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How You Can Help Save Miners’ Songs Heritage

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Writing the article Miners’ Songs, Beautiful Outcome of a Hard Life was just a first trial to gather miners’ songs or mining related songs, I’ve heard about for the last 15 years or so. The final objective of the project is to build, hopefully with your help, the widest possible collection and gather in one place all the songs we can save and recover.

Miners’ songs are part of the tradition of our Industry. This is part of the heritage transmitted by past generations of miners. As such, it deserves to be preserved and maintained.

Contributing To Save The Heritage

Should any of you have access to audio, video or just lyrics of non-listed miners’ songs or different versions of already integrated songs, whatever the country, the period, the language and whether the song was written to coordinate the timing of the job, relieve the pain or the sadness, accompany sweet joyful moments or carry the miner’s anger, please leave references, links to audio or video files and/or your comments in the forum.

I will be happy to add the new songs to the list I have started in a recent article named Miners’ Songs, Beautiful Outcome of a Hard Life. It will be my pleasure to name you as a source and contributor.

I am also specifically searching for:
  • More information about the English folk song "The Black Leg Miner", and its use by South African trade unions, around the 19th century
  • An audio or video file that could allow me to feature Miners’ Songs dated back to the former Soviet Union (propaganda song)

Helping to Set a Correct Typology

Also, setting up this typology is a very subjective exercise and you might not agree with my understanding of the spirit of one song. Feel free to make any comments and to propose changes. I will be happy to integrate them in a further version.

Feel also free to challenge the categories themselves and to propose new ones. Constructive criticisms are an excellent way to improve this drafted typology.

Assisting In Blasting The Language Barrier

The language barrier is also something that could prevent me from catching the true meaning of a song.

Many miners’ songs are definitely, and proudly, popular songs, and as such, lyrics integrate:
  • Colloquial sentences that I might have misunderstood, leading to erroneous classification or comments. I need your help to correct these potential errors.
  • Local languages, like Gaelic or Quechua are sometimes mixed up with English or Spanish lyrics, preventing me from fully understand the song!

Aiming to collect miners’ songs from all over the word, I also meet there the language barrier. I have here two examples of songs that I won’t be able to integrate until I receive more information about their lyrics and the context that surrounded their creation.

First, I am struggling with “Slonski Pieron, a Polish miner’s song”. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Polish so you are all welcome, should you be able to tell me more about this (apparently) nice traditional song.

Second, I need further information about "Tanko Bushi", a Japanese coal miner's song, sung by Otomaru in 1957. The only clues I have been able to gather are those summarized in YouTube, in the comments attached to the video: “This was a very popular Japanese folk song in the mid 50s era, also featured in the film "Sayonara" by Marlon Brando in 1957”.

Are there any Japanese speakers who can assist me in understanding more about this song? Your help would be very much appreciated!

I am sure that many of you know about a miner’s song, or know someone that knows someone who knows a miner’s song. By just posting in the forum, you can contribute to save miners’ song heritage. On behalf of all past and present miners: thanks for doing this.

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