The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162777   Message #3878738
Posted By: Pamela R
26-Sep-17 - 03:07 AM
Thread Name: Ballads on the brain (science)
Subject: RE: Ballads on the brain (science)
Thanks for the feedback!

In response to a question from anonymous guest:

The version of Blooming Caroline I sing was collected by Seamus Ennis in 1952 from Jean Elvin in Turriff, Aberdeenshire. Not much seems to be known about the source singer except that she was born around 1928 in Aberdeenshire. It is one of many ballads that would have served equally well: it has a slow tempo and long continuous phrases that structure breathing into quick inhalations and very extended exhalations; and a lilting melody consistent with prosodic speech. I have no scientific basis for my subjective sense that melancholy tunes and texts are particularly effective. Also in my experience this ballad seems relatively free of musical associations for listeners, compared to Child Ballads and others that are very well known from post-war revival singers' interpretations, which diverged from the delivery patterns I'm describing.

In response to DMcG: I agree -- most singabouts have other goals such as allowing time for lots of people to take turns, and providing opportunities for others to join in on a chorus or play along on instruments, which are not compatible with ballads. It's not easy to find or create gatherings geared towards ballads, but that's another thread.