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Child Ballads survived in oral trad.

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Roberto 01 Sep 10 - 10:24 AM
MGM·Lion 01 Sep 10 - 10:34 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 10 - 10:36 AM
Roberto 01 Sep 10 - 11:07 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 10 - 11:18 AM
pavane 01 Sep 10 - 11:54 AM
Roberto 01 Sep 10 - 11:59 AM
Brian Peters 01 Sep 10 - 12:02 PM
Roberto 01 Sep 10 - 12:21 PM
Roberto 01 Sep 10 - 12:26 PM
Paul Burke 01 Sep 10 - 12:54 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Sep 10 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 01 Sep 10 - 01:00 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Sep 10 - 03:50 PM
Susan of DT 02 Sep 10 - 05:31 AM
Les in Chorlton 02 Sep 10 - 05:45 AM
Dave MacKenzie 02 Sep 10 - 06:39 AM
Liberty Boy 02 Sep 10 - 07:15 AM
The Sandman 02 Sep 10 - 08:15 AM
Brian Peters 02 Sep 10 - 09:27 AM
Roberto 02 Sep 10 - 09:40 AM
Brian Peters 02 Sep 10 - 11:08 AM
Steve Gardham 02 Sep 10 - 04:26 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Sep 10 - 04:37 PM
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dick greenhaus 02 Sep 10 - 08:17 PM
Kent Davis 02 Sep 10 - 10:53 PM
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Acme 03 Sep 10 - 12:32 AM
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Haruo 03 Sep 10 - 02:50 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 10 - 03:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 03 Sep 10 - 03:13 AM
Roberto 03 Sep 10 - 03:25 AM
Matthew Edwards 03 Sep 10 - 04:01 AM
Roberto 03 Sep 10 - 04:17 AM
Brian Peters 03 Sep 10 - 06:28 AM
Brian Peters 03 Sep 10 - 06:35 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Sep 10 - 07:04 PM
Roberto 05 Sep 10 - 11:26 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 10 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 08 Sep 10 - 04:32 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Sep 10 - 07:31 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Sep 10 - 11:00 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 10 - 02:43 AM
Valmai Goodyear 09 Sep 10 - 03:57 AM
Paul Davenport 09 Sep 10 - 01:08 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 10 - 01:41 PM
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Subject: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 10:24 AM

I can't remember where I've read something about the number of the Child Ballads among the 299 in Child's collection that have been collected in last century and how many of them have vanished and couldn't been found any more in the oral tradition. I'd like to know something about that. Thanks. R


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 10:34 AM

Interests of accuracy ~~ 305 ballads in Child.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 10:36 AM

ballads among the 299 in Child's collection

305 in Child's collection, I think?

An impossible question to answer. How on earth could you decide whether a singer had heard a ballad orally or second/third/forth hand from a printed scource?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 11:07 AM

305, yes, you're right, of course. I always refer to Trooper and Maid (#299) as the last in gthe collection because the six ballads that follow are not at all familiar to me.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 11:18 AM

No matter how many there are, you need to define what you mean by 'the oral tradition' before anyone can give a meaningful response.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: pavane
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 11:54 AM

Most of what was collected from the 'oral tradition' had previously been printed - maybe by a previous collector ....


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 11:59 AM

Oral tradition: I mean how many of the 305 ballads have been, during the XXth century, noted or recorded from singers, not from ballad scholars, who learned them directly from other singers.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 12:02 PM

Presumably what Roberto is getting at is that a good number of the 305 were never collected beyond the end of the 19th century - bearing in mind that Child himself died before the work of Sharp, Greig, Gardiner, the Hammonds et al had begun. There is scant eveidence for certain Child ballads ever having possessed a sung tradition: Nos. 29, 30 and 31, for instance, are based on the 17thC Percy Folio MS alone. Bronson in the introduction to 'Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads' states that Child himself deliberately erred on the side of inclusiveness, and casts doubts on the authenticity of around sixty of Child's canon (including several of the Robin Hood ballads).

Bronson (whose volumes cover mostly 20th century sources and are a good, though not definitive, guide to ballad survival in that century) estimated that there was a known musical tradition for about two thirds of the collection. However, one or two examples previously not collected with tunes have turned up since Bronson went to press, notably #21 'The Maid and the Palmer' (from John Reilly) and #264 'The White Fisher' (in the Carpenter collection). It would be a relatively simple, if time-consuming, matter to leaf through Bronson and check how many Child numbers he found tunes for. I know it was 43 out of Child's first 53.

Steve Gardham might know more!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 12:21 PM

Maybe it is more difficult to find the definition than to decide practically what to consider oral tradition and what not. Lena Bourne Fish had a sort of family songbook, some of her sources where printed, no doubt, but I'd put her in the oral tradition group. Me, I live in Abruzzo, Italy. If a drifting collector would catch me humming The Outlandish Knight, the version in Frank Kidson, Traditional Tunes, 1891, noted from the singing of Charles Lolley in Leeds, I wouldn't say that Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight is stil alive and well in the oral tradition ... in Abruzzo. Of some of the Child Ballads we've had recordings in the XXth century from seamen, farmers, Travellers, chainmakers, etc. Of other ballads, no. Some where thought to be estinguished in the oral tradition, such as Child #3, until the recordings of Nellie MacGregor,Bella Higgins and Duncan McPhee. I agree that "oral tradition" is a concept to handle with care, but it means something and is useful.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 12:26 PM

Thank you very much, Brian Peters (and please, make more recordings of these ballads like the very good ones you've made). Yes, that's what I was getting at, and not stopping at B. H. Bronson, because many important recordings have been made until recently.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Paul Burke
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 12:54 PM

Depends what you mean by survive. At least some of the Child ballads continued to be sung, in attenuated form, by, well, children. An example that springs to mind is the Cruel Mother, which "descended" from an Awful Warning About Hell Fire to a caution about playing with sharp knives, at least in the version my mother sang.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 12:55 PM

Roberto, It could be a labourious task, but plodding through the Roud index seems to be your safest bet. Steve has confined his index to traditional sources.
For you information, 51 Child ballads survived and were recorded in Ireland from the mid-1960s onward - would be happy to let you have a list of which ones they were, but couldn't help with a full list of the singers.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 01:00 PM

i bet barbara allen was one, and lord gregory, our gudeman., seven drunken nights, and lord randall, two brothers


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Sep 10 - 03:50 PM

"i bet barbara allen was one, and lord gregory, our gudeman., seven drunken nights, and lord randall, two brothers "
Two brothers, no (unless you mean Edward) - the rest - give that man a cigar.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Susan of DT
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 05:31 AM

There are 92 Child ballads for which Bronson found no traditional tunes.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 05:45 AM

So, after a grumpy start information and scholarship flow forth

L in C#
With clearly nothing better to do than make smart- *rsed remarks


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 06:39 AM

I learnt #274 orally from my Father.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Liberty Boy
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 07:15 AM

An I learned a version of #20 as a child on the street in Dublin, Weelia Weelia Waulia.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 08:15 AM

yes ,jim, the two brothers or Edward as it is sometimes known


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 09:27 AM

Well, I just did a survey of the popularity of nos. 1 - 100, based on the number of examples in Bronson (who, as I said, doesn't have all the info but does give us a representative sample).

Top of the Pops is, of course, Barbara Allen (a whopping 198 examples), followed by Lord Thomas & Fair Ellender (147), Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight ( = Outlandish Knight: 141), Young Beichan ( = Lord Bateman: 112), Lord Randal (103).

In the next category (50+ examples) come The Elfin Knight ( = Cambric Shirt), Two Sisters, Cruel Mother, Fair Margaret and Sweet William, Lord Lovel, Wife of Usher's Well, Little Musgrave, and Maid Freed from the Gallows ( = Prickly Bush).

Many of the above owe their popularity to North America; some - like Young Hunting - had pretty well died out in Britain by the end of the 19th century, but flourished over there well into the 20th. Whether that's because isolated mountain and maritime communities hung on to their traditions more tenaciously, or because of other factors like broadsides etc., would be an interesting matter to study. Apparently the popularity in the Appalachians of Child 243 (The Demon Lover) in its 'House Carpenter' variant owes a lot to a New York-printed broadside.

The 10 - 50 bracket includes False Knight on the Road, Earl Brand, Edward, Hind Horn, Sir Lionel ( = Bangum), Bonnie Annie ( = Banks of Green Willow), Three Ravens, Broomfield Hill, Two Magicians (but only if you count in 'Hares on the Mountain'), King John and the Bishop, Captain Wedderburn, The Two Borthers (not the same ballad as 'Edward'), Cherry Tree Carol, Dives & Lazarus, Sir Patrick Spens, Lady Maisry, Young Hunting, Lass of Roch Royal, Sweet William's Ghost, Unquiet Grave, George Collins, Lowlands of Holland, Lamkin, Johnny Scot and Willie O' Winesbury.

There's a good handful with just one or two examples collected with tunes (usually older Scots versions), and the ones with no singing tradition that Bronson could find were Erlinton, Leesome Brand, The Maid and the Palmer (but see John Reilly's version), Judas, Burd Ellen & Young Tamlane, The Boy and the Mantle, King Arthur and the Duke of Cornwall, Alison Gross, Laily Worm, Young Andrew, The Bonny Hind, Sir Aldingar, King Estmere, Willie & Lady Maisry, The Bent Sae Brown, Old Robin of Portingale, The Bonny Birdy, Price Robert and Fair Mary of Wallington. You wan't have heard too many of those in the folk revival, and those which you have heard will have been sung to made-up or borrowed tunes.

And those of us who have thrilled to the magic spells of 'Willie's Lady' and the ghost-busting heroics of 'King Henry' need to keep in mind that these ballads rest essentially on a single source - the 18th Century professor's daughter Anna Brown of Falkland, Aberdeenshire, who took delight in magical ballads and had a remarkable memory for rare ones. The fact is that ballad performers in the folk revival have often made their choices on the basis of a good (and preferably wild and woolly) storyline, rather than popularity in oral tradition.

Finally, I'm not surprised that Dave MacKenzie learned #274 from his father - that ballad has gone into all sorts of places, including the repertoire of blues and cajun musicians, and has kept turning up in (usually very rude) rugby-song type versions until quite recently.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 09:40 AM

Lizzie Higgins sings a version of Alison Gross...


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 11:08 AM

"Lizzie Higgins sings a version of Alison Gross..."

Indeed - one of the many ballads collected too late for inclusion in Bronson. However, I don't think Steeleye Span based their version on Lizzie's.

It's also a shame that Child and Bronson's volumes include so little from Ireland. Presumably there were no Irish collections analagous to Percy's and Scott's for Child to trawl through, and much of the Irish material collected in the 20th C was too late for Bronson. However, as Jim said, the ballads that we do have from Ireland show that the tradition there must have been very rich. We should always bear in mind how patchy, geographically and temporally, the ballad collections are - depending as they did on the enthusaism and whims of particular collectors in particular places.

Thanks Susan for giving us exact figures re Child / Bronson.

Roberto: I have just completed a new recording, however it includes just the one Child Ballad - The Banks of Airdrie (Child 14) - plus a couple that he rejected: the well-known Brake of Briars and the less well-known Devil's Courtship.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 04:26 PM

Hi Brian,
I can't place my hands on the exact figures for the moment, but yes there are several categories of songs that are suspect when it comes to counting survivals or ever having been sung in an unsophisticated oral tradition. A considerable number of the ballads were suspect to start with as Child himself points out and even a few of those that were suspect subsequently entered oral tradition. Of course many of the ballads (Robin Hood ones for instance) have no evidence of oral tradition. Child only included them because they showed some evidence of the characteristics of traditional ballads. Also later on in the collection he included many ballads that have no greater claim to fit his criteria than thousands of other broadside ballads. It is after all just one person's collection, albeit only surpassed by Bronson's.

Now Bronson is readily available again at a reasonable price, I strongly recommend it, even above any edition of Child. The only extra Child will give you is lots of nerdy info on the ballads' equivalents in other countries and versions from the old collectors which haven't got the tunes with them. Please don't get me wrong, Child is still the deity I worship.

The 'Brake of Briars' is one of the more popular broadside ballads in oral tradition. Unfortunately the broadside, which it undoubtedly is, hasn't survived. I would give a strong guess that it was issued c1750 on one of those 4 column broadsheets of the type Dicey and Marshall issued. There are some very full early versions from America, and it is of course a refacimento of the first part of the 'Isabella' story from the Decameron. I don't think Child was aware of it. If so it would be wrong to say he rejected it.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 04:37 PM

"Robin Hood ones for instance"
Robin Hood ballads have been collected from oral tradition, notably the one Greig ignored from an illiterate Travelling man he knew (probably because he was a Traveller). Luckily the singer turned up at the School of Scottish Studies some decades later and recorded it - now to be heard on the album, The Muckle Songs.
I think I am right in saying the Rory Greig's grandmother, Jessie Kidd (??) also sang a Robin Hood ballad.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 05:00 PM

I didn't say all of the RH ballads, Jim. Child gives 40-odd different ones, most of which only existed in the various 17th/18thc RH Garland.
Without checking, the 10 or so still found in oral tradition in the 20thc can be traced back to shortened 19thc broadside versions. I'm sure Ruaridh's grandmother did have a fragment. The recording is actually on the internet somewhere along with her other songs.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 08:17 PM

Bronson also published a single-volume collection The Singing Tradition of the Child Ballads which contains only the versions which he knew were in the oral tradition. Also available from CAMSCO($50 hardcover/$40 softcover)


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Kent Davis
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 10:53 PM

The late Patrick Gainer collected about 50 Child ballads from oral tradition in West Virginia. These ballads were published in FOLK SONGS FROM THE WEST VIRGINIA HILLS ( 1975). I say "about 50 Child ballads" because Dr. Gainer considered it questionable whether or not "The Riddle Song" (I Gave my Love a Cherry") was a version of Child #46, "Captain Wedderburn's Courtship", and also considered questionable his identification of a song called "Pretty Sarah" with Child # 295, "The Brown Girl". Another ballad, "The Braes o Yarrow", #214, was only found in fragmentary form.

Of the remaining 47 ballads, some had never previously been collected in West Virginia. These include:
1 ("The Devil's Questions"/"Riddles Wisely Expounded"),
17 ("In Scotland Town Where I Was Born"/"Hind Horn"), and
87 ("Harry Saunders"/"Prince Robert").

Dr. Gainer collected some of the ballads from members of his own family. These include:
4 ("The Six Kings' Daughters"/"Lady Isabel and the Elf-Knight"),
7 ("The Seven Sons"/"Earl Brand"),
14 ("Fair Flowers in the Valley"/"Babylon"),
26 ("The Two Crows"/"The Three Ravens"),
54 ("The Cherry Tree"/"The Cherry Tree Carol"),
56 ("Diverus and Lazarus"/"Dives and Lazarus"),
73 ("Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender"/"Lord Thomas and Fair Annet"),
84 ("Barbara Allen"/"Bonny Barbara Allen"),
93 ("Bolakin"/"Lamkin"),
243 ("The House Carpenter's Wife"/ "The Demon Lover", but the lover, in the West
          Virginia version, is only an adulterer, not a demon)),
278 ("The Farmer's Wife and the Devil"/"The Farmer's Curst Wife", which he learned
          from his grandmother. This past June I heard his granddaughter and great-
          granddaughter sing it at the West Virginia Folk Festival), and
283 ("The Wise Farmer"/"The Crafty Farmer")

The other ballads he collected were numbers 2 ("The Elfin Knight" but, in the West Virginia tradition, the Elvish nature has been lost, as also happened with numbers 1 and 4), 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 20, 49, 53, 68, 74, 75, 76, 79, 81, 85, 95, 105, 155 ("The Duke's Daughter", rather than the "The Jew's Daughter" in WV, the anti-Semitism having been lost), 173, 200, 201, 209, 240, 250, 272, 274, 275, 277, 286, 289, and 299.

Kent


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST,julia L
Date: 02 Sep 10 - 11:29 PM

In 20th century New England, collectors like Phillips Barry, Fanny Hardy Eckstorm,and Helen Hartness Flanders found living versions of just about all the Child ballads. And don't forget Helen Creighton and Edith Fowkes in the Canadian Maritime provinces.
Wonderful to see the rich breadth of versions as well as the commonalities from one region to another.

Then there are the descendants of the ballads- several cowboy songs come to mind, as well as some that made the hit parade like the Gypsy Davy and the Butcher Boy

Questions- how does learning from a recording versus differ from learning from a live person? I learn songs from archive recordings made by collectors of people who heard the songs from their elders. Does this mean I am not a traditional singer? I certainly would have liked to have heard them from a live person, but that person was not available. Is this better or worse than consulting Child's published printed collection?(Shall I duck and run?)

Singing and grinning

Julia L


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Acme
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 12:32 AM

And don't forget Appalachia and the Ozarks - lots of hidey holes for some of these songs.

I learned many of the Child Ballads from my father (John Dwyer) who learned them from books and records and other singers. I don't sing, but I do love to read threads like this. And I have tons of recordings and a several shelves of folksong books that my reference-librarian father collected over the years.

I think the important aspect of all of this is keeping these songs in play. They may reach a plateau when they are found in a print or recorded version, but they invariably change a little when they become your own through repeated performances. Don't worry if you learned them from a durable source - just keep them in play. :)

Maggie Dwyer (Stilly River Sage)


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 01:04 AM

Of course many of the ballads (Robin Hood ones for instance) have no evidence of oral tradition:

I only know these three recordings from oral sources:
Robin Hood and Little John (#125) sung by John Strachan, as Robin Hood
The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood (#132) sung by Wiggy Smith, as Robin Hood and the Pedlar, and by Geordie Robertson, as The Bold Pedlar


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 01:37 AM

I've found the text I had in mind when I started this thread, it is by Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy, 1960 and 1999, on the booklet that goes along the two Caedmon/Topic LPS, now Rounder CDs, dedicated to the Child Ballads:

(…) Many of the 300-odd narrative pieces canonized by Professor Child (called familiarly today the "Child ballads") have long since passed out of oral circulation. One hundred and forty, in full or fragmentary form, have been discovered in North America, whence they were brought by British emigrants. Our research, done during the past decade, has unearthed fifty still in circulation in Great Britain, most of which we reproduce in these two recordings. (…)
A few (ballads), among them "Young Hunting," "Fair Margaret," "The Wife Wrapped in the Wether's Skin," "The Wife of Usher's Well", that are quite common in America have not yet turned up in Britain. "The House Carpenter" and "The Farmer's Curst Wife" were found very frequently in America and much less so in Great Britain, versions of "The Gypsy Laddie" and "The Trooper and the Maid" being far better known. Certain ballads seem to be better remembered in Britain than in the United States, among them: "The False Knight Upon the Road," "Broomfield Wager," "The Baffled Knight," "The Braes o' Yarrow," "The Jolly Beggar," "Andrew Lammie," and "The Laird o'Drum." Until we started our work no version of "The False Knight" had been collected in Britain, but like "Edward," versions turned up among the tinkers and Gypsies.
By far our best sources have been the tinker singers of northeast Scotland, who have given us full versions of certain ballads that rarely occur elsewhere, since they are of local interest or of special relevance to their lives. In fact, it appears that tinkers, Travelers, and Gypsies have recently played the principal role in the transmission of the Child ballads in the British Isles. Around their campfires the ballads are sung and ancient Gaelic legends are told today as they were centuries ago. The stamp of tinker interest shows up in the popularity of such songs as "The Jolly Beggar," "The Trooper and the Maid," and "The Gypsy Laddie." (…)

The contributions to this thread have added many more knowledge, for example on the significance of the Irish recordings of these ballads. I'd be interested in knowing your opinion on the notes by Lomax and Kennedy. Thanks again. R


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Haruo
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 02:50 AM

If my dad learned, say, Mary Hamilton (is that in Child? yup, 173, thank'ee kindly, Wikipedia) from a Joan Baez recording, and then I learned it orally from him, does that count as a Child survival? That is the order of transmission in fact for that one. There are many other songs I learned orally from my dad for which I have no idea what his source or mode of learning was.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 03:03 AM

"I only know these three recordings from oral sources:"
A quick look in Roud - up to rntry number 100 gives ten sound recordings of Robin Hood ballads - 4 from Nova Scotia, 2 Scotland 2 from US and 2 from England   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 03:13 AM

Of the Robin Hood ballads, Child #102 seems the most real to me in terms of its language & narrative. Back around 1990, in the absense of any other melody for it, I set it to that of the Balladelle Bergeronnette Douce Baisselete by Northern French trouvere Adam de la Halle (1237-86) from his Le Jeu de Robin et Marion. I've never heard of a traditional tune for it, though I have hbeard it sung to various tunes. If anyone could have a quick look in Roud for me I'd be most obliged!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 03:25 AM

Haruo, luckily we also have Jeannie Robertson to sing Mary Hamilton.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 04:01 AM

Roberto, your mention of Jeannie Robertson's 'Mary Hamilton' neatly illustrates just how complex the chain of transmission can be. Jeannie recalled learning the ballad as a child from old people in Blairgowrie, Perthshire who used to recite it. However the tune she sang when she recorded the song for Alan Lomax in 1953 is clearly an American tune. I think Mike Yates has researched this and Jeannie's source for the tune may have been Jean Ritchie or Sandy Paton, or perhaps Alan Lomax himself.

Anyway there is a fascinating article just published on the Musical Traditions website by Mike Yates about American commercial recordings of Child Ballads in the 1920's and 1930's: When Cecil Left the Mountains.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 04:17 AM

Thank you, Matthew. Yes, Jeannie Robertson first recites three stanzas, and then she sings four. I didn't know the tune is American.

Jeannie Robertson recites:

A knock come tae the kitchen door
It sounded through a' the room
That Mary Hamilton had a wee wain
To the highest man in the toon

Where is that wain you had last nicht?
Where is that wain, I say? –
I hadna a wain to you last nicht
Nor yet a wain today

But he sairched high, and he sairched low
And he sairched below the bed
And it was there he found his ain dear wain
It was lying in a pool of blood

She sings:

Yestreen there was four Marys
This nicht we'll hae but three
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
And Mary Carmichael, and me

O, oft-times I hae dressed my queen
And put gowd in her hair
But little I got for my reward
Was the gallis to be my share

O little did my mother ken
The day she cradled me
The land I was to travel in
Or the death I was tae dee

O happy happy is the maid
That is born of beauty free
It was my dimple and rosy cheeks
That was the ruin o' me


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 06:28 AM

Steve: Thanks for the additonal info. I knew that 'Brake of Briars' (aka Bruton Town) was in the Decameron, but didn't realise that Child wasn't aware of it. It's one of that list that you sometimes see, of Child's notable omissions - along with 'Long A Growing', 'The Bitter Withy', 'The Shooting of his Dear' etc.

Roberto: that summary by Lomax and Kennedy is pretty accurate, but they're wrong about 'The Wife of Usher's Well', which has been collected at least three times in England.

Kent Davis: Thanks for the Gainer ballad titles. Child 2 lost its Elvish elements not only in West Virginia but pretty much everywhere else as well (as did #4). Child based his 'Elfin Knight' title on a number of Scots examples, from early broadsides and 18C oral tradition, and it was collected by Greig in Aberdeenshire - in this 'Elfin' form - as late as 1908. However the oral history of Child 2 in England, Ireland and North America, is overwhelmingly the 'Cambric Shirt' strain with the 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme / Every Rose Grows merry in Time' type refrains. I believe that this strain is not simply the result of the supernatural elements gradually disappearing, but is a deliberate recasting of the original impossible tasks into a new ballad. The same probably goes, IMO, for the 'Hey Ho Sing Ivy' strain, which has lost not only the Elf Knight but any semblance of a dialogue.

Any opinion on that one, Steve? Do you have early broadside exmples of 'Cambric Shirt?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 06:35 AM

Julia wrote: "I certainly would have liked to have heard them from a live person, but that person was not available. Is this better or worse than consulting Child's published printed collection?"

I think you can do a bit of both - listen to plenty of traditional recordings (or living traditional singers) if you get the chance. That way at least you'll get a sense of traditonal style, that might stand you in good stead when you come to learn a ballad from the printed page.

There are plenty of ballads in Child with the most wonderful stories but which seem either to have died out fairly early, or never taken off at all, in oral tradition - maybe because the broadside printers never got hold of them in a big way. That is not, of course, a reason for ignoring them, but it does mean that, for the more obscure ballads, you may have to do a fair bit of work on text and/or tune, to get something singable that tells the story coherently. I do think it's worth remembering, though, that many of the great ballads by the likes of Steeleye Span or Martin Carthy, that got a lot of us excited in the first place, may actually have been very rare in tradition and extensively reworked within the folk revival. Nothing wrong with that - I've done plenty of it myself!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Sep 10 - 07:04 PM

Brian
re broadsides of Cambric Shirt. Depends what you mean by early. Late 18thc 'The Humours of Love' is just the riddle parts. There are others but I suspect the same. I can't put my hand on them at the moment. I can't remember seeing any 17thc ones.
I disagree on 'Acre of Land'. There is a relatively scarce progression from versions of 'Cambric Shirt' into 'Acre of Land' although I prefer to think of 'Acre of Land' nowadays as an autonomous song in its widespread form as it is so different in meaning to the riddles.
I wonder on what grounds 'Shooting of his dear' should be in Child, although some of his humorous ballads are no older and have had a similar transmission history.
'Craigieston' (Long a growing) is my favourite of those he didn't get to include. Bitter Withy perhaps.
Since you mention recasting. Where versions of songs differ widely from each other this is often the result of recasting in some form either by hacks or literary people rather than oral tradition. (IMHO)


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Roberto
Date: 05 Sep 10 - 11:26 AM

Brian Peters writes he has just completed a new recording: excellent news, I'm looking forward to listen to it. I've just realized Brian Peters recording of Young Hunting #68 (on Ballads, Traditional Ballads, Fellside FECD 110, and on Brian Peters, Lines) is from an Irish Traveller, Martin McDonagh: beautiful Brain's recording and its source).

Thanks a lot to all that contributed to this thread with many interesting notes.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 04:23 PM

Steve: "I disagree on 'Acre of Land'. There is a relatively scarce progression from versions of 'Cambric Shirt' into 'Acre of Land' although I prefer to think of 'Acre of Land' nowadays as an autonomous song in its widespread form as it is so different in meaning to the riddles."

I don't think we are in disagreement, Steve - I think it's an autonomous song as well. How do mean, a 'scarce' progression - are there any intermediate variants?

Roberto: My tune for 'Young Hunting' does come from Martin McDonagh, but my verses are collated pretty extensively from those earlier versions in ESPB that retained the supernatural crime detection methods.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 04:32 PM

That was me, in London, Ontario.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 07:31 PM

Brian,
Yes there are intermediate variants and it's possible to trace the one evolving into the other. Obviously at some point some farm hand thought it would be interesting to burlesque it into the Acre of Land form by changing it to the inheritance angle rather than the riddle, but the content is largely present in some evolving variants of Scarborough Fair/Parsley sage.

Of course burlesquing of child ballads is fairly common, such as , Barbara Allen, Lord Lovell, George Collins, Demon Lover, Lord Randall, etc. and other broadside ballads as well.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Sep 10 - 11:00 PM

Nobody above seems to have specifed the, what seem to me, three distinct strains of 'Cruel Mother' (Child #20) variants still [or, at any event, v recently] current among children in Irish Republic, US & UK: viz ~ i 'Weelah Walya'; ii 'All Alone & Aloney-o...Down By the Greenwood Sidey-o'; iii 'Old Mother Lee'. I collected a variant of this last in September 1958 (my first week of teaching, & prior to publication of the Opies' "Lore & Language of Schoolchildren"), from 11-year-old Derek Hastings, a Met policeman's son, at Peckham Manor School, London SE15; & subsequently published it in Notes & Queries (Oxford Univ Press) for March 1966 under title "Murder With A Penknife: a children's song", speculating that the designation "the Fordie police" therein might also suggest some influence of Child #14 "Babylon; or The Banks Of Fordie".

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 02:43 AM

"Barbara Allen, Lord Lovell, George Collins, Demon Lover, Lord Randall, etc. and other broadside ballads as well."
Assuming that these are all 'broadside ballads' - of course. While they have all appeared on broadsides, there is no evidence whatever that they originated there.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 03:57 AM

May I respectfully draw people's attention to Chris Coe's all-day ballad forum in Lewes on Sunday 10th. October? Full details are on this thread.

We also have all-day forums booked next year with The Claque, Brian Peters, and Paul & Liz Davenport.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 01:08 PM

Having run Ballad sessions for various festivals over the years I decided to find out what was sung and how often. Over a week of Ballad sessions at Whitby Folk week in 2009 there were an average of 20 songs per day. The longest, despite the perception of this material, was Cuthbert Noble's version of 'Tam Lin' at 9'20". The average length of song was around 4'50". The strangest thing to me at any rate was that Child 200, 'The Gypsy Laddie', never saw the light of day either that year nor the previous year. Two versions of 'The Bitter Withy' were identical but for the inclusion, or the lack of, the verse with the line, 'I'll make you believe in your latter day, I'm an angel above you all'. The choice of making the Christ child culpable in the death of the lords' sons left to the singers.
I learned Child 200 (admittedly a bit dubious on the tune front) from my father. I've collected 'Lord Randall' from a twelve year old girl at work and 'The Lovers Tasks' is so common in East Yorkshire as to be unremarkable. Maybe that's the point, some of these songs are just childhood ditties which we, folkies or academic folkies, choose to elevate to a status which perhaps they don't warrant? Living tradition? course it is, unless you want to muddy the water with 'folk revival' baggage.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 01:41 PM

"Living tradition?....."
Not unless you change the definition with which these ballads and songs have been documented and generally understood for over a century .
"a status which perhaps they don't warrant?"
The fact that they have served for centuries and have ingrained themselves deep into our culture, even to the extent of stirring childrens' imaginations to the extent of re-making them, gives them some sort of status, surely? The popularity you have described here only underlines that status.
There is a mystique surrounding the ballads, most visible when the academic attempts to separate them from their common origins and elevate it to a 'higher'level.

"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not dejure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk."
Phillips Barry's note to 'The Lake of Col Finn' in 'The New Green Mountain Songster.'
He goes on to attempt to turn one of our finest ballads of domestic tragedy into a fairy tale with magical islands raising from the depths and mermaids.

I've even heard the suggestion on occasion that the folk didn't make the folks songs but left it to the professionals!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 02:38 PM

'There is a mystique surrounding the ballads, most visible when the academic attempts to separate them from their common origins and elevate it to a 'higher level.' Spot on Jim, that's the point I was trying to make, 'perhaps that they don't warrant' was maybe a tad clumsy.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 03:18 PM

It has always intrigued me that the last communities to preserve the ballads as an integral part of their culture were the Irish and Scottish Travellers, both non-literate, but both possessing a large and important body of the longest and most subtle examples to be found in the genre.
Just listen to the dignified delicacy of Martin McDonagh's Lady Margaret (Young Hunting), the best piece of ballad singing I have ever heard; or the passion of Sheila McGregor's Tiftie's Annie (not to say that Sheila can't read - I know she can) which never fails to raise the bristles on the back of my neck, though I have been listening to it for nearly fifty years.
Blind singer, Mary Delaney, had a large number of ballads and narrative songs, which she always referred to as 'heavy', and quite often choked up on. It took us about five goes to get her 'Buried In Kilkenny' (Lord Randall).
With Walter Pardon you got a quiet compassion itermingled with an instinctivly deep understanding of the 'bigness' of his ballads.
John Reilly, an impoverished Traveller who died of malnutrition in a derelict house shortly after being discovered by Collector Tom Munnelly, sang The Well Below the Valley (Maid and the Palmer), missing from the tradition for nearly two centuries. He described it as 'a forbidden song' because of its religious connections and its theme of incest.
Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy could barely read or write, but when we asked him what he thought the oldest song he sang was, he unhesiatingly told us 'The Blind Beggar' which was entered in the Stationers Register some time in the 17th century.
Our problem with understanding the songs and ballads has always been that they have been treated as collectable artefacts rather than as parts of the lives of the people who gave them to us.
Personally, it's why I put such an importance on distinguishing between the traditional singer and the revivalist - not because one is more important that the other, but because we are coming to the songs from different directions with different outlooks and backgrounds.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 03:43 PM

'Personally, it's why I put such an importance on distinguishing between the traditional singer and the revivalist…'
Yes, I can see where you're coming from Jim but…isn't this itself an artificial distinction? It feels to me a bit like saying that a modern Royal Naval seaman is not 'real' because he wasn't press ganged. The context has changed over time surely and the 'revival' which people keep insisting on, is now the main context. This is completely compatible with the folk dance 'traditions' in England which are not a continuum but rather a series of backward looking revivals for reasons other than 'folk' continuity. These revivals are now the received 'tradition' and many of them are spurious indeed if you're a 'purist' in these matters.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Sep 10 - 05:47 PM

The context has changed over time surely and the 'revival' which people keep insisting on, is now the main context.

True, but that doesn't make revival singers anything other than revival singers. I mean, we could start referring to people who work at Halford's as blacksmiths, on the grounds that they serve roughly the same kind of function in a very different society, but at the end of the day it wouldn't change the fact that there used to be lots of blacksmiths and now there are hardly any.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:42 AM

"isn't this itself an artificial distinction? "
No it isn't Paul.
The traditional singers we have questioned seem to have had an innate understanding and feel for their songs; they grew up with them as part of their lives, the 'wore them' as they would wear a comfortable old jacket (at least, those grew up within reaching distance of a living tradition did).
They may have lost the ability to 'perform' them as they once did, but they never lost the ability to re-live' them.
Those of us who came to the songs as outsiders have had to work to gain an understanding of, or feeling for them - even those who might have heard them when we were young, sung at home.
Sitting for hours on end with singers like Walter Pardon or Tom Lenihan made me realise how close they were to their songs - a closeness that I have seldom, if ever, seen in a revival singer.
If you mean there is no difference and the term revival itself is meaningless - I have said what I believe to be the case elsewhere.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 07:43 AM

Jim , I have been singing traditional songs for over 40 years, Ihave not lost the abilty to perform them or relive them, the fact that i am a revivalist singer rather than a traditional singer , does not matter if one is judging on musical merit, which is the criteria of most people when they listen to jazz ,classical music or most other forms of music.
I too have an inate understanding of the songs, some of the songs are part of my life i too werar them like a comfortable jacket, as do some other revival singers.
the term revival is meaningless, if one is judging purely on interpretation and style of the music.
example that proves my point Bob Blake, collected by Mike Yates[ who mistakenly thought he was a traditional singer] in fact he was singer who learned songs from books but who had lots of friends who were traditional singers[ yet he sang in a traditional style]. and no one could tell he was not a traditional singer because he bloddy well sonded like one.
its high time all this nonsense about traditional singers being somehow superior [just because they learned orally, and regardless of singing abilty] is done and destroyed.
yes there were some very good traditional singers , there were also some not so good ones, and do you know why, it was because some had musicalty and some didnt, not much different from revival singers really, [it was nothing to do with oral transmission]it was to do with their ability as singers.
even if a traditional singer had agood singer to learn from in anb oral way ,that still does not guarantee that the aforesaid traditional singer might be any good ,he might be not vey musical or even tone deaf.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 07:52 AM

Personally, it's why I put such an importance on distinguishing between the traditional singer and the revivalist - not because one is more important that the other, but because we are coming to the songs from different directions with different outlooks and backgrounds.
Jim Carroll
what a load of squit,how was Bob Blakes outlook different, he was mixing with traditional singers having a drink with them and socialising with them.
the only difference was he learned them from a book, but his singning was indistinguashable from a traditional singer.
Ihave heard some squit in my time but this load beats any amount of bull


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 08:01 AM

furthemore the a good proportion of those songs in a traditional singers repertoire were originally broadsheets[ printed material]and someone would have had to have read them, for them to have been passed on, in the first place, that is before they were orally transmitted


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 08:26 AM

Sorry Cap'n - most of what you say is not what I have found when listening (also been around for over 40 years).
Can't answer in full just now, but can we just clear up one point.
"a good proportion of those songs in a traditional singers repertoire were originally broadsheets"
If you know this for certain, you have information the rest of us don't have access to.
We do not know for certain that ANY traditional song originated on a broadside; some have suggested that they might have, but we have no way at all of knowing where our songs originated (except those that bear a writers name).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 09:24 AM

three score and ten, written by delf, was writen to raise money for orphans and widows.
though i live not where i love.
Notes:
Hammond D.219, Robert Barratt, Piddletown, Dorset, Sept 1905
N.B. Piddletown has since been renamed Puddletown. For more details on the renaming, see the forum discussion listed below.

Some small modifications have been made to Mr. Barrett's text, and his third verse has been moved to the end.

William Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1859; vol.II pp.451-3 and 782) discusses the song and quotes a text from the family tradition (presumably) of the writer and critic Hazlitt, which is quite close to our text here. Broadsides of 1638 (Peter Lowberry) and c.1640 (Martin Parker) appear to be ancestral (though sung to a different tune); particularly the former, The Constant Lover, which begins.
there is two for starters.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 09:34 AM

maria marten, is another.and andrew rose another.
[the trial of Captain James Rogers for cruelly misusing members of his crew took place in 1849. Following the trial, this ballad was made by an unknown London pub poet and issued by the broadside printers A Ryle & Co of Seven Dials. Senseless cruelty was all too common on English ships, even as late as the 1850s.]


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 09:48 AM

my ears tell me something different from yours Jim.
furthermore I am not going to tolerate being fobbed off second rate versions of carolina moon , just because they have been collected from a person who had learned his songs[supposedly orally] , and who may have had other more interesting songs in his repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 11:04 AM

This was quite an interesting thread, but I'm completely baffled by the reference to "second rate versions of carolina moon". Can we please return to looking at Child Ballads in oral tradition?

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 11:17 AM

"We do not know for certain that ANY traditional song originated on a broadside; some have suggested that they might have, but we have no way at all of knowing where our songs originated (except those that bear a writers name)."
On those that bear a writer's name, we have Cindy (Pete Seeger), Yankee Doodle (Oscar Brand) nd many, many, more


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Kampervan
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 11:29 AM

WOW

Just as a random aside. I've just stumbled across this thread and it's blown me away.

This is what Mudcat is supposed to be about. The quality of question/answer/comment is brilliant.

Don't bother responding to me, I don't want to spoil the flow but I did want to register my admiration of the contributors.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 11:47 AM

Cap'n
Mathew is right - I have no intention of discussing your, or anybody's singing on this thread, and I certainly am not entering a 'slagging off of traditional singers' here or anywhere.
My point remains; for me, traditional singers bring something different to the songs than do virtually all revival singers I have listened to; they also bring information that revival singers do not, simply because they/we haven't 'been there and done that'
If it is not the same with you, let's agree to differ and continue talking about the ballads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 12:43 PM

"Cindy (Pete Seeger), Yankee Doodle (Oscar Brand) and many, many, more "
Sorry Dick (Greenhaus) - don't understand your point - Seeger and Brand claim to have written Cindy and Yankee Doodle - surely not?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 01:59 PM

" . . . its high time all this nonsense about traditional singers being somehow superior [just because they learned orally, and regardless of singing abilty] is done and destroyed."

Not a question of quality, Cap'n. Traditional singers and revivalists are different animals, Bob Blake is the exception that proves the rule. How many other revivalists can you name who fooled collectors? Technology has changed, traditional lifeways have changed/evolved/withered and the context within which the anglo-speaking folksong developed simply does not exist anymore. Doesn't mean that we can't sing the songs, play the tunes, but let's not pretend we're all sturdy lumberjacks, muleskinners, and milkmaids.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:06 PM

jim,you made a statement, here are some more songs that have been found in broadsides/broadsheets.lakes oolfdfin, donnely and cooper, brennan on the moor, polly vaughan ,three jolly sportsmen, poison in a glass of wine.
i have been busy teaching music, so you will understand that i havent had much time to refute your statements.
whats all this squit about slagging off singers i have not mentioned anyone.
information ,now that is a valid point, I agree with you there
yes, on the other matter, we must agree to differ, what new pussycat?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:42 PM

Cap'n - "found on broadsides" does not necessarily equate with 'originated on broadsides', anyway it's not where the song came from but what happened to it that makes it a folksong. And who's to say that broadside writers were not 'of the people'?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Rozza
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:51 PM

Just so nobody goes looking for fragments of Robin Hood Ballads in Jessie Kydd's repertoire (she was my Great Aunt), I thought I should let you know that there aren't any. She had fragments of "Laird of Drum" and "Andrew Lammie". The complete songs she knew are online at:

Click here

Ruairidh

--------ClickyFix. JoeClone--------


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:54 PM

goose gander, more old squit.
traditional singers and revivalists are not necessarily different animals.
if you had listened to bob blake and bob lewis you could not have said there was any noticeable difference thay were both good singers who had absorbed a style they did it by a diiferent route but the end product was indistinguishable.
no one is pretending to be anything, what some of us do is listen and absorb style[yes, even us revivalists], now whether the song was learned from a written source or orally matters little in comparison to the overall absorption which comes from listening to many traditional/source singers, yes, listening to style is the important thing ,not whether the song was learned orally or from a written source.,
so revivalist singers can become indistinguishable from source singers by listening carefully to many source singers, but the actual song does not necessarily have to be learned orally.
i will rephrase that to originated on broadsides


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:56 PM

[they did it by a different route], should read they learned songs by a different method


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 02:57 PM

Goose(and Jim) what you say in essence is true particularly using the word 'necessarily' but the many people who have studied the broadside content in great detail tell us that the vast majority were written specifically by hacks to be sold in the streets, those that hadn't been pirated from other commercial sources that is. 'Of the people'. I'm certain the hacks were mostly of the people, but mostly earning a meagre living at it. ( We are informed that some of our most famous poets before they were famous earned a bob or two penning a few lines for these printers.)
The FACT is that 95% of what exists in the likes of Sharp, Hammond, Gardiner, Kidson, Broadwood etc has its earliest manifestation on a printed sheet of paper sold in the streets.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Rozza
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 03:00 PM

Or, via "Blue Clicky":

http://www.family-trees.org.uk/genealogy/showmedia.php?mediaID=406&medialinkID=706


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 03:18 PM

Ruairidh,
Will you please stop interrupting our petty irrelevant thread-drift with your vastly interesting relevant points of order?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 03:22 PM

"The FACT is that 95% of what exists in the likes of Sharp, Hammond, Gardiner, Kidson, Broadwood etc has its earliest manifestation on a printed sheet of paper sold in the streets."

True, but a piece of paper endures, while oral expression is emphemeral. I don't think we really know the degree to which broadside writers cribbed verses from singers they heard in pubs, alleys, etc. I know that Jim has recorded from travellers that singers sometimes recited songs to printers who then produced broadside-type sheets for sale.

Cap'n - It should be obvious that a traditional singer such as Texas Gadden - learning songs from friends and family in a cultural millieu where one does not have 5 million songs at the click of a mouse - is quite different from a revivalist who 'creates' his own body of work by picking and choosing from printed, recorded and electronic resources. To put it as simply as possible: anyone can become a revivalist simply by learning a few songs; a traditional singer in this day and age is a rare, and dwindling, breed. 'Howard McMinn' cloned from cuttings and sold in a nursery is not the same thing as wild manzanita growing in the hills of southern California.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 04:03 PM

Texas Gladden, it might be noted, did have a hell of a lot of books.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 04:12 PM

But she didn't simply decide at age 45 to become a ballad singer, learn some songs, and claim authenticity. She grew up singing, and around singing. Like many other traditional singers she learned songs from a variety of sources, I don't dispute that.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 04:12 PM

"here are some more songs that have been found in broadsides/broadsheets"
Cap'n - you said 'originated' on broadsides - I said that there is no proof where they originated. I am not arguing that singers didn't learn songs from broadsides or other forms of print, just saying that they did not originate there.
"the vast majority were written specifically by hacks to be sold in the streets,"
Steve, we've argued this in the past and no doubt will continue to do so in the future; but I say again - there is not one iota of proof that any song in the tradition was made by a broadside seller.
Apart from anything else, the existance of a school of poets (that's what they would have to be to produce a cohesive body of songs) with an expert grasp of the vernacuar, trade terms, folklore, place names, and all the things that went into the making of our songs and ballads, and manage to remain anonymous, is unlikely enough to be ludicrous.
As GG said, we recorded a Traveller who, with his mother, sold ballads on the streets of Kerry in the 30s and 40s.
We asked him if he made or knew anybody who had made songs tpecifically to sell on the sheets - his infinitely wise repy - "why should we? There were enough songs going around at the time without us having to go to all that trouble".
You appear to have conceded that bothy workers were more than capable of composing songs, then why not rural workers elsewhere, or sailors, mill workers.... or any community of people with expereinces in common?
Man is by nature a poetic beast driven to record their experiences in songs and poems. We must have recorded dozens of local songs here in West Clare on every subject under the sun, politics, work, emigration, new inventions, drinking.... all anonymous and all made during the lifetimes of the singers we got them from.
Walter Pardon gave us songs made for the newly re-formed Agricultural Workers Union, Travellers made songs about their experiences.... If they were capable of making songs, why on earth should they contract the work out?
Hi Ruairidh;
Sorry - my mistake, I was confusing your Aunt with another Jessie, (MacDonald) who sang a version of Robin Hood and the Tanner - apologies.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 04:43 PM

Jim Carroll wrote:- "Man is by nature a poetic beast driven to record their experiences in songs and poems.

Thank you for that, Jim. It is such a beautiful tribute to the creative spirit that can inspire anyone.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 06:01 PM

I really find it, insulting, that goose gander and jim carroll, can decide that only traditional singers can have absorbed the tradition, and that other singers who dont have this label, such as Ewan MacColl, bob blake, and others, who were fine singers and interpreters[but were revivalists]and excellent singers in the traditional style, have not absorbed the style.
the proof of the pudding is in the eating,and bob blake was as good as any of the traditional singers he associated with and unintentionally fooled mike yates.
john brune[ who nearly jeopardised MaCcOLLS RADIO BALLADS], managed to fool Ewan MacColl with his fake recording, which all goes to show that collectors are far too precious about the sanctity of oral transmission, and place far too much credence upon this as a matter of importance particularly when a lot of these so called traditional songs originated in a printed form .
to quote the words of Oliver Cromwell "you have been sat to long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, i say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god go,
I beseech you in the name of god to think you may be mistaken" .


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 06:07 PM

"Man is by nature a poetic beast driven to record their experiences in songs and poems" Jim

Both of you are looking at the past through rose-coloured spectacles.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, those few common men and women who were to any extent literate were slaves with no time to compose such pieces we now call folk songs. These writers were by and large specialists, albeit at the bottom of the literary pile. I'm quite happy to concede they were largely 'of the folk' but they were trying to eke out a living by penning these pieces.

I have never said that the songs were made by 'broadside sellers' though no doubt some were.

Your use of the word 'school' is inappropriate and inaccurate. these were individuals with a little talent and enterprising enough to spot a niche in the market.

I totally denounce your use of the word 'ludicrous'.

Not all of them remained anonymous. Do I have to repeat the list of songs written by John Morgan?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Rozza
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 06:39 PM

In my experience, for what it's worth, singers (and I think they would have accepted latter day enthusiasts as kindred spirits) learnt their songs from a variety of sources. One of my singers cycled twenty miles to Grasby top house to get a song from a renowned singer, who wrote it down for him. Others learnt the words from ballad sheets or garlands bought at hiring fairs etc and others from friends, family and other local singers. Some of my songs I find hard to sing because they hit emotional weak points. Have I qualified as traditional or should I go back to the prozac?

Ruairidh


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 07:03 PM

Jim,
There are several reasons why the pieces are largely anonymous. The chief one is the fact that we are talking about the very bottom of the literary market here. Half the time the printers didn't even bother to put their own names to the sheets never mind the poor fellows who sold them to them for a shilling. Another reason is that some of the writers would have been respected people in the community and some of their output as you well know was rather indelicate for the times, quite apart from the political pieces which you mention yourself.

Yes of course some of the sharper ones were simply rewriting earlier broadside songs and the percentage of alteration varied but they were still largely using the same body of material.

I'm sure you are aware that the bothy material is a very specialised , almost a one-off body of work. The farm labourers of NE
Scotland at that time were extremely isolated and were literally slaves. Several men lived in in the bothy and had little contact with the outside world. They entertained themselves in time-honoured fashion by making up songs about their harsh conditions and lampooning their employers. My own ancestors worked in a similar environment on the Wolds in East Yorkshire but were not quite as isolated and conditions were not quite as extreme. As far as I can glean they only had the one bothy song which was used universally for each farmer and this was not a broadside ballad (one of the 5%). The reason why these songs are not spread throughout Britain is that by the end of the 18thc very few places in Britain were so isolated or as poor. Notice I have not referred to literacy here. Paradoxically NE Scotland in the early 19thc enjoyed a rate of literacy among the poor well above the rest of Britain due to forward-thinking educationalists mainly in the church.

I have already conceded on several occasions that different conditions occurred both more recently and in the past in Ireland. But the tradition of composing local songs found in the 20th century in Ireland is certainly not typical of England. Whilst the making of local songs does continue in some rural areas in England thay rarely get any further than the maker.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 07:05 PM

"these were individuals with a little talent and enterprising enough to spot a niche in the market."
Writing song with a working knowledge of folklore, the vernacular, slang ad argot, working terms and accurately describing practices - give us a break Steve - some "little talent".
Our children on the streets made up songs from a young age - did they all of a sudden lose interest and throw in the towel.
Soldiers serving abroad scratched verses on the walls - and have done since they patrolled Hadrian's Wall.
I have given you the example of an area rich in traditional song, but also producing a body of dozens (that we have come across - more like hundreds) of local pieces dealing with things that made them laugh and cry and worry and get angry.....
Non-literate Travellers produced songs on a regular basis right up to the middle of the 1970s (and may well still be doing it).
What makes these particular people unique?
If bothy workers can produce a sizeable body of songs in their own language reflecting their own work experiences - why can't seamen working in very similar conditions do the same?
I have no doubt that some written songs were taken up and re-made, but to suggest that we owe our tradition to a body of, in your own words possessing "little talent" - sorry Steve, ludicrous is the word that springs to mind.
And what am I to make of the broadside trade as it was reported to us by somebody who was involved in it?
And no, 'school' is not inappropriate and inaccurate. The similarity of composition, the use of commonplaces, incremental repetition, similar rhyming patterns, phrasing, and other poetic techniques... and all the things that inspire people to say "I can't define it but I know it when I hear it", suggests a school of poetry (and music) by composers all singing from the same hymn sheet - or songs that have been made, smoothed off, rounded out, adapted... by people sharing common backgrounds and experiences, drawing from their every-day experiences and using their own natural mode of expression to comment on those experiences. They are as distinctive as 'expressionism' or 'cubism' or 'modernism' - certainly not the work of a scattered group of buisnessmen earning a crust for themselves.
If you have definite proof that 'the folk' didn't make their own folk songs - please produce it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 07:11 PM

Sorry you feel insulted, Cap'n. I did not say that only traditional singers have "absorbed the tradition" only that there is a distinction between those who grew up with a specific tradition in specific time and place and those (like myself) who have come to traditional music from a very different direction, as one of many varieties of music that we enjoy.

Here's an example of what I mean: My extended family were "Okies" who came to California during the Depression. They worked agricultural jobs, stayed in FSA camps, benefited from New Deal programs and eventually achieved middle-class prosperity. I vaguely remember music and snippets of songs from when I was very young, but I never learned any songs from any one of that social group. After an apprenticeship in DIY punk rock, I discovered Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and others. I learned a few songs and thought I was a 'folk singer'. As time went on, I dug deeper into traditional American music in all its myriad forms. One day I stumbled upon Voices From the Dust Bowl at American Memory, and I decided to dig work my way through it track by track, learning some songs and absorbing idiom, style, etc. I must have done something right (or something very wrong) because occasionally when playing and singing someone will remark that I must have learned these songs from my family, etc. "No," I tell them. "From recordings." Sorry, but I just can't flatter myself that I'm equivalent to a traditional singer. What I do is not the same thing.

And please don't quote that fanatic mass murderer at me, that's just bad taste.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Sep 10 - 07:16 PM

One thing we must also remember when talking about traditional singers is that the big names we keep bandying about are not TYPICAL traditional singers. Harry Cox, Bob Roberts, Walter Pardon etc were almost all minor celebrities in their own communities before they were discovered by the revival. They were entertainers. The vast majority of the traditional singers we recorded and those recorded by the likes of Sharp and Vaughan Williams only sang to amuse themselves, their own families and their own immediate communities in the local pub.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 03:55 AM

"They were entertainers."
It really didn't work like that Steve.
In England, the song tradition was very much in decay when Sharp was doing his rounds at the beginning of the 20th century; this happened much later here in rural Ireland, but by the fifties, active singing within the communities had almost, if not completely gone.
To describe singers like Walter Pardon as a-typical 'entertainers' was well wide of the mark; the same goes for Tom Lenihan in Clare and Mary Delaney and Bill Cassidy among the Travellers.
Those that made it to the folk clubs may have 'entertained' us, but their role was very different within their communities when the tradition was a living one.
Walter only ever sang at family Christmas parties just before (according to him) the traditition died out altogether, alongside family members who had at one time held status as singers within their communities (Walter was too young to have gained that status).
Sam Larner sang every Saturday night at a singing session at his local, The Fishermans Return, but he made a point of telling MacColl and Charles Parker that "the serious singing was done at home or at sea".
Mary Delaney was blind from birth, which limited her role in the Travelling community, but she was considered a major singer there.
Far from these singers being untypical, the evidence suggests that these, and other singers like Jeannie Robertson, the Stewarts, Joe Heaney and Paddy Tunney were very much representitives of how the singing tradition worked when alive. They were singers who had worked at developing their skills, had sizeable repertoires, had an opinion of the importance of their songs and (in the cases of a surviving tradition) had some sort of recogntion in their community as singers.
They were singers with a capital 'S'.
Attempting to draw conclusions on the singing traditions from our experiences in the latter half of the 20th century is a little like trying to assess the skills of a footballer after he has lost his leg in a car accident (sorry about the example - can't think of a better one).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 04:13 AM

"But the tradition of composing local songs found in the 20th century in Ireland is certainly not typical of England."
Sorry Steve - missed a bit last night.
We really don't know that this is the case.
We can guess that the early collectors were only interested in the national material and would not have bothered collecting local home-made pieces. We know for certain that Lancashire mill-workers made songs (I used to have a couple of collections of them). The same with Scots miners (Joe Corrie published a few collections). There were many poets like him in Scotland (referred to somewhat rudely as 'kail yaird (cabbage-patch) poets). We have examples of those on our shelves.
I've already mentioned the Agricultural Workers Union songs (Walter Pardon's The Old Man's Advice).
We really don't know how these copositions sat within the tradition, we do know they existed.
All this just underlines how little we really know about the song tradition; certainly not enough to make sweeping definitive statements
The desire to record experiences and emotions in verse seemed at one time to go with the territory of being a human being - I refuse to write that off as just being a commercial enterprise.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 10:23 PM

Thanks for those posts Jim, most illuminating. Particularly the phrase "The serious singing was done at home or at sea".


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 05:52 AM

In Ireland the songs, music and dancing were always home activities Patty.
One veteran fiddle player told us that it was when they started playing in the pubs that the music went downhill.
The tradition was that after a days work the locals would 'make their coor'; stroll over to a neighbour's house and swap songs, tunes, stories, or just chat. Some musiicians kept a spare instrument in a neighbouring house to save them the bother of carrying one over.
Regularlaly, dances would take place in the kitchens of some houses; the places with a reputation locally for music and song were known as 'céilí houses'.
Dancing and singing in the more remote areas took place at a crossroads in the open air; often there would be a platform built for the purpose.
The church was very much opposed to 'unsupervised gatherings' and priests forcibly broke up many of the crossroads dances, often smashing or confiscating the instruments. They disappeard completely with The Public Dance Halls Act - 1935, when the government introduced a tax on all such gatherings
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 06:25 AM

They disappeard completely with The Public Dance Halls Act - 1935, when the government introduced a tax on all such gatherings

That's interesting. In 1943 de Valera gave a St Patrick's Day speech about his ideal Ireland, which is widely remembered as including a line about comely maidens dancing at the crossroads. Actually there's no reference in the speech to dancing, at the crossroads or anywhere else. If they died out in the mid-1930s, it's easy to see why the image of dancing at the crossroads would have attached itself to the speech in people's minds. By 1943 it would have been a powerful image of bygone rural Ireland - definitely a thing of the past, but still within living memory.

(Also, if de Valera's own government effectively banned dancing at the crossroads, it's not hard to see why he wouldn't have mentioned it!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 07:08 AM

"Also, if de Valera's own government effectively banned dancing "
Fascinating subject - still taboo among some older people and spoken of in anger, even by devout Catholics and Republicans.
We were at a talk; a reminicence by the musician I mentioned in my previous post (who attended church at every oportunity), when he burst out "those were beautiful days, and my curse on those who ruined them".
We couldn't help but notice the ripple of embarrasment that went through the group of priests and nuns sitting in the row directly in front of us.
Complicated or what?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 08:12 AM

Sorry, didn't mean to start a thread drift, but I wanted to put singing in context.
These are the ballads still being sung in the tradition in this area, within a circle of about twenty miles, most of which we have been lucky enough to find versions of, but the most outstanding work was carried out by the Tom Munnelly, with 22,000 songs to his credit.
Singing isn't doing as well as music in Ireland or in this part of the world, where most of the traditional singers are dead.
There is an increasing interest in singing among young people, but it still has some way to go to catch up with the instrumental music scene (which is in rude health).
There is an increase in interest in Irish language songs, which are virtually all non-narrative, but the narrative songs, and most of the Anglo Irish songs have almost entirely disappeared from the repertoire.
BALLADS IN CLARE
20 The Cruel Mother. (not the children's version)
46 Captain Wedderburn's Courtship.
53 Young Beichan.
73 Lord Thomas And Fair Annet. (fragment)
74 Fair Margaret And Sweet William.
75 Lord Lovel. (among the most popular)
76 The Lass Of Roch Royal.
84 Bonny Barbara Allan
209 Geordie.
221 Katherine Jaffray.
272 The Suffolk Miracle (probably the most popular)
279 The Jolly Beggar.
281 The Keach In The Creel.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 08:17 AM

Should read "These are the ballads still being sung in the tradition in this area," up to thiry odd years ago.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 08:31 AM

apologies for further thread drift , but there is a interesting book called englands greatest spy "eamon de valera", by john j turi, published by stacey international.
eamonn de valeras original name was george de valero, his mother gave him the nicknme, eddie.
there is some possibilty that his father was not de valero, but his[eamons] mothers employer,mr giraud, but this has not been proven ,neither was it proven whether de valero was the father.
    "in ireland the songs music and dancing were always home activities"
sorry that is in correct, music was played at threshings, and there were also crossroad dances, in fact in Matt Cranitch fiddle tutor there is a picture of dancers at ventry outside in the street c 1906.
always is incorrect ,jim.
I knew an old fiddler who was bon in the 1920s and he told me he played fiddle music at threshings, ihave no reason to think he was not telling the truth


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 08:41 AM

the photograph in the Cranitch book is village dancing ventry 1890, courtesy of collection of ireland.
i also have a friend [a dubliner] who did maypole dancing when he was a boy in ireland,that would be 65 years ago, maypole dancing is not normally done in a house, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 08:52 AM

Maypole and country dancing for families with youngsters at: .... "which Sir Anthony St. Leger saw danced in Ireland, in 1540,
   and then ...wexford mummers which appears to originate at the beginning of the twentiueth century, are you saying? that the wexford muumers always performed in a house?
then there is some record of mummers plays being perfomed in dublin outside in mediaeval times.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Sep 10 - 09:39 PM

Many are still alive in the Southern Appalachians.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Sep 10 - 07:20 AM

Well - if nobody else wants 100 - thanks very much
100.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Child Ballads survived in oral trad.
From: Booklynrose
Date: 13 Sep 10 - 01:35 PM

Good thread! The all day ballad forum in Lewes mentioned by Valmai Goodyear sounds wonderful, but who can travel so far? I'd invite you to a weekend with a lot of ballad singers November 5-7 a couple of hours outside New York City. A Festival of Traditional Music, Eisteddfod, put on by the Folk Music Society of NY features excellent musicians and many sessions of ballads. Among the musicians who will be there, I must mention Lorraine Hammond who learned ballads from a farm hand, supporting this thread's distinction between those who learned from a "genuine source singer" and those less directly linked to tradition. Of course she is also a top notch singer. Info at http://www.eisteddfod-ny.org


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