The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878 Message #4032304
Posted By: GUEST
05-Feb-20 - 04:37 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
I looked up the Harker comment on Sharp being 'lightweight' referred to by Brian, I think. This refers to a comment by Henry J Ford, who said Sharp's thought was founded on the shallows not the deeps. Harker says that Sharp was seen as lightweight. However, Harker goes on to describe how badly Sharp did in his degree.
Harker describes Sharp as a mixture of radical and reactionary elements, which seems to me to be an accurate and fair evaluation. I found Harker's quotation to illustrate what he calls Sharp's political 'quietism' interesting (p175) and an apt illustration of the point.
Harker seems to dislike the way that Sharp mixed with the middle and upper classes and sought to make his way through connections, but on the other hand he had to get a living for himself somehow, and his health would have militated against him doing anything too strenuous.
The information about Sharp is there, but as has been said, the tone in which it is put across is not sympathetic or objective.
Sharp's major 'theoretical' work would be worth discussing, but probably in a thread of its own. It has XII chapters, Definition; Origin; Evolution; Conscious and Unconscious Music; The Modes, English Folk Scales; Rhythmical Forms and Melodic Figures; Folk Poetry; The Decline of the Folk Song; The Antiquity of the Folk Song; The Future of English Folk Song.
At the start of the book there is a chapter-by-chapter precis of sorts in note form, which gives you an idea of his arguments. So for a reader without time to look at in detail, this is a useful introduction.
The last chapter's summary notes include the following: Purcell, Erasmus, no National School of Music in England, origin of continental schools, educational value of folk song, supremacy of street song (he doesn't like it), prevalence of bad music in England, the Board of Education, aesthetic value of English folk song. This links in with what seems to have been Sharp's overall career aims: to use the tunes he had collected as the basis for an overhaul of English Music from top to bottom, to create a national music to compare with those of European countries.
In so far as Harker argues that Sharp did not like working class culture and wanted to replace it with something middle class, I think he is quite correct.
Some of the summary notes evoke a number ongoing discussions/research areas about folk: I picked out a few to give a flavour: 'modes no test of age'; 'old words no test of age of folk song, inability to assess age no drawback'; 'detrimental effect of broadsheets upon words of songs'; 'Percy's Reliques'; 'list of books containing genuine English folk songs'; 'the English racial scale'; 'racial characteristics'.
I think the work is conceptually muddled when it deals with origins and history, not least because from time to time between passages of supposition not too far from starry-eyed and highly nationalistic naivete Sharp's awareness of the 'we just don't know' facts of the matter peeps out. He emphasis the word 'communal' when speaking of origins/descent. He also emphasises 'unconscious'. There is I find a contradiction between his 'we don't know' and his belief that he can found a national art music out of the modes, scales, melodies he has discovered to rival those of Germany, Italy etc. What do others think?
But the parts dealing with modes and scales are interesting, and maybe this is where Sharp's influence is greatest?