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folk process: tune evolution?

GUEST,Stim 12 Jan 16 - 02:14 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jan 16 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Gibb Sahib 11 Jan 16 - 06:43 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Jan 16 - 03:25 PM
Brian Peters 08 Jan 16 - 12:41 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Jan 16 - 11:18 AM
Steve Gardham 08 Jan 16 - 11:13 AM
Brian Peters 08 Jan 16 - 07:42 AM
Lighter 08 Jan 16 - 07:05 AM
Brian Peters 08 Jan 16 - 06:57 AM
Lighter 08 Jan 16 - 06:50 AM
Brian Peters 08 Jan 16 - 04:51 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jan 16 - 08:45 PM
GUEST 07 Jan 16 - 06:50 PM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 16 - 05:41 PM
Lighter 07 Jan 16 - 03:52 PM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 16 - 02:49 PM
Richard Mellish 07 Jan 16 - 02:20 PM
Lighter 07 Jan 16 - 12:04 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 16 - 11:12 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jan 16 - 10:08 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jan 16 - 10:03 AM
The Sandman 07 Jan 16 - 09:13 AM
Lighter 07 Jan 16 - 09:06 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 16 - 08:02 AM
Lighter 07 Jan 16 - 07:15 AM
Lighter 07 Jan 16 - 06:37 AM
Jack Campin 07 Jan 16 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 07 Jan 16 - 04:53 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 07 Jan 16 - 12:18 AM
Pamela R 06 Jan 16 - 09:05 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 16 - 06:48 PM
Lighter 06 Jan 16 - 06:05 PM
The Sandman 06 Jan 16 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 06 Jan 16 - 06:04 PM
Lighter 06 Jan 16 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 06 Jan 16 - 04:36 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Jan 16 - 04:23 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Jan 16 - 04:18 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jan 16 - 01:19 PM
Pamela R 06 Jan 16 - 12:32 PM
Lighter 06 Jan 16 - 08:53 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jan 16 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,Stim 06 Jan 16 - 01:01 AM
Pamela R 05 Jan 16 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,Stim 04 Jan 16 - 10:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Jan 16 - 09:58 PM
Jack Campin 04 Jan 16 - 08:13 PM
Steve Shaw 04 Jan 16 - 06:47 PM
Jack Campin 04 Jan 16 - 06:00 PM
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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 02:14 PM

Really, Dr. Gibb? Comparing her with Nazis and racists? I think you've lost your compass here.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 01:40 PM

Wow!
Thanks for the explanation, Gibb.
Fortunately not all ethnomusicologists this side of the pond are so touchy about the way folk music evolves. We only come across them in academic circles but those I have met and talked to have been very helpful and interested in the ways we study folk music. Sheffield University Musicology Dept in the past have been very helpful in hosting Traditional Song forum meetings and their students have attended and taken part in our meetings.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Gibb Sahib
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 06:43 PM

Quite simply, one can theoretically approach the study of something however one wishes. To reiterate and/or clarify, talking about "tune evolution" _under the rubric of ethnomusicology_ simply presents a problem because, historically, scholars in the field have taken issue with the application of ideas of evolution to musical forms.

One quick fix, as I'd mentioned is to simply disclaim ethnomusicology as the field of reference. Say it's Folklore or English Lit. or something (might work -- I can't speak to how those disciplines would react).

Once clear, however, of any claim that the topic is one covered by ethnomusicology, one might still be interested in the potential insights from ethnomusicology.

I don't have time to go over the history of ethnomusicology's position. It's in the references I gave. I will only mention that just mention of the word "evolution" is enough to raise the hackles of ethnomusicologists. Whether or not one thinks this is justified, it is helpful to know that this will be the case.

Does this mean that someone may not use the term "evolution" in an ethnomusicology-based course, or, more substantially, that one may not apply ideas from biological evolution to the study of musical forms? No, it does not. It means that if one chooses to do so, one is fairly obligated (by the "rules of academia," if you will!) to demonstrate knowledge of the past discourse on the issue and to explain why, despite common objection, one thinks this idea is worth reconsidering.

I happen to think that "old" ideas ARE worth reconsidering, and have faith that others, being people of good faith, will be open to hearing about it. To make a crude analogy, if you chose to refer to Black Americans as "colored people," the response would not be favorable. You could go on to explain why, for some thoughtful reason, you chose to say "colored people" and, hopefully, reasonable people would hear you out. But to remain oblivious to peoples historical objection to "colored people" would not be wise.

Ethnomusicology as we know it was a field configured in the wake of WWII, and its founders (who tended to come out of anthropology) were reacting to the way that ideas from biological evolution had been applied to culture. These were people who had either escaped or been exiled from Nazi Germany, or were the students of such people. It was thought that the misapplication of ideas of evolution to the study of culture was, broadly speaking, a forerunner of Nazi racialist ideology. One may make of that what one will, but the fact remains that the school of anthropology with which ethnomusicologist allied themselves was anti-evolutionism.

Leaving aside the politics and historical trends within the field, ethnomusicologists are disinclined to think about "tune evolution" (since the mid-20th c.) because they don't think about music as an object. As such, there is no "thing" to undergo evolution.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 03:25 PM

Agreed. As I've said many times literary ballads often go into oral tradition pretty quickly. Good example is 'Bonny Lass of Fyvie'.

I'm not really qualified to comment on jazz pieces but I've never heard of anyone trying to separate Elfin Knight from Scarborough Fair before. The loss of the supernatural elements is a common occurrence at this period and the refrains jumped around from ballad to ballad willy-nilly. For instance there is cross-over between refrains of Child 277 Wife wrapt, and Robin-a-Thrash, but we now know these 2 ballads had separate origins and evolutions.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 12:41 PM

Happy New Year, Steve - yes, I had guessed.

"you certainly could not argue that the riddles in Child 2 could be classed as commonplaces. In order to be such they would have to appear in other ballads and they certainly do not."

My point was the slightly facetious one that they did appear - as a job lot - in three separate ballads, Elfin Knight, Cambric Shirt and Acre of Land. If there is a demonstrable lineage linking those three, presumably at some point a major recasting occurred that banished the Elfin Knight and brought in the herbal refrain? If so, I don't see why the jazz rewrite of 'Laredo' (which retained the basic scenario and three separate textual elements) is any different in principle.

"Regarding 87, I think it's a Scott concoction."

It's your field, not mine, and you may well be right. Although it does strike me as a lot of trouble for Motherwell to have gone to, to make two substantially different rewrites (87 B & C) and create fake sources for them. Anyway, whatever the origin, it doesn't alter my point about changes to the ballad occurring between the two Dublin singers.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 11:18 AM

Regarding 87, I think it's a Scott concoction. Child very kindly described it as 'this very slender tale'. It's full of commonplaces and the language in all 4 versions is somewhat suspect. But I am a
a noted skeptic I do accept.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 11:13 AM

Hi Brian,
I suspect you guessed that the 6.50 post was mine sans cookie.

Sorry, but you certainly could not argue that the riddles in Child 2 could be classed as commonplaces. In order to be such they would have to appear in other ballads and they certainly do not. The fact that the meaning of the ballad changes from period to period in Child 2 does not take anything away from the fact that they are all easily demonstrated points in an evolution. The biggest break in the continuum in my opinion is when a version of Scarborough Fair lost its first half and the riddles were deliberately changed into a very popular little country ditty some time in the 19thc. However there are sufficient elements in Acre of Land that are linked very closely to a few variants of Scarborough Fair to make the relationship close and obvious. The fact that these elements were afterwards added to is neither here nor there.

No luck needed. Already untangled. Check up-to-date Roud Index.

happy New Year, SteveG


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 07:42 AM

On a slightly different tack, here's an example of 'evolution' (or whatever we prefer to call it) in action.

The recently-released double CD 'Early Ballads in Ireland', which it's my pleasure and privilege to have in my review pile right now (spoiler alert: it's wonderful, and essential to any fan of the Child Ballads) includes two versions of the vanishingly rare Child 87. One of the singers learned the ballad directly from the other, yet there are several differences:

A melodic variation in the second line.
Substitution of vocabulary ('cask of wine' for 'bottle', etc).
Alteration of the text to achieve a rhyme.
Two verses (poetically powerful but tangential to the story) omitted.
An additional verse created using an existing verse as template.

And that's just at one remove down the chain of Chinese Whispers!

Thread here:
Early Ballads in Ireland


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 07:05 AM

Brian, you are too kind.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 06:57 AM

"The Best Anti-War Song Ever Written," available from Dick Greenhaus at CAMSCO Music.

I can add my own recommendation to this fascinating piece of work.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 06:50 AM

> Is a battle for a mortal's soul with a supernatural being an identical scenario to a bit of idle banter between lovers, mediated by a third party on the way to some fair or other?

Obviously not. It's been a long time since I examined this song family. Do we have enough texts to show a slow, continual evolution - or sudden leaps that could be explained by either "evolution," intentional recomposition, or independent development from a common folkloric (non-balladic) source?

It may be that such questions aren't fully answerable. Frustrating.

One more suggestion for Pamela: the tune of "Mademoiselle from Armentieres" is a major version of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," which is also used for most "Three Crows" versions of "The Three Ravens." (Some people actually find the tunes hard to distinguish, which is surprising to me.)

Patrick S. Gilmore, composer of "Johnny," acknowledged that he'd picked up the unnamed tune from someone else. In other words, it was already a traditional tune, though of indeterminate age.

In shameless self-promotion, let me recommend "The Best Anti-War Song Ever Written," available from Dick Greenhaus at CAMSCO Music. It appears that the "Johnny" tune is a direct descendant of the original "Three Ravens" via "John Anderson, My Jo."


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Jan 16 - 04:51 AM

A lineal descent can easily be traced between members of the Elfin Knight family albeit some of the links are quite scarce. I suppose it could be argued that 'Acre of Land' is a separate song because it only utilises half the original and has changed the purpose of the song completely. But with the 'St James Infirmary the odd isolated bits only make up a small part of the new song, almost commonplaces or motifs.

I accept that 'St James' is a new creation, but not that it's just a 'very distant relative'. If Tom Sherman is part of the lineage then we can add 'Old Joe's barroom' to the list of common features that Pamela suggested above and to which I added the six plus six mourners. Apologies to Lighter, however, for dismissing 'Rake and a Rambling Boy', which in it's British antecedents does of course have similar funeral arrangements.

As for Child 2, you could argue just as well that the impossible tasks are 'commonplaces' (the riddles in Child 1 certainly are). Is a battle for a mortal's soul with a supernatural being an identical scenario to a bit of idle banter between lovers, mediated by a third party on the way to some fair or other?

We have done this with the even more difficult and ancient 'Died for Love' family, i.e., given them separate numbers

Well, good luck untangling one!


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 08:45 PM

Something that might be relevant for analyzing tune relationships. Look at the display here:

http://abcnotation.com/tunePage?a=dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/420691/tune-a-day/0433

The graph at the right shows relationships with other tunes known to the ABC corpus. I haven't really used it but it might be worth trying to understand what it does. (Probably not enough - maybe Pamela can improve it?)


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 06:50 PM

Hi Brian,
A lineal descent can easily be traced between members of the Elfin Knight family albeit some of the links are quite scarce. I suppose it could be argued that 'Acre of Land' is a separate song because it only utilises half the original and has changed the purpose of the song completely. But with the 'St James Infirmary the odd isolated bits only make up a small part of the new song, almost commonplaces or motifs.

We have toyed with the idea of giving the various oikotypes of the 'Unfortunate Rake' family separate numbers or some sort of separate designation but it's not really feasible at the moment.

We have done this with the even more difficult and ancient 'Died for Love' family, i.e., given them separate numbers.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 05:41 PM

It may just as easily be borrowing, either from "The Streets of Laredo" branch (brought to public attention in America by Lomax in 1910) or else from "The Unfortunate Lad/ Rake and a Rambling Boy" song

'Rake and a Rambling Boy' is a different song ('Flash Lad' etc) but, yes, I agree it looks like a borrowing (and 'Streets of Laredo' is a good candidate) - but isn't borrowing one of the processes we're talking about here? If it is a recomposition it adheres to the original template quite closely.

As I say, the "Blues" is an "offshoot," not a lineal descendant, and surely it's the result of almost total recomposition.

If recomposition means it's not a 'lineal descendent', where does that leave the 'Elfin Knight / Cambric Shirt / Acre of Land' family, for example?


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 03:52 PM

> has to be more than convergence.

It may just as easily be borrowing, either from "The Streets of Laredo" branch (brought to public attention in America by Lomax in 1910) or else from "The Unfortunate Lad/ Rake and a Rambling Boy" song; which, of course, may have borrowed the idea from the "Rake." Or vice versa?

As I say, the "Blues" is an "offshoot," not a lineal descendant, and surely it's the result of almost total recomposition.

I believe that mainly a past generation folklorists would insist that the jazz song and the rake song, with their differing scenarios and melodies, are somehow "the same song."

Most everyone else would only say, "Yeah, there *is* a resemblance. I wonder why. Unless it was like plagiarism."


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 02:49 PM

Going back for a moment to 'The Unfortunate Rake'...

Lighter wrote: "St. James Infirmary" is only a very distant relative. The situation is barely comparable and the tune is entirely different. The main point of commonality may be the appearance of "St. James" in the name of the hospital.

Pamela has already partly answered this, but to me the most significant feature is in the funeral arrangements that she mentioned. Compare:

"Get six jolly fellows to carry my coffin
And six pretty maidens to bear up my pall"

with:

"Get six gamblers to carry my coffin
Six chorus girls to sing me a song"

That sequence of six men (carrying a coffin, in both) followed by six women has to be more than convergence.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 02:20 PM

I'm not entirely convinced about the difference between plagiarism and the folk process being whether the change is deliberate and conscious or unconscious. I'm not even convinced that there was/is much difference at all in the absence of copyright law. Shakespeare took many (most? all?) of his plots from existing literature. His work is respected because he picked stories that were good ones and because he told them very well.

The evolution (yes, I do think it's a perfectly appropriate term) of Barbara Allen into umpteen versions surely involved many instances of broadside writers or printers making changes (deliberately for good or bad reasons or inadvertently) and many instances of singers misremembering, misunderstanding or deliberately making changes that they regarded as improvements.

I do think that inadvertent changes tend to be for the worse and deliberate ones for the better, but those are merely tendencies and there are plenty of exceptions.

And the making of new versions has not stopped. In recent times participants in the folk song revival have quite deliberately made completely new versions of some of the classic ballads; e.g. Leslie Haworth's rewrite of The Frog and the Mouse, Bob Coltman's "Son of Child" series and Brian Peters' version of Our Goodman.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 12:04 PM

Heh.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 11:12 AM

Ah, dammit, Lighter, you got me there! :-(


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 10:08 AM

I've seen "St Patricks Day" in Scottish tunebooks of the late 18th century, labelled as an Irish tune. The Morris dance use must have come later.

Aloys Fleischmann's book (which I don't have, wish I did) will probably trace its history in detail.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 10:03 AM

"Lock Hospital" is a generic term, not a name. Many cities in the UK and Ireland had one. They were homes for "fallen women", and so-called because they were locked in. Not hospitals in the sense of places to take sick people. "Magdalene" homes were the same thing, but that name was used a bit later.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 09:13 AM

st patricks day, set dance tune appears to have evolved from a morris dance tune,or maybe it is the other way round


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 09:06 AM

It's a version of "The Unfortunate Rake," tune and all.

And the culprit's not the enemy but "the girls of the city."


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 08:02 AM

Er, yes, actually, there's Lock Hospital, sung by Christy Moore on his album Prosperous (the song's on YouTube). Definitely a fallen soldier song.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 07:15 AM

Two "Barbara Allen" tunes were adopted for two Civil War songs, "Brother Green" and "The Battle of Stone River."

You can download each of them for about a dollar. Oscar Parks of Kentucky delivers "Stone River" in unforgettable high pitch.

Not very musical, but pretty emotive.

One reason that hospitals aren't named in war songs is because soldiers in war songs don't die in hospitals. They die on the battlefield, usually in the arms of a comrade.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 06:37 AM

> are hospitals referred to by name in any ballads that clearly do not have "Unfortunate Rake" related themes? For example any hospitals mentioned in war/wounded soldier ballads?

Great question. And the answer is No. At least none that's ever had any currency.

> Not exactly about leprosy, but a leper is important in the plot.

It isn't "about" leprosy in anything like the same way that the "Rake"/ "Bad Girl" is "about" syphilis. The "Rake"/ "Bad Girl" is almost explicitly a warning - as is, to a lesser degree, "The Streets of Laredo."

My point about plagiarism is more theoretical than legal. Students are warned against taking even a single sentence from somebody else's work without acknowledgment. (And taking too much even with it!) A student once asked me how altering a just a few lyrics or musical notes in a song in "the folk process" is ethically any different from plagiarism. Not a big question, obviously, but interesting in its own right for reflecting different views of artistic "ownership."


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 05:03 AM

re St James Hospital/Infirmary (name): if it's indeed a common hospital name (for such ailments anyway), more so than St George or St Paul etc, then that would make the link rather weak. Hmm, are hospitals referred to by name in any ballads that clearly do not have "Unfortunate Rake" related themes?

Well, there is a workhouse:

A boy to me was bound apprentice
Because his parents they were poor
So I took him from St James's Workhouse
All for to sail on the Greenland shore.


(The Cruel Ship's Captain aka The Captain's Apprentice - originally from East Anglia; the workhouse by that name was in Norwich in the early 19th century, I think).


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 04:53 AM

My interpretation of "folk process" is the unconscious or largely unintentional changes a singer may make to words or tune as a result of misremembering or misunderstanding the original. Where someone sits down and consciously reworks a song, whether it is pulling together a number of different traditional sources to make it more complete, or by adding bits of their own, that is something different. Whether or not it is plagiarism depends on whether or not they acknowledge their sources or claim it as their own.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 07 Jan 16 - 12:18 AM

Pam: "Perhaps there's a subtlety I'm not seeing. I would think that "plagiarism" is claiming something to be one's own original work that is in fact identical to, or derived from, someone else's work (even if that someone else is anonymous). "Folk process" would seem the applicable term whenever a person credits their source(s)."

It seems the answer would be very different for song-v-process. If one can document with reasonable certainly a song originating from the commercial/pop/art process, one can say the "folk process" itself is adulterated even without assigning a root cause.

Too, if widespread literacy, art, commerical print, &c are a criteria (absence thereof) the internet's modern folk process, if you will, is hard to wrap one's head around even without the legal issues.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Pamela R
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 09:05 PM

Wow, this is a goldmine! I have been researching song origins on digitrad for years but I didn't realize how much more valuable this forum would be for my class when I became a participant.

re St James Hospital/Infirmary (name): if it's indeed a common hospital name (for such ailments anyway), more so than St George or St Paul etc, then that would make the link rather weak. Hmm, are hospitals referred to by name in any ballads that clearly do not have "Unfortunate Rake" related themes? For example any hospitals mentioned in war/wounded soldier ballads?

re "OK, what traditional songs about leprosy are there?"
Sir Aldingar comes to mind. Not exactly about leprosy, but a leper is important in the plot.

re distinguishing folk process vs plagiarism:
Perhaps there's a subtlety I'm not seeing. I would think that "plagiarism" is claiming something to be one's own original work that is in fact identical to, or derived from, someone else's work (even if that someone else is anonymous). "Folk process" would seem the applicable term whenever a person credits their source(s).

I suppose the tricky cases are when someone is unconsciously influenced by a source they once heard, and honestly believes to have originated it; vs. genuinely independently writing something that turns out to be very similar to something that was pre-existing; vs. knowingly copying something and lying about it. Not being schooled in law, my first inclination would be that moral culpability of the person for plagiarism should be according to their intentions and actual past exposure to the earlier work (which may not be knowable to others); legal culpability according to their documentable past exposure and/or intentions; and copyright ownership according to the objective similarity of the new work to the pre-existing one (i.e., even if copied accidentally or written independently). Thoughts?

re copyrights: a similar question has bothered me about songs that are now attr. to Albert E Brumley such as I'll Fly Away. Is it the general opinion that he wrote them, or merely transcribed/arranged existing folk spirituals?

on a related note -- I routinely get hit with YouTube copyright infringement claims that block my videos of trad songs because some pop/country singer sang a version once, and now their agents are claiming the copyright. Happily YouTube invariably rules in my favor and quickly releases the video if I send them a scholarly reference to a source more than 100 years old. (But sadly, when someone falsely claims the copyright to someone else's copyrighted song there is no such recourse to protect the true songwriter).


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 06:48 PM

"The JENNY LIND POLKA,circa approx 1850,has evolved and is played as a slide in a valley north of Bantry Cork, it is known as the jenny slide."

Well slap me face wi' two pound o' thick seam 'til it looks like a well-smacked bum, but I'd never thought of trying it that way. Tomorrow!


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 06:05 PM

And here is a tune for "The Bad Girl's Lament" (here called "Annie Franklin") collected in Newfoundland in 1959, which is precisely the familiar "Streets of Laredo" / "Bard of Armagh" tune.

http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/15/annie.htm

Pamela, be ready to answer the question of why certain aspects of the "folk process" are held to differ from simple "plagiarism."


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 06:04 PM

here is an example, The JENNY LIND POLKA,circa approx 1850,has evolved and is played as a slide in a valley north of Bantry Cork, it is known as the jenny slide.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 06:04 PM

Re. post at 4.36pm -- try searching for Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard, or enter Jeannie Robertson in search and look for track 379 of 741.

i heard Jeannie sing this around 1962 and when she reached the point in the story when the lord offers Musgrove his choice of two swords, she looked round the room till she saw the host and said, "Well, you see, he wis aye a fair man." and then picked up the song through to its conclusion...


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 05:44 PM

"St. James Hospital" also occurs in a dramatic, minor-key African-American version of "Streets of Laredo" collected by the Lomaxes in the '30s.


The U.S. law journal Northeastern Reporter (1932, Vol. 181, p. 58) acknowledges a 1930 copyright suit concerning "St. James Infirmary."

The court decision notes: "In March, 1929, the plaintiffs revived the old song under the title 'St. James' Infirmary.' *The infirmary heretofore unidentified was given a name* [my emphasis - L]. They put forward an advertising and publicity campaign to sell the old composition under the new name."

The song in question was credited to "Joe Primrose" (actually Irving Mills) of Gotham Music Service. A year later a rival publisher put out a similar song with the same title. Hence the lawsuit.

See also this thread:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=46310#2696632.

I've just updated in with new information about the cowboy song.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 04:36 PM

Don't know if it's of any help, but I was told of a 'reverse' musical journey back in the 1960s, when the great Scottish ballad singer Jeannie Robertson changed her tune for Musgrave/Mattie Groves to one she learned from the American singer Sandy Paton when he was at a festival in Aberdeen. (I used to think it was Jean Ritchie from which she 'borrowed' it, but have been corrected since.)
If you can access a version from Sandy Paton, you can compare it with several versions from Jeannie on the Kist o Riches site (archive of the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh) -- just search either song title or singer.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 04:23 PM

Also be aware that although Barbara Allen is the most widespread of English ballads it has been constantly in print for about three and a half centuries, broadsides, popular anthologies, sheet music etc.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 04:18 PM

It looks to me as if you already have your finger on the pulse, Pamela. The best way we can probably be of help is in trying to answer any of your students' questions you don't feel confident answering. As most people have already said tune evolution is much more problematical than text. Far more variant texts survive than variant song tunes.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 01:19 PM

The reference to St James suggests convergence rather than clade. There are a heck of a lot of hospitals, all over, named after him. This is intriguing:

http://www.rushdenheritage.co.uk/health/StJames%27-hospital.html

as it suggests a specific link with leper hospitals. Syphilis and leprosy were always distinguished in popular culture, but they may well have been seen as related. (OK, what traditional songs about leprosy are there?) Though the patron saint of both syphilis and leprosy is St George.

BTW there is a version of the "Lovely Joan" story in Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne" - easily accessible if you're already including that one, and makes the point that the stories told by songs are no nation's property.

La pastoura als camps

(The text and translation are in the sleeve notes of the Netania Davrath recording; Monique here will know more about it).


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Pamela R
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 12:32 PM

"Lighter":   thanks for the comments re the "tricky" cases; your take on Broomfield is how I was seeing it; which is why it adds to the class to compare it.

I did not know the detail abt streets of loredo never existing in print. I've seen it argued (perhaps in the liner notes of the Smithsonian/Folkways album on UR variants?) that St James Infirmary is included as a descendant not only for the hospital name but also that the speaker is visiting a dead/dying lover, and then giving instructions for his funeral; and vaguely blaming a dissolute lifestyle for his downfall ("I've got those gambler's blues".) But to me it's hard to tell if all that is "convergent" (independently arising song on a universal theme). The hospital name seems like the smoking gun.

Point taken that changes made intentionally by broadside writers would have very different motives or causes or constraints.

Which gets around to an idea that folk texts could be more or less descended from one or more earlier text(s) that has/have been transmitted through more or less oral channels. Despite the lack of any purely oral case, it seems that characteristics of folk song texts are distinctive and related to their greater degree of oral transmission.

Getting back to my OP, however, on tunes I'm still pretty unclear what we can say. what the students notice most is
- that they are modal (i.e. they notice the funny sound and we track it down to that); but I don't know why this is more common in old/folk songs than later/elsewhere.

- that they are strophic (or as the kids say "boring" -- they've never heard a song without a bridge). this structural simplicity seems consistent with aiding memorization.

- I think they'll hear that different versions of one song like Barbara Allen have similar but not identical tunes; while other versions have seemingly unrelated tunes. That part seems analogous to the text topic but as we've seen, difficult to pin down.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 08:53 AM

> Is any of this so far inaccurate/controversial?

Pamela, no.

> Broomfield Wager/Maid on the Shore; Unfortunate Rake/Streets of Loredo/St James Infirmary

The members within these groups aren't related in the same way. "Broomfield" and The Maid" address similar (though not identical situations) without being textually (or melodically, AFAIK) related. "The Maid" was conceivably inspired by "Broomfield," but it is probably more likely that both, perhaps coincidentally, reflect a much older motif of a young woman (presumably a virgin) magically outwitting a rapist or seducer. One might also compare "The Twa Magicians." (And "Lovely Joan," if you don't care for magic.)

"Streets of Laredo/ Tom Sherman's Barroom" clearly descends from "The Unfortunate Rake." What makes it especially significant is that there are no broadsides of the cowboy song: the changes were entirely via oral tradition. The alteration of the cause of death from syphilis (shocking) to a bullet (less so) is also interesting as a reflection of the tastes of singers and audiences.

"St. James Infirmary" is only a very distant relative. The situation is barely comparable and the tune is entirely different. The main point of commonality may be the appearance of "St. James" in the name of the hospital.

Best of luck with your course! Your description would certainly lead me to approve it in our English Department!


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 06:13 AM

I read one of Ong's books long ago and have entirely forgotten it. Might give it another go. But as some of us have been pointing out, the relationship between oral and written traditions is more complicated than you seem to be suggesting. All the songs in Child were created in a literate culture, most of them probably entered the tradition on paper, and paper versions of them have been part of the chain of transmission everywhere. Someone creating a broadside for sale, or making a copy in a commonplace book, is just as likely to introduce changes as somebody reproducing a song from memory, and the changes they introduce are likely to be more drastic. And many of the stories in British folksong have been preserved in writing from millennia before the English language existed - anybody writing a song about a frog courting a mouse could read Aesop.

I would run a mile from anybody proposing to talk about Jung in this context. There are theories of how stories work that employ archetypes of some sort - Child uses them in his classification scheme, Propp developed the idea extensively, they are a commonplace in structuralism - but they don't require the bizarre mixtures of New Age religion and Theosophical racism that Jung was committed to, or his grandiloquent pseudo-messianic pretentiousness.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 06 Jan 16 - 01:01 AM

Well spoken, Pamela. Your question stimulated a real Mudcat discussion, and that is much appreciated. That said, I think Gibb Sahib came down a little heavy. I understand his points,but from now on, I will remember that that he is "Dr. Schreffler";-)


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Pamela R
Date: 05 Jan 16 - 09:24 PM

(this forum moves faster than I can. this post is in response to Dr. Gibb Schreffler from Jan 2:)

Thank you for the references; I'd like to be better informed on the topic, which is why I am here seeking reference materials from ethnomusicologists. I've often heard that Darwinian theories were popular in ethnomusicology long ago, fell out of favor, and are not taken seriously now. But I was lacking a concise summary of why, and will be glad to consult references that a professional in the field considers reputable.

To clear up a few things:
Maybe I shouldn't have said "ethnomusicology class". My class does not claim to be an introduction to, or summary of, the field of ethnomusicology nor of its history; the word "ethnomusicology" does not appear in the course title or description. I only used the term here because I believe the topic I cover is considered a part of that field -- but only a very small part of that field.

This is a one unit (one class-hour per week), pass-fail seminar for Freshman titled "Folk Songs Change Through Oral Transmission". I had originally proposed to teach it in one of the non-academic series, but the Music department claimed it and reviewed and approved its curriculum. So that's how a Biology professor comes to be teaching a class in the Music department.

It's an extremely simple, basic class. Most of the time is spent listening to examples from which the students discover first-hand that when people collected folk songs in the English language from around the world, they found the same songs cropping up all over the place, but the versions varied quite a lot. For most students, this is the first time they encounter this observation, and like me, they think it's fascinating.

Regarding teaching I think we are on the same page. I would think the primary goal of any teacher in any discipline -- even the hard sciences -- is to engage student's critical thinking, rather than to pass down any dogmas.

In my first class I play them a lot of versions of "Barbara Allen" (as many field recordings as possible, as well as early revival recordings). I ask the students to listen and decide if they think these are unrelated independent songs that just coincidentally bear similarities, or if they derived from some common source. Generally they think the similarities are not coincidental so I ask them why. I hand out the transcribed texts of the ones they heard and several more collected versions. Then the students come back to the next class with their observations or evidence -- what names, plot events, etc seem to recur in nearly every version, which ones crop up in many yet are completely absent in many others; what seems completely unique to single versions and/or generic to any song.

Then I share the fact that this song has been around for hundreds of years and was largely transmitted orally over that time, and that it has been argued that oral transmission could explain the fluidity of folk songs: renditions purely from memory may change from telling to telling, from person to person and generation to generation, whether intentionally or accidentally (by analogy to a game of Telephone or Chinese Whispers). I go out on a limb and suggest that the presence of this song in remote rural Appalachia was probably due to its being passed down from immigrants from the British Isles (by which I mean England Ireland and/or Scotland). Is any of this so far inaccurate/controversial?   

We do the same thing for a new song every class, starting with ones that to me are more obviously related (Barbara Allen, Twa Sisters, Cruel Mother) to others I find much less obvious (Broomfield Wager/Maid on the Shore; Unfortunate Rake/Streets of Loredo/St James Infirmary). Along the way, things like commonplaces, cliches and floating verses are noticed and discussed; the question eventually arises whether there are universal themes (c.f. Jungian archetypes) that might make remarkably similar stories re-appear independently without being from any common descent; etc; and in light of these points we may revisit our evidence and conclusions about the earlier songs, and consider whether "same song" should even mean "of common origin" or just "common theme". It's pointed out that even oral traditions have been influenced/punctuated by written versions (broadsides) scholarly interpretations (classical composers) and later on, influential recordings; what impact might that have had? How could we look into that?

I don't think I'm making any assumption about folk songs evolving that I am bent on proving. I find that many of the phenomena that are observed and questions that arise in collected folk songs are analogous to phenomena and questions also studied in biological evolution (or really, population genetics). I'll stand by that statement, but that's clearly another long conversation in which I'm not sure you are interested. For now I'll just clarify that the theory of evolution (as used in biology today) does not make any assumptions about anything improving, approaching a goal, or becoming more complex with time.

By the way, the other main theoretical thread that I introduce throughout my class is one I take away from Walter J Ong's theory of Orality and its implications for culture. Most students have never considered the fact that things like writing, widespread literacy, recording, broadcasting, copyrighting, urbanization, rapid travel, and global communication are relatively new to the human race, and that these developments might have had a qualitative impact on the structure or content of songs, or culture in general. I personally found Ong's ideas quite interesting when I learned them; I would be grateful to know whether the ethnomusicology field is sympathetic to, divided on, or uniformly opposed to, Ong's theoretical constructs?

I've also considered reading or handing out excerpts of the writings of song collectors about their observations of the communities from which they collected and the role of singing in their community life (as well as critiques by some that the early collectors were motivated by nationalism and ideology and failed to show interest in or concern for the people from whom they collected). Is there a classic essay we could read about what are the responsibilities of a collector, or whether the act of observing (collecting, recording) changes that which is being observed? This might be beyond the scope of what I can get in to my class, but at least it could go on a list of 'further readings'.

IN SUMMARY
I can well imagine it would be irritating if people from the hard sciences thought they could waltz in and solve your problems. That's not my intention. I come to this topic because I love and sing traditional folk ballads, and for that reason I have read, attended workshops, and spoken with music scholars to learn more about their origins. I know that I'm not an ethnomusicologist, nor do I think I can solve problems in ethnomusicology better than ethnomusicologists, nor that I can solve them at all. I am an outsider fascinated by what I have learned from ethnomusicologists so far and interested in learning more, as well as sharing what I have learned. I am naturally inclined to relate what I learn to my own fields of academic research, and I personally find the analogies rich and thought provoking, even if ethnomusicologists are not interested. Given that biology has seen many revolutions in the past hundred years, however, there exists a possibility that the discussion could be different now than it was previously.

My class is narrowly focused on one observation: that folk songs vary with location and change with time. The curriculum sticks largely to the primary data (collected songs). I bring to the discussion the two theoretical frameworks that I personally know best. I hope this class stimulates curiosity and invites students to ask more questions and to think for themselves rather than buying (or rejecting) any theory based on the current fashion of any academic field.

Respectfully,
Pamela


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 10:37 PM

The obvious question here would be, what do you mean by "evolution"?


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 09:58 PM

Re: my list of six things that could happen to a tune. They can happen in any order, they can happen over and over, and any number of them can be happening at the same time. That's just not what we mean by evolution.

Those are good points about tunes being different on different instruments and about forgetting, confusing, and rationalizing.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 08:13 PM

I was describing situations where song definitely does provide a norm. Obviously it doesn't always - but where it does, chasing after variant instrumental forms of tunes is missing the point; those different forms all radiate from a common original, maybe one too well known to be written down. This makes obsessing over oral transmission of instrumental tunes beside the point - what is being transmitted is not the tune itself, or an instrumental tradition of playing it, but rather a vocal original and a tradition of ways of rendering songs on instruments. (I'd guess that if you asked any competent Scottish danceband musician to use "Coulter's Candy" for a strathspey followed by a reel, they could do it on the fly, even though there is no tradition of it being used for either).

In a lot of traditions, the words of dance tunes survive as vocalizations done by the caller or the dancers. These may not be the original words (particularly in American old-time) but they do continue a tradition of having words for the tune.

You get a similar situation with bawdy songs. You can often detect the presence of a widely known but unprintable version, where different features of it emerge in different bowdlerizations over a couple of centuries. The bowdlerizers were all working from more or less the same original, though their results looked very different.

The bottom line is that what looks like evolution on the surface may not be when you dig a bit deeper into what's going on.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:47 PM

Dunno about that, Jack. I've been listening to music all my life, and playing some of it for a good bit. I don't understand music at all (I'm not alone: I once heard Vladimir Ashkenazy saying the same thing), but I have a feeling that every bit of it boils down to song and to dance, and that neither has dominion over the other.


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Subject: RE: folk process: tune evolution?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jan 16 - 06:00 PM

Against the idea of the capabilities of instruments affecting what happens to tunes: in many traditions, vocal music is considered primary, and instruments simply approximate what the voice can do. So anybody playing the traditional corpus on whatever instrument will always have the vocal model in mind. This is true of Indian classical music, Arabic and Turkish art music, and, if Allan MacDonald is to be believed, piobaireachd. (His thesis is beyond me, but I have reason to believe he knows what he's talking about).

The more familiar a tune, the more likely that is to happen. People playing Scottish singalong tunes on the accordion are not going to leave out notes beyond the pipe scale just because they once heard a piper playing those tunes without them - they'll go back to the way they're sung. And people singing along with a piper will just ignore the funny intonation and octave shifts a piper might have to do; they know how the song goes. (Who would ever sing "Scotland the Brave" the way it goes on the pipes?).

In critical theory, this is the "emic"/"etic" distinction. Comparing sound files with frequency analyzers, or comparing the notated forms of tunes, is research at the etic level; figuring out why people perform them that way is the emic bit.


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