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Where are songs being passed on? (UK)

Richard from Liverpool 21 Apr 12 - 11:20 AM
Bert 21 Apr 12 - 11:29 AM
Artful Codger 21 Apr 12 - 11:54 AM
wysiwyg 21 Apr 12 - 12:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Apr 12 - 12:51 PM
mg 21 Apr 12 - 12:55 PM
Richard from Liverpool 21 Apr 12 - 01:05 PM
r.padgett 24 Apr 12 - 02:47 AM
The Sandman 24 Apr 12 - 05:41 AM
Ged Fox 24 Apr 12 - 12:34 PM
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Subject: Where are songs being passed on?
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 11:20 AM

There have been lots of discussions here about the survival of traditional song, etc., but they usually start out with a negative point of view (i.e. proclaiming its death), or degenerate into a discussion on "what is folk?", in which someone starts going on about fecking horses. So apologies if I'm covering familiar ground, but I wanted to start off from another direction.

My question is: in what areas of life in the British Isles is it still meaningful to talk about the oral transmission of songs?

You only have to look at the thread listing Ron Baxter's songs collected during his Merchant Navy days to see that people didn't stop making up and passing on songs during the 20th century. But "aha!" comes the reply from the cynic: "even that source has dried up now; the Merchant Navy ain't what it used to be". Ok then, so where else might someone find songs being passed on? I have a couple of tentative suggestions:

1) Songs for infants: Since having a kid a couple of years ago, taking the kid around to various playgroups etc., it's become clear that people do learn and pass on songs to sing for and with their children, and more than once a week I'm sitting around in a circle with other parents joining in songs. There are all sorts of these: story songs, counting songs, nursery rhymes, etc. In terms of how they are memorised and passed on, they contain a lot of repetition, which makes them 'catchy'; it's also a context where people don't feel shy about singing, because they're with their kid and it's just part of playing. Speaking personally, several of the songs that get sung to my kid are recognisable as traditional songs, learned in turn as children; I sing Coulter's Candy to my son, remembering it from the singing of my uncle from Govan; my wife is American and sings "I've been working on the railroad all the live-long day".

2) Sports songs: One of my hobby horses as a Liverpool F.C. fan (I've started threads about this before); we don't have to get into debates about whether You'll never walk alone etc. as sung on the terraces is a folk song, because it's clear enough that there are many songs that emerge from the community of fans that are passed on down the years in pubs and in the grounds. e.g. Poor Scouser Tommy (Liverpool F.C.), Every Other Saturday (Rangers F.C. and Liverpool F.C.), the Chip Butty Song (Sheffield United). Sports clubs can also be a good places for the preservation of folk songs from the area; all Newcastle United F.C. fans know the chorus of Blaydon Races, and a good number know the whole thing; I also saw a discussion recently by Crewe Alexandra fans who recalled singing Poor Paddy Works on the Railway. In Ireland, I've heard various songs from GAA members in County Cork, including Up up Newmarket, and The Bold Thady Quill.

3) Village carols: This is a guess, someone will have to fill me in on this; are the village carols sung around Sheffield etc orally transmitted? Are they the product of a revival, or something that goes back year on year?

4) Pub singing in general: This is a lot more dubious, but still worth thinking about. I was at a singaround in The Lion tavern, Liverpool, on the Thursday at the start of the Grand National meet. By chance, other people turned up and joined in; one singer who was there by chance had a vast knowledge of songs that by the sounds of it suggested he'd heard a lot of recorded folk music; but others who joined in and were definitely not 'folkies' had a good working knowledge of a handful of songs, mostly Irish (e.g. Wild Colonial Boy) but also Liverpool songs like Maggie May. It would be foolish to proclaim pub singing as a continuing fount of traditional song, but it's probably worth pondering what songs are still part of people's consciousness from singing along after a few pints.


So yeah, to stop stringing out what's basically a very simple question: in the British Isles today, what are the contexts where songs are being passed on?


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on?
From: Bert
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 11:29 AM

Family gatherings and parties.

Bus rides.


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 11:54 AM

Filking (gak!)


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Subject: Anyclone help request
From: wysiwyg
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 12:41 PM

OP sez:

... in what areas of life in the British Isles is it still meaningful to talk about the oral transmission of songs? ....

So might a clone amend thread title to UK?

Cuz in the US-- it's a different thing entirely.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 12:51 PM

all songs have been passed by the management......


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on?
From: mg
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 12:55 PM

I don't know..I would like to see how they do it here and there and elsewher..where I live the oyster work is done a lot by Mexican Americans and they say you can hear them out on the bay at night as they gather oysters...i HAVE HEARd them as they shuck in the old canneries next to where we have our music camp and sing songs about working whilst sitting down...

Also I passed some teenagers huddled outside a bar recently...they were trying to rememember the words to a song..not from Glee but some old Polish song...so it is going on..

Also, a good radio station such as we have here can do a lot. Plus we could do quite a bit more in the schools with community people coming in and leading songs...mg


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on?
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 01:05 PM

Apologies to wysiwyg, when I started the thread, it didn't give me space for enough characters to state the locale!

Having said that, I'm not disinterested in other places (as I mentioned above, my wife is American, and I have a copy of the Prarie Home Companion folk song book which is full of stuff passed on like this). Just that speaking personally, I'm more actively interested in the British Isles setting 'cos that's where I'm from...


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on? (UK)
From: r.padgett
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 02:47 AM

Richard point 3 above
Village carols

The Sheffield carolling tradition is alive well and thriving

The most popular pub for carolling is the Royal at Dungworth, a country pub middle of nowhere. Carolling starts first Sunday lunch after Armistice day and singing in very many pubs around Sheffield and into Derbyshire. It is ai believe a Living Tradition and passed on initially by word of mouth and added to by choirs such as Bolsterstone, Penistone and the like and odd songs picked up and popularised by local singers (eg Will Noble)

Goes across into Sth Yorks and some songs I know sung in Barnsley and Cleckheaton and Huddersfield in W Yorks at Christmas

the folk clubs have done a great deal to continue the singing tradition too and Sheffield currently has a lot of younger singers Hield/Boden/Fagan/Kerr/Richard Jess Arrowsmith/Davenports/ and a pub scene for alcoholics to thrive. Fagan's, Grapes, Kelham island Irish others genres

O must not forget Dr (Prof) Ian Russell who has worked for years recording and fostering the Local Carols
Ray


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on? (UK)
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 05:41 AM

on you tube.visit dick miles music on you tube. here is just onehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUoZkOw02uE


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Subject: RE: Where are songs being passed on? (UK)
From: Ged Fox
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 12:34 PM

Camp fires - scouts, guides & re-enactors


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