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Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion

meself 13 Dec 10 - 10:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Dec 10 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Rupert Murdoch 13 Dec 10 - 10:28 AM
Will Fly 13 Dec 10 - 10:38 AM
BobKnight 13 Dec 10 - 12:10 PM
mikesamwild 13 Dec 10 - 12:21 PM
Crowhugger 13 Dec 10 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,guest gutcher 13 Dec 10 - 01:10 PM
Jack Blandiver 13 Dec 10 - 02:31 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Dec 10 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,John Moulden 14 Dec 10 - 08:28 AM
GUEST 14 Dec 10 - 11:14 AM
Lighter 14 Dec 10 - 11:46 AM
meself 14 Dec 10 - 11:56 AM
mikesamwild 15 Dec 10 - 09:45 AM
mikesamwild 17 Dec 10 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 17 Dec 10 - 09:18 AM
Artful Codger 17 Dec 10 - 10:13 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Dec 10 - 04:17 AM
mikesamwild 18 Dec 10 - 07:12 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Dec 10 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,DEsi C 18 Dec 10 - 11:12 AM
ollaimh 18 Dec 10 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Doug Saum 18 Dec 10 - 02:56 PM
mikesamwild 19 Dec 10 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 19 Dec 10 - 07:26 AM
mikesamwild 22 Dec 10 - 06:16 AM
Stringsinger 22 Dec 10 - 11:37 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Dec 10 - 02:51 PM
mikesamwild 23 Dec 10 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Pat 'de Verse' 23 Dec 10 - 01:25 PM
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Subject: Ballad Singers Under Attack
From: meself
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 10:22 AM

"The Scandalous Practice of Ballad-singing, is the Bane of all good Manners and Morals, a Nursery for Idlers. Whores and Pickpockets, a School for Scandal, Smut and Debauchery, and ought to be entirely suppressed, or reduced under proper Restriction. If Ballads do not, yet they ought to come under the Stamp Act, and the Law looks on Ballad-singers as Vagrants."

---"J.Ralph", the Grub-Street Journal, May 1733


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 10:26 AM

What did 'Ballad' mean then? Any old street / popular song maybe?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,Rupert Murdoch
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 10:28 AM

There can do no doubt about it. The scribes of yesteryear had a way with the written word, sadly lacking in today`s profession.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 10:38 AM

...a Nursery for Idlers. Whores and Pickpockets, a School for Scandal, Smut and Debauchery...

This ballad singing lark sounds great. Might have a crack at this...


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: BobKnight
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 12:10 PM

Given all the capital letters, I'd say the writer was mentally ill. Yes, I know it was written in the 18th century - tongue firmly in cheek.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 12:21 PM

I think it referred to the people who sold sheets of song words and sang the tune in the street often in a high reedy voice to cut across the noise. hence the folky voice!


In many cases people got hold of the words and fitted a local tune if they didn't know the one recommended.


The oral tradition was well bolstered by these song sheets but very few of the authors get acknowledged tll we got to published song books etc


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Crowhugger
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 12:24 PM

I auditioned for the Stamp Act!


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,guest gutcher
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 01:10 PM

And here was me thinking my problem was B.O.-----not ballad oddball!


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 02:31 PM

the Bane of all good Manners and Morals, a Nursery for Idlers. Whores and Pickpockets, a School for Scandal, Smut and Debauchery,

Sounds like my kind of thing; shame there's not more of that in the Ballad Scene today, which is far too respectable by far.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 03:01 PM

"I think it referred to the people who sold sheets of song words"
Exactly - here in Ireland, the term 'ballad' is still used for the song sheets sold around fairs and markets right up to the mid-fifties, usually by Travellers - we never met a traditional singer here who hadn't learned songs from them.
Bert Lloyd once claimed that at one stage in history those caught selling ballad were arrested and had a hole burned through the flesh of their ear for a first offence.
The White Hart Irish music pub in Fulham - now sadly 'modernised' used to have a notice on the wall threatening prosecution to "Rogues, thieves, pickpockets and ballad sellers".
Jim


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 08:28 AM

Jim is quite right, the term 'ballad', until it was appropriated by students of English literature, referred to a piece of paper with the words of a song, or songs, printed (or often written) on it.

For a longer discussion see Albert Friedmann, The Ballad Revival: Studies in the Influence of Popular on Sophisticated Poetry (1961) p. 35 "… the term 'ballad' was first, and until the end of the eighteenth century, almost exclusively used for the broadside ballads hawked about the streets of London and provincial centers and at country fairs." and Hyder E. Rollins, A Pepysian Garland: Black-Letter Broadside Ballads of the Years 1595-1639 (1922, reprinted 1971) p. ix "The unhistoric restriction of the term to the English and Scottish "popular" ballads is a development of the nineteenth century. ... readers may be reminded that to Shakespeare, Johnson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Dryden and Pepys the word ballad had in general one meaning only: namely, a song … that was printed on a broadside and sold in the streets by professional singers."


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 11:14 AM

"the Bane of all good Manners and Morals, a Nursery for Idlers. Whores and Pickpockets, a School for Scandal, Smut and Debauchery"

Sounds like The Beech in Chorlton on a Wednesday night!

Ged   ; )


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 11:46 AM

Later developments would have sent him over the edge.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: meself
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 11:56 AM

I'm just surprised he left out the beards, Arran sweaters, and fingers-in-the-ears ....


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 09:45 AM

I love the idea of a packman or later a stagecoach dropping off a batch of the current ballads to be sold on cash or return maybe or at a farthing each then sold on in the street.

A bit like Big Issue today. 'Knock knock , who's there?, bigish, bigishwho?, no thanks I've just got one'

When I was a young lad we went climbing in the Highlands and slept in an old abandoned cottage. pasted on the wall were some old balad sheets and a picture of various Coronations and Royal Weddings etc

Culture and draught proofing!


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 08:59 AM

Oh and the whiny reedy voice seems common to those street ballad singers and Big Issue sellers, though they have my support do the Big Issue sellers, oh and some ballad singers too, although I remember a long time ago when they led to burn out in clubs and led to indifference by many in the audiences, self indulgent maybe?.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 09:18 AM

To be fair, you can make a shit job of any kind of music and drive the people away.

I think the reason there are so very few people who can do it properly - is that it is very disciplined stuff. It doesn't have the freedom of form that great poetry has - so the music and pacing have to be pretty damn near perfect. there are fewer good ballad singers than good Shakespearian actors.

And for some reason it seems to attract folks who just want to read it from a folder in a sing song voice.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 10:13 PM

Ah yes, let's take the folk out of "folk" and leave it strictly to the self-styled pros. The folk do their own music so badly.

Getting back on topic, can you imagine what depths of depravity the writer would have described after hearing rap ... or seeing "Cats"?


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 04:17 AM

"Oh and the whiny reedy voice seems common to those street ballad singers"
You mean like Margart Barry Mike?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 07:12 AM

Justa comparison with our local Big isue sellers. MB cut across by sheer power Jim! But there are anough accounts of poor singers, granted they were often by 'genteel' writes with their art agenda.


How do we account for the revival folkie affectation then?


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 09:34 AM

Mike:
Ballad selling - singing was a common feature of Irish life right up to the mid 1950s.
Our collection includes over 100 tapes of singing, storytelling, folklore and information from Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy who sang and sold ballads on the streets in Kerry right up to 1950 when he moved to England.
He describes at length the voice production necessary to be heard at, say a cattle market, or in a traffic-filled town. He made a definite distinction between street, pub and 'fireside' singing - three distinct styles quite often adopted by the same singer.
I'm convinced that the myth of 'the tinker's style' (sometimes referred to as The Tinker's Whine') arises from a combination of singing in the open air over background noise, and a breakdown of traditional singing style, when singers took on characteristics of pub crooning.
The 'Big Issue' voice (I've yet to hear one sing, but would love to do so as many of them are, certainly in Dublin, from Eastern Europe, some from the Roma communities) is a universal one used in begging throughout the world.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,DEsi C
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 11:12 AM

Oh good, I can now bill myself as An immoral debauched baladeer, great stuff ;)


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: ollaimh
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 02:20 PM

i agree with mr ralph, except he seems to think those are bad things.

i'm quite happy with balldry debauchrie and idleness


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,Doug Saum
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 02:56 PM

Ballad (word derived from "ballet") is a story song most often in pentameter (alt. tetrameter-trimeter) often participatory with audience joining in dance or singning (esp. choruses and refrains). Since audiences need to join in with a group and most contemporary digital entertainments are focused on the private experience, ballad popularity is waning. At least it is in a dormant phase. The charm of ballads runs deep and I expect they will rise again.

Ballads - 1   Puritans -0


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 07:11 AM

Thanks Jim , that's what I was hoping for . I have just been listening to some Mongolian singers and they use all the cavities from chest to head and can sing several notes at the same time to harmonise.


I am interested as to whether 'nasal' singing was looked down on because art singing was opera based and it was a clas and aesthetic issue.

I agree that indoor singing by a sean nos singer is different from what would be needed at a fair or busy market.

Again, why did/do so many revivalists get it wrong?


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 07:26 AM

The thing is that in those days - lots of people did it. So the techniques could be seen on every street corner.

Face the facts - its an artform that's ben pretty much lost. you can see guys like Carthy or the late Ewan MacColl making a brave stab at guessing how it might have been. But Martin's livelihood (thank God) doesn't rely on how many copies of a broadsheet he can flog at a ha'penny a time from a pitch in the street. he doesn't have to subdue a roomful of pissed up vikings with his story telling skills.

It must have been very different.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 06:16 AM

Yup! Buskers aren't quite the same.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 11:37 AM

As I understand it, a ballad is a narrative song in folk music. In jazz, it's a general slow sophisticated song that also tells a story but is contrasted from an uptempo rhythmic tune.

Any attempt to academize ballad singing is nuts. There is not one way to sing a ballad.
The narrowing of parameters for the singing of ballads is pedantic and futile.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 02:51 PM

"Any attempt to academize ballad singing is nuts. "
Not really - 'academising' ballads - lifting the corner to look underneath - in no way suggests that there is only one way to sing a ballad, it is merely taking a closer look at them.
Ballads, because of their age and the distance some of them have travellered, bring a great deal of information with them - read Wimberly's Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads, for intance, or Evelyn Wells' The Ballad Tree, or Willa Muir's Living With Ballads, or Madge Elder's Tell The Towers Thereof, or Ballad Country - a whole load of literature which discusses the ballads in context.
Not all of this is relevant to the singing of ballads, but a hell of a lot helps you understand things which may not be obvious, which may be helpful to a singer.
Ignoring this information as a point of principle is 'nuts' to my mind.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: mikesamwild
Date: 23 Dec 10 - 10:55 AM

I agree Jim , all that human experience and skill is worth studying. How many people have the good fortune to grow up hearing songs within a tradition and all that implies. going to a voice coach just isn't the same .

By the way my sister Dolores sends her good wishes, she says she knew you in Manchester in the 50s.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Singing: A Dissenting Opinion
From: GUEST,Pat 'de Verse'
Date: 23 Dec 10 - 01:25 PM

far too respectable by far (S.O'P)
scribes of yesteryear had a way with the written word, sadly lacking in today`s profession. (Rupert Murdoch....whoever he might be?)

Not in Ireland, my friends, where our foolish politicians, corrupt business & bank confraternity give us more than enough ammunition to work on, check out Seán Mone, Con'fada' O'Drisceoil, Brian O'Rourke, Mick 'Twangman' Dunne, or myself Pat 'de Verse' for that matter. Problem is that many of our songs could never be published (something about the laws of libel, I fear), but on the grapevine, in little-known singing clubs, singing weekends and hidden sessions, they come to life. Long Live the 'Guardians of the Living Tradition'!


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