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Two puzzling amalgamations

MGM·Lion 25 Oct 09 - 04:17 AM
Paul Burke 25 Oct 09 - 04:33 AM
Young Buchan 25 Oct 09 - 06:16 AM
Young Buchan 25 Oct 09 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Russ 25 Oct 09 - 11:29 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Oct 09 - 11:38 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Oct 09 - 11:46 AM
dick greenhaus 25 Oct 09 - 12:44 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Oct 09 - 12:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Oct 09 - 01:02 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Oct 09 - 01:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Oct 09 - 01:28 PM
Paul Burke 25 Oct 09 - 01:30 PM
curmudgeon 25 Oct 09 - 04:47 PM
Art Thieme 25 Oct 09 - 05:50 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 09 - 07:18 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Oct 09 - 12:23 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Gerry 21 Mar 10 - 06:17 PM
Richard Mellish 21 Mar 10 - 07:19 PM
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Subject: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 04:17 AM

1 Why do so many versions of Hares On The Mountain, often thought of as a late abbreviated version of The Twa Magicians [Child#44], also contain verses from what seems to be a separate seduction song, Sally My Dear, which independently exists in many versions both raunchy and chaste? Bronson gives twelve versions of Hares On The Mountain as an appendix to The Twa Magicians, the last four of which all contain the Sally My Dear stanzas.

2. Why does the song about the farming year from which The Young Tradition took the title of their second album, So Cheerfully Round, on which they sing the Copper Family version, start with a verse about lying in bed at sunset while "The thought of my true love comes into my mind", which appears to have strayed in from a love song completely unrelated to the theme of the annual cycle of farming tasks with which the song is mainly concerned — NOT ONLY in this Copper version, but in other variants also: see e.g. the first song, under title The Green Grass, in Roy Palmer's Everyman's Book of English Country Songs [Dent 1979]?

In both these case I am exercised as to how what appear to be two completely distinct and discrete songs appear in many versions to have become fused in the oral tradition. Can anyone suggest how this may have occurred, or cast any light on just how these apparently widespread and standard fusions may have come about? And can anyone think of any other standard examples of such odd fusions or amalgamations of separate songs as appear to have taken place in these two instances?


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: Paul Burke
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 04:33 AM

Though I've never bothered to sort them out, I suspect there's more than one song involved in the various versions of Just As The Tide Was Flowing, with their range from lyrical to cynical.

I doubt if there's any "why" involved at all- sometimes perhaps a demand for a good somg to be a bit longer, or someone filling in forgotten verses with bits from another, like old bricks patching a wall- and there too the result can be an improvement. Perhaps the fact that ballad sheet writers were paid by the word gives them an incentive to stretch things out a bit, but in the end it's the target market- singers and listeners- who decide what gets sung. If youdon't like the version, you don't sing it, or don't ask the singer for it again.

Now other fusions can be intentional- Kipper's Spencer the Wild Rover for instance.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: Young Buchan
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 06:16 AM

I've always been worried that this verse in The Blacksmith has come from somewhere else:
Where is my lover gone with his cheeks like roses?
He's gone across the fields gathering primroses.
The sun does shine too bright, it will burn his beauty.
I will go seek my love to do my duty.

I don't suppose blacksmiths are banned from gathering primroses,(well, they are now of course under various Wildlife Protection Acts) though the three or four I've known never seemed to. But they all had cheeks like old leather and never resorted to sunscreen to protect their beauty.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: Young Buchan
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 09:51 AM

Is it possible that the conflation of Hares on the Mountain is simply the result of format? Its format is:
Line
Line repeated
New line
Nonsense refrain line.

This is a very simple format, and one might expect it to be very common; but after a lot of head scratching I could only come up with three: Hares on the Mountain, Knife in the Window/Sally My Dear and some versions of Bonny Annie/Banks of Green Willow. Once two of these songs are common in the same area (East Anglia in the case of the first two) a distinctive format can easily lead to amalgamation.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 11:29 AM

1. vagaries of human memory

2. poetic license on the part of the singer

3. all of the above

Depends upon whether the source singer felt free to modify the material

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 11:38 AM

Young Buchan - Hares/Sally not particularly E Anglian, but widespread: Sedley's HotM in Seeds of Love, e.g., collected by Hammond in Dorset, collated with a Williams 'Upper Thames' version, tune from another Hammond/Dorset version.

Not happy about your 'easily': it certainly has happened: to say that it will 'easily' happen, so long as there is a similarity of format while no connection in theme appears to me to beg the question. We know that; but it doesn't add to the understanding of why it has happened so regularly between these two.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 11:46 AM

I mean, there are many cases where songs of similar format will share a tune; but they don't become one song, as has so widely and regularly happened in this instance: - to take an obvious example, does anyone sing Sweet Betsy From Pike with a couple of verses of Villikins & His Dinah or Soft Tomatoes inserted in the middle, and then come to the end feeling they have performed a coherent narrative? But that is exactly what happens when singers as disparate as Shirley Collins and Tom Glazer sing SallyMyDear/HaresOnTheMountain.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 12:44 PM

The grafting of a section of a song onto another song is an ancient and time-honored practice. The folk singer (not the folklorist) incorporates what s/he likes into what s/he sings. It's not a matter of tune commonality; it's whether the lyrics fit into the narrative and whether the meter is suitable.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 12:54 PM

Yes, Dick. But my whole point in these two instances is that the lyrics do NOT fit into the narrative: neither the floated-in fragment of lovesong to kick off a song about the seasonal cycle of agricultural tasks, nor the mixture of seduction-song with shape-change mythology in fusion of SallyMD/HaresOTM. Why, therefore, did the 'grafting' process as you call it occur so widely in these two instances that they have become almost standard to, if not absolutely all, yet very very many, versions?


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:02 PM

If you feel a few extra verses when you sing it, it seems logical enough to use ones that seem to fit even if they might come from another song.

In the same way that variants of the same song can drift apart and come to be seen as different songs, the reverse process happens where separate songs get blended together to create new variants.

And sometimes, as in this case, the separate songs involved might well have common ancestry.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:09 PM

You say 'in this case', McG: in which of the 2 cases I have cited: surely not the farming one? — I suppose Twa Magicians is a sort of seduction ballad; but what 'common ancestry' otherwise do you suggest in the Sally/Hares instance? He doesn't exactly say to SallyHisDear "If you won't let me I'll turn you into blackbirds & thrushes" does he? But if hares is actually a derivative of 2 Magicians, I suppose one might just make a case there.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:28 PM

Perhaps all songs have common ancestry, in the same way as all living creatures.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: Paul Burke
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 01:30 PM

You're taking it too literally, or literarily. The singer might not see the magical element at all in an age of rationalism. But adding a few extra verses to a song with a good chorus can easily increase its popularity. No one's auditing it for sense if it's good fun. Wop she 'ad it, I tell you.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: curmudgeon
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 04:47 PM

The first time I encountered these two songs either separately or together was on an LP by Ewan MacColl and Isla Cameron, English and Scottish Love Songs. And until this thread showed up I was unaware of anyone else, aside from myself, who combined them; in fact, I can't think of any other version I've heard of Sally My Dear. Of course I am in the US. Since I had this song on reel to reel tape, and had learned it prior to starting college, It can't have been any newer than summer of 1960.

But I do distinctly recall MacColl, writing in the notes, stating that Sally My Dear (not both songs) was probably a fragmentary part of The Twa Magicians, a song which at the time I had only heard reference to.

This was a while ago - Tom


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 05:50 PM

In 1957 or '58 I took that album by Mac Coll and Cameron out of the Chicago Public Library. I recorded it onto a reel of tape with a hand-held microphone. Twenty-five years later, when that reel of tape self-destructed, I dubbed the old LP onto a cassette.

In 1999, as the cassette was falling apart, I made a CD of it. It is still one track only---and has never sounded better.

Somehow, going from format to format, none of the words to these 2 songs ever morphed into anything else.

(So much for our moldy old traditional process ;-)

Go figure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 07:18 PM

To MtheMG

RE:often thought of as a late abbreviated version of The Twa Magicians

WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE???? Is it Bronson? Which publication?


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Oct 09 - 12:23 AM

I named Bronson in the OP, obviously meaning his Traditional Tunes Of The Child Ballads: specifying that Hares On The Mountain is given there, as Appendix A to #44, The Twa Magicians; the last four of the twelve entries in that Appendix are all titled Sally My Dear. How much more clearly could I have given my source, I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM

Refresh, as this topic has recently re-emerged in a thread about Knife In The Window.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 06:17 PM

"In 1957 or '58 I took that album by Mac Coll and Cameron out of the Chicago Public Library. I recorded it onto a reel of tape with a hand-held microphone. Twenty-five years later, when that reel of tape self-destructed, I dubbed the old LP onto a cassette."

Chicago Public Library seems to have an exceptionally long loan period.


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Subject: RE: Two puzzling amalgamations
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 07:19 PM

I'm with Michael on this one, at least as regards the "If all the young girls" verses running straight on to the "Sally my dear" verses.

Possibly the amalgamation happened only once, and the combined song then spread around to various singers. But, even if it did happen that way, the question remains why two songs with only the most tenuous resemblance in subject matter should ever have been stuck together in the first place, and why singer after singer has kept them together. As Michael says, there are plenty of instances of songs sharing the same tune where that hasn't happened.

The other amalgamation seems to me less incongruous. At the end of a working day the singer first thinks about his girlfriend, and then his thoughts move on to reflecting about the various kinds of work that he does throughout the year. When I am relaxing and letting my mind wander, it can easily make bigger jumps than that between subjects.

Richard


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