordings and books I have received from them.
Self described as "Ladyslipper is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to heighten public awareness of the achievements of women artists and musicians, and to expand the scope and availability of recordings by women."
They offer for sale a large number of recordings by women, and are the label for some of them. Included are some CDs and songs books not offered by Serpentine, however Serpentine offers the broader selection of resources for song circles, and I would start there if this is your interest. A point to consider is Ladyslipper is located in North Carolina and Serpentine is Located in California and this will effect shipping times for merchandise shipped by ground.
I like to use them to get explicit details to help avoid mistakes when ordering CDs. Also, their estimated ship dates (i.e. sometimes "ships in 1-2 days", sometimes in "4-6 weeks") gives me an idea of how hard it will be to get a particular CD. To make the exchange fair, every once in a while when I am in a real jam and every local store is out of stock, I order something from them. However lately, the ordering experience seems to be a bit ragged than before.
Recently, I needed to find a book out of print for about 30 years. I quickly found one through their automated search service, and easily ordered it for about the cost (or less) of a new one. In about 2 weeks it showed up on my doorstep, and was in good condition. The delay is because they are essentially reselling books on the self in used books stores. I was very pleased with the whole experience.
Self described as "The World's Largest Direct-mail Music Gear Company"
I have a couple friends who have bought from this company and it worked out okay, the company seems to have pretty good acoustic coverage. On top of this, they are a local company in a regional sense since they are in Medford Oregon. In addition, they have a large list of links to manufactures sites, and links to On-Line Publishers and to Other Musical Resources. So even the browsing experience worked out well. By the time I finished browsing the web site, I had received email back from them confirming my request to have a catalog sent to me. So now I have high hopes this is a good company to buy from, and will let you know.
Self described as "Your #1 Music Equipment Retailer On the Internet"
The web site talks a lot about customer service, but since I haven't tried it yet, I don't know how well it is working. The site talked about their fast growth pace, and the site was pretty slow to load pages, so maybe they are growing too fast. The site looked a bit heavy on the electronic equipment side unless you are interested in recording song circles.
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Last Updated: July 21, 2001