Based on the traditional Bristol folk song 'Bristol Town'.
I Have Heard Tell is based on the folk song Bristol Town, transcribed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1903 and also incorporates quotations from the sea shanty A Long Time Ago, transcribed by Cecil Sharp in 1914. The title I Have Heard Tell is taken from the words of the folk song; sources are located in the online Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
Elements and variations of Bristol Town weave throughout the music and new melodies emerge from different phrase combinations; it is not until the faster section towards the end where the complete folk song is heard in its original form and entirety. Aspects from A Long Time Ago can be heard interspersed at various points but the complete melody always remains elusive.
I Have Heard Tell was commissioned as part of a suite of variations for orchestra by the University of the West of England, reflecting on Bristol’s role as European Green Capital 2015. It was first performed by the University of the West of England Symphony Orchestra,
conductor Adrian Hull, Colston Hall, Bristol, 6 December 2015.