Commissioned by Dark Inventions for their Firewheel project, part of the Sound and Music ‘Composer Curator Scheme’. Premiered by Dark Inventions at The Engine House, Manchester, 8th May 2014.
The murderous tale of infanticide that is told in The Cruel Mother ballad is widely known in a number of forms. It has been performed and recorded by folk singers such as Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior, and Bella Hardy amongst many others, and inspired Down by the Greenwood Side by Harrison Birtwistle.
The particular melody used in this arrangement was collected by H.E.D. Hammond in Dorset in 1907. The matter-of-fact representation of the terrible tale that characterizes the tune is augmented by the quintuple metre and cheerful instrumental refrain.