In the Sheffield tradition of pub carol singing it is normal for the singing to be accompanied by a musical instrument – a piano or electric organ or something of that kind. In one pub, though, the Red Lion in Grenoside, they have a small but capable string band to accompany the singing. When we started to bring real carol singing to Bradford on Avon this inspired us to gather together local musicians on all sorts of instruments to provide the accompaniment. This has proved very successful and the band currently stands at a dozen or more musicians. It is perhaps the most distinctive part of the Bradford on Avon carol sings.
The music they play usually, but not always, doubles up the vocal lines of the singers. In addition there are instrumental breaks between the verses known as “symphonies”. Many of the musicians also play in the local English music sessions and in consequence whenever there is a break in the singing (we do have a couple of intervals during the singing – it’s thirsty work, after all) they will start playing English dance tunes. The musicians are a key part of the proceedings.