The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #155519   Message #3659071
Posted By: Lighter
10-Sep-14 - 01:27 PM
Thread Name: Ballads not included in Child
Subject: RE: Ballads not included in Child
Fred, there's a "ballad" and there's a "Child Ballad."

There's no doubt whatsoever about the latter: it's one of FJC's 305. Not in ESPB, not a Child ballad.

And I think we can agree that a "ballad" is a "song that tells a story." Of course, tens of millions believe that it's a kind of passionate pop song about love.

The futile arguments begin when people start insisting on precisely which song are "really" ballads, since the presence of the "story" can be pretty minimal. Is a song like "I Gave my Love Cherry," which seems to be a direct descendant of an undisputed ballad also a "ballad"? Who knows? (And who cares?)

I think only a certain sort of person gets so hung up on what category a particular song falls into, or what label to apply to a particular song, that they lose sight of the fact that the *label* is one of the least interesting things about it.

As for "What makes a Child ballad?" - obviously not even Child was sure, since he jettisoned a great deal that he originally endorsed. One may analyze ESPB for the Great Unifying and Exclusive Principle, but I don't believe there necessarily was one. Child was not a scientist, nor was he working under the stricter demands of mid-twentieth century scholarship.

He had conscious and unconscious criteria that varied over the years. He had to deal with scores (or more) of borderline cases. He was not conducting a scientific investigation.

All he did was to compile a scrupulously edited anthology of 305 traditional and tradition-inspired ballads with more background information, variants, and and transcultural connections than any one person before or since.

That's all Child has to "answer for." How is the existence of such a resource is a form of tyranny?