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Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)

Steve Gardham 17 Nov 09 - 02:09 PM
Folkiedave 17 Nov 09 - 07:37 PM
Jack Campin 17 Nov 09 - 08:58 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Nov 09 - 06:27 PM
Brian Peters 19 Nov 09 - 09:02 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Nov 09 - 06:00 PM
Artful Codger 20 Nov 09 - 08:17 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Nov 09 - 05:58 PM
Artful Codger 21 Nov 09 - 10:51 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Nov 09 - 04:47 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Nov 09 - 02:50 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Nov 09 - 04:39 PM
Brian Peters 25 Nov 09 - 07:06 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Nov 09 - 01:29 PM
Brian Peters 25 Nov 09 - 02:43 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Nov 09 - 02:52 PM
dick greenhaus 25 Nov 09 - 02:58 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Nov 09 - 03:39 PM
Brian Peters 25 Nov 09 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Nov 09 - 04:59 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Nov 09 - 05:02 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 09 - 05:11 PM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 09 - 05:16 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 09 - 05:25 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 09 - 04:31 AM
Bryn Pugh 27 Nov 09 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Nov 09 - 05:45 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 09 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Nov 09 - 08:22 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 09 - 09:51 AM
Brian Peters 27 Nov 09 - 09:54 AM
Brian Peters 27 Nov 09 - 10:11 AM
Artful Codger 27 Nov 09 - 10:29 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 09 - 11:28 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Nov 09 - 03:35 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Nov 09 - 03:56 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Nov 09 - 04:40 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Nov 09 - 06:10 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Nov 09 - 02:46 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Nov 09 - 03:18 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Nov 09 - 05:41 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Nov 09 - 04:36 AM
GUEST 29 Nov 09 - 05:43 PM
Brian Peters 01 Dec 09 - 06:04 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Dec 09 - 12:53 PM
Goose Gander 01 Dec 09 - 01:09 PM
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GUEST,Steve Gardham 04 Dec 09 - 06:41 PM
GUEST,Neil Howlett 30 Dec 10 - 06:32 PM
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Subject: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 02:09 PM

Anyone dropping in and wanting to read/contribute to this one, Brian Peters and I were discussing the possibility that several of the 'Child Ballads' originated on 17thc broadsides. Brian referred to a 1989 article by David Atkinson on 'James Harris, The Daemon Lover (Child 243) which in passing presents the possibility that some of these broadsides of Child Ballads had earlier versions.
This was started on the thread 'Music of the People...Don't make me laugh!' still current.

Joe, do you want to make some sort of link? Like this? (click)

Firstly the main thrust of David's article in FMJ Vol 5 Number 5 demonstrates that the 17thc broadside 'A warning for Married Women' ascribed to Laurence Price is undoubtedly the model for the later 18thc broadsides 'The Distressed Ship Carpenter' and that these 18thc/19thc broadsides are very likely the origin of all of the versions collected in oral tradition, particularly in England and North America. The Scottish versions are something different and I don't want to go into my views on those here and cloud the issue.

David does indeed present the possibility that some of these MIGHT have predecessors. In fact he uses the word 'might' rather a lot in the article, where 'might not' would be just as apt. Having spoken to David on several occasions since that article, I think I can safely say I think his view has changed somewhat on the relationship between broadsides and the oral tradition.

If you read the article carefully what he actually is saying is that some of these early broadside ballads were based on earlier models or stories. Absolutely. Nearly all of Shakespeare's plays were such, but I don't think anyone would claim he didn't write them. Romeo and Juliet is a great example and very relevant here. It is well-known that Shakespeare's source for the play was a ballad translated from the French before he was born. Of course the French version can be traced back to Italian stories of the 12th/13th century (off the top of my head so don't quote me). Of course many of the broadside ballads that weren't on contemporary events were based on existing stories. Another good example is 'The Bramble Briar', unquestionably based on the first part of 'Isabella and the Pot of Basil' from the Decameron, which in itself was only a collection of stories.

David gets one ballad wrong in mentioning Child 20,'a German analogue to which actually has Satan carry away the mother when she denies that the children are hers'; but this is understandable as Child got it completely wrong(IMO). Almost all of Child's notes on Child 20 actually pertain to Child 21 The Maid and the Palmer. He does refer to 2 recently collected Danish versions, but these are derived from Danish translations of Scottish versions, ironically by Grundtvig who gave Child most of his European analogues. In my well considered opinion, having studied with a fine tooth comb all extant versions, 'The Cruel Mother' originated with the 17thc broadside 'The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty' and again ironically this would have been another good example of a broadside origin for David to have used, later in his article.

David quite rightly emphasised the fact that many of these ballads that eventually entered oral traditional were written as moral warnings as is obviously the subject of the article. I think that 'The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty' was written for precisely the same reason, not however 'a warning to married women' but as a warning to young well-heeled girls not to get romantically involved below their station.

David made reference to Robin Hood ballads, a few of which undoubtedly can be traced back to the 16th century. There are earlier references to 'rhymes of Robin Hood and Little John' but personally I don't think these can have been ballads. Outlaw stories that sparked some of the stories in the ballads were undoubtedly in existence very early and some of these were based on earlier outlaws like Fulk Fitzwarren. BUT undoubtedly the bulk of the RH ballad were written expressly for the upmarket readership of the Garlands. They were again undoubtedly meant to be sung as they all had tunes, but not sung by the peasantry who could never have afforded to buy these relatively expensive books even if they could have read them.
Which in fact is why the only ones found in oral tradition in the 19thc were those few that had been reprinted on cheap broadsides then. Child only included them all for the sake of completeness.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Folkiedave
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 07:37 PM

Steve - I think this is a fascinating discussion. Not my area (what is my area?) but can I just bump the thread in the hopes it get picks up.

Just my threepennorth. I think it might be worth mentioning Bronson's struggle with Robin Hood tunes (I think).

Dave


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 08:58 PM

One thing we do know about the Robin Hood stories, from the town records of Edinburgh from the late 1400s to the Reformation, is that they were staged. A dramatic performance doesn't need to sing the whole story, ballad-style - you'd expect there to be "numbers" that might have made it into oral tradition directly from the stage. Though they wouldn't necessarily incorporate recognizable chunks of story. Do we have any documented survivals of pieces like that?


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 06:27 PM

Jack,
From what I've read there certainly were lots of plays and pageants about and including RH. They were certainly very popular with the nobility and royalty in Tudor times and I think this is where the connection with morris dance comes in, as well as the new characters like Friar Tuck and Maid Marian, as part of the May Day celebrations. I even think there is a RH mummers play out there somewhere. Although RH stories must have abounded among the general populace I have seen no real evidence that they had access to the later ballads or were party to the plays and pageants although some may have been involved as actors and for some of the menial tasks involved. I am not aware that there are any RH songs from these early plays and pageants although by the 18thc Robin Hood songs were being sung in the theatre. I came across one recently sung by Mr Beard. I think this gets a mention by Ebsworth in Roxburghe Ballads as well, at the end of the garland texts reproduced in those volumes.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 09:02 AM

Steve,
A good idea to give this topic a thread of its own. I hope we see plenty of discussion of ideas which put a bit of a bomb under the notion of folk song as some of us used to understand it. As I said on the other thread, I find the notion of broadside or stage origins plausible for at least a part of the folksong canon, but I think the story re ballads is more complicated. Hence the following discussion of 'The Demon Lover'.

Steve wrote:
>> Firstly the main thrust of David's article in FMJ Vol 5 Number 5 demonstrates that the 17thc broadside 'A warning for Married Women' ascribed to Laurence Price is undoubtedly the model for the later 18thc broadsides 'The Distressed Ship Carpenter' and that these 18thc/19thc broadsides are very likely the origin of all of the versions collected in oral tradition , particularly in England and North America. <<

Before discussing this, it might be worth mentioning for newcomers' benefit that our mutual friend David Atkinson is the present editor of the Folk Music Journal and a ballad scholar in his own right. And from here on I'll follow Child's practice and refer to the C17th Price broadside as 'A' and C18th 'Distressed Ship Carpenter' as 'B'.

The main thrust of DA's article in FMJ 5 is that the transgression committed by the woman in the ballad, that results in her punishment (by demonic intervention or simple disappearance), is not her adulterous elopement with her former lover, but the earlier breaking of her betrothal vows to this former lover. It's true that in discussing the "alteration of the ballad" with time DA might be implying a direct lineage from A, although elsewhere he states that A "does not necessarily represent the beginning of… The Demon Lover".   Personally I think that the similarities between A (1657) and B (printed in a songbook c1737) are quite limited: it's not just that the first 16 verses of A (a long-winded account of the betrothal and parting) are entirely absent from B (which, in classic ballad fashion, 'begins in the third act'), but B introduces the "Well met, well met" first verse well-known in English and North American (but not Scots) tradition, the bribe of golden slippers, three verses describing the woman's regret during the voyage, and her death by drowning. Only six of A's 32 verses have analogues in B.   The differences between A and any of the texts collected from singers are even more marked.

>> The Scottish versions are something different and I don't want to go into my views on those here and cloud the issue. <<

I'd be interested to hear your views on the Scottish versions, as I don't think you can discuss this ballad without them. Certainly apart from Buchan's 'James Herries' they have very little in common with A (although they do sometimes mention betrothal vows), and all kinds of differences from B, including the demonic nature of the former lover, the promise of seeing the 'Banks of Italy', the incremental repetitions ('They had not sailed a league, a league'), the Hills of Hell, the shipwreck, etc. The survival of some of these 'Scottish' elements in North American versions argues against the vibrant American 'Housecarpenter' strain (itself stabilized by a 19th C broadside) deriving directly from those early English printings.

I only know of two versions collected in England, and they don't tell us a lot: Marina Russell had only three verses – ones commonly found in most printed and oral versions – and the lengthy text collected by Baring-Gould is so uncannily similar to B (apart from an interpolated middle section) as to suggest a conscious rewrite.

Although any conclusion here is necessarily speculative, it seems to me that Heylin's contention that 'Demon Lover' existed, probably in more than one distinct strain, before its partial annexation for Price's broadside A, is as likely - if not more so - than to suppose that A is the original template for all that followed.

>> David does indeed present the possibility that some of these MIGHT have predecessors. In fact he uses the word 'might' rather a lot in the article, where 'might not' would be just as apt. Having spoken to David on several occasions since that article, I think I can safely say I think his view has changed somewhat on the relationship between broadsides and the oral tradition. If you read the article carefully what he actually is saying is that some of these early broadside ballads were based on earlier models or stories. Absolutely. Nearly all of Shakespeare's plays were such, but I don't think anyone would claim he didn't write them. <<

If DA uses the word 'might' it's probably because he – like me – trained originally as a scientist, and as such is reluctant to pronounce certainty without hard proof. However, my understanding is that several of the examples he quoted are verified MS versions, in stanza form, of ballads predating the earliest known broadsides. These were 'Riddles Wisely Expounded', 'Lord Thomas and Fair Annet', 'Hunting of the Cheviot', 'Sir Andrew Barton' and 'Fair Flower of Northumberland' – the last of which he cites as a probable case of a broadside printer (Deloney) appropriating a ballad from oral tradition. I accept your Shakespearian analogy – it had occurred to me as well – but those examples are not simply a matter of versifying old tales. I've also read of an account in 'Complaynte of Scotland', of a shepherds' ballad session in which the likes of 'Tamlene' and 'Hunting of the Cheviot' were apparently being sung in oral tradition in 1549.

Having shared many a small-hours ballad discussion with Dave, I can reassure you that he's been stressing the importance of broadside dissemination of ballads for a good many years. I think he'd still stand by that 'Demon Lover' article, though.

Let's have some more views, then!


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 06:00 PM

Brian,
Yes, Riddles is one of the few examples, 15th century I think.

Can't remember ever seeing references to Lord Thomas earlier than the broadsides. I don't think it's in Percy's Folio Ms. Foreign analogues may be earlier, but then the tricky question of who translated it comes in.

Again there are plenty of references to Chevy Chase prior to print.

Sir Andrew Barton is in the Folio Ms but these can't predate print. There was an early ms version in York Minster Library but it was nicked some time c1900. Luckily it was printed in the Surtees Society volumes before it went astray. The event itself happened (1511) shortly after print was starting to get under way in England.

Tamlene. Just as likely this refers to the early version of Brian O'Lynn which in Scotland was called Tam O'Lin. Undoubtedly a few of the ballads predate print but not a lot!

Regarding the Scottish versions, it's difficult to know to what extent the interference of antiquarian poets created/re-created these. It's common knowledge that Scott was following Percy's precedent and most of the others were part of Scott's circle at one time or another, and as you know there is at least one amongst them whose published material is ludicrous (IMHO he hastily added).


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 08:17 PM

"Antiquarian poets": gave me images of greybeards composing "old" ballads between extolling to customers the virtues of Chippendale tea-chests and ormolu clocks.

Can you briefly explain why most Child ballads are presumed by the informed not to have existed prior to the broadside age, and instead to have been artifacts of the broadside songwriting industry (if I understand the point of contention here)? What traces of them should exist that apparently don't, in contrast to other ballads from earlier times that we do know of?


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 05:58 PM

One brief answer is that they shouldn't exist before the broadside period because most of them that can be dated by event occurred during the broadside era. From what I've read, the ballad form as we know it in this country seems to have started to take off in the 15th century. That is not to say examples don't exist before that, there just aren't many. Their blossoming seems to coincide with the advent of print. Actually I don't think anyone has said 'most' Child Ballads were artifacts of the broadside songwriting industry. At a guess I'd say between a third and half of them. (I have copies of about a third)

By 'the informed' who do you mean, private researchers like myself, or academics or others? In my experience in the past many academics have simply buried their heads in the sand and worshipped Child as some sort of Bible, warts and all, and conveniently overlooked the fact that Child himself clearly rubbished much of the spurious stuff in there.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 10:51 PM

By "informed" I mean those who have studied these things more assiduously than the likes of me. Ballads that are datable by known events are little source of contention, but I think most folks have the impression that most Child ballads naturally existed as part of the "oral tradition" before being set in print by the broadside industry, naive as this assumption often proves. However, if you date the broadside era from the 15th century, you're already talking earlier than the period most of us think: I think of it as the 18th and 19th centuries.

As for the flowering coinciding with the advent of print, why would print have helped the development of ballads among the overwhelmingly illiterate lower classes? Are ballads more closely associated with the gentry? What sort of songs would the people have sung prior to the flowering of ballads, and how would these songs have differed from what we consider a ballad? Might the ballads appear to be "flowering" only because more traces of them are left, or is a different aspect of development meant by the term?

It seems to me that print and the broadside industry may have had the opposite effect: that of condensing ballads into shorter, pithier commodities, more easily learned by anyone (rather than the village singer with a gifted memory). The older broadsides tend to be quite lengthy, which would seem to reflect common practice rather than an innovative fashion enabled by print.

Even being able to date events doesn't firmly fix the origins of songs, since history tends to repeat itself with alarming regularity. We have many examples of songs that are contextualized over and over, war to war, love affair to love affair, murder to murder, without substantial renovation. And traces might only be left once a ballad achieved a certain level of popularity in a more modern form, or randomly came to the attention of an early collector of sorts.

I'm posing these questions and possibilities (hardly new ones) as one who, despite singing these songs for decades, still has only a patchwork knowledge of their historical development. Assail away, ladies, assail away!


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:47 PM

'However, if you date the broadside era from the 15th century, you're already talking earlier than the period most of us think: I think of it as the 18th and 19th centuries.'
Admittedly there weren't very many ballads printed in the late 15th or the 16th century, but it really took off in the 17th. Strangely we have lots of readily available examples from the 16th and 19th centuries, Pepys, Roxburghe, Bodleian, Madden to name but a few, but the 18th century examples mostly still languish in libraries due to their physical properties.

'As for the flowering coinciding with the advent of print, why would print have helped the development of ballads among the overwhelmingly illiterate lower classes?'
That's the point, it didn't. These earlier ballads only eventually filtered (I hesitate to use the word 'down') to the folk as they were reprinted in later centuries in most cases. These are of course generalisations and there are always exceptions.

'Are ballads more closely associated with the gentry?' To an extent, but also the rising middle classes like tradesmen and the guild members.

'What sort of songs would the people have sung prior to the flowering of ballads, and how would these songs have differed from what we consider a ballad?'
Obviously we have very little evidence of what the people sang. If we base it on what exists today, those homely little ditties, drinking songs, catalogue songs, songs about domestic issues, songs like the Bothy ballads, comic songs. Personally I'm not sure there would have been many ballads as we think of them today, but I do realise I am perhaps in a minority on this one. What manuscripts have survived are obviously from very literate people,e.g., The Percy Folio Mss.

'Might the ballads appear to be "flowering" only because more traces of them are left, or is a different aspect of development meant by the term?' Possibly. It would take a lot of searching to verify any of this.

'It seems to me that print and the broadside industry may have had the opposite effect: that of condensing ballads into shorter, pithier commodities, more easily learned by anyone (rather than the village singer with a gifted memory). The older broadsides tend to be quite lengthy, which would seem to reflect common practice rather than an innovative fashion enabled by print.'
That is the general direction of broadside ballad remaking over the centuries. To what extent this is down to fashion or the movement to a different market is not easy to say, perhaps both. Undoubtedly those broadside ballads that were rewritten for different markets invariably got shorter as they came down the centuries. And usually even shorter once they got into oral tradition. As my belief is mainly that they originated as broadsides or theatrical pieces I don't accept that many of them originated in oral tradition, but you may be right and everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this one.

'Even being able to date events doesn't firmly fix the origins of songs, since history tends to repeat itself with alarming regularity.'
I wouldn't deny this in some cases. Some of the Robin Hood stories were originally about other legendary outlaws before they were attached to RH. However I don't know of any songs about say Napoleon that are based on earlier songs. We look here at probabilities rather than concrete facts. A detailed ballad about say Battle of Sheriffmuir is unlikely to have been about an earlier battle, on the other hand 'The London Man O' War' ballad was actually about a ship called the Nottingham in 1746 and we know the Captain himself wrote it.
Of course love songs and fictional songs, yes, have been written and rewritten over and over, mainly by broadside hacks trying to earn that last shilling and desperate for something to sell the printer.
You can quite easily nowadays find about 95% of the folk ballads common to Eng/Ire/Sc/America etc on broadsides. Not so many of the more local traditional songs, but the general corpus.

Regarding patchwork knowledge. Mine is still patchwork to a degree and I started out as an interested singer, still am. Those songs that looked as though they might be based on facts like shipwrecks, disasters, murders, suicides, inspired me to go and look.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 02:50 PM

"A detailed ballad about say Battle of Sheriffmuir is unlikely to have been about an earlier battle"
You really can't base anything on these assumptions Steve.

"The ballad of 'The Haughs of Cromdale' is taken from Hogg's Jacobite Relics. It was originally produced to describe this battle and as it has catchy tune was soon being sung all over the Highlands. This seems to have been too much for some unknown bard and, in an effort to redeem the description of this defeat of the clans in 1690, he added on a somewhat high-flown description of Montrose's victory at Auldearn over the Covenanter army in 1645. Thus the two battles, forty-five years and a considerable number of miles apart, were unceremoniously joined together. The gallant Montrose, who had been dead for over forty years, was brought to life in verse to win another battle. The result is horribly muddled ballad, but one which has been immensely popular. To the strains of the pipes playing this tune the Highlanders have charged and won battles all round the world."

That appears to be how ballad making worked.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 04:39 PM

The word 'unlikely' is important here. I gave an example of how it can happen, but I still believe it is the exception rather than the norm.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 07:06 AM

I've been a bit busy lately, with no time to chip in here, but can I take the discussion back to 'The Demon Lover', which seems a good example with which to examine the 'broadside origins' theory?

Steve wrote:
"Regarding the Scottish versions, it's difficult to know to what extent the interference of antiquarian poets created/re-created these. It's common knowledge that Scott was following Percy's precedent and most of the others were part of Scott's circle at one time or another, and as you know there is at least one amongst them whose published material is ludicrous (IMHO he hastily added)."

This is very contentious. For a start, there's an enormous difference – as far as the present discussion is concerned – between 'created' and 'recreated'. 'Created' suggests the Scots collectors invented the 'Scottish strain' of DL out of the ether, presumably with an old English broadside to hand for inspiration. 'Re-created' suggests that they amended or improved what was already present in oral tradition. There may be evidence for the latter, but none that I know of for the former. Scott's Minstrelsey text may well have been 'improved', and in any case relies on what may have been a suspect transcription by William Laidlaw. I presume your description 'ludicrous' applies to Peter Buchan, and FJ Child would be on your side there, although Buchan has his defenders. That leaves three remaining Scots versions in Child, one from Kinloch and two from Motherwell – one from his own Minstrelsey, and another (substantially different text) from his MS. I haven't heard Kinloch's probity questioned before and, as for Motherwell, I believe Scott directly discouraged him from 'improving' the ballads he printed.

To the five Scottish texts in Child we can add that found in Robert Scott's Glenbuchat MS from Aberdeenshire (coll. between 1808 and 1818), and the version collected 100 years later by Gavin Greig from Alexander Robb. While the latter is fragmentary, it nonetheless includes key 'Scottish strain' elements like the 'Banks of Italy' / 'see the fishes swim', the chronology of the voyage, the rising storm and the wreck of the ship. The Glenbuchat copy, a lengthy version, has much in common with the other Scottish texts, including a demonic transformation of the former lover. Taken to its extreme, Steve's analysis above seems to be suggesting that all six of the 19th century Scots texts of 'Demon Lover' are the result of some kind of conspiracy amongst "antiquarian poets". I find this hard to believe, not least since the history of the ballad in North American tradition contains many examples that hark back to the 'Scottish strain', and would most likely have their roots in the mass migration of the 18th century.

It seems pretty clear to me that there was indeed an 18th century oral tradition of this ballad in Scotland, and that this bore precious little debt to the Laurence Price broadside of 1657, or to the 18th century English printed copy. The only oral version that has any substantial resemblance to either broadside is that collected by Baring-Gould, and it's a bit surprising to find you, Steve, resting your argument on that particular source! If you want to convince me (one who is interested in your ideas) that "between a third and half" of the Child Ballads are "artifacts of the broadside songwriting industry", then I hope that 'Demon Lover' is not one that you're proposing to include in that category.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 01:29 PM

"why would print have helped the development of ballads among the overwhelmingly illiterate lower classes?"
....and the totally illiterate Travelling people, to whom we owe an enormous debt for salvaging and keeping alive many of our ballads.
Literacy played little part in preserving our ballad repertoire in the tradition - there is a great deal of difference between being able to read and using the skill - we found that James Hogg's mother's attitude to writing down the songs persisted with many traditional singers (those who could read) and published texts were treated either with suspicion or with reverence, in which case, they were treated as sacrosanct and remained unchanged.
This was brought home with a storyteller we recorded who gave us a version of the epic tale 'The Pursuit of The Gilla Dacker'. We found a published version in P W Joyce's 'Old Celtic Romances' and asked the storyteller if he knew of it.
"Yes", he said, "but he's got it all wrong; those fellers never got it right".   
If your reference to some published material being "ludicrous", is aimed at Buchan, once again, I find your somewhat definitive language more than a little disturbing. The 180 year-old Peter Buchan 'controversy' remains unresolved after all that time - to suggest otherwise is misleading.
As Brian said, "Buchan has his defenders", including D K Wilgus in his 'Anglo American Folksong Scholarship' who points out that if Buchan was 'improving' his texts (a totally unproven accusation) he was doing nothing different than any of the other 19th century ballad anthologists.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 02:43 PM

Jim, do I recall you saying on a previous thread that a version of 'Demon Lover' had been collected in Ireland? If so, can you direct me to it?
Thanks,
Brian


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 02:52 PM

Brian,
Yes - recorded from Frank Brown from Bellangare, Co, Roscommon (June 1983).
He lived in America for a long time and may have learned it there, but it certainly sounds Irish.
It's on 'Early Ballads in Ireland' which I think you have, but if not, let me know.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 02:58 PM

A MacColl/Seeger recording of Elizabethan broadsides --The Paper Stage--
doesn't have any Child Ballads on it, but it does have broadside versions of Elizbethan theater, including King Lear, Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andromicus and a bunch more. 2 CDs, $25 from CAMSCO Music.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 03:39 PM

"but it certainly sounds Irish."
meant to say, the rest of his recorded repertoire was pure Irish
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 05:08 PM

"recorded from Frank Brown from Bellangare, Co, Roscommon (June 1983). He lived in America for a long time and may have learned it there, but it certainly sounds Irish."

Ah yes, Jim, 'Banks of the Sweeet Vile Dee'. It sounds Irish to me, too - the tune reminds me of Mary McGrath's 'Johnny Barden'.

The text has several stanzas similar to the C18th English copy, but also elements from the Scots versions.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 04:59 PM

In Roy Palmers book 'Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams' (Dent, 1983) he includes a version of Child 287:'Captain Ward and the Rainbow' ('Ward the Pirate') collected by RVW from James Carter, a King's Lynn fisherman, in 1905.

Palmer relates that John Ward was an English seaman and mutineer who, in the early 17th century, travelled to Tunis,"turned Turk" and became a pirate in the Mediterranean (I presume that he would have been classed as a Barbary Corsair). He had some success in this enterprise, at one point seizing a Venetian galeasse worth two million ducats (a fabulous sum in today's money). He died in 1622 of the plague.

In 1628 the British Crown sent a warship, under the command of a Captain Rainsborrow/Rainsborough, to sort out the Barbary Corsairs who had been harrying the sea-lanes around Malta.

According to Palmer the earliest known version of 'Captain Ward and the Rainbow' is on a late 17th century broadside and he speculates that some "landlubber of a ballad writer" confused these two stories.

So this is another ballad that it is highly likely to have had its origins in the broadside press but passed into oral tradition and eventually ended up in the repertoire of a Norfolk fisherman.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 05:02 PM

Jim,
IMHO stands for 'In my humble opinion'. If I include this after every other word it's going to make what I write even more difficult to understand.
I'm glad to see you agreeing that the Buchan contoversy is still running. Most academics believe it is over and that PB has been completely exhonerated.
'if Buchan was 'improving' his texts (a totally unproven accusation) he was doing nothing different than any of the other 19th century ballad anthologists.' Not quite. It is possible to go to extremes when copying the practices of others.(IMHO)

Brian,
I bow to your superior knowledge on variants of 'Demon Lover'. I just am very wary when dealing with these variants. We simply don't know to what extent they tampered with their versions. They collated and added: Surely this is uncontestable. I'm convinced that PB was wholesale remaking and indeed creating and the fact that Motherwell included PB's pieces without apparently questioning I find suspicious to say the least. I've also read recently that Kinloch was not wholly reliable, but I haven't got the source to hand.
I'd be interested to know your thoughts on PB's version of 'John of Hazelgreen'.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 05:11 PM

Ah yes, Jim, 'Banks of the Sweeet Vile Dee'. It sounds Irish to me, too - the tune reminds me of Mary McGrath's 'Johnny Barden'.[quote]
what makes it sound irish?the tune?
is it in a particular mode? and if it is, what evidence is there that a particular mode was only found in Ireland , lest we forget, a fair proportion of irish reels are scottish in origin.
what mode is the tune in?and what proof is there that this mode is exclusively irish?is the tune in the dorian mode?


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 05:16 PM

Literacy played little part in preserving our ballad repertoire in the tradition - there is a great deal of difference between being able to read and using the skill [...]
This was brought home with a storyteller we recorded who gave us a version of the epic tale 'The Pursuit of The Gilla Dacker'. We found a published version in P W Joyce's 'Old Celtic Romances' and asked the storyteller if he knew of it.
"Yes", he said, "but he's got it all wrong; those fellers never got it right".


If the written text was inaccessible to him, how would he have known it was wrong?

With notated music, anybody who wanted a tune out of a book was rarely very far from someone who could read it for them. Hand-copied manuscripts by local musicians are found from all over Britain since the 18th century - for every illiterate blind fiddler there was a sighted and literate one who could teach him anything popularized through print. Transmission from paper into orality wasn't a one-off event like Laplace's model of God setting the planets spinning, it was an ongoing process renewed in every generation. Why should it have been any different with song texts?


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 05:25 PM

ah, yes, the dorian mode invented by Oscar Wilde, it had that gray picture to it.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 04:31 AM

"So this is another ballad that it is highly likely to have had its origins in the broadside press but passed into oral tradition"
With respect Shimrod, we have no idea whether the ballad was already circulating in the tradition before it appeared on broadside.
It seems completely logical to be that broadside printers should avail themselves of whatever was around for their wares, after all, the ballad sellers of the 20th century here in Ireland were not writing new material for their ballad-sheets - why should they go to the bother when there was so much to draw on. We know that they were plagarists - Steve has already told us as much.
"If the written text was inaccessible to him, how would he have known it was wrong?"
The storyteller I was referring to, Packie Murrihey, was well able to read; I was referring to his attitude to published tales and songs.
Steve
"IMHO stands for 'In my humble opinion"
From the beginning of this argument your statements have been in somewhat definitive language; your first response to me was, did I "believe this stuff" and you talked about Travellers putting their songs "back" into print, as if your speculations were a done deal.
I've just managed to identify an old ballad collection without a title page which we bought years ago (Alexander Campbell's 'Sangs of Lowland Scotland' 1799) and noticed that the first two songs, 'The Gaberlunzie Man' and 'The Jolly Beggar' are credited to James V - do I believe that to be true because the anotholgist says so?
If you were referring to the Buchan collection as 'ludicrous' the controversy obviously is still running - with you at least. I've heard others make similar claims, usually on the basis that 'the people' did not possess the skill to have made such fine pieces (or, for that matter, any of the ballads). It's always struck me as an excellent collection. Texts similar to Buchan's have been turning up long after he joined the choir celestial; have a look at the Scots Travellers' versions of ballads - or even those turning up in Ireland. There is no reason to believe that Buchan over-edited them and they certainly weren't written by his blind packman.
Cap'n;
It sounds Irish - listen to it and you'll see what we mean.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:09 AM

More an aside than anything else - the Abbots Bromley Horn Dancers' 'cast list' includes a 'Maid Marian' (inseparable from RH ?) and a character with a cross bow.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 05:45 AM

""So this is another ballad that it is highly likely to have had its origins in the broadside press but passed into oral tradition"
With respect Shimrod, we have no idea whether the ballad was already circulating in the tradition before it appeared on broadside."

You're absolutely right, of course, Jim!

But the early broadside versions of 'Captain Ward' are long and clumsy (just like the early broadside versions of 'The Demon Lover')
whereas the oral versions are sleek and pared down and very expressive. We're then left with the possibility that oral material passed into print and back again into oral tradition. At each pass the 'hacks' of the broadside presses over-elaborated the material and it was down to the trad. singers to pare it back down again. Trouble is, as far as I can see, there is no way of proving or dis-proving such an hypothesis.

I have to say, though, that I don't think that it matters too much. Surely, as we have said so many times in this forum, it's not the origin of the material that's of consequence, it's the process that it's been through. After all if the only things that had survived were the broadsides of 'The Demon Lover' and 'Captain Ward' these would only be of interest to academics and antiquarians. It's what great artists like Marina Russell or Texas Gladden or James Carter did with them that excites our admiration today.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 06:46 AM

Shimrod,
"I have to say, though, that I don't think that it matters too much"
It matters to this extent; if the songs and ballads were, as is generally believed, made by 'the people' then they become an essential part of our history as well as a form of entertainment.
150 years after the event Harry Cox's Van Dieman's Land can still move us emotionally as experiences of 'the people'.
When He goes into a diatribe about the siezure of common land, as he did, or spits out "And that's what the buggers thought of us" after singing 'Betsy The Serving Maid', it's fairly obvious, to me anyway, that he regarded the songs and part of his own history and culture, not something that was created by somebody else for him and his.
It thropws a diferent light on the situation if these songs were made by somebody who's never ventured further than the end of St Martins Lane.
In many ways, the songs are all we have by way of a social history of 'ordinary' people.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 08:22 AM

If it turns out that a significant proportion of the songs sung by traditional singers from the 19th/20th centuries had their origins in the broadside presses, I'm still not convinced that this says anything in particular (for or against) the creativity of working class people. After all I've heard plenty of great singers, in my time, who weren't songwriters. Again selection and transformation are not only important aspects of the 'folk process' but are also important creative acts in their own right. If it turns out that Harry Cox 'merely' selected and transformed 'Van Dieman's Land' and 'Betsy the Serving Maid' that would in no way diminish my admiration for him as an artist.

In addition I would imagine that very few broadside hacks were aristos down on their luck or failed merchants. I would guess that they actually came from considerably lower down the social scale and understood their audiences very well (and I wonder how many of them could sing?). And none of this denies the possibility that those self-same hacks derived some of their material from existing oral material and hence put it back into circulation or even gave it a wider circulation.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 09:51 AM

Shimrod,
I am convinced that our songs not only were made by 'the people', but they came from and reflect the experiences of those same 'people. Otherwise they are no different to the writings of Patrick O'Brian, Alexander Cordell and Nigel Tranter - all of which I have read and enjoyed at one time or another, but believe to be totally different from our songs.
If these are the imaginings of Broadside hacks (from Hackneyed) then they lose a significant part of their importance and we have to re-think our entire attitude to them.
It makes my teacher's 'creation is not for the likes of me' and Emrich's 'memory not invention' spot-on, and leaves us with having created nothing.
I wonder what next - do we put the Lascaux cave paintings down to the work of a firm of reputable interior decorators
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 09:54 AM

"If it turns out that a significant proportion of the songs sung by traditional singers from the 19th/20th centuries had their origins in the broadside presses, I'm still not convinced that this says anything in particular (for or against) the creativity of working class people."

Well, that might depend on whether you accept Steve's suggestion in another thread that not just the orginal songs, but also the more spectacularly different variants (which Sharp and Lloyd would have attributed to oral processing), were alternative versions composed by broadside hacks. Personally I don't approach this ideologically. I'm quite prepared to accept that a good part of the Coppers' repertoire, for example, has broadside or stage origins, and it doesn't make me enjoy it any less. However it's a big step from saying that some traditional songs originated in broadsides, to saying that most of them did.

In the case of the old ballads, I'm not hung up on the idea that they were all composed by shepherds or ploughmen - others have proposed that their origins were in mediaeval minstrelsey or metrical romances (eg. Hind Horn and Thomas the Rhymer), for instance. I'm just unconvinced by the notion that, because a 17th broadside version of a ballad is the earliest known text, then that has to be the original.

Let's go back to 'Demon Lover' again; it's a good test case because there's (a) an early broadside text, (b) various versions in the collections of the Scottish poets, and (c) a vigorous C20th oral tradition, albeit mostly in America. Shimrod wrote:
"the early broadside versions of 'Captain Ward' are long and clumsy (just like the early broadside versions of 'The Demon Lover')
whereas the oral versions are sleek and pared down and very expressive."
This is indeed true for many songs, but in the case of DL it's not the whole story. The oral versions cannot be arrived at simply by paring down the 1657 broadside (or the C18th copy): they share a variety of plot devices and specific phrases that are not present in the printed texts at all, but crop up with remarkable regularity in the oral versions. The fact that the C17th and C18th print copies are so radically different from one another itself argues against the earlier one having spawned the later. More likely they both represented rewrites of a pre-existing ballad.

As for the Scottish collectors, Steve wrote:
"They collated and added: Surely this is uncontestable."
I don't contest it, although I'm not so sure that they all did to the same degree. What I'm saying is that it's unlikely bordering on ludicrous that all five Scots collectors of DL conspired to invent six different versions of the ballad each of which shared elements with some (but not all) of the others, and employed subtly different phraseology to describe common themes. If it was just a matter of producing an 'ideal' version, why would Motherwell include a completely different text in his MS to that in his 'Minstrelsey'? Again, much more likely that the ballad - in its 'demonic' form - was already circulating orally, even if Scott and others did embellish what they collected.

Buchan's copy of DL is twice the length of the other Scots variants and includes some verses not generally associated with the ballad. On the other hand, many verses are corroborated by the Glenbuchat text, which is earlier. Perhaps Buchan did collate - it doesn't affect my argument.

I'm no expert on 'John O Hazelgreen', but I have a vague memory that it's supposed to be a bit fishy - again the Buchan text is (suspiciously?) lengthy. Tell us more!


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 10:11 AM

Dick wrote (re 'Banks of the Sweeet Vile Dee'): "what makes it sound irish? the tune? what mode is the tune in? and what proof is there that this mode is exclusively irish? is the tune in the dorian mode?"

I haven't subjected it to high-level analysis, Dick. I think it's hexatonic Dorian/Aeolian, but I haven't written it out so I might be mistaken. But in any case the mode would tell us little - English tradition has plenty of tunes in Dorian mode, not least Marina Russell's wonderful 'Demon Lover' tune.

When I said "it sounds Irish", I meant it partly intuitively, partly because it reminded me of other tunes from Irish tradition, and partly because - despite the singer's previous residence in North America - it bore little or no resemblance to American versions of 'Demon Lover'. Incidentally, the Marina Russell DL tune has rather more in common with the American models than Prof. Bronson would have us believe.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 10:29 AM

"So this is another ballad that it is highly likely to have had its origins in the broadside press but passed into oral tradition"

One thing that argues against a broadside origin here is simply the chronology. Seems a suspicious gap of time between the events and their commemoration in song. We know that songs were a common method of passing news, and songs were typically composed or adapted (either by folk or by broadside writers) soon after the events they referred to. An obvious exception would be when broadside printers tapped existing songs; in the absence of a more contemporaneous broadside, which origin seems the more likely?

We also know, from this and other songs, that the names of ships and captains are particularly given to mutate over time, and moreso if the captain/ship are more representative than memorable. Ward was memorable; the men and ships he defeated were not. Ward was already over 50 and a veteran privateer when the turned corsair in 1603; his career continued for another 19 years, and he remained unapprehended even to his death. He must have defeated or chased off quite a number of English ships during that time. One of the ships he captured (c.1606) was named "Reniera e Soderina", and he used it as his own ship for a time; this could be the genesis of the name "Rainbow", even if factually it doesn't quite fit the encounter. The song's origin was probably close to 1607, when King James refused to grant Ward's petition for a royal pardon--the inspiration for the purported boast that he'd remain "king on the sea"?

Most of the early ballads, whatever their source, tended to be long and clumsy, just as most songs that now survive in oral tradition tend to be appreciably shorter and more polished. Fashion may have more to do with this than whether the songs began as hack broadsides.

I don't swallow the "Travellers were illiterate" line of reasoning, because they didn't live in a vacuum. Especially in recent times (but before their songs would have been collected), they were surely also learning songs from people who could read and who did learn songs from broadsides--and modifying their traditional songs accordingly. After all, the Travellers are known for how they adapt into each culture, and serve as conduits for intercultural exchanges.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 11:28 AM

AC
"I don't swallow the "Travellers were illiterate" line of reasoning,"
A fair point but.....
We never met a Traveller who admitted to learning any of their longer songs from settled people - some of the shorter stuff - very occasionally, but they seldom stayed in one place and mixed with the settled community long enough for their repertoire to be anything but marginally influenced by 'the buffers'.
I'm pretty sure that this was also the case with the Scots Travellers.
All the 'big' singers we recorded, Mary Delaney, Paddy Reilly, Bill Cassidy got their songs from within the family - Mary referred to all her traditional songs as 'my daddies songs'.
Couple this with the fact that even among the settled communities in Ireland, literacy was treated with suspicion and seemed to have little major impact on the repertoire.
No hard and fast conclusions from all this, just general impressions.
As far as ballad composition is concerned, for me, the similarity between song and storytelling conventions, incremental repetition, runs, commonplaces, etc., are far more than coincidental and indicate that they both came from the same stable - if one is orally based, they both are and there is certainly no indication that the storytelling tradition had literary origins.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:35 PM

Phew! A lot to go at here.

Firstly, Shimrod, your postings of 5.45 and 8.22 spot on IMHO!

Brian,
My opinion on 'Most of the international corpus' being derived originally from (not just broadsides) commercially driven writing is based on many years' study and comparison of broadsides with oral versions, in multiple versions verse for verse, line for line. As has been said no-one can prove or disprove this except in a relatively small number of cases. In most cases all we have to go on is the earliest known variant, and this is, in 95% of cases on the broadside or the actual sheet music or other commercial publication. I am happy to accept Jim's beliefs, but don't know to what extent he has studied the broadside tradition.

I have done detailed studies on all PB's manuscripts and publications and compared all of his versions with other known versions of the same ballads, yes, all of them. In the vast majority of cases PB's versions are appreciably longer than any other version, eked out by 'nauseous repetition and overuse of commonplaces' to use Child's phraseology. You must be aware of THE FACT that Child mercilessly and justifiably(IMHO)slates these versions in at least his first 4-5 volumes before he feels he has to bow to his mentor, Svend Grundtvig, and then he falls silent on PB's versions until we get his last stab at PB on the very last note to a PB ballad. ESPB Dover Vol 5, p182.

By sheer coincidence I have just received 'The Ballad and Oral Literature' ed. Joseph Harris, which is largely a collection of scholarly papers on the Child Ballads delivered at a Harvard symposium in 1988. The list of contributors is impressive.

Harris's intro quotes from Sargent and Kittredge (KItteredge writing)
'Mere learning will not guide an editor through [the perplexities of ballad tradition]. What is needed is, in addition, a complete understanding of the 'popular' genius, a sympathetic recognition of the traits that characterize oral literature wherever and and in whatever degree they exist . . . In reality a kind of instinct, [this faculty] had been so cultivated [in Child] by long and loving study of the traditional literature of all nations that it had become wonderfully swift in its operations and almost infallible'

This I believe to be true and accept, though not blindly. His criticism of PB in particular is wholly justified.(IMHO)
And, Jim, we are most certainly in accord over the Jamie Rankin controversy. He didn't actually employ Rankin until most of his collecting had been done, and Bell Robertson who knew the Rankins well attested that Blind Jamie hadn't the wit to supply such material.

Re John o' Hazelgreen. It's not just the extra length eked out by those nauseous repetitions, but the rather childish silly additions of the 2 lovers having only met each other in their dreams. Nothing like this found in any other version and for why? Don't even try to answer.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 03:56 PM

'As far as ballad composition is concerned, for me, the similarity between song and storytelling conventions, incremental repetition, runs, commonplaces, etc., are far more than coincidental and indicate that they both came from the same stable - if one is orally based, they both are and there is certainly no indication that the storytelling tradition had literary origins.'
Jim Carroll

Jim, whilst this is undoubtedly true:-
Incremental Repetition. Whilst it does feature heavily in balladry and oral tradition, it is not confined to these. It is a poetic device used in all levels of poetry.

Runs. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this.

Commonplaces. Again feature heavily in oral tradition, but the poor broadside hacks and the pedlars providing texts to order were just as aware of their usefulness in filling out texts, (quite apart from those meddling antiquarian poets)

etc., needs expanding.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 04:40 AM

Steve;
"I am happy to accept Jim's beliefs, but don't know to what extent he has studied the broadside tradition."
And I don't know to what extent you have studied the oral tradition - you have mentioned forays into 'the field' in England, at a time when the oral tradition would have been pretty well dead, so I am not sure what conclusions either of us could draw from there.
I have read what is available from those who have studied the subject, Leslie Shepherd (whose conclusions on traditional song you wrote off as 'not being his field'), Collison, Hindley; and I've been through our published broadside collections, Roxborough, Bagford, Ebsworth, Ashton, Euing, Holloway and Black..... none of which leads me to the conclusion that the composers of such works would either be capable of or desire to compose our folk songs.
You seem to have avoided my main points.
The drive to record history, events and opinions in song - it happened in Ireland, Scotland and the US - did it really not happen in England, or is it staring us in the face in the shape of our national traditional repertoire?
How did the broadside makers obtain such insider knowledge, the feel of being at sea, of being transported for poaching, of being ripped from home and put in the navy or the army, of serving on a whaling vessel, of working in a mill, or on the road...... or of being familiar enough with traditional lore and superstitions to fill the ballads with them.......
The success of our folk songs among 'the people' is down to the fact that the songs and ballads rang a bell with them. I'd have been able to retire twenty years earlier than I did if I'd been given £1 for every time I'd heard a singer say "That's a true song" - where did that truth come from; why did the singers regard the songs as Traveller, or Clare, or Norfolk, or Scots? Did the broadside writers research their subjects extensively - is that what hack (hackneyed) writers do?
You haven't dealt with any of the problems of literacy that have been raised.
Harry Cox had a collection of broadsides - one of the last jobs Bob Thomson did before Harry died was to organise them for him into a scrapbook. Yet Harry was insistent that he never learned any of his songs from them - why? It has been our experience that singers, particularly those with large repertoires, Walter Pardon, Mary Delaney, Duncan Williamson, Tom Lenihan.... all these singers continued to learn songs throughout their lives - why not Harry?
I don't know how familiar you are with the storytelling repertoire; I do know that when I listen to Alec, Belle Sheila or Cathie Stewart, or Jack Flannery, or Thomas Moran, or Paddy Sherlock, or Johnny Cassidy, or Jeannie Robertson or Duncan Williamson or Ray Hicks, .... tell stories I am listening to prose ballads - try it.
And then there's the example of the bothy songs which you continue to insist are 'a special case'. If the Aberdeenshire fairmtoons could produce a significant repertoire of home-made songs which recorded their lives and experiences, why not the whaling industry, or the rest of the merchant fleet, or serving soldiers, or a village in North Norfolk, or Yorkshire. It seems to me totally unthinkable that they wouldn't. I won't even begin on the subject of English 'people' who are "too busy and happy to leave the job to the specialists"!
It seems to me that, as we have always assumed, they did, and we have the results of those labours in our national repertoire - which you have written off as a commercial venture, on the basis of ..... what?
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 06:10 AM

'Harry Cox had a collection of broadsides - one of the last jobs Bob Thomson did before Harry died was to organise them for him into a scrapbook. Yet Harry was insistent that he never learned any of his songs from them'

I can confirm both these facts: my wife & I spent a whole afternoon at Harry Cox's house with Bob, with all the broadsides, MSs, notebooks &c, spread out on the table, helping Bob begin the work of sorting them. Asked if he used them to learn from, Harry replied that he used them sometimes to refresh his memory, but not to learn the song from originally — that was done, in his youth, from family, or from the older men at the Windmill [some of whose songs, as I have mentioned before, Harry 'inherited' by consent of the regulars when the original singers died - compare e.g. some of Moeran's earlier collections in Catfield & Sutton with his later, + with those of Kennedy, Mervyn Plunkett, BobT et al from Harry Cox].


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 02:46 PM

Jim,
I'm not quite sure of the relevance of who did or didn't learn their songs from broadsides, Harry or anyone else. We have been discussing their origins: Indeed the origins of a specific body of songs that has largely managed to sustain itself in oral tradition in several countries. I am fully aware of and have recordings of locally produced song of which a very few entered oral tradition. The vast majority for various reasons did not.

You ask for my experience with oral tradition. Including my own family's repertoire the fruit of my labours in the 60s and 70s is fully available online on the British Library Sound Archive. I love and cherish these songs and the people who sang them to me which is why it upsets me when you accuse me of patronising these people. You might have guessed from my response to Shimrod's posting that I have deep respect for the way the people have shaped and IMPROVED these songs. However this does not affect my belief in the songs' origins.

I am quite sure the people who provided the printers with these texts had plenty of experience at sea, in poverty and hardship and any number of the other occupations you mention. That doesn't exclude them from making an extra shilling, those that have a little talent in composing verse. Plenty of literate people in all eras experienced poverty as well.

Re the story tellers. I have listened to Stanley, Duncan, various members of the Stewart family and numerous story tellers at the festivals and am aware of the similarities of tales and ballads, BUT the overlap in plots is minimal in my experience and there are some significant differences which should be obvious. In fact off the top of my head the only example that springs to mind is Duncan's story and ballad versions of Hind Horn which I have mentioned before. Perhaps you could enlighten us with a few more examples.

Jim, I'm going to sign off for a while as I will be away from computer but if the thread keeps running I will pick up any points when I get back online.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 03:18 PM

Broadsides;
I and others have pointed out the tendency of traditional singers to rely on oral transmission rather than print and the suspicion with which which printed texts were regarded - as displayed by James Hogg's mother and traditional singers we have met. You seem to be rejecting oral composition by the 'people' for commercial production by the broadside industry. On what do you base this rejection?
"people have shaped and IMPROVED these songs."
If the people also made them, as is generally believed, then it is patronising to suggest that they only "shaped and IMPROVED" them. It certainly is patronising to suggest that they were "too busy" to express themselves so they 'contracted the job out'.
"I am quite sure the people who provided the printers with these texts had plenty of experience at sea,"
If you are saying it was sailors who originally made the songs based on their experiences at sea..... etc, prior to them being passed on to the broadside printers - we have no disagreement - but I don't think you are! You are attempting to pass off the creators of the songs as memorisers and repeaters, as Duncan Emrich did.
"BUT the overlap in plots is minimal ....."
One more time - I am not referring to the plots of the tales overlapping; I am referring to the form and the formal disciplines of storytelling - listen to any Jack Tale or wonder tale told by a skilful storyteller - there are plenty of examples available - The School of Scottish Studies double CD is not too bad a starting place and Tocher will give you a host of transcribed texts to examine.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 05:41 PM

'On what do you base this rejection?'
Apart from the fact that the printed versions are the earliest known, I base it on my close studies of comparisons between multiple printings and all of the oral versions in my collections and anthologies, which are pretty comprehensive.

Equally I challenge you to name one known writer, amongst the people, of a ballad that is now found in the general oral corpus found in America and various parts of the British Isles. Once again I am not talking about local pieces only indigenous to one area, as I have already said I can give plenty of examples of these myself.

'contracted the job out'. Where is this quoted from?

I am not saying it was necessarily sailors alone. What I am saying is it is very likely the broadside hacks who were mostly from the lower levels of society itself were ex-sailors, whalermen, beggars, thieves, almost anything and had plenty of the experiences you mention. And some of them were amateur poets starting out and some were quite literate going through hard times.

I am familiar with the Jack tales of Stanley Robertson, and the American ones, and I have plenty of copies of Tocher, and I am aware of the similarities in form between the tales and the ballads, but this does not prove anything. Composing a song/poem/ballad requires quite different skills; and produces different results in the passing on of them not that this is relevant to the origins.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 04:36 AM

The earliest printed versions are no indication whatever that the songs were not already in circulation when they went into print - the form that our traditional songs take and the familiarity with the subject matter makes it obvious (to me anyway) that they were.
Cities like Liverpool, London, Edinburgh, Cork, Dublin, Glasgow were permanently full of visiting sailors, farm labourers... at al carrying their songs with them. Any broadside writer worth his salt would be barmy not to avail himself of the opportunity of buying a few songs for the price of a pint rather than going to the trouble of writing them.
'contracted the job out'
I might have chosen a better turn of phrase but it's what "....the vast majority are passive and happy to have specialist people do it for them" suggests to me. We know for certain that 'ordinary' people at one time deliberately made songs reflecting their lives and experiences, or, in some cases, to draw attention to and improve their living conditions, though you seem reluctant to admit this for the English (settled community that is, nobody can deny that English gypsies made songs). Why shouldn't those songs pass into the national repertoire?
"mostly from the lower levels of society itself were ex-sailors, whalermen, beggars, thieves,"
Where can I go to find this information - can you give me background information on any broadside hack who was - say - a whalerman.... or any of the trades you mentioned, along with the traditional songs he (or she) wrote?
"Equally I challenge you to name one known writer, amongst the people...."
Of course I can't - anonymity is, and always has been one of the identifying features of folk song. That is what you are claiming to be able to do Steve. I can give you the names of Irish writers (in Irish and English) whose songs have undergone the folk process and become part of the oral tradition, but what would that prove?
Again I ask - what is so special about the Aberdeenshire fairmtowns that they could produce a substantal body of songs whereas sailors living under comparable conditions had to "have specialist people do it for them"?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 05:43 PM

Jim,
Briefly because I need my beauty sleep desperately. I explained in my first mention of bothy ballads why they were a special case, but obviously I didn't go into enough detail, so I will do so when I get back. When I suggested the other occupations of broadside hacks I was speaking generally. With the exception of a few like John Morgan, who seems to have made a reasonable living at it, they must have come from many walks of life mostly at the bottom end. Of course lots of people went into the printers with songs that were already in circulation, many of them not traditional songs I might add, and got a few pence for their trouble, if the songs were new to the printer. We're already all agreed I think that the songs went in and out of print. I'm simply concerned with my opinion on their origins, from the studying of the songs themselves mainly, and the experiences of people like Morgan.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 06:04 AM

Let's bump this up the list again - if I can butt into what seems to have become a duologue.

Steve wrote:
"You must be aware of THE FACT that Child mercilessly and justifiably slates these (Peter Buchan's) versions"

I am indeed, and didn't need the shouty caps to remind me! I'd read some very rude remarks about Buchan by FJC in the notes to 'Young Hunting', though I hadn't read the rather devastating sally attached to Child 304. I respect your analysis of PBs ballads, and I must say that both his 'Demon Lover' and 'Young Hunting' are overlong and contain verses that are ripe for the chop by any self-respecting ballad singer. It does seem very suspicious that his ballad versions are always longer than anyone else's. Personally that wouldn't lead me to discount them entirely as a (flawed) record of oral tradition, though.

Steve wrote:
"My opinion on 'Most of the international corpus' being derived originally from commercially driven writing is based on many years' study and comparison of broadsides with oral versions, in multiple versions verse for verse, line for line... the earliest known variant is, in 95% of cases, the broadside or... other commercial publication."

Firstly, I agree that all of us have to accept that we will probably never know the precise history for certain, so we probably need to stop arguing the toss at some point. However, the fact that commercial publications represent the earliest known examples of 95% of the ballads (you are talking about ballads here?) isn't surprising considering that there was not, to my knowledge, any collecting at all going on in the field during the period we're talking about.

The few anecdotal examples I listed in my first post to this thread do confirm that ballad-singing was going on in the sixteenth century. In the case of Child 243, comparing broadside and collected versions "verse for verse, line for line" is precisely what I did - and the early broadside didn't fit the bill. I don't doubt your ideas about commercial publication regarding some of tha ballads and still more of the later songs - we just need to keep an open mind and take each case on its merits.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 12:53 PM

".......if I can butt into what seems to have become a duologue."
In the spirit of bumping this up the list - sincere apologies for this Steve
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 01:09 PM

Yes, the physical evidence does suggest that traditional British balladry derived from commercial broadsides, but that reflects a problem inherent in historical sources. "It's not in the documents, it didn't happen" is the way someone once put it. But there's plenty that happened and wasn't written down, for myriad reasons. There is evidence, cited by Jim and others, that suggests a creative role for 'the people' (those of whom who were not broadside hacks themselves, that is) but there will always be more evidence to privilege the role of broadsides simply because we have piles and piles of them in the Bodleian Library (and elsewhere) and we don't have tape recorded evidence from the 17th century from singers giving their side of the story. The weight of evidence, as I understand it, suggests a reciprocal role between print and oral transmission, between individual and group creativity on one hand, and commerce on the other. You can see a similar process with American Hillbilly music of the early 20th century, with commercial recordings reflecting both folk traditions and mass culture, and interaction and cross-fertilization between the two.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: Goose Gander
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 04:02 PM

Back to 'The House Carpenter' . . . Alisoun Gardner-Medwin has argued for a Scottish origin for variants found in Appalachia:

"I am inclined to think that the Scottish element in the ancestry of 'The House Carpenter' is rather stronger than the English, and that the ballad must have migrated in several versions which have interrelated themselves in America between 1775 and the present day . . . . 'The House Carpenter' came to the Southern Appalachian region from Scotland in the middle of the eighteenth century."

Alisoun Gardner-Medwin. "The Ancestry of "The House-Carpenter": A Study of the Family History of the American Forms of Child 243." Journal of American Folklore Vol. 84, No. 334 (Oct. - Dec., 1971), pp. 427


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 06:41 PM

I seem to have become a guest in my absence.

Apologies for the shouty caps, Brian. They weren't aimed at you.

Not sure what you're apologising for, Jim, but thanks anyway.

Did you find your notes on Arthur Wood's Tailor's Britches yet?

I think between us we've already established no-one can be certain of their origins. In the majority of cases all we have to go on are the content and style of the ballad. I'm happy to study individual ballads and compare ballads with similar histories.

In my opinion all versions of 20 ultimately derive from the 17thc broadside. The extra embellishments in some Scottish versions derive directly from 21. If this is so why not something similar for 243? The Scottish ballad deriving from the 17thc broadside = the usual Scottish embellishments. Another example, not a Child ballad, The Merchant's Son of York and the Beggar Wench of Hull, 17thc broadside: Apart from one version in the Alfred Williams Mss the only oral versions turn up amongst travellers in Scotland.

SteveG


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides - Academic Research
From: GUEST,Neil Howlett
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 06:32 PM

I hesitate to intervene and resurrect this thread but as an early modern historian interested in the distribution of language and ideas can I suggest some of the following academic works which are very relevant to the issue of whether broadside ballads were the origin of (many) folk songs.
Fox, A., Oral and literate culture in England, 1500-1700 OUP, Oxford, 2000 investigates the relationship between oral and literate culture with a modern evidence based approach including Chevy Chase and Robin Hood.
Fox and other writers refer to Thomson, R. S., 'The Development of the Broadside Ballad Trade and its Influence upon the Transmission of English Folksongs' (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1974) . traced 80% of folk songs collected by early C20 collectors to printed broadsides, inc over 90 which could only be derived from those printed before 1700. Suggested the great preponderance of surviving ballads can be traced to 1550-1600 by internal evidence. I have not found anyone who has taken this work further, or questioned it. I went to the UL to read this and my notes include the following:
p.2         complements book by G. Malcolm Laws, Jr., American Balladry from British Broadsides
p.15        Notes origins of some folk tunes in C10 and C11 liturgical tunes.
p.28-9 They did circulate in MS and there was a 'ballet' seller in Oxford in the 1520s selling >20 a day and a Proclamation was issued in 1533 against 'fond books, ballads, rimes and other lewd treatises in the English tongue"
p.125        "sizeable proportion" of works in Percy's Reliques derive from broadsides printed by Dicey and collected by Percy. 69 can be shown to originate with broadsides in the Pepys, Roxburgh or Percy collections.
p.171        Chettle in Kind Harts Dream 1593 says those joining the ballad selling trade included "idle youths, loathing honest labour and despising lawful trades" to be found in every corner of the kingdom "singing and selling of ballads and pamphlets full of ribaudrie and all scurrilous vanity. That stationers would put out their apprentices of a few months standing with "a dossen groates worth of ballads" and if they were successful and trustworthy promote them to be chapmen.
p.180        There exists a printed itinerary for ballad sellers dated 1625
p.216        Relates visits to Harry Cox of Norfolk over nine years to 1971.C ox had first been collected from by E J Moeran in 1921. "It was immediately clear that Mr Cox had a sophisticated awareness of what a folksong was as distinct from a music hall item or a popular song. In addition it was apparent that these distinctions had evolved during the process of meeting collectors, in other words information had been both given and received." Although many songs identifiable with ballads he claimed never to have learned them from sheets, although his mother bought them, but from others singing a song 3 or 4 times. When asked he had a large collection but claimed he learned the melody that way, and the words from manuscripts notes on miscellaneous papers over 7 or 10 days.
Thompson also notes that in USA, where there is no stigma in using paper sources, families produce such collections as heirlooms.
p.273-4        Collection of Alfred Williams in upper Thames Valley 1914-1916 included 755 texts of which 265 published in Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames, 1923. Williams noted sources from ballads. >600 can be traced to ballads printed in the region in C18 and C19, i.e., >80% and "the same figure (if not a little higher) is true of the collections made by Cecil Sharp, Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger".

As to how these were distributed I thoroughly recommend "Small Books and Pleasant Histories ; Popular Fiction and its Readership in seventeenth Century England" by Margaret Spufford (Methuen 1981). My notes from that include:
p.viii         Notes in 1553 a man offering a scurrilous ballads "maistres mass" at an alehouse in Orwell, and a pedlar selling "lytle books" to people, including a patcher of old clothes, in the outlying village of Balsham in 1578. Both near Ely.
p.2         One publisher of chapbooks had in stock one book for every 15 families in the country
p.11         Richard Johnson's Seven Champions of Christendom , 1596, believed influential,(e.g. "In comes I, St George"). Evidence that at least 3 separate local plays include elements taken from printed work; a ballad grafted onto the Swinderby Play; passages from Diphilo and Granida, a pastoral droll by Cox, in a Somerset play, and dialogue from Wily Beguiled, in the Broughton Play. (all from C R Baskerville, The Elizabethan Jig, Chicago, nd).
p.14                In 1520's Oxford bookseller, John Dorne noted in his day-book selling up to 190 ballads a day @ a halfpenny each.(F Madan, ed. 'The Daily Ledger of John Dorne, 1520', in Fletcher C R L, ed., Oxford Historical Society, Collectanea, I, V, Oxford 71-177, and separately 1885.)
p.48                prices of chapbooks 2d. to 6d., when agricultural labourers wages 12d. per day.
p.49                contemporary reference to use for toilet paper, ("Bum Fodder"), for wrapping or baking.
p.98                Inventory of the stock of Charles Tias, of The sign of the Three Bibles on London Bridge, on his death in 1664 included books and printed sheets to make 37,500 ballad sheets. Tias was not regarded as an outstanding figure in the trade.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 07:19 PM

Thanks for this contribution, Neil.
I shall certainly look out for these books. I shall be introducing a series of talks on the influence of print on folk song at Cecil Sharp House on Feb 26th.
The point made on p.48 above is significant. Before the 19th century the 'folk' would not have been able to afford to buy the print even if they could read it. So what they picked up that originated in print one presumes had filtered down through oral tradition from the better off.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 Dec 10 - 06:31 AM

Yes, a very interesting contribution from Mr Howlett above.

Trouble is I met Bob Thomson several times in the late 60s/ early 70s. I realised that he was a significant figure at that time but I was too young, crass and stupid then to appreciate how significant! Has anyone heard of him recently? Last I heard he moved to the US.


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Subject: RE: Early Broadsides
From: GUEST,Neil Howlett
Date: 31 Dec 10 - 07:01 AM

Steve
Although there is much evidence of distribution in print there is very little of vertical distribution (i.e., from the "squire "to the "villagers"). I recommend you read Fox (OUP print on demand) who deals with this issue lucidly. Spufford is one of those eye opening books which give a whole new vision of how early modern society worked. The evidence is of distribution networks of ballad sellers (including other itinerant traders who sold them as they travelled) organised by a veritable "tin pan alley" of publishers who held astounding levels of stock. At a penny a sheet these were accessible to many pockets, and although ephemeral "bum fodder" were then circulated locally, particularly at inns and alehouses where they would be stuck up on the wall or available to all. In such social environments it only needs one reader (and most villages had that) to make the text known to everyone. The singers themselves don't have to be literate, though they could make their own contribution to each song (cf Cox in Thompson).
Ballads seem to have been aimed at the lower end of the social scale; although they are found in gentry libraries collectors like Pepys were the exception. Indeed the alehouse was not a place that gentry would be found (though they might frequent inns and ordinaries where ballads might also be sold, displayed and sung). It was an "alternative society" (see below). The Marprelate Tracts in the late 1580s were widely distributed and noted for use of colloquial language and proverbs. They were read by all classes from the Court to the alehouse. In the most recent edition the editor emphasizes their appeal to a popular audience through reading aloud for communal enjoyment in 'a collective act of public ridicule'. (Black, J. ed. The Martin Marprelate Tracts (Cambridge, 2008) p.lxxxv,)

I am not qualified to comment on individual songs, but from what I have read the direction of transmission was almost all one way – authors were employed to write songs that were printed and distributed. There are a few old songs that become the basis for such ballads but these are the exception. They would have come from the manuscripts collected and copied by the gentry and aristocracy, but this is a literate tradition amongst the gentry. I am not aware of any evidence that gentry, authors or publishers went to the trouble of collecting sings from "folk singers" as Sharp et al.
See also
P. Clark, The Alehouse and the Alternative Society, in Pennington and K. Thomas (ed.) Puritans and Revolutionaries (Oxford, 1978).
Fumerton, Patricia, Not Home: Alehouses, Ballads, and the Vagrant Husband in Early Modern England, Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, vol. 32, Number 3, Fall 2002, pp.493-518


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