Most of Hank Arbaugh’s ghost ballads are very old – some going back to the Medieval and Renaissance periods in the United Kingdom countries and later in the North American settlements, especially in Appalachia and New England. Because of their antiquity, these story-songs are rich in ancient folk beliefs: ghosts being summoned to this world and sometimes intervening in the affairs of the living, human beings visiting the otherworld, and the transfiguration of people into deer, swans, and singing violins. The melodies of these ancient ballads are set in modal and minor scales to provide an eerie backdrop for the haunting tales.
Hank Arbaugh has spent more than fifty years as a performer, scholar, and educator of traditional music. With an MA in English/Folk Studies from OSU, he has years of intensive personal research, and has spent long hours in the field. He has taught at the high school and college level, published and recorded music, appeared at several national festivals, and is president of two music organizations.