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Dave Harker, Fakesong

Phil Edwards 10 Aug 15 - 05:57 AM
Will Fly 10 Aug 15 - 06:16 AM
Dave Hanson 10 Aug 15 - 06:19 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Aug 15 - 06:28 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Aug 15 - 06:35 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Aug 15 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,matt milton 10 Aug 15 - 07:03 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Aug 15 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Lighter 10 Aug 15 - 07:39 AM
Will Fly 10 Aug 15 - 08:44 AM
Will Fly 10 Aug 15 - 08:48 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Aug 15 - 09:01 AM
Will Fly 10 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Aug 15 - 11:15 AM
Jack Campin 10 Aug 15 - 11:23 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Aug 15 - 11:35 AM
The Sandman 10 Aug 15 - 01:11 PM
Jack Campin 10 Aug 15 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,surreysinger sans cookie 10 Aug 15 - 01:27 PM
The Sandman 10 Aug 15 - 02:33 PM
Will Fly 10 Aug 15 - 03:01 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Aug 15 - 04:55 PM
oggie 10 Aug 15 - 05:12 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Aug 15 - 05:28 PM
Phil Edwards 10 Aug 15 - 06:06 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 15 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Chris Wright 11 Aug 15 - 12:18 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Aug 15 - 12:42 AM
GUEST,Chris Wright 11 Aug 15 - 12:57 AM
GUEST,matt milton 11 Aug 15 - 04:54 AM
Steve Gardham 11 Aug 15 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,jim younger guest 11 Aug 15 - 01:52 PM
Vic Smith 11 Aug 15 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 11 Aug 15 - 05:39 PM
Lighter 11 Aug 15 - 06:17 PM
Jack Blandiver 12 Aug 15 - 06:56 AM
Lighter 12 Aug 15 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie) 12 Aug 15 - 09:04 AM
Stanron 12 Aug 15 - 09:31 AM
Lighter 12 Aug 15 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 12 Aug 15 - 10:16 AM
The Sandman 12 Aug 15 - 05:42 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Aug 15 - 06:02 PM
MGM·Lion 13 Aug 15 - 01:45 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Aug 15 - 01:53 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Aug 15 - 03:07 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Aug 15 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,matt milton 13 Aug 15 - 05:28 AM
Vic Smith 13 Aug 15 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,matt milton 13 Aug 15 - 07:35 AM
Vic Smith 13 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM
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Subject: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 05:57 AM

Review here: Fakesong.

Some time ago, in a discussion on the Cat, I was taken to task by Georgina Boyes for bloviating on the subject of her & Dave Harker's contributions to the study of folksong without actually having read them. Fair point.

I have now read Fakesong - it took a while - and written a review. I'm not sure my opinion's changed very much, but it's definitely better informed.

Review of The Imagined Village to follow - probably in about 2017.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:16 AM

Thanks for the blog review, Phil, which I found very interesting.

I've never read "Fakesong", as it happens, but was curious to see what you made of it after having read several threads/posts about that book on this forum over the years.

I've always thought it necessary to have a positive and firm agenda if you write a scholarly book, but it seems that the agenda of this work is so closed as to be pretty pointless - this from your review.

So, I can't see myself opening up "Fakesong" in the near future - but I'm tempted!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:19 AM

You summed your attitude up with your first sentence, ' I'm not a true believer in folk '

I therefore fail to understand your purpose, and you really ought to know that the boredom factor of the average Mudcat user is 1 page length, so, all in all not a lot of point in posting it here.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:28 AM

Dave Harker set out to show that folk song did not exist. In the end, all he demonstrated was that he didn't want to study it.

Phil Edwards set out to write a review of Fakesong. In the end all he demonstrated that he didn't really agree with it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:35 AM

Jack Blandiver set out to... aah, never mind.

Dave - not sure I get your point. Not being a "true believer" ought to make me more sympathetic to Harker's debunking approach.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:50 AM

Can't help thinking this all a bit behind the fair. My brief review of Fakesong appeared in The Times of November 8 1986. Near as dammit 30 years ago. Still in print then? And still got readers? Crikey!

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 07:03 AM

Wow, thanks Phil. A lot of nails hit on the head there.If only all academics wrote as clearly and perceptively as you!

There's a big difference between disagreeing with the argument of a work; and demonstrating exactly how and why that argument is flawed. Your review does the latter.

I've wanted to read Fakesong for a while, and would have bought it if I could have found an affordable copy on Amazon. I don't think I'll bother now.

I had millions of similar problems with the Imagined Village - I eventually gave up in frustration over all the inconsistencies and muddled writing in it. The lack of conscientiousness angered me: it says it's going to do X (sort of), then does Y, then points to an instance of Z saying it's evidence of X. Woeful chicanery of bad faith.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 07:27 AM

Matt - you're too kind! TIV is next on my list; I'm hoping for the best.

I doubt Fakesong is still in print, Michael - I borrowed the copy I read from a university library. I could have read it in 1985 - I'm old enough - but I only got into traditional music about ten years ago. People discover these things in their own time - rather late in my case, maybe.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 07:39 AM

A very fair review, Phil.

I read Fakesong not long after it appeared. Harker's passion initially impressed me. But his polemics undermine the valuable biographical and textual information he's gathered.

What Harker shows should (but didn't always) go without saying: that folksong texts and collections, like almost everything else, are complicated artifacts not to be taken simply at face value. Fair enough. But what he thinks he shows - that a pure proletarian art was vitiated by self-seekers and frauds - is rather different. So is the idea, as Phil says, that "traditional song" doesn't exist. Harker seems to confuse conceptual categorization (lumping similar things together) with difficulty of definition (saying just why they should be lumped together). By that standard, poetry clearly does not exist; in fact, few things do.

Harker's relentless attacks on long-dead enthusiasts, his dismissal of all their efforts as bad faith and (even in the case of great talents like Walter Scott) bad art, and his tendentious sorting of the world into simple class-based camps of good and evil, make Fakesong - even aside from its alleged fudging and factual errors - a rather unpleasant and less than satisfying read. However, it is worth looking at - with appropriate caution - for the light it sheds on collectors and interpreters.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 08:44 AM

Harker's book is out of print - but you can get a used paperback copy from Amazon for £60 minimum...


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 08:48 AM

Checking the book on Amazon, I saw that there were two reviews, one of them containing this link:

18 Fakesong in an Imagined Village? A Critique of the Harker - Boyes Thesis

More reading for me...


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 09:01 AM

Yes, that's the David Gregory review I mention in my post. He's not crazy about TIV either.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM

I thought his analysis of TIV (which I have read) was quite good. I discovered that Athabasca University is in Canada - I wonder whether they have a faculty or department which covers traditional music.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 11:15 AM

I think we have reached a consensus on "Folk" tunes:

.........the role of tune books has a very long and central history in the survival and evolution of English dance tunes.

One of the earliest publications was "The English Dancing Master" published in London in 1651 by John Playford. This volume contained the figures and the tunes for 105 English country dances and a number of the tunes first published there appear in our collection.

Across the intervening 350 or so years thousands and thousands of tunes have survived and evolved because people enjoy dancing together on social occasions and because they are great little tunes. Some were printed, published and sold in collections and some were written down with pen and ink by musicians for their own personal use. Sometimes musicians played for grand balls, dressed well and lived a good life. Others played elsewhere on the social scale. The tunes have passed back and forth between those who could 'read' and those who learned and played 'by ear'.

Has the journey for "Folk" songs been much different?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 11:23 AM

BTW if you want a copy of "Fakesong" it's going to cost you:

second-hand copies available


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 11:35 AM

Blimey; will you look at those prices!

I've still got my original copy in prime condition. Will sell it to first to write to me with their address to send it to, for £15, inc postage, & will enclose invoice and trust to receive payment in return.

MICHAEL GROSVENOR MYER  
34 West End   
Haddenham  
Cambridge CB6 3TE


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 01:11 PM

The best thing to do with songs is sing them.
Lets not beat about the bush Harker is an intellectual wanker.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 01:25 PM

He was wrong about a lot of things, but it's better that book had been written than not; there is useful and enlightening content in it. He was no more unreasonably opinionated than you are and wrote far better.

I'm not about to pay 60 quid (or even 15) for my own copy, though.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,surreysinger sans cookie
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 01:27 PM

Will. Athabasca University is a sort of Canadian equivalent of our Open University. Dave Gregory is, or was, an Associate Professor there, and the programmer for the B.A. (Humanities) course. His research area is the history of popular music, particularly the folksong revival in Canada and the United Kingdom.He has written a fair few papers on the subject, and published quite a few books, including "Victorian Songhunters: The Recovery and Editing of English Vernacular Ballads and Folk Lyrics, 1820-1883 (2006) and "The Late Victorian Folksong Revival: The Persistence of English Melody, 1878-1903 (2010)". When I was last in contact with him he was in the process of writing a work on Lucy Broadwood - I have not yet heard how that is/was faring. Hope that answers a couple of queries?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 02:33 PM

"He was no more unreasonably opinionated than you are and wrote far better."
hilarious and Grammatically incorrect, it should be
He was no more unreasonably opinionated than you but his writing style was better.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 03:01 PM

Cheers, Irene - thanks for the info.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 04:55 PM

Jon Lighter gives a very fair summary. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's unfortunate that such a highly criticised book is the only one so far that gives an overview of all the fakery over the centuries. The fakery exists in many different forms and was done for many different reasons.

By the way, Phil, I agree with much of what you say in the review but nowhere have I said that all English folk songs derive from broadsides. I strongly believe that about 95% derive from some form of commercial activity in towns (including broadsides) and I can demonstrate easily that 89% have their earliest extant forms in this medium.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: oggie
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 05:12 PM

From memory, it's a long time since I read it, in the intro he says something to the effect that this is written for my colleagues in the SWP to be the final arbiters of and I don't care for the judgement of any others.

At that point it couldn't go any further down hill, it was written as a point scoring exercise for one faction of the left over another faction. That central bias weakens it as a work that could have been a fascinating treatise and looms as the elephant in the room over it's many pages.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 05:28 PM

Nicely put, oggie.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:06 PM

Steve - thanks, I'll revise the review!

One of the things I found most frustrating about the book was that I really wanted to know more about the fakery - I'm fascinated by things like Child dismissing Tam Lin as a "grossly modern invention" or Chambers attributing Sir Patrick Spens to Elizabeth Wardlaw. On several occasions Harker indicates that some of such-and-such a collection was clearly faked-up and then leaves it there. The implicit question he's answering is "did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No. But that's not very informative. What I wanted to know is how much of those collections does represent products of oral culture (even if ultimately traceable to print sources); saying "Not all of them by any means" is a start, but it's only a start.

oggie - I've got the book here (balanced rather precariously on my knee as I type). It's got an odd structure: Introduction, 11 chapters, then a two-page Conclusion and a two-page Appendix devoted to Harker himself. As far as I can see the only reference to the SWP is in the Appendix - and he doesn't suggest at this point that other factions of the Left are wrong. Writing about himself in the third person, he says that in 1982 a series of work & political pressures "drove him to reading and writing so as to keep his head together." Then: "How far he succeeded in doing so, and whether the effort was worth it, will be best judged by his comrades in the Gorton Branch of the SWP and those in other socialist parties." That's the last sentence of the book.

You may have been remembering Chapter 11, which is rather unnecessarily rude about the Communist Party while talking about Bert Lloyd; I was going to say something about this in my review but thought I'd done enough complaining.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 15 - 06:48 PM

> "did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No.

Because nobody can do the impossible.

Taken together, however, and with special emphasis on 20th century collecting and recording as a control, they seem overall to have done a pretty good job - partly because the worst fakery is usually obvious (because so sophisticated) and, in a few cases like that of Baring-Gould, the fakers were proud of their work.

And if, for example, Burns was the principal genius behind the canonical "Tam Lin," so much the better for "Tam Lin."

It is good, however, to know who likely contributed what and when.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Chris Wright
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 12:18 AM

Michael - I've put a letter in the post to you today.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 12:42 AM

Thank you, Chris. As first to respond, you shall have precedence.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Chris Wright
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 12:57 AM

Thanks, Michael.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 04:54 AM

"did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No.
Because nobody can do the impossible.
Taken together, however, and with special emphasis on 20th century collecting and recording as a control, they seem overall to have done a pretty good job - partly because the worst fakery is usually obvious (because so sophisticated) and, in a few cases like that of Baring-Gould, the fakers were proud of their work."

That's a good summing-up, GUEST. One of my frustrations with The Imagined Village (not having read Fakesong) is how little engagement there is WITH THE SONGS THEMSELVES. I can't actually remember there being any at all. It seems truly bizarre that anybody would write at length on this subject, yet not engage with the CONTENT. The words.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 01:32 PM

AS I wrote earlier mediating the material for publication over the centuries has been done for different reasons and in different ways so we have to be careful when condemning that we treat the perpetrators in the spirit of their own times and take into consideration their reasons.

One of the big factors was they were preparing the material to be accepted by a discerning literary/musical audience and for various reasons the material couldn't be presented as found. However there is a big difference between this and claiming the mediated material was printed exactly as it came from the memories of the sources when patently this is a deception.

In Sharp's case we have no problems with his bowdlerisation. He had little choice and his manuscripts appear to contain the genuine article. The problem here is his romanticising of the material leading people to believe the material originated amongst the peasantry of Merrie Englande when this is patently not the case.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jim younger guest
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 01:52 PM

When I read Fakesong, I was struck by the glee the author seemed to take in Alfred Wiliams's disappointing ( to say the least) last years. Now, if only AW had been a Marxist ... or a even member of a forerunner of the SWP ... he might have been given more sympathetic treatment.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 05:24 PM

Steve Gardham makes an important point -
"Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."


I read this book not long after it came out. My initial memory of reading it was initially how much I disagreed with it. But it also made me think deeply about the subject about why I disagreed with it and helped me form my own opinions. In fact this thread makes me want to read it again - but when I look at my shelves of folk music books, it is no longer there!

I can also remember disagreeing strongly with Bob Stewart's 1988 book Where is St. George? and found the disagreement thought-provoking.... though less stimulating than the Harker book because it was less well written.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 05:39 PM

My basic impression of Harker's book was that he appeared to marshalling 'evidence' he liked the look of to deliver what he considered would be a knockout blow against somebody or some people, but then never swung his fist forward. I was left rather bemused. I was interested to learn from Maggie Mackay of the School of Scottish Studies that she was similarly frustrated by the lack of delivery at the end. We were left puzzled at who it was he was trying to convict.
From the above it looks like others managed to get the point more clearly than we did.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 06:17 PM

Yesterday's 6:48 pm GUEST was me.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 06:56 AM

I can also remember disagreeing strongly with Bob Stewart's 1988 book Where is St. George? and found the disagreement thought-provoking.... though less stimulating than the Harker book because it was less well written.

I found my old copies of both of these recently whilst re-arranging my folk-shelves. Even took a picture for Facebook (CLICK!) with the legend : A couple of Folkin' Classics nailing the extremes from the weird to the wonderful...


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 07:12 AM

"Manufacture" sounds especially calculating in the context of cultural artifacts.

You generally need a team of some sort to "manufacture" (rather than "craft," "create," "make," etc.) something.

And in this case a team effort suggests (only rhetorically, of course) some kind of conspiratorial intent.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 09:04 AM

A very interesting and informative thread. The linked reviews by David Gregory and Phil Edwards are both excellent, and both agree pretty much with my own responses to 'Fakesong' (some interesting ideas, but author appears to be in danger of drowning in his own bile') and to 'The Imagined Village' (also some interesting ideas, but they deserve a more balanced analysis).   

Both books seemed to be overly concerned with point-scoring and name-calling in factional disputes between small sects of scholarly and/or political enthusiasts. (Rather like the mutually hostile liberation movements in Monty Python's Life of Brian).

And yet ... when I heard Dave Harker give a lecture in Newcastle for the 150th anniversary celebration of the Blaydon Races ('Eighteen hundred and Sixty-two on a summers afternoon')he seemed to be a very capable scholar, and a decent enough bloke - an impression reinforced when I had a brief chat with him afterwards. Maybe he's mellowed a bit over the last few decades?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Stanron
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 09:31 AM

The 'conspiratorial intent' could have come from a need to validate / invalidate imperialism, upper / lower class superiority or exploitation, or any of a number of things. I've not read any of the books mentioned and not fully read the review linked in the first post but the bit I did read reminded me that I've long thought that the term 'Folk' was a construction in the mind of the collector rather than a truth and has had a number of different interpretations or definitions since first use. It's fair enough to point out that 'traditional' singers since Cecil Sharp might have considered their material as 'Folk' but the people who composed the ballads that ended up in the old collections probably didn't because the term had yet to be construed. They would have thought they were writing songs. The people who learned those songs were doing exactly what any spotty teenager today does when they learn a song by ? (actually I don't know the names of anyone who today's spotty youth would be listening to but the principle stands)

The name, Folk, is a convenient label but not something I can be seriously pedantic about. I like my music acoustic, intimate, rootsy, honest and beautiful. I like to think that it is a natural part of everyone and not the preserve of a talented few and I prefer it to be unpolluted by any kind of political or commercial agenda. Calling it folk is a nice simple act of categorisation.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 10:11 AM

Harker was arguing - at least to some extent - that "British folk music" is a "bourgeois" categorization of something essentially like any other kind of music enjoyed by the working class.

See the countless threads on "What is folk music?" for endless, though usually less Marxian, discussion.

Fakesong reckons "folk music" as an empty concept faked up by and for outsiders out of a patronizing, hypocritical sentimentalism, and - once their artificial fad had caught on - their self-serving ambitions.

IMO, the reality was neither so stark nor so mischievous.

IMO.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 10:16 AM

To clear up a few points.

The Imagined Village is about the ideas that underlie the emergence and development of the English Folk Revival. What shaped the proposals that there was a 'Folk' in England and why did people feel their culture was in danger and needed reviving?

I wasn't by any means the first to suggest that the whole concept of the Folk as it came to be presented over time by most Folklorists and then later by Folksong collectors was illogical and bore no relation to the real people who sang, told stories, danced or took part in the customs at the end of the 19th century or into the 20th. The heading of Chapter 1 is a quote taken from Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916) who wrote in 1893 that the Folk was 'a fraud, a delusion, a myth' and simply 'a name for our ignorance'.

Jacob's whole, short article is still relevant today and could potentially reduce the amount of misinformation in some contributions to this discussion.

Also, I've written quite a lot of articles and sleeve notes that engage with the content of songs, but this particular piece of work was about the Folk rather than the specifics of what they sang.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 05:42 PM

I am sure it is more interesting than Maos' little red book, now there really was someone who was a bollocks.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 06:02 PM

>>>>>Fakesong reckons "folk music" as an empty concept faked up by and for outsiders out of a patronizing, hypocritical sentimentalism, and - once their artificial fad had caught on - their self-serving ambitions.<<<<<<< Jon.

There is some obvious truth here. Nearly all folklorists in the past can be accused of being selective and reading far too much into the artefacts they sought to record. Selective in what they chose to ask for and selective in what they sought to publish. However they manipulated the artefacts the concept cannot be described as empty, so in that respect Harker was definitely wrong. As some posters have already said folklore (and all other uses of 'folk' as a prefix) is not a scientifically fixed concept, it is an umbrella word that can be described but not easily set down with distinct limits.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 01:45 AM

folklore (and all other uses of 'folk' as a prefix) is not a scientifically fixed concept, it is an umbrella word that can be described but not easily set down...
.,,.

...and also surprisingly modern; first used in English [presumably derived from German volks], it appears, by W J Thoms in 1846 (see my entry on 'Folklore' in The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature - 2003). Before that such terms as "popular" [as still used later on by Child], "household" [as in the translations of the Grimms' collections of German folktales] &c would be used.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 01:53 AM

"Thoms is credited with inventing the word 'folklore' in an 1846 letter to the Athenaeum. He invented this compound word to replace the various other terms used at the time, including "popular antiquities" or "popular literature". He was fond of the works of Jacob Grimm, which he considered remarkable." -- Wikipedia


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 03:07 AM

My main problem with the fakers is not that they did it. In most cases they had valid reasons and were of their time, but all of them had the opportunity to come clean at a later stage, when they mostly regretted what they had done; but they didn't and now their works are tainted because we will never know to what extent they faked the material. This was Child's greatest exasperation with the material if you read his correspondence.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 05:08 AM

Is there a ballad-by-ballad commentary on Child anywhere? I'm thinking of something that would go through each ballad printed by Child & document

where Child got it from (as far as we know)
any concerns expressed by Child and others (e.g. Chambers)
any reasons we might now suspect major rewriting or outright fabrication (e.g. single sourcing)
and conversely any examples of the same or a similar song being collected independently - for instance, Child only had a thoroughly prettied-up version of the Holland Handkerchief, but the song was collected later in Ireland.

Is there a scholarly edition of Child with all of that in, or has anyone written a Companion to Child...?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 05:28 AM

Didn't most of Child's collection come from printed broadsides? And from earlier ballad collections? (Many instances of which are now readily available to view online.)

I also read that he deliberately excluded some ballads due to sexual inuendo (such as 'The Crabfish') – which suggests to me that he favoured exclusion rather than bowdlerisation.

Doubtless someone much better informed than me could confirm.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 07:15 AM

Inevitably in a thread like this, other books have been mentioned for comparison with Dave Harker's book. I mentioned Bob Stewart's Where Is St. George? and Mike Tickell mentioned Georgina Boyes' The Imagined Village.

Personally, I would not be happy to see the three lumped together. The Harker and Stewart books seem to have the authors' own agendas shining through them at the expense of the facts or research. People who have met her will know that politically Georgina is of the left but the careful research and presentation of her book cannot be denied. The pre-2nd World War EFDSS had many worrying unattractive qualities and these were detailed in her book. It was a top-down authoritarian organisation and those at its centre did not like their opinions to be questioned. There was a prevailing strong misogynistic attitude and the work and achievements of women workers in the field was undervalued and what is described as at least a sympathy with Fascism existed.

Steve Gardham wrote -
we have to be careful when condemning that we treat the perpetrators in the spirit of their own times and take into consideration their reasons.

....and this was as true in the 1930s as it was in the times of Scott. Child and Sharp, but what Georgina wrote needed to be said.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 07:35 AM

Well Vic, suffice to say that I felt obliged to mention The Imagined Village because aspects of Phil's Fakesong review reminded me strongly of my experience of reading TIV.

But to express my thoughts properly on that book, I would have to re-read it and write a detailed review, like Phil's

And having noticed that Georgina Boyes has contributed to this thread in commendably civil and to-the-point fashion, I will say no more about it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM

Phil Edwards wrote -
"Is there a ballad-by-ballad commentary on Child anywhere? I'm thinking of something that would go through each ballad printed by Child & document.... where Child got it from (as far as we know)


There is none that I know of but might not Bertrand Harris Bronson's 4-volume The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads or even his abridged 1 volume The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular Ballads be the sort of thing that you are seeking.

Both are available from Pete Shepheard's website by clicking here. Of course, you may have to re-mortage your house to get them for as Pete points out - "second hand copies of the four volumes have been fetching well over £1000."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM

Phil,
The ESPB itself is still the prevailing commentary on each of the 305 ballads. Yes, further versions have surfaced since his time and he was largely blissfully unaware that some of these ballads existed on his own doorstep. The first stopping point for all scholars is still usually what Child had to say about the ballad in his headnotes to each ballad. The next point might be Bronson or finding out if anything further has been done on a particular ballad. There are some glaring errors but these are simply because he didn't have the necessary information at that time. For instance, many of his notes to Child 20 actually apply to 21 but from the info he had he wasn't to know that.

Matt, yes most came from existing collections. Child was a scholar and editor, not a collector. Some came solely from broadsides (e.g. most of Robin Hood ballads) but not that many.


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