The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110621   Message #2334590
Posted By: Nerd
07-May-08 - 12:03 AM
Thread Name: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
Rowan, we on the Mudcat didn't create the category of "industrial folksong," and we can't easily change what is meant by it. But it's not as screwy as you make it out to be. "Industrial" has several meanings, and you're applying the very broadest one. By most meanings of the word "industrial," soldiering, seafaring and farming are not industrial activities, and milling, under some meanings of the word, is considered proto-industrial. Let me explain:

Broadly and loosely, it is as Rowan says: one can use "industry" to refer to all sectors of the economy, as in "the farming industry" or "the shipping industry." But this isn't the most common meaning of the word, or the meaning that is used in folksong scholarship.

"Industry" more narrowly means the secondary sector of the economy: refining and manufacturing.

Also, "industrial" refers to a type of economy, one dominated by the secondary sector, an economy in which refining and manufacturing account for more economic activity than farming or extraction. The "Industrial Revolution" changed the countries involved from a mercantile economy to an industrial one. Secondary-sector activities in a pre-industrial economy are sometimes called "proto-industrial," and this would include most songs about milling, waulking songs, etc.

The term "industrial songs" is generally used for the mining, building, and manufacturing trades. I think it gets this from two overlapping usages of "industrial": one, these are songs about the secondary sector of the economy, and two, they are songs of the modern economy, dominated by the secondary sector (the so-called "industrial economy"). So they're about factories, big textile mills, etc.

Mining, of course, became hundreds of times more important in the industrial economy when machines needed power; so even though mining existed before the industrial age, and even though strictly speaking, mining itself is extraction rather than industry, mining songs end up in this category.

This is why "occupational" songs and "industrial" songs aren't considered to be the same. Field hollers and sea shanties are both occupational, but not industrial. A field holler is, economically speaking, agricultural, and a sea shanty is, economically speaking, mercantile--neither of which is the same thing as the narrower sense of industrial.

Nor are "Urban" songs and "Industrial songs" the same. The Butcher's Boy" is an urban folksong ("In Jersey City where I live now..."), but it's not industrial. "In fair Worcester city" or "Molly Malone" likewise: they occur in the city, but don't have to do with industry.

Hope this helps clarify...it's a mouthful, but I THINK this is why the term is used as it is in folksong circles.