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New Book: Folk Song in England

Brian Peters 19 Aug 17 - 05:02 AM
Lighter 19 Aug 17 - 10:35 AM
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JHW 05 Oct 17 - 07:02 PM
Lighter 05 Oct 17 - 08:57 PM
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Brian Peters 06 Oct 17 - 07:36 AM
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RTim 06 Oct 17 - 10:54 AM
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Richard Mellish 06 Oct 17 - 06:32 PM
RTim 06 Oct 17 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,matt milton 07 Oct 17 - 05:26 AM
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Jack Campin 16 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM
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Richard Bridge 18 Oct 17 - 05:52 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 04:55 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 17 - 10:47 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 11:02 AM
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GUEST 21 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 11:49 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,John Robinson 21 Oct 17 - 05:15 PM
The Sandman 21 Oct 17 - 05:38 PM
RTim 21 Oct 17 - 07:52 PM
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Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM
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Rozza 27 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM
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Steve Gardham 27 Oct 17 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 27 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM
Richard Mellish 27 Oct 17 - 04:17 PM
RTim 27 Oct 17 - 07:16 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Oct 17 - 04:49 AM
Brian Peters 28 Oct 17 - 08:01 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM
Vic Smith 01 Nov 17 - 10:24 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Nov 17 - 04:55 PM
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Jim Carroll 02 Nov 17 - 04:54 AM
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Vic Smith 02 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM
RTim 02 Nov 17 - 12:06 PM
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Jack Campin 02 Nov 17 - 05:41 PM
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Vic Smith 05 Nov 17 - 07:10 AM
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Jim Carroll 05 Nov 17 - 09:36 AM
Brian Peters 05 Nov 17 - 11:37 AM
Snuffy 05 Nov 17 - 12:41 PM
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Jim Carroll 05 Nov 17 - 01:18 PM
Vic Smith 05 Nov 17 - 01:54 PM
GUEST,Sue Allan 05 Nov 17 - 01:57 PM
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Jim Carroll 05 Nov 17 - 02:15 PM
Vic Smith 05 Nov 17 - 02:36 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM
Vic Smith 06 Nov 17 - 08:49 AM
Sue Allan 06 Nov 17 - 09:48 AM
Vic Smith 06 Nov 17 - 10:31 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 17 - 10:53 AM
Richard Mellish 06 Nov 17 - 04:08 PM
RTim 06 Nov 17 - 04:24 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 17 - 04:50 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 17 - 05:07 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM
Sue Allan 07 Nov 17 - 02:25 PM
Sue Allan 07 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 02:51 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 02:57 PM
Vic Smith 07 Nov 17 - 03:15 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 17 - 03:54 PM
Sue Allan 07 Nov 17 - 03:59 PM
Vic Smith 07 Nov 17 - 04:06 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 05:53 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 03:40 AM
Vic Smith 08 Nov 17 - 06:40 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 07:20 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 09:16 AM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 17 - 11:21 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 12:32 PM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 17 - 01:21 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 02:47 PM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM
Lighter 08 Nov 17 - 07:16 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 17 - 03:11 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 10 Nov 17 - 07:49 AM
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Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 08:40 AM
Brian Peters 10 Nov 17 - 11:10 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 11 Nov 17 - 08:13 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Nov 17 - 08:44 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM
JHW 13 Nov 17 - 06:22 AM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 17 - 08:51 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 17 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 15 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 17 - 05:20 AM
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Subject: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 05:02 AM

On Thursday I attended the British Library launch for the new book 'Folk Song in England', by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop, which has just been published by Faber. It runs to 764 pages, and is the nearest thing we're ever likely to get to a definitive study. I must confess I've nowhere near finished it yet, but I dipped in to several sections on the train back to Stockport, and it's certainly fascinating and well-researched, and should be of interest to a lot of people on here. In the light of some fairly familiar arguments that have just resurfaced on the current 'EFDSS' thread, I should mention that the introductory chapter, 'Is there such a thing as folk song, anyway?' includes a pretty firm endorsement of our old friend, the 1954 definition. And that comes from a scholar who has looked at all the evidence, not just taken Cecil Sharp's word for it.

I don't think the choice of title is an accident. What we have here is solid research that supersedes the romantic fantasies of Bert Lloyd - although to be fair, Bert's book does get a fair hearing. I also have to say that the 'Fakesong' school gets pretty short shrift. You should read this!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 10:35 AM

A must-read and a great companion to "The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs." Or any other!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: JHW
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 04:40 PM

Must have one. Faber shop


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 17 - 07:02 PM

Oh, gee. Another book I can't do without. Good thing I just got a huge bookcase for my birthday this week. I got my copy at amazon.mudcat.org for $29.95 U.S. U.S. release date isn't until Sept 5, but they gave me a Kindle advance copy of the first chapter or so.
Thanks for the tip, Brian.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 04:28 AM

Introductions read. Very accessible from the man who knows most what it's all about. More anon. Brilliant so far!!!!!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 07:57 AM

Just ordered min from The Book Depository at a pretty good discount price - and post free (important for books of this size)
Thought I'd pass that on
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 08:25 AM

That should be "mine" not "min" - who was, of course, a character in The Goon Show!
Have I missed something - are there any of the Hammond Gardner collections available yet?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 08:38 AM

Jim, all of Purslow's selections from Hammond & Gardiner are now available. 'Marrow Bones' and 'The Wanton Seed' came out some time ago, and the final two volumes have just been republished as
Southern Harvest, with a lot of additional information thanks to Steve Gardham.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Aug 17 - 08:57 AM

Thanks Brian
Damn - just too late for my birthday
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Elmore
Date: 21 Aug 17 - 03:39 PM

Was going to order it on Kindle, but changed my mind. I may want it for reference and Kindle wouldn't be useful in that case. Thanks to Brian for making us aware of this book which sounds both interesting and useful.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Anglo
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 12:04 AM

Patiently waiting for the US release (pre-ordered). Maybe you'll have your copy with you at TradMad, Brian. In any event, I look forward to seeing you there - there wouldn't be time to read it, anyway !


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Aug 17 - 01:57 AM

Okay ! Spill the beans!

Bert Lloyd proved wrong! Shock horror!

Do you ever feel like your part of the Tooting Popular Front?

Composite 4 Subsection 3a! I move!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Aug 17 - 09:41 AM

Hi Anglo: I would have brought my copy to the US for reading material on the plane, but it was too big to fit in my hand luggage. Seriously.

Al, you'll just have to read it to find out. But I can safely say that the notion folk songs were composed by disconsolate ploughboys who sang their newly-minted laments for lost love to their mates in the pub, who then proceeded to spread them through the countryside, is one casualty of Steve Roud's evidence-based approach. Perhaps when I've read it all I'll attempt a precis on here.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 26 Aug 17 - 10:19 AM

Have just started reading the book. It certainly looks impressive. One thing that I note, though, is that there is no discography. Some readers, I suspect, who read names such as Harry Cox, Sam Larner or Walter Pardon and don't know that these great artists can be heard on CDs, would have been helped with some listings. But , at 764 fact-filled pages, I suppose that there just wasn't room!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Aug 17 - 04:20 PM

folksingers needed - only well adjusted ploughboys need apply


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Aug 17 - 05:29 PM

Only just saw this thread, though I was at the launch and am now about a third of the way through the book. I wish Brian luck in trying to precis it: there's so much information of all kinds and I'm not yet perceiving a clear overview.

One point that Steve made at the launch is that the essential difference between his book and Bert's is that his is based on firm evidence. The chapters that I have read so far mostly set out the evidence rather than draw conclusions, but maybe those come later.

One point that Steve doesn't make explicitly in what I've read so far, though perhaps later, is that the songs that were being sung at any given time were of various ages but a lot of them fairly recent, at least in their current forms. Of all the songs that are being sung at date X, by a later date Y some will have fallen by the wayside and a some new ones will have entered circulation. Some have lasted for several centuries, but not really very many.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 04:19 AM

Oh wow, can I wait till Christmas? My daughters never know what to get me ....

Thanks for the heads-up, Brian.

Marje


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 08:23 AM

I wish they wouldn't keep repeating false info in books on English folk music.
For example, William Bolton was never a shantyman ( he was in the Royal Navy not the merchant navy ).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Aug 17 - 09:05 AM

Mike, re discography
I can't imagine anyone buying FSE who hasn't already got a copy of New Penguin which has a perfectly good discography.

Despite the length of this weighty tome in almost every chapter Steve goes to great pains to stress that evidence is very thin for previous centuries as you would expect with a subject that deals with the history of the common people. However he has obviously searched diligently for what evidence does exist and personally I can't see this amount of evidence ever being greatly added to or contradicted.

The evidence is clearly stated and leaves us largely to draw our own conclusions.

Re Bert Lloyd, I'm absolutely certain Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's fairy tales. There can't be many people left on the scene who don't take anything Bert wrote with a pinch of salt. This is not Bert bashing time. He was wonderfully gifted and left us a wealth of well-crafted material.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 03:19 AM

I'm about a third of the way through and, although I don't agree with everything here, you can't fault the research and scholarship.

What can be faulted is Faber giving us this paperback masquerading as a hardback. No wonder it's so cheap to buy; every corner has been cut in its production.

This is a serious contribution to knowledge and should be published as a proper hardback book: sewn sections; acid-free paper; and properly bound.

I fear it will fall apart if used frequently.

Harry


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,CJ
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 04:07 AM

My copy was £25 and certainly feels like a hard back.

I can't imagine criticising a publisher for putting out such a well presented book on a niche subject. How many of these will actually be sold? Into four figures, perhaps, if they are lucky.

Tell you what, Harry, you should contact Faber and tell them you'd like to do a "proper hardback" edition. See how many thousands upon thousands you'll lose.

I'm Too early in the reading to comment on the writing other than to say, all good so far.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 04:18 AM

"This is not Bert bashing time."
Then why do it Steve - whatever Bert's motives for working the way he did, I'm sure he didn't set out to write "fairy tales"
I only got 'Folk Song in England' when we returned home on Monday, so I haven't had time to start it yet, but I did look up some of the subjects I am familiar with - I was rather disturbed to read the inaccurate speculation on MacColl's name change and the tiresome revival gossip about his Scots 'reinvention'.
I was also disappointed to see no reference to 'The Song Carriers' surely the first and best intelligent attempt to discuss the British singing tradition intelligently - 14 half-hour programmes made in 1965 attempting to examine the singing styles of these islands seems a bit of an oversight to me - but that's me!
It seems to me that, while the serious side of the revival made a number of mistakes in how they presented the music they thought important enough to devote their lives to, their work is often severely misjudged because of the back-biting and petty rivalries that were part of the early revival.
This may be prejudging a book I have not yet read - we'll see!
Our own failure to get Walter Pardon's interviews out to a larger audience was underlined when I saw the only reference to him being his name on a list of other source singers that caught the wider attention of the folk scene.
One of the greatest holes in our knowledge of folk song is a total failure to ask our informants (in depth) what they thought about their songs
Walter had a great deal to say about what was and was not a folk song - and why - often in detail.
It's often struck me that discussing folk song without taking the view of our source singers into consideration is somewhat like putting a patient onto the operating table without asking them what's wrong with him/her
It's when I see people like Sharp and MacColl and Lloyd being pilloried for not getting it right first time around that I realise that folk song scholarship is still in its infancy as a serious art form study - pioneers make mistakes and their work needs to be regarded,font color=red>dispassionately and in full in context of their time and what they were setting out to achieve.
As it is, it is a virtual minefield to attempt to discuss MacColl (beyond the "Jimmy Miller - 'finger-in-ear stage), and as for "what is a folk song?".... !!!!
Unbelievable on a forum purporting to be devoted to folk song!
Can't wait to see how the authors have dealt with 'the broadside origin of folk song'
Jim Carroll
I wonder if anybody can throw any light on the reference to MacColl's name change to 'James Henry' as stated in F S in England?
I know his mother's name was 'Hendry' but I've never come across it and writings.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 06:51 AM

This may be prejudging a book I have not yet read - we'll see.
Do you think it possible that your prejudiced comments might carry more weight if you had waited until after you had read it before making them?
Would you consider that people reading this might be of the opinion that you come to come to the subject of English Folk Song with pre-formed, blinkered views rather than approaching it with an open mind?
Those of us who have had the opportunity of working extensively with Steve Roud are in awe of his extensive knowledge of the English tradition which he seems to have at his finger tips. He is also open minded and fair in his discussions and willing to give credence to the experience and opinions of others. He avoids speculation and bases his claiams only when he has well-researched backing for his statements.

I can think of no better qualified person to write a book on this subject. However, I will not venture an opinion on something that I have not read.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 07:14 AM

"Do you think it possible that your prejudiced comments might carry more weight if you had waited until after you had read it before making them?"
No - I most certainly hope not
I read in full all the subjects I mentioned and found some of them inaccurate
My doing so was prompted by a comment earlier which I responded to
Yes - Of course I do come to English Folk Song with preformed views - fifty years worth of research and collecting and involvement as a singer.
I have no argument with Steve - I am grateful for his work in numbering many of our own collection - his numbering system has simplified our own work enormously.
I have far too much respect for him to sychophantically accepting everything he has to say withoutt comment when I disagree with it - I believe him to be a far better individual than to expect that of anybody
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 09:15 AM

i suppose Jim's bound to look up the bits that interest him. its a human thing , we all do that.

and i guess if we find stuff that doesn't gel with our knowledge...we're bound to state our misgivings.

the important thing is that we maintain respect for each other, and not call each other predjudiced.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 11:48 AM

quite a lot of my friends call themselves shantymen and they have never been aboard any ship - royal navy, merchant navy, isle of wight ferry, nothing....


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Wm
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 11:54 AM

I really look forward to reading this. Going to go order my copy . . .

Our own failure to get Walter Pardon's interviews out to a larger audience was underlined when I saw the only reference to him being his name on a list of other source singers that caught the wider attention of the folk scene.

Walter had a great deal to say about what was and was not a folk song - and why - often in detail.


Jim, are these available anywhere?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 12:51 PM

The cheapest that I found it on offer was via Amazon UK £13.20
+ £2.80 UK delivery from BOOKS etc https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0571309712/ref=tmm_hrd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=&sr=


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Elmore
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 02:45 PM

Planned to buy this book, but Jim threw cold water on my enthusiasm. I may buy it anyway.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 03:23 PM

"Jim, are these available anywhere?"
Some of it is deposited in The British Library and has been since the 1980s, but they've never got around to putting it up on line
We live in hope!
If we can find a home for our Singers Workshop archive (a lot of it) our own collection will go with it
I've quoted some of it oftwn enough on Muccat
We contributed an article on Walter entitled 'A Simple Countryman!" (note the exclamation) to a Festschrift in honour of our friend, the late Tom Munnelly
If anybody would like a copy e-mail me - I'm sure Joe Offer will pass on our address to non-members
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 04:07 PM

GuestCJ,

Take hold of your copy of "Folksong in England" in two hands and open the book - BUT, not too far. You should find the spine opens up and you have a hollow. Look down the hollow and you will see a thin layer of white glue. This is all that is holding the pages of your book together.

You might want to get a paperback and compare the two. There is more to a hardback book than the stiffness of the boards.

Has anyone ever bought a Victorian gutta percha- or caoutchouc-bound book?

Now, modern glues are very good and much better than their Victorian equivalents, but, before long, if you fully open your new book more than a few times, and certainly if you open it flat on a desk, the spine will break and the pages will start to fall out. This will not happen with a properly bound book.

How do I know this? I've been selling out-of-print books for 35 years and bookbinding for almost 30.

It could be argued (although I wouldn't) that this kind of cheap book production is fine for popular, ephemeral fiction when most books are read once or twice then consigned to the shelf before being donated to the local charity shop.

But a real book, a proper book, is a way of preserving knowledge not a disposable commodity. They should be made to last.

Well done to Steve Roud for getting it published; I know it isn't easy! I just wish one of the university presses had recognised its importance to the corpus.

Best wishes CJ,

Harry


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 06:08 PM

you can get it for ten quid on kindle, no delivery cost and no worries about it falling to bits.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 06:09 PM

I want one.

What would be VERY valuable however would be yes - a DISCOGRAPHY.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 02:32 AM

Big Al,

A few worries about being able to read it though when you wake to find Bezos has deleted it from your machine while you weren't looking; or your battery is flat.

A real book can be yours forever, until you lend it to your best friend.

Harry


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 05:14 AM

if you hold the on/off switch for a minute, the kindle automatically reloads with all your stuff.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 06:11 AM

Not if Amazon choose to delete your books, as they did with two of George Orwell's in 2009(?).

Amazon will always have control of your library stored on Kindle and can, essentially, delete anything they choose without notice.

At least they'd have to get a warrant to enter my library and take my books.

Anyway, thread drift . . . . my final words: the 'hardback' produced by Faber is crap; the book written by Roud is bloody marvellous. My opinion and I'm keeping it.

Harry


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 06:41 AM

" a DISCOGRAPHY."
One of the most useful books I have for our researches is the fairly rare ' Irish Emigration Ballads and Songs' by Robert L Wight; absolutely indispensable if you are interested in the subject, but with probably the worst index of any serious book I have ever encountered
When I inherited my copy from the late Tom Munnelly, in desperation, I set about indexing it for my own use.
It should not be beyond the realms of possibility to share the task with friends and create a usable discography.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 06:47 AM

also you can make the writing very big so you don't need reading glasses.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 07:28 AM

"Re Bert Lloyd, I'm absolutely certain Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's fairy tales. There can't be many people left on the scene who don't take anything Bert wrote with a pinch of salt. This is not Bert bashing time. He was wonderfully gifted and left us a wealth of well-crafted material."

On that note, I do think it's a shame that it has the identical title as Bert Lloyd's book. I've no doubt that Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's book ? to write a big book like that, your prime motivation will be overwhelming love for your subject ? but giving it the same title will inevitably make it seem like it is 'Bert bashing'.

It's been many years since I read Bert's Folk Song in England, but I don't remember it being as naive as some as the adumbrations/caricatures described in this thread. I remember a strain of romanticism, sometimes a quite unpalatable one (when it came to dealings with women and sex, in particular). But for the most part I remember it being an inspirational, magical, poetical book. I enjoyed Bert's book for very similar reasons that I enjoyed Ciaron Carson's 'Last Night Fun'.

More importantly, I don't remember the speculative parts of it being presented as anything other than speculation. Perhaps this is a false memory: perhaps if I were to re-read it now I would indeed find that Bert Lloyd presents it all as unequivocal FACT and incontrovertible scholarship. But I doubt it; it wasn't that sort of book. I think criticisms of Bert Lloyd's writing are often unfair, because they seem to be criticising it for what is is NOT, rather than what it IS.

I'm looking forward to reading the Roud book - I've read about 20 pages ? but I'm expecting it to be satisfying in a very different way.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 07:33 AM

A part of me wants to submit a book proposal to Faber for a new book called 'Folk Song in England'


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Aug 17 - 09:04 PM

Faber have been publishing books with wonderful content, terrific design, typesetting and printing, first-rate paper, and shitty glue holding it all together since the 1960s. The second-hand market is littered with Fabers falling apart.

The only publisher I know of who beat them at that combination was Allen and Unwin - theirs were usually splitting apart within a year, try to find a copy of Arthur Waley's "170 Chinese Poems" in one piece.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 04:28 PM

"On that note, I do think it's a shame that it has the identical title as Bert Lloyd's book. I've no doubt that Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's book ? to write a big book like that, your prime motivation will be overwhelming love for your subject ? but giving it the same title will inevitably make it seem like it is 'Bert bashing'."

I certainly wasn't suggesting in my previous comments that Steve Roud's prime motive was to discredit Bert Lloyd, but neither do I believe that the choice of title was an accident. Other potential titles are available.

Lloyd's book is indeed inspirational, and it inspired me for many years until I began to look a bit more closely at some of the details. It was, however, a general interest book so, although folk song specialists may have known exactly how big a pinch of salt to take with it, much of its readership would not have done. What we have now is something much more evidence-based - although I suspect it still won't put an end to the arguments.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 04:52 PM

Not into Bert or Ewan bashing. Bert's book is eminently readable and his rolling prose has influenced me no end. Take a look at my intro to Southern Harvest and you'll see what I mean. I have issues with Mcoll but the song carriers turned me into a much better singer. Mcoll was an exemplary teacher. I believe the Song Carriers are available on CD
Is the new Folk song in England as readable and well written as Bert's? It's on my to buy list.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 06:28 PM

Readable and well written, yes, but some readers might want to skip chapters that don't fall within their interest band. I read all of it but found some of the music stuff by Julia above my head. My loss! It certainly pointed me at some other books I haven't yet read and desire to.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 01 Sep 17 - 07:58 PM

I've got it on order and can hardly wait to read it. (It comes out next week on this side of the pond.) After his New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs I put Roud on my list of interesting persons with whom I'd like to down a beer or two or three.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 07:43 AM

Message for Tunesmith, 27 August.
William Bolton was in both the Royal Navy and the merchant navy, and he certainly sang shanties to Anne Gilchrist.
Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 08:10 AM

It's fair to say that "Folk Song in England" was not Steve's choice of title, it was the publisher's decision.
And sorry to disappoint Jerome Clark .... Steve is teetotal!
Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 11:04 AM

"I believe the Song Carriers are available on CD"
If they still exist, nobody seems to know where the key is - that goes for some of the best programmes on folksong from the Golden Age of Radio
I went to the showing of an un-shown ilm made by Phillip Donnellon earlier this year and was horrified to learn what had happened to his work - even while he was living
" Bert's book is eminently readable "
I agree absolutely - of-its-time as it may be.
I look on such works as introductions to something that still interests and entertains me after half a century of involvement
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 11:25 AM

If they still exist...

You can download mp3s of 'The Song Carriers' programmes from a link posted in an earlier Mudcat thread:

Ewan MacColl - The Song Carriers


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Sep 17 - 02:44 PM

Bob Blair was selling CDr copies of the MacColl The Song Carriers radio programmes at Whitby Folk Week some years ago and I bought a complete set from him; not for what Ewan had to say but because of the opportunity to hear recordings of many of Britain's finest traditional singers. Generally these were not available at that time.
When I started to tell other people about the purchases, I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Sep 17 - 12:07 PM

I have just seen a reference to the first review of this book that I am aware of and it is printed in, of all places, The Economist! It is a factual account and a precis of the contents rather than any statement about the value of the book or a comparison with anything that has been published in the past.
I thought the first paragraph of the review was arresting -
ENGLAND, the Germans used to jeer, was "the land without music". They were wrong, as Steve Roud robustly demonstrates in "Folk Song in England". Surveying English musical life from the time of Henry VIII?a keen musician and composer?to the mid-20th century, when folk song lost its roots, he shows what an intensely musical land England has been.


You can read the review on-line at by clicking here.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 10:30 AM

Yes quite a heavy book all ways round and will take a while to read through ~ unless you use more as a reference book using index of course!

50 years since Bert's book the original Folk song in England and therefore has different perspective and angle ~ lot happened in the intervening years of course

Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 03:56 PM

As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 05:36 PM

"Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 04:18 AM

"This is not Bert bashing time."
Then why do it Steve - whatever Bert's motives for working the way he did, I'm sure he didn't set out to write "fairy tales"
Well said, Jim.
    I wont waste my time reading this book.
I prefer to spend my time playing, singing and most importantly listening to all kinds of music, but particularly tradtional singers and musicians.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 06:14 PM

No problem, Dick. Some of us have time to do all of this. Variety.....and all that.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM

"I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer."
Bob had the copies all of us involved with Ewan and Charles were given way, way back - neither had any objection to their being circulated - they were delighted it was being circulated and, as far as we could make out, the BBC had totally lost interest in them (the programmes didn't even appear to have appealed the entrepreneurial efforts of Peter Kennedy), so we all passed copies on to whoever could use them
Our singers workshop ran ten meetings playing and discussing them - unlike Vic, we did so to examine Ewan's ideas to see if they held water - we could get most of the examples on LPs.
For me personally, it was like lifting the corner of folk -song to see if there was anything underneath - they were basically the reason I am still involved in folk song as actively as I am after half a century and many of the ideas propounded by MacColl stood up well when we started working with traditional singers, particularly with the Travellers who, back then, had a living tradition which was still producing songs that were becoming traditional (until the advent of portable television destroyed it, virtually overnight)
This was also true of the twenty years work we did with Walter Pardon who, in his way, could be described as a researching traditional singer rather than a source for songs (there were a few of those about once)
When they were "sold" it was for less than the cost it took to produce them - a great deal of time and thought went into their production and the work was for free - it was purely a labour of love on the part of the people who passed them on.
I have no idea what happened to the original programmes, nor any of the other wonderful productions by Bert and Deben Battacharia and Charles Parker and John Levy.... and all those other dedicated people - if the films of Phillip Donnellan are anything to go by, they were probably junked (did anybody here 'Folk Music Virtuoso', or 'Voice of the People' - life-changers all, in their way?)
The BBC project of the 1950s heralded a renaissance for British and Irish folk song - the BBC and other attitudes made it a missed bus - 'the one that got away' as far as establishing folk song as a peoples' art form - Ewan, Bert and others tried their best but the Music Industries steamroller did damage during the boom which, I believe, we never really recovered from
Nowadays we can't even discuss what we mean by folk music without shouting at one another - a no-go area strewn with regularly exploding mines.
I know MacColl spent a decade with less experienced singers, examine the songs and singing - I was lucky enough to be a recipient of his generosity for a short time
Mention his name (nearly three decades after his death) and you are treated as if you'd farted in church.
As for the exercises and techniques he devised for singers, and the methods he used for making songs your own.... forget it!
Mind you - we do have the BBC Folk Awards!!!
Sorry folks - a sore point
Back to indexing our collection in the hope that some future generation might be interested in what Walter Pardon and Mary Delaney and Mikeen McCarthy, and Tom Lenihan and Ewan and all the others we interviewed had to say about folk song
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: nickp
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 04:09 AM

My copy started at page 21 so has had to go back for replacement! I shall have to wait a little longer.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 05:55 AM

I've only just seen this thread - ordering this book now. Thanks so much to Brian for starting it, and to Jim Carroll for the heads-up about The Book Depository. Please note:

Free delivery WORLDWIDE:

https://www.bookdepository.com/Folk-Song-in-England-Steve-Roud/9780571309719?ref


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 06:50 AM

"Free delivery WORLDWIDE:"
And pretty good discount, considering the publication date
We have managed to get a few rarities from the BD, including the long-sought-after 'Peter Buchan Paprs by William Walker, and Stephen Wade's 'The Beautiful Music All Around Us' - all discounted and post free
It's well worth trying your wants list on their site (even managed to get most of the unread Nigel Tranter at good prices)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 06:52 AM

Not forgetting David Gregory's work of Victorian collectors and broadsides
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 09:02 AM

I wrote
"I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer."
Jim replied
Bob had the copies all of us involved with Ewan and Charles were given way, way back - neither had any objection to their being circulated - they were delighted it was being circulated and, as far as we could make out, the BBC had totally lost interest in them (the programmes didn't even appear to have appealed the entrepreneurial efforts of Peter Kennedy), so we all passed copies on to whoever could use them.

*********************
So I still don't have the answer. The key word in my sentence was entitled. The fact that those involved in the production "neither had any objection to their being circulated" doesn't come into it. I have hundreds of hours of recordings of of the weekly programme that I introduced for the BBC for 27 years. That does not mean that I have the right to duplicate from from reel-to-reel tape to CDr and sell them. The question that I intended is "Where does the copyright for BBC programme lie and for that matter, how long does it last?"
I ought to give my reasons for seeking an answer to this; when Jim states that "unlike Vic, we did so to examine Ewan's ideas to see if they held water." it makes me assume (though I maybe wrong) that he thinks I am attacking the central core of his beliefs which we read so often on Mudcat. I am not. The reason that I am asking this, Jim, is because at the moment I am amassing a huge number of recordings for Sussex Traditions and much of the material is recorded off air. At the management committee meetings, we devised a "permission form" and I simply can't get a satisfactory consistent answer about the right for us to put this in our rapidly growing archive (at present over 5,400 items) I could equally have asked, for example, the question about the programmes that Peter Kennedy recorded off-air and then released as FolkTrax cassettes and CDrs. It was the thread drift to the mention of The Song Carriers that brought it to my mind.
********************
Oh! and Steve Gardham writes
As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 09:18 AM

Sure wish the MGM Lion was still roaring around. I'd be interested to know Michael's views.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 11:46 AM

"that he thinks I am attacking the central core of his beliefs"
I don't Vic - I just made my own position clear
I raised the point when you mentioned "selling" to dispel any idea that anybody was profiting from circulating the programmes.
We did/still do so because we feel they are worth it
They were programmes that could be improved, given hindsight, but since nobody has ever really tried, it's academic.
I have little doubt that legally they still belong to the Beeb (if they still exist) - and that goes for anything they ever produced
Morally is a different matter
The singers were paid pittances, if at all, and the minute the material was collected the sharks began to circle - copyright claims, marketed recordings paid for by the licence fee, "arrangements".... and above all, disinterest has led to the most important collection of recorded British traditional song being neglected and made virtually inaccessible until it was too late to assist in helping elevate folk music to the position it deserves.
When the Critics Group broke up a few of us continued to meet (in an already established workshop set up for raw beginners)
We threw in any material we had, including Ewan and Peggy's generously shared collection of field recordings
This also included recordings of some of the albums some of us had
This gradually formed itself into an archive of several thousand tapes
That archive has now been digitised, listed and partly annotated and is up for grabs for any club or organisation that is prepared to treat it with respect and not lock it up in a cupboard somewhere
It also includes our own field recordings - with the same stipulation
So far, it's been an uphill struggle to find a home for it other than academic institutions which will lock it up fro posterity - not what we want.
I have always though EFDSS might be a natural home, but looking at their present output - maybe not!
Our collection (as it was then), was the first to expand the interests of the then British Institute of Recorded Sound (later National Sound Archive and later still The National Sound Archive at the British Library) from an almost solely musicological group to one encompassing British Traditional music - back in the early eighties
Thirty years later Walter Pardon and his companions still stare through the bars of the prison he was locked in, inaccessible to the world at large all those years ago - somewhat disolusioning
Never mind - Ireland might make better use of it while we're still above ground - the signs are promising!
It's always seemed to me that, despite the decline, there are enough people around taking the music seriously enough to get together and make a a serious attempt to put 'The Voice of the People' back on the map without faffing around over whether Elvis was a folk singer because somebody once sang 'Red Suede Shoes'
Our music needs taking seriously if it is to survive, and nobody will do that unless we take it seriously ourselves
Bonny
I sorely miss Mike too, but he really wasn't the last word in folk-song - nobody was or is
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 01:00 PM

Jim wrote -
I have little doubt that legally they still belong to the Beeb.
.... and this would be my understanding as well. Can anyone give an indication of the length a broadcast's copyright? At the moment Sussex Traditions are following the line suggested by Steve Roud, another management committee member, of an "aggressive take-down policy" for anything on the database that anyone expresses concern about whether it be copyright ownership or anything else. There are also concerns that some material collected in Sussex is "of its time" and would be far from acceptable in these more politically correct times; one of our target audiences is local teachers preparing local studies topics.

Something else that Jim wrote allows me to bring the thread back to its title. He expresses concern about the EFDSS and his field recordings. That organisation's quarterly magazine, the autumn edition of English Dance & Song, dropped through my letterbox this morning. I did a quick scan-read of the 48 pages which suggests that this may be the best edition since the new editor took over. However, there is not one mention of this book Folk Song in England in this edition.
Brian Peters' first sentence (on 19 Aug 17) in this thread reads:-
On Thursday I attended the British Library launch for the new book 'Folk Song in England', by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop,
That there is no coverage in ED&S of this centrally important event or the book, I find very surprising.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 01:16 PM

Library Lectures Go To Manchester

These popular lectures are now venturing beyond the walls of Cecil Sharp House for the first time, taking place this autumn at the magnificent Chetham's Library in Manchester.

Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud
Thursday 28 September, 7?8.30pm

Folk song is often defined as being an aural tradition, with the words and tunes undergoing variation and evolution over time and place. However broadsides, chapbooks, and other ephemeral material with the printed lyrics of many folk songs were incredibly popular between the 16th and 20th centuries at all levels of society. This talk is an introduction to that material ? the types, the sellers, the songs, and the singers.

Steve Roud is creator of the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index, and has written and edited numerous books, including The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs, and the newly released, Folk Song In England.

Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon
Friday 27 October, 7?8.30pm

Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane
Thursday 30 November, 7?8.30pm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 02:01 PM

Mike had style, to be insulted by him was almost a pleasure, generally, because of his wonderful choice and careful selection of words, I miss him too


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 02:12 PM

An Introduction to Folk Song in England
Sunday 19 November, 10:30am - 4:30pm
Cecil Sharp House, London

Internationally published folklorist Steve Roud presents with Laura Smyth, EFDSS' Library and Archive Director, this popular introductory level day exploring the history of English folk song.

Topics will include: the many possible definitions of 'folk', the songs themselves, the singers, the places and times for singing, the music, cheap printed broadsides and other sources from which people learned songs, the folksong collectors, the scholars and the beginnings of the post-War revival. The course is aimed at beginners and will not presume any previous experience or knowledge.

Promoted by EFDSS.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 25 Sep 17 - 12:26 PM

Like Elmore, earlier, I dithered between the Kindle and the not-so-hardback versions. Finally plumped for the Kindle and have not regretted it yet! Excellent, lucid writing and eminently readable. The portability of the Kindle version is a real incentive to dip in and out as the opportunity arises.

Regards


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Sep 17 - 07:10 PM

My copy of Folk Song in England arrived last week. Gee, it sure is a BIG book - 764 pages! The binding quality leaves something to be desired, but the contents look like they'll be very interesting. The price is now $23.73 at Amazon.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM

You can also get it in electronic form from Rakuten Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/folk-song-in-england

They aren't such arseholes as Amazon and I think their books are supplied in formats (ePub or PDF) that they can't get back from you.

For such a thick book with such a dodgy binding, and no hard-to-display colour pictures, that has to be the way to go.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: BobL
Date: 26 Sep 17 - 03:42 AM

It occurs to me that Faber may produce a "Library Edition" which isn't advertised through the usual channels, and which won't fall apart in a hurry. If so it will cost a lot more than £25.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 09:41 AM

I've only got another week until I have to submit a review of the book to a magazine, and I'm only one page 170! I think it's a shame that debates in folk, about folk, and about folk scholarship went the way they did, and were so convoluted, from the Victorian age to the present... because it occurred to me that, normally in a work of non-fiction, you can get through the preliminaries in a 30-page introduction (i.e. in answering questions like: what is folk? who were the collectors? how reliable was their scholarship? etc) In this one, I'm almost 200 pages in and I still feel like I haven't got to the proper start of the book yet!

I don't dispute it's all necessary and it's not Steve Roud's fault that the combined efforts of several previous generations of folksong scholars have left us with so many methodological knots to unpick... but it is a bit exhausting. I think I need to jump ahead, it's slightly feeling like a never-ending introduction thus far.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 10:15 AM

Tonight! Library Lectures Go To Manchester

These popular lectures are now venturing beyond the walls of Cecil Sharp House for the first time, taking place this autumn at the magnificent Chetham's Library in Manchester.

1/3 Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud
Thursday 28 September, 7?8.30pm

Folk song is often defined as being an aural tradition, with the words and tunes undergoing variation and evolution over time and place. However broadsides, chapbooks, and other ephemeral material with the printed lyrics of many folk songs were incredibly popular between the 16th and 20th centuries at all levels of society. This talk is an introduction to that material ? the types, the sellers, the songs, and the singers.

Steve Roud is creator of the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index, and has written and edited numerous books, including The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs, and the newly released, Folk Song In England.

THE BALLAD OF CHETHAM'S LIBRARY: MUSIC AND PRINTING WORKSHOP
FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER 2017, 4.30PM - 6.30PM FREE

Come and listen to ballad singer Jennifer Reid talk about her recent research trip to Bangladesh, where she explored Manchester and Lancashire song traditions, and how they relate to Bangladeshi songs of the same type. Jennifer will also perform a couple of folksongs from the Lancashire area similar to "Barbara Allen", whose long and fascinating history will be described in depth during Vic Gammon's Library Lecture later on in the day.

Again as an introduction to Vic Gammon's talk, participants will be able to get a free letterpress version of "Barbara Allen" as produced by local printer Graham Moss from Incline Press in Oldham. There will be a chance to finish these copies with your own choice of illustrations by the hand of artist Desdemona McMannon and printer Stephen Fowler, who will provide a number of specially commissioned rubberstamps for this workshop.

2/3 Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon
Friday 27 October, 7?8.30pm

3/3 Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane
Thursday 30 November, 7?8.30pm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,cookieless Billy Weeks
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 11:17 AM

Guest Matt: I think I understand your problem reviewing this book - it is a monumental - even daunting - work of scholarship. But the idea that you might have to 'jump ahead' to get the job done is a bit troubling. Such a review may say more about the reviewer than about the book.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 11:54 AM

I have just this morning finished reading:-
BILLY BRAGG - "Roots, Radicals And Rockers"
Faber & Faber ISBN 978-0-571-32774-4

and now I have the review to write. The sub-title is How Skiffle Changed The World and it is an excellent piece of work in my opinion.

Next I have to read:-
AS I WALKED OUT
Martin Graebe
Signal, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7

That one has the sub-title SABINE-BARING-GOULD AND THE SEARCH FOR THE FOLK SONGS OF DEVON AND CORNWALL and then I have to write a review on that one (Different publication - different approach needed).

Then if nothing else with a publication deadline comes through I will settle down to Steve Roud and Folk Song In England. I am hoping to be able to interview Steve about the book on my radio programme in late October/early November and I may have to conduct that without finishing the book, but Steve does not need much prompting to get him going on radio interviews as I know from experience so I should get away with it.

After that, I should be able to comment on FSIE here - so keep the thread going!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 01:28 PM

I've only got another week until I have to submit a review of the book to a magazine, and I'm only one page 170!

Been there! I remember eagerly volunteering to review the first Voice of the People CD set and quickly realising that I had to find time to listen carefully to 20 CDs and then compose something comprehensive and coherent. I'm actually quite glad not to be reviewing FSE - it would take me the week you have remaining to write the thing, never mind finish reading it.

I take your point, Matt, about the long introductory section, but it's hard to see how it could have been avoided, given past controversies and subjective definitions. What's interesting to me - given that I'm about as far into it as you are - is that there seems to be far less interest (compared with Lloyd's book) in defining and describing the nature of particular song types, than in looking at 300 years' worth of historical evidence for vernacular singing in a broad sense, and how all kinds of popular music impinged on it. I wonder how the conclusions will square with the selection of songs in the same authors' New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, most of which would have been approved of by Cecil Sharp.

However, as Vic says, let's not start jumping to conclusions before actually finishing the book...


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM

I finished it a few days ago and felt a need to start again at the beginning. There's just too much information, from so many perspectives, to take in in one go.

Unlike Sharp, who very early on published "some conclusions" that were based as much on what he wanted to believe as on actual hard evidence that he had gathered in his collecting work, Steve has gone somewhat the other way, presenting a great deal of evidence but (it seems to me) largely leaving his readers to form our own conclusions.

The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old. That in turn implies that many of the songs passed through a fairly small number of persons (whether aurally or in print/writing) between their original authors and the singers from whom they were collected. Yes there was continuity, variation and selection, but typically only through a limited number of steps, as least insofar as the words are concerned.

The tunes may have benefitted from more stages of transmission by the "folk", thus becoming truly reflective of some ideal folk character as Sharp and his contemporaries liked to believe, but there's not a lot of real evidence for or against that notion.

Anyone feel free to shoot me down if the above is a load of cobblers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM

I am really sad to say that I gave up somewhere around page 450.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 08:25 AM

Perhaps it works better as a dipping-in book than if you try to plough your way through the lot, Mike?

Richard Mellish wrote:
The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old.

I think your summation is pretty good, Richard. However, it looks to me as though the book is not going to give us a decisive answer to what is 'folk' and what is not. For instance, on p 23 we read: "A singer may take a song from the printed page, or in school, a church, or a theatre, but as soon as he or she starts to sing it, and others take it up, it becomes 'folk'." But that's ambiguous: is it 'folk' the moment the first singer takes it up, or only when it's passed on? Two pages later it looks like it's not just passing it on to your mate in the pub that's important, but that it needs to have been around for about two generations.

But those music hall songs and parlour songs that Sharp and others are criticised for ignoring when they went out with their notebooks in the 1900s were probably composed during the lifetimes of the singers they met (who were predominantly elderly). So had they become 'folk' by that time or not?

On p. 322 we have Flora Thompson describing village pub singing in the 1880s and telling us that the most popular songs 'would have arrived complete with tune from the outer world'. Were these less 'folk' than 'The Outlandish Knight' when it was sung in the same session?

Then on p. 390, Roud quotes farm labourer Fred Kitchen describing the music hall / parlour songs sung by his companions on their way to Martlemass Fair in Doncaster around 1905. At the time these were modern popular songs, but Roud suggests that, by the time American collectors started to note down the same songs in the 1920s / 30s, 'they had had time to bed down as 'folk'.

I know there will be people reading this who will see no point whatsoever in the debate, but since this book is probably the most complete statement we'll ever get on English folk song, it's interesting that there still seem to be quite a few loose ends.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 08:51 AM

"What's interesting to me - given that I'm about as far into it as you are - is that there seems to be far less interest (compared with Lloyd's book) in defining and describing the nature of particular song types, than in looking at 300 years' worth of historical evidence for vernacular singing in a broad sense, and how all kinds of popular music impinged on it."

Yes, I'm getting a similar sort of impression.

One day I'm hoping to read a book on English folk song that really gets to grips with the WORDS. (Martin Carthy and Shirley Collins could probably write brilliant ones, given the sort of things they've said when I've heard them speak of them) I say that as an English Literature graduate, and as a lover of poetry and novels and folk tales and stories and, of course, songs. One of the reasons I felt obliged to speak up for the value of Bert Lloyd's book, in posts above, is that the parts of his book where he talks about the content of specific songs (and song types) is, for me, where his writing is really valuable.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 10:09 AM

> it's interesting that there still seem to be quite a few loose ends.

Seriously, folks...is there a definition of "poetry" that definitively covers all the alleged examples of a poem to the exclusion of all non-poetry? And that everyone will agree on?

I don't think so.

Regardless of your definition of "folksong," you'll find a song to fit it and others that don't.

The best way out of the definition trap, as far as I can see, is to ignore the entire folk/non-folk dichotomy entirely and just discuss the song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 03:00 PM

I don't have any of these problems. The '54' descriptors are plenty to outline what folk song is. I'm completely with Jon, very few genres if any require a hard boundaries definition. Having said that I doubt very much if any of the contributors to this thread would differ on what constitutes a traditional folk song. Steve sets his stall out in the intro and does a very comprehensive job in the following chapters. He has no real agenda other than supplying genuine information, unlike Bert and Cecil who definitely did have agendas.

Matt, what WORDS do you want to get to grips with? Perhaps the rest of us here can help.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 04:15 PM

Steve G said "I doubt very much if any of the contributors to this thread would differ on what constitutes a traditional folk song". That's probably correct for a central core of material, but we may well differ considerably about some of the layers further out: see the examples cited by Brian Peters at 08:25 AM Mudcat time today. Steve R himself sets out on pages 24 and 25 many criteria for something being "folk" or not, with particular instances meeting more or fewer of them to varying degrees. And a bit later he suggests that no specimen will ever score 10 out of 10.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 06:20 PM

Aaaaaaaargh! Lost it again! Grrrr!

The last singer I recorded about 10 years ago had songs from his farming community, songs he had learnt at school and songs he had written about his own life in farming. To me they were all folk songs.

No modern scholar has tried to put a time limit on when a song becomes folk. Obviously the longer a song remains in a folk community the more of the characteristics it picks up, but at what point a song becomes folk has not been established. IMO it doesn't need to be.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 04:12 AM

O dear ~could run a while yet

Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 05:13 AM

I'm sure we're not trying to agree a definition of "folk" or "traditional". The "1954" definition isn't too far wrong, but many very long threads here have made quite clear that we'd be lucky even to agree to disagree about that. What we are doing is exploring the implications of the mass of information in Steve Roud's book, one of which is indeed that the boundaries of "folk" or "traditional" are very wooly.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 06:21 AM

The best way out of the definition trap, as far as I can see, is to ignore the entire folk/non-folk dichotomy entirely and just discuss the song.

If we react to the mass of evidence so well researched and presented by Steve Roud by closing down the debate, then his time will have been wasted. The whole point of this book is to open up the question of what is 'folk'. Roud himself describes that question in his 'Afterword' (yes, I've been dipping again) as 'the elephant in the room'.

What I (and I suspect a lot of us on this thread) have always understood as 'traditional folk song' has been based broadly on the concept as erected by Victorian / Edwardian collectors. Roud has compiled evidence that a wide range of additional songs were on the lips of the working classes of the day. If Sharp et al were justified in rejecting contemporary pop songs, then the edifice still stands. If not, then the body of material labelled 'folk song' is - not 'fake', certainly - but an unrepresentative sample. That's a bigger philosophical question than whether Steve G's farmer's original compositions should be called 'folk' or not. Without addressing it, how could one even attempt to compile a collection of 'English Folk Songs' when a publisher like, say, Penguin Books, came calling?

Roud's concluding sentence affirms his view that traditional process is of prime importance in his view of this music. With that, Cecil Sharp would agree. But don't let's all throw up our hands and cry "Oh no, another Mudcat 'what is folk?' food fight!" when this is a distinctly different debate from the one about Dylan / Mumfords etc etc.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 10:01 AM

Steve: "Matt, what WORDS do you want to get to grips with? Perhaps the rest of us here can help."

I capitalised the word WORDS simply because there seems to plenty of writing and scholarship about the definition of a folk song; who sang them; who collected them; who published them; how they were disseminated etc etc. But very little discussion about what's in the songs themselves. The stories, the themes, the imagery, the similes and metaphors, the narrative tricks, the filmic elements, the structure, the switches in perspective of the teller, the tropes ("come all ye", "as I went out..."), the repetition etc etc. I find this a little bizarre, because it's this stuff that makes me want to sing a song, and I'm sure that's the case for most singers. Yet it seems it's not what writers interested in folk song want to write about.

Of course, maybe now everyone will recommend me loads of books about precisely this that I simply didn't know exist! Any embarassment about revealing my ignorance will have been worth it, though.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 10:48 AM

One of the reasons I felt obliged to speak up for the value of Bert Lloyd's book, in posts above, is that the parts of his book where he talks about the content of specific songs (and song types) is, for me, where his writing is really valuable.

I was prompted by Matt's comment to pull down the Lloyd book from the shelves and leaf through it again. While with the benefit of hindsight it's easy to raise a sceptical eyebrow at many of the more romantic suggestions regarding the age and antecedents of the ballads (amongst other things), it did remind me how exciting I found this book when I first read it as a teenager, and how it helped to convince me that these were songs I needed to sing.

You're right that the Roud book doesn't concern itself too much with 'what's in the songs themselves' - that seems to be taken as read. Lloyd of course had plenty to say on the matter. I don't know offhand of many scholarly overviews of that kind of thing - maybe Evelyn Wells' 'The Ballad Tree'? - but things like imagery, metaphor, narrative devices and the other things you mention are always coming up in ballad workshops and have been the stuff of many a Mudcat discussion over the years.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 12:21 PM

Steve Roud once said to me - and I think that he was only partly joking -
A traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer.
What a folk singer sings is traditional songs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 01:05 PM

He wasn't joking! That's certainly one valid way of looking at the question.

Brian, my own experience of Bert's FSE exactly matches yours.

In answer to Matt, many of these topics have been studied in academic works (mostly US or continental) and perhaps it would be useful to start making a comprehensive bibliography of these.

As the vast majority of the ballads we now call folk songs were shaped by those who wrote the broadsides we should look more closely at the characteristics of these.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 02:51 PM

"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
I'm disappointed that Steve subscribes to this superficial nonsense, particularly as it contradicts his own method of work - you don't find many 'Lily of Laguna's' with Roud numbers.
It's a little like saying that Wouldn't it be Luvvrly' becomes 'Opera' when Kiri Ti Kanawa sings it   
Those source singer we questioned all discriminated between the different types of song in their repertoire
Walter Pardon filled tape after tape explaining what was a folk song and what wasn't and then described the difference between Parlour Songs, Music Hall and early pop songs, even to the point of identifying the age of the tune by whether it finihed on the accordion with the bellow open or closed.
Blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney knew around 150 traditional songs - she could have doubled that number with her C and W songs but she refused because she said that weren't the same as the old ones.
She referred to her traditional songs as "Me daddies songs" though her father only had around half da dozen - she was referring to a type rather than a source.
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy divides his repertoire into Street songs, Come-all ye's and fireside songs.
He saw pictures when he sang traditional songs, he didn't when he sang more modern ones
I'm convinced that much of the misinformation about how the older singers was dow to the fact that they were never, or only superficially asked what they thought of their songs
It also depended on the respective states of the oral tradition when the songs were first recorded.
I haven't had time to read Steve's book properly yet, but I hope he goes deeper into the subject than this - maybe over the next few weeks while I'm laid up acting as host to a new hip
Sorry if I've entered the forbidden territory of 'what is a folk song'., but there really is a difference between one and the other and if Walter, Mikeen, Mary, Tom Lenihan? and the old crowd know what it is, it's about time we did, or at least, were able to discuss"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
I'm disappointed that Steve subscribes to this superficial nonsense, particularly as it contradicts his own method of work - you don't find many 'Lily of Laguna's' with Roud numbers.
It's a little like saying that Wouldn't it be Luvvrly' becomes 'Opera' when Kiri Ti Kanawa sings it   
Those source singer we questioned all discriminated between the different types of song in their repertoire
Walter Pardon filled tape after tape explaining what was a folk song and what wasn't and then described the difference between Parlour Songs, Music Hall and early pop songs, even to the point of identifying the age of the tune by whether it finihed on the accordion with the bellow open or closed.
Blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney knew around 150 traditional songs - she could have doubled that number with her C and W songs but she refused because she said that weren't the same as the old ones.
She referred to her traditional songs as "Me daddies songs" though her father only had around half da dozen - she was referring to a type rather than a source.
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy divides his repertoire into Street songs, Come-all ye's and fireside songs.
He saw pictures when he sang traditional songs, he didn't when he sang more modern ones
I'm convinced that much of the misinformation about how the older singers was dow to the fact that they were never, or only superficially asked what they thought of their songs
It also depended on the respective states of the oral tradition when the songs were first recorded.
I haven't had time to read Steve's book properly yet, but I hope he goes deeper into the subject than this - maybe over the next few weeks while I'm laid up acting as host to a new hip
Jim Carroll it without acrimony
"As the vast majority of the ballads we now call folk songs were shaped by those who wrote the broadsides"
Nonsense again Steve - you can't possibly know that
The ballads are finely constructed works of art relying lergely on well established vernacular and commonplaces - the broadsides were largely unsingable doggerel
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:06 PM

Sorry about the double cock-up of that post - in a hurry to catch Casualty!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:09 PM

"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs." no not exclusively


Traditional songs are/were sung by folk singers ~ some could be or are

classified as being traditional folk singers ~ I think there is or

should be a definition of "traditional folk singer" although the wording escapes me at the moment!

Folk singers who are not deemed to be "traditional singers" but who sing

traditional songs (ok define again) are often referred to be

"revivalist" folk singers ~ Martin Carthy, Nick Jones, Tony Rose for example and of course Brian Peters and many many others
Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:12 PM

I think we're at cross purposes again, Jim.
You seem to be referring to the big ballads in your last statement. We were discussing folk song in general most of which are ballads. However, since you refer to commonplaces, these are also extremely common on broadsides.

'the broadsides were largely unsingable doggerel' I don't know about 'unsingable' but you are right, the vast majority of it most of us would consider extremely unfashionable today. But to those of us who have trawled through mountains of this stuff in order to track down earlier versions of 'folk ballads' we have managed to arrive at some reasonable conclusions about their origins and reworking. If you read your Mayhew and similar you will know that in previous centuries recycling was a massive industry unlike today's throwaway society.

Matt, if you want I can't point you at some academic works that are very useful on some of the points that you mention, but I don't have a comprehensive list as I'm not an academic.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:38 PM

You seem to be referring to the big ballads in your last statement.
Nope - I'm referring to our finely crafted traditional songs
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements
A "broadside hack" was a derogatory term for a bad poet ? not a reference to the language of the time
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:39 PM


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:45 PM

Ne'ertheless 'broadside hacks' definitely wrote many of what we now call folk ballads. Mayhew again. He describes a conversation with the writer of The Bonny Bunch of Roses. Mayhew himself wrote Villikins as a burlesque on William and Dinah and we also know who wrote William and Dinah. What about that wonderful Child Ballad 'The Daemon Lover'? But I'll let Brian tell you who wrote that.

I think it best if we continue this discussion after you've read Steve's book. We spent many months sifting through that 'unsingable doggerel'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:59 PM

Matt, 3.12 for 'can't' read 'can'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 04:39 AM

"Ne'ertheless 'broadside hacks' definitely wrote many of what we now call folk ballads. "
Again Steve, we can't be certain of anything - Mayhew may well have well met the writer of Bonny Bunch; he equally might have met somebody who claimed he wrote it - the same goes for any song
Can you say for certain there were no preceding versions of Demon Lover - there are enough traditional commonplaces and general human experiences within the song to suggest there might have been
When we began recording source singers we more or less decided from the start that our work would have no meaning unless we recorded what we could of the context in which the songs were sung in an attempt, not to find who made them, but to get some idea why they might have been made and what purpose they served in the communities in which theey circulated
Probably the most important discovery we made was that a significant number had been made within the lifetime of the singers
A 90 odd year old singer told us a couple of years ago that "In those days, if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it"
You've written this off as what happened in this part of rural Ireland, but we know that Travellers made their own songs, English Scots and Irish
Walter Pardon talked about the Union songs his Uncles sang which were made at the time Georhe Edwards was reforming the Agricultural Workers Union
These are all later songs, but there is no reason to believe that most of our traditional songs started in the same way - or if there is, it escapes me.
It seems that working men and women were natural songmaker with a desire to record their lives and opinions in verse; there is no reason to believe that they always have been
The Travellers we recorded still had a living, functioning tradition in the first three years of the 1970s (put a sudden stop to with the advent of portable televisions) - they were still making songs
The song traditions in rural Ireland still functioned as living entities into the 1950s though they had faded somewhat thanks to the conscious destruction of music and dance by the Church, with the aid of the State a few decades earlier
Both the rural and urban Irish continued to make songs because the political and cultural situation demanded them.
Walter Pardon sang songs he had assiduously gathered from his family memories, so his repertoire and his opinions represented his two uncles' experiences rather than his own - dating back to the late 19th, early 20th centuries.
Sharp and his colleagues always claimed that the traditions they were collecting from were on the wane - the English song traditions almost certainly began to die when the Industrial Revolution smashed up the rural communities and drove the people into the towns and the demands of the new society began to change the lives of the remaining rural dwellers radically
Irish collector Tom Munnelly described his work as "a race with the undertaker"
Claiming we still have a living tradition is a revival fantasy - modern technology has made us passive recipients of our culture rather than part of it.   
Basing opinions and making definitive statements about something that stretches back centuries, possibly millennia, on something that is on its last legs is crazy
Our classic ballads have been dated to the 17th and 18th centuries, but we know they contain motifs and references that date back as far as Boccachio, Homer and maybe beyond, giving rise to the possibility that some may have been around a lot longer than we think.
You suggest we all go and read Steve' book as if it is somehow going to suddenly cause the scales to fall from our eyes and we will all be enlightened
I suggest we have enough collective knowledge between us here to slug it out whenever the fancy takes us
Personally, I'm tired of putting these serious debates "on the long finger" (a local folk saying btw)
Personally I need to put our findings and opinions together as soon as possible - I'm far too old to risk doing otherwise
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 04:50 AM

The sorts of songs that originally captured our interest and that were the main subject of Lloyd's book covered more or less the same range as those that the collectors in the late 1800s and early 1900s regarded as folk songs; but those were already not all of a single sort.

The big ballads tell stories that are often many centuries old. Many of them deal with the affairs of kings, queens, lords and ladies. Some involve magic. The earliest known versions as ballads typically date from the 1600s or 1700s.

The songs about shepherds, sailors, lovers separated by class-conscious parents, etc first appeared (as far as anyone can tell, pace Jim) in stage plays or in the pleasure gardens in the late 1700s or early 1800s and then on broadsides, or else originally on broadsides having been written specifically for that market.

Those two genres are fairly distinct, although there is some overlap. But both met the collectors' ill-defined criteria, both appeal to us nowadays, and both would presumably have qualified for Walter Pardon etc as proper folk songs.

What they have in common is that, by the time they were collected, they had knocked around for long enough to benefit from some continuity and selection, and generally from some variation. Continuity is implicit in the fact that they survived to be collected. Selection caused huge numbers of other broadside ballads to fall by the wayside. Variation is a mixed blessing. With some songs it has given us numerous delightfully different versions, but it has also caused some of them to be manifestly incomplete or not to make sense.

Nowadays we delight in singing and listening to these songs (as well as studying them); but in the same performance situations we also sing and hear songs from the music halls and songs written in modern times. The music hall songs were too new to be of interest to the early collectors but by now they have at least been subject to continuity and selection, if not to much variation. The same is already happening with some of the songs written by such people as Ewan MacColl and Cyril Tawney (and Woody Guthrie over the Pond). We are already selecting those that have sufficient appeal. And variation is happening: I have heard small changes in some of Cyril Tawney's songs as now being sung.

As I observed above, however, there have often been few steps of continuity and variation. Joe Rae's (Gutcher on here) present-day version of the Daemon Lover is almost word for word as printed by Scott, even including the four verses due to Laidlaw that Child saw fit to exclude.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:13 AM

Very eloquently expressed, Richard. The only thing I could add to that currently is that much of the more drastic variation is down to rewriting by the broadside ballad writers, which is what I was referring to in my recycling comment earlier, and what will be one of the main thrusts of my next paper at the Sheffield broadside day on the 25th November.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:36 AM

Jim,
I can find very little to disagree with in what you have written here. The fact remains that current academic and scholarly study puts the published corpus of traditional English folk song down to commercial origins of some sort. However, ultimately the origins of any creation cannot be proven and that includes Shakespeare's plays and many other works of art. Sometimes you have to simply take the word of those who have studied the material in great detail and come to these conclusions of origin.

Double standards. The agricultural union short-lived songs are folk songs but not my farm hand who wrote songs about his farming experiences?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:39 AM

>>>>>>You suggest we all go and read Steve's book as if it is somehow going to suddenly cause the scales to fall from our eyes and we will all be enlightened<<<<<<< Jim

Not at all, Jim. Steve asks more questions than provides answers. I suggested it simply because that is the purpose of this thread and I'm sure he would be delighted if we used it as a stimulus to discussion.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:46 AM

"Very eloquently expressed, "
Seconded, but I'm not sure it alters or even challenges anything I've said so far
Liking or singing music hall or MacColl songs does not make them 'folk', which is a process, not a preference or type of song
Some of MacColl's best songs teeterd on the edge of becoming traditional in the communities that still retained a living Tradition, but they will always be MacColl's songs because they bore his name and his copyright, no matter what changes take place - change isn't tradition either
Unfortunately, one of the aspects introduced by the revival is that of personal ownership - many come with the stamp "arranged by" - this includes traditional songs
Unlike the old compositions, song are coming into the world still-born - communities can no longer take ownership of them as the traditional communities did
It still irks me that one of the greatest finds of the twentieth century, The Maid and the Palmer', given by a travelling man who lived in a derelict house and died of the effects of malnutrition, can be copyrighted
If that is the case with a centuries old ballad, what chance does a newly composed song have of becoming 'ours'?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:54 AM

> The "1954" definition isn't too far wrong

Actually, it isn't "wrong" at all (or "right" for that matter), because songs empirically exist that fit it to a T.

It's a definition that says, "this what we specialists who agree on this definition mean by "folksong" and what you should mean too." It *isn't* the kind that tells what the word means in general usage: as we know, there are many such meanings - sad, perhaps, but certainly true. It's also true that there's no way to enforce this definition - also sad, perhaps, but true.

The point of dispute is whether songs included in the 1954 def. are the *only* ones that "deserve" the name of "folksong."

A related, possibly more interesting question, is why certain songs are *called* folksongs - and by whom.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:59 AM

"Steve asks more questions than provides answers."
I hope so, but Steve is only one of many writers who have gone to great lengths to understand folk song and if we waited for all the new ideas to come forth we's be standing around like Estragon and Vladimir, forever waiting for Godot.
I don't believe one Messiah exists who is going to produce all the answers
I find myself getting more and more depressed when I read some of the academic kite-flying that takes place (I'm not suggesting for one minute that Steve is doing this - personally, I would have been totally lost in working on our own collection if it hadn't been for his groundbreaking contribution)
Understanding our song tradition has to be as fluid and ongoing as was the tradition itself - a communal pool of ideas.
Jim Carroll
Luckily, I posted this and it didn't take, so I was able to read Lighter's fascinating contribution
See what I mean about pooling ideas?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM

Must remember not to post on a weekend. Just lost a whole lot of posting because the server keeps going down for maintenance.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM

Try again.

I'm assuming we are all 100% in agreement on what Jim says here.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 09:29 AM

Regarding academics they often get it wrong. Their agendas are restricted by their superiors and they have schedules, agendas and time limits which other scholars don't have to bow to. A noted exception for me is Vic Gammon.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 10:00 AM

much of the more drastic variation is down to rewriting by the broadside ballad writers

A few years ago I researched the history of'The Wild Rover', helped along the way by both Jim and Steve G amongst others. Like a lot of older broadside pieces it began life as a very wordy, moralistic, thirteen-verse text written in the late seventeenth century by a known author (and yes, I do think this copy is most likely the origin). From there it went through various print incarnations over two centuries, getting shorter, more concise and telling a more effective story with each new edit. However, during the later history of the song it was also changed through what I could only conclude was oral traditional processing as well (the two are not of course incompatible), and acquired at least three distinct tunes, including a particularly attractive one in Ireland (as sung by Pat Usher) that made its way to Australia - where the song must have arrived independently several times. The well-known version is definitely a 1960s concoction, though.

That's just one example of how different kinds of process can affect the evolution of one song. It doesn't have to be 'one or the other', and we don't need to take to the barricades about it.

Steve Roud's book mentions the nice example of a rather arty song, 'The Shepard Adonis' becoming the localized 'Shepherd of the Downs' in the repertoire of the Copper Family. We don't know how or when the change took place but, since it appears there isn't a broadside copy of the 'Downs' text, and oral versions are vanishingly scarce, perhaps it was indeed a Sussex countryman who amended it?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 11:28 AM

"I do think this copy is most likely the origin"
Can I just make clear that I am not denying the probable broadside origins of some of our folksongs - some of them still bear the heavy handprint of the broadside hack - it's Steve G's percentages I dispute.
One of the problems I have is the question of literacy as evidence
Many of our singers, although able to read, still had difficulty with English - it was a second language when they were growing up and it showed when they wrote something out for you.
Some learned songs from "the Ballads" - song sheets sold at the fairs, but a number said they couldn't be trusted
Travellers were in an odd position, they were largely non-literate, but greatly responsible for putting songs into print
Mien McCarthy, from Kerry, described going to the printers in Tralee and reciting his father's songs over the counter to be printed out and sold
He also described putting songs into print by request "do you have any of your daddy's songs for sale?"
Length of "Wild Rover"
One of the most popular songs we recorded from Travellers was 'The Blind Beggar'
When I researched this I traced it as far as one of the longest broadsides I have ever come across (Percy, I think)
It was over sixty verses long and in two parts
The Travellers has it in the streamlined 8 or 9 verse version
Apropos of nothing, when Mikeen first sang it for us he was camped at the back of the Mile End Road in London, within five minutes walk of The Blind Beggar Pub
He was fascinated when he found out is was the hang-out of the notorious Kray Twins and permanently displayed a "No Travellers served here" sign
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 11:30 AM

Mikeen McCarthy, of course - bleedin' keyboard
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM

Just to clarify Jim's comment at 11.28.

Fact: Of published English traditional folk songs 89% had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas.

My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source. Many ephemeral printed pieces did not survive. We know this from the many catalogues that do survive.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 12:33 PM

As no-one else has yet offered the author of The Demon Lover, if you go to the current Barbara Allen thread and read the late great Bruce Olsen's posting of 19th Feb 98, 11.41 pm you'll get his say on the matter.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 01:24 PM

"had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas."
Sorry Steve - can you explain that
Are you still claiming they originated in print - sure;y not?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM

>The well-known version is definitely a 1960s concoction, though.

When a friend returned from a year in Cork, ca1984, he said the version that he heard a good deal had the chorus slightly revised into

"So it's no, nay, never,
(Right up yer arse!)
No, never no more...."

Otherwise, the "well-known version."


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 01:44 PM

Er the living tradition then Lighter?

Ray

A folk song is a folk song ~ what else can you can them?

Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:12 PM

Really, Jim? We know the songs came from a wide variety of sources, mostly straight from the urban ballad writers but many first appeared in the theatre, pleasure gardens, supper rooms, music cellars, glee clubs, Music Hall, sheet music, songsters, etc., all commercial, in other words somebody was getting paid for their production, albeit only a shilling a go in the case of the broadside writers. The further you go back the more actually originated in London, for obvious reasons. Your 'Blind Beggar' for instance.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:23 PM

As no-one else has yet offered the author of The Demon Lover

Oops, that quiz question was addressed to me and I missed my chance of glory. Laurence Price, 1657, is the answer you're looking for. I did wonder for some time whether LP might have based it on an existing ballad (erecting his verbose and moralistic scaffolding around a traditional core), but it looks as though what happened there was a similar story to 'The Wild Rover'. I hadn't seen that Bruce O post before, actually.

And yes, I've heard the 'right up yer arse' chorus as well. Saves the sore hands.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:49 PM

Don't believe a word of it Steve - I'm afraid you're going to have to prove it - otherwise, we are stuck with the fact that we have nog got th faintest idea where they originated
We know that Mikeen to his father's songs and gave them to a printer which at the very least, shows that printing traditional songs for sale was a two way street
I don't believe for one minute that the hacks whose doggerel fills half a dozen of our shelves were anywhere capable of producing Sam Larner's or Harry Cox's or Walter's or Phil Tanner's gems with their obvious familiarity with the vernacular, trade names, work practices, folk-lore - and the hundred and one personal experiences recounted in the songs, often in intimate detail
It would take a hundred social historians a hundred years to fe that familiar with them
So far, all you can offer is the earliest date they went into print.
Are you really this certain that working people were incapable of expressing themselves poetically?
Not my experience - but maybe the Irish are more creative than the English!!
You are returning our people back to the old image of a creatively cultureless class
Shame on you
Even Child recognised who the songs belonged to when he called his ballads "Popular" - of the people, not how far they reached in the nineteenth century charts
Pitts referred to his output as "country songs" an did Issac Walton.
THe term "folk" was devised by Thom to identify it's home-made common origins rather than stall-bought artifacts
As I said - don't believe a word of it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM

I think you need to explain that last comment for the benefit of the uninitiated, Brian.

Price and Martin Parker occasionally parodied each other's work and I have evidence that they sometimes borrowed stanzas from tradition and from earlier ballads, but the vast majority of their output appears to have been original.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 03:06 PM

Jim, we've been through all of this before and you have deliberately misunderstood my comments exactly the same way numerous times. I have plenty of evidence as you well know, some of it mentioned above, that working people were often very creative, by way of song writing. It just so happens that the vast majority of them for one reason or another didn't get their songs into print and therefore they weren't spread abroad like the urban ballads. John Clare is an excellent example. Apart from his poetry and writing down the trad songs he came across he also rewrote quite a few songs in Burns' fashion, but none of them were ever collected in oral tradition. We are sometimes lucky to find them in old manuscripts but unfortunately very few made it into oral tradition to be collected and published.

>>>>don't believe a word of it<<<< Your prerogative, Jim.

'origins' as you well know have no bearing whatsoever on the oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 03:21 PM

I think you need to explain that last comment for the benefit of the uninitiated, Brian.

Er... yes, could be misunderstood...

No need to clap four times!

Interesting comment re Parker & Price.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM

Working with Steve Roud on the "Sussex Traditions" project, he makes it clear that any statements that we make on our website and database should be based on evidence that we can back up, whatever our presumptions or what we would like to believe or any statements by personal contacts or socio-political agenda that we bring with us. As I said above, I have not read this book yet but it is here waiting for a less busy time. However, I have read quite a number of his articles and know his approach pretty well.
The person who brings an evidential approach to the exchanges above is Steve Gardham. Interesting and well-argued thread, though, and 100+ posts without descending to insults is encouraging for Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM

"THE LITTLE SHIRT MY MOTHER MADE FOR ME"
This song was written by Harry Wincott. It was recorded by music hall singers not long after it was written. Wincott was born in London on New Year's Day 1867. He wrote a number of songs that have had an enduring popularity including "The Old Dun Cow", "Mademoiselle from Armentières" and the one I give above. My dad (born in rural Oxfordshire in 1914) used to sing it frequently around the house and as a youngster it drove me mad, but he sang it so frequently that I learned it word for word by osmosis. When I started encouraging the old singers of Sussex to come to our folk club, I started to hear it again. George Belton might sing it next to "The Bold Fisherman". George Spicer might sing it next to "The Barley Mow" Spicer's tune was substantially the same as my dad's but he had an extra verse that Wincott did not write. Belton's tune and rhythm was noticeably different from the way my dad sang it. The words all three sang were different from the way it was written. Belton had an extra verse that Wincott did not write. Bradley Kincaid's version (recorded 1933) and Wilf Carter's (1942) brought it into circulation again but not as much as Marty Robbins' from 1983. For a while it became a Country music standard.
In sense that we know who wrote it this is not a folk song. However, it behaves like a folk song; it has entered the oral tradition; it changes and develops; in the Sussex versions it becomes localised in Brighton; the people who sing it have no idea who wrote it or where it came from.
Steve Roud has included the various changed versions of The Little Shirt Me Mother Made For Me that were collected by prominent and well-respected song collectors from highly regarded traditional singers in Sussex.
Some here will right that this is right; others will say that it is wrong. I wonder how much it matters.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM

"Jim, we've been through all of this before and you have deliberately misunderstood my comments exactly the same way numerous times"
We have been though this and I haven't deliberately misunderstood you Steve
After fifty off years involved with folk son I would have to be pretty stupid to deliberately misunderstand anything and I find it extremely insulting that you should suggest such a thing
You passede off the Irish songmakers as retired people scribbling down poems, broadside hacks as revolutionaries making songs for the people, seagiong and farmeroking hacks which enabled them to come to terms with the vernacular and the work practices, English workers having no time to make songs because of pressure of work...... a series of off the top of the head excuses to explain the anomalies.... not a single shred of evidence beyond earliest
I have no intention of getting into a slanging match with you, but please don't insult me by saying I deliberately did anything
Pat and I have carried out thirty years of work with English and Irish singers, some of them still part of a living tradition.
I have presented our findings as best I can - that is what our singers told us - the Clare singers, the Travellers Walter and others.
I have not attempted to link origins with the oral tradition, so why bring it up unless you wish to throw up another smokescreen?
If you make such a groundbreaking statement which contradicts all previous opinions and knowledge, you really do need to back it up with more than insults and dismissal - anybody who claims a love of the songs and those who gave them to us owe them at least that.
Where is your evidence that our songs were made by hacks " all commercial, in other words somebody was getting paid for their production,"
You once said our folksongs were no different than those put out by music industry - now that's what I call insulting
"I wonder how much it matters."
Quite a lot to those of us who wish to understand it Vic
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 03:49 AM

I don't wish to extend this - I have made my position quite clear on the idea that our folk songs originated in print for money
I'll add a couple of points and leave it there for perhaps less acrimonious discussion
Steve mentioned Burns, who was collecting songs from unlettered Scots country people which he gave to James Johnson for publication in his 'Scots Musical Museum', the title of which declares the songs to be old
I dug out Mary Ellen Brown's 'Burns and the Tradition last night - this is her quote on Burns.

In a famous biographical letter to Dr Moore written after he had received acclaim as a poet, Burns described the influences he had come under when he was a boy and specifically mentions his mother and an old woman, loosely connected with the family, who provided him with an early stock of songs, tales, legends, beliefs, proverbs, and customs:

"In my infant and boyish days too, I owed much to an old Maid of my Mother's, remarkable for her ignorance, credulity and superstition. - She had, I suppose, the largest collection in the county of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, inchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery."

The oral artistic creations, cumulatively built and recreated, passed on from generation to generation, stable in general form but varied in individual performance, were his birthright and a natural and universal part of the general society in which he lived - where traditional custom, belief, and practice dominated and overt creativity and innovation were not sought. This traditionally oriented way of life and the oral artistic communications it supported and sustained played a far more signifi¬cant role in shaping and determining the directions of Burns' artistry than has been recognised.
Like all writers or creative artists, Burns was not an isolate; and he cannot be realistically divorced from the milieu in which he lived. He was a product of what had gone before and what was and his artistry often lay in uniquely blending, juxtaposing, or representing this. He was a part of a long tradition.

Steve had already conceded that the Bothie worker made songs by the hundreds unaided by printed versions - if them, why not other agricultural workers
I also dug out 'I have a Yong Suster', popular song and the Middle English Lyric, (Karin Boklund Lagopoulou, which examines song-making as far back as the 1300s and discusses at length oral composition in pre-literate Early England, comparing it to that common in Eastern Europe,.
My first clash with Steve was when he asked me disparagingly "do you believe that romantic rubbish" - not a good start to a sharing of ideas and experiences.
THere are a lot of us "romantics" about.
Time to mend fences perhaps
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 05:48 AM

Jim wrote:
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements

This gap in our knowledge is one that Roud's book sets out to fill, using sources like John Clare - who, in a happy coincidence as far as this thread is concerned, wrote down a full version of The Demon Lover, as sung by his mother in the first half of the 18th century.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 05:50 AM

Reposting for clarity with italics corrected:

Jim wrote:
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements

This gap in our knowledge is one that Roud's book sets out to fill, using sources like John Clare - who, in a happy coincidence as far as this thread is concerned, wrote down a full version of The Demon Lover, as sung by his mother in the first half of the 18th century.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 07:49 AM

>>>>>I have not attempted to link origins with the oral tradition,<<<<
>>>>>>THe term "folk" was devised by Thom to identify it's home-made common origins rather than stall-bought artifacts<<<<<<
>>>>>>he also rewrote quite a few songs in Burns' fashion<<<<<

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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM

Oh dear, that's nothing like what I posted. I give up!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 08:22 AM

Clare is one man talking about one song - you are talking about the entire repertoire
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 10:18 AM

I have ordered this book.am looking forward to it. I have learned a lot on this thread and have enjoyed it until it became an argument..why DOES that happen ?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 10:23 AM

Contention


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM

Clare is one man talking about one song - you are talking about the entire repertoire

There's more than one song in Clare's MSS if you care to sift through his poetic 'improvements'. But my point was that, although 18th / 19th C oral evidence is pretty scarce, at least Roud is trying to find it.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 12:55 PM

"There's more than one song in Clare's MSS i"
I know that Brian, I was referring to Steve's 'Demon Lover'
I also know evidence is difficult to fing so we must make do with common sense and the little information we have
Burns was on the sport and described a creative oral tradition.
Karin Boklund Lagopoulou describes similar dating back as far as the 1300s - presumably she has done her research
Throughout my time in folksong, there has never been any question that "the folk" made their own sons - Steve's in a new one on me and all he offers are earliest publication dates
Child in the mis 19th century describes the songs as "popular and the broadsides as dunghills and he was on the spot at the time - I'll buy that
Even Catnach described them as country songs
The general level of broadside poeetry has always been described as 'Doggerel' - we have a large number, from Roxborough to Ashton and HollowaY AND Black, none of which hold a candle to our folk songs
If there's nothing else, the poof of the pudding will do for now
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 01:11 PM

Child assumed that most of the songs he anthologised had come directly from oral tradition and that is why he used the word 'popular'. However a large chunk of them came from broadsides either directly or indirectly. He included those he selected on stylistic grounds mainly. Of course no one disputes that the bulk of the material on street literature could be described as dunghills.

>>>The general level of broadside poetry has always been described as 'doggerel'<<< Mainly by literary people I would add. When you have studied hundreds of thousands of examples of street literature you will realise that the level of poetry , idiom and language are pretty much the same as folksong.....As I rode out...Come all ye....far more common on broadsides than in folk song. The only difference is that those that entered oral tradition were the ones of value to the people that have become shaped by the people.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 02:08 PM

And in Roxburghe, Ashton and Holloway and Black you will find versions of many folk songs, but unless you already know the folk songs they evolved into you would have great trouble picking them out from the rest.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 02:28 PM

"And in Roxburghe, Ashton and Holloway and Black you will find versions of many folk songs"
You'll find some Steve, but they all are invariably broadside-type versions as unsingable as the rest, leaving me with the conclusion (everything else being taken into consideration) that theay are as likely as not to have ben taken from source singers rather than the other way round
If thye had been capable of making good songs there would be far more than there are
Child recognieed the ballad genre as "popular" (from the people) whether they appeared on broadside or not - print was all he had.
Bronso ices a far more overall view of the repertoire because he had access to field recordings - he always said he had enough for an additional volume
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 02:37 PM

>>>>> but they all are invariably broadside-type versions as unsingable as the rest, leaving me with the conclusion (everything else being taken into consideration) that they are as likely as not to have been taken from source singers rather than the other way round<<<<< Am I reading this wrong or is it a contradiction?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 03:38 AM

Sorry Steve I had that the wrong way round, not you
I thumbed through Holloway and Black last night and found there to be very few songs that have entrered the tradition - a few that could have had they not been so ham-fisted
Ironically, the few that I know to have been sung around the revival were the ones taken up by singers usually disapproved of by academics - Bert had a couple and I spotted two sung bt Critics Group members
I'm off to hospital for a hip operation of Thursday so I'm only going to be able to take tis so far, so I'm going to cover some of the important bits of our findings - ignore me or indulge me
THe Irish Travellers were the first group we recorded in 1973 - they had a living tradition, a fairly large spread repertoire of native rural Irish, political, own-made songs with English and Scottish ones thrown in
It turns out from ours and Tom Munnelly's experiences that they were major players in singing and passing on Child ballads and they were the most important group to distribute songs by selling them at the fairs - almost exclusively a Traveller occupation
The first man we recorded was "Pop's" Johnny Connors, from Wexford
He came from a singing and musical family and was related to the piper, Johnny Doran
He was a Traveller activist, fighting for sites in England alongside Gratton Puxon - he had been imprisoned in Birmingham for his activities in the late sixties and it was there he first learned to read - he wrote an autobiographical piece that was included in Jeremy Sandford's 'Gypsies'
He had leeaned his songs largely from family members - his Uncle made songs about his trade of catching and skinning rabbits and selling them for their fur
His brother-in-law, Little Bill Cassidy, was one of the most stylish singers we ever recorded (I'm pretty sure Brian has heard Bill)
One of the earliest songs he sang for us was the Traveller version of Edward - 'What Put the Blood' - he called it 'Cain and Abel'
He introduced it with this remarkable statement:
"I'd say the song, myself, goes back to.... depicts Cain and Abel in the Bible and where Our Lord said to Cain.... I think this is where the Travellers Curse come from too, because Our Lord says to Cain, "Cain", says Our Lord, "you have slain your brother, and for this", says Our Lord, says he, "and for this, be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth".
"Not so Lord" says he, "this punishment is too severe, and whoever finds me", says he, "will slay me, "says he "or harass me".
"Not so", says Our Lord, says he, "whoever finds Cain and punishes or slains (sic) Cain, I will punish them sevenfold".
And I think this is where the Travellers curse come from.
Anyway, the song depicts this, this er....
1 call it Cain and Abel anyway; there never was a name for the song, but that what I call it, you know, the depiction of Cain and Abel."

He described Travellers singing style at length, which he referred to as 'the Yawn':

(tune sung) That's the 'yawn' in the voice, dragged away, the yawn in the voice.
The 'yawn' is in the pipes, the uilleann pipes, which is among te oldest instruments among Travelling people, or among the world, is the pipes.
The breeding generation belonging to me, the Dorans, the Cashes, its all traditional musicians, this is in history.
Denis Turner Can you give us an example?
P J C. I gave you an example a few minutes ago, but I'll give it again.


The song he refers to he called 'The Green Shades of Yann' - an English language version of the Irish language The Brown Thorn An Droighneán Donn, which has been completely 'Travellerised' and set among the caravans and ponies rather than the usual rural setting.
Johnny was typical of the singers we questioned about their songs, knowledgeable, articulate and with strong opinions about them - not the passive "song birds" who learned songs from print and parroted what they'd heard uncritically - his main difference was that, up to a few yeears earlier ha=e was totally unable to read a word.
He also made songs, as did many Travellers na put stories to sme of them, like the description of a feud between two families, 'Poor Old Man' which can be heard on our CD 'From Puck ot Appleby'
His best song was a pride-filled evocation of the Travellers, Gum Shellac - here with note

Gum Shellac
(Roud 2508) 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, Wexford Traveller


We are the travelling people
Like the Picts or Beaker Folk,
The men in Whitehall thinks we're parasites
But tinker is the word.
With our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Move us on you boyoes.

All the jobs in the world we have done,
From making Pharaoh's coffins
To building Birmingham.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out you heroes.

We have mended pots and kettles
And buckets for Lord Cornwall,
But before we'd leave his house me lads,
We would mind his woman and all.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Well I have a little woman
And a mother she is to be,
She gets her basket on her arm,
And mooches the hills for me.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Dowdled verse.

We fought the Romans,
The Spanish and the Danes,
We fought against the dirty Black and Tans
And knocked Cromwell to his knees.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

Well, we're married these twenty years,
Nineteen children we have got.
Ah sure, one is hardly walking
When there's another one in the cot.
Over our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Get out of that you boyoes.

We have made cannon guns in Hungary,
Bronze cannons in the years BC
We have fought and died for Ireland
To make sure that she was free.
With a gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

We can sing a song or dance a reel
No matter where we roam,
We have learned the Emperor Nero
How to play the pipes
Way back in the days of Rome.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Whack it if you can me boyoes.

Dowdled verse.

Note
'Pop's' Johnny Connors, the singer of this song, is also the composer. He was an activist in the movement for better conditions for Travellers in the 1960s and was a partici¬pant in the Brownhills eviction, about which he made the song, The Battle of Brownhills, which tells of an unofficial eviction in the Birmingham area which led to the death of two Traveller children. An account of part of his experiences on the road is to be found in Jeremy Sandford's book Gypsies under the heading, Seven Weeks of Childhood. This was written while Johnny was serving a prison sentence in Winson Green Prison in the English Midlands. He said that further chapters of an intended biography were confiscated by the prison authorities and never returned to him on his release.
Gum shellac is a paste formed by chewing bread, a technique used by unscrupulous tinsmiths to supposedly repair leaks in pots and pans. When polished, it gives the ap¬pearance of a proper repair but, if the vessel is filled with water, the paste quickly disintegrates, giving the perpetrator of the trick just enough time to escape with his payment.

I've taken too long over this, but I think it important in the context of how I believe a living tradition worked - gathering, singing, passing on old songs and making new ones
I know this happened in Ireland, but she is our nearest neighbour and has been influenced by us for 8 centuries ? I see no reason why we can't take what happened here as a guide for what could well have happened in the English countryside
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 04:25 AM

His brother-in-law, Little Bill Cassidy, was one of the most stylish singers we ever recorded (I'm pretty sure Brian has heard Bill)

Indeed I have (recordings, anyway), and indeed he was!

Fascinating account, Jim.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM

I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying Martin Graebe's book on Rev, Sabine Baring-Gould, As I Roved Out [Signal, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7]. It is clearly the work of long meticulous research and is well written, based on evidence and devoid of speculation. If Martin has not found evidence for what aspects of what he has uncovered in his study of letters, manuscripts by and about this pivotal figure of the beginnings of the first revival then he states these clearly.
Just now, on page 165, I came across this paragraph that really stood out for me and I had to read it several times. It has direct relevance to the exchanges on this thread about the origins of folk song. Martin quotes a letter that Baring-Gould wrote to Lucy Broadwood from Lew Trenchard on 21st May 1891. He writes:-


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM

(Continued from previous post sent in error)

I have no great opinion about the words of many of our Folk Songs. I find most of them (not all) are to be detected in Broadsides. Of these I have 5 thick vols. and I have gone through all the vols. in the Brit. Mus. They are coarse, vulgar things and void of poetry, but I find that the traditional versions are almost invariably better than the broadside versions.


Baring-Gould writing this 120 years ago seems to accord with modern evidence-based research findings that most of our songs started off in the broadsides but it was the ones that were taken up by the singers and entered into the oral tradition that they became shaped and rounded and became more expressive and voiced in the common tongue. Songs were altered consciously or unconsciously and most regularly improved from the printed broadside version. Additions were made to and parodies made of the original. Sets of words were sung to different melodies that suited the voice and taste of the singer. The huge creativity of the traditional singers found much more expression in the adaptation, development & improvement of existing pieces rather than the making of new pieces. Not that this did not happen as Jim has eloquently given an example above,


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM

C'mon Vic - it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop
Wail I'm waiting, perhaps I might proffer a possible scenario for traditional songs on broadsided
I Writer bases himself in a pub that is frequented by countrymen in for the markets, or Merchant seamen, or fishermen, or soldiers and either sits in on singing sessions, roughly scribbling down plots, some words, a verse to give a form - enough to make a full song - then takes what he has off and makes a song of it to suit the tastes of his customers
Only a guess, but so is everything else so far
I've always been fascinated with David Buchan's theory of their being bo set ballad texts, just plots and commonplaces - I don't think he presented his case too well, but I think it possible
I watched MacColl as he grew old and began to forget words, but I never once saw him dry up - he was so familiar with the stories of his songs as to make up the memory gaps as he went along
As a MacColl buff I was familiar enough to notce when he did this - a coupple of times either he or Peggy caught my eye and acknowledged that I'd noticed
This is what many singers did
If I get time later, I'll describe the two examples we have of how songs were made, along with the songs   
"Fascinating account, Jim"
Thank's Brian, there really plenty mor where that came from
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:50 AM

" adaptation, development & improvement"
I totally disagree with this Vic -at least until it is backed up with documented evidence rather than opinions
Baring Gould, Sharp, et al were working when the tradition was in sharp decline and there in so record whatever of them treating collecting songs as artifacts, the way a butterfly collector regards his trophies.
Sharp came the nearest with 'Conclusions' and there are a couple of nice quotes in Fox-Strangways to suggest that he felt a warmth for some of his informants, but one of the greatest holes in our knowledge is the lack of an input by the singers.
I'm afraid thisis beginning to feel like a return to the 'free as Bird Song era'
This is one of the most offensive statements I have ever come across from someone who really should have known better, a note to Lake of Col Fin from "the Vermont collection, New Green Mountain Songster by Phillips Barry in 1939:

"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de-jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk".   
JIm Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 07:07 AM

I totally disagree with this Vic -at least until it is backed up with documented evidence rather than opinions.

Then we will have to leave it, Jim. You are surrounded, here and in many books and articles, by massive amounts of evidence that, as you quote, "Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin" but you won't be moved, so further discussion would be pointless.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 08:51 AM

There is no "massive evidence" - only academic argument - we don't now how the songs were made or who made them, but personal experience has proved to me that 'the folk' - even those from the lowest regarded section of society, were well capable of making songs
These songs were made and sung as entertainment, just as Barbara Cartland and Charles Dickens wrote their books to entertain - two ends of a literary spectrum - at one end masses of social history and insight into the human condition, at the other, pink froth
One of the things that has been largely ignored about our folksongs is the social history they carry
If I want to know about the nuts and bolts of the Battle of the Nile, I go to the military records and scholarly studies of the subject
If I want to know how it felt for a ploughboy or weaver or land labourer to be conned into the army, stuck in a uniform, given a gun and thrust into the midst of a bloody battle, I go to the songs
Why on earth should a hack concern himself on such matters - it's not as if he was writing for a revolutionary anti-war rural or urban population who were lapping up such tragedies?
Same with all those social misalliance songs - what profit was there writing about some girl whining because her old man wouldn't let her marry the hired help?
These songs carry a feel of knowledge and emotion that reflects personal experience, expressed in a vernacular that rings of reality
I find it very easy to separate a genuine Irish song from an 'Oirish' one created by a hack
Harry Cox once sang 'Betsy the Serving Maid for MacColl and Lomax - when he finished he spat out "and that's how they thought of us" - that's what I call involvement in your art
When he sang Van Diemans Land he launched into a diatribe about the land seizures and Enclosures - again, identification that goes way beyond entertainment.
These songs became "ours" wherever they were sung - very few writers or poets have ever achieved that level of communication
If there is "masses amounts of evidence" - where is it - so far we have only the opinions of researchers and academics - outsiders all
Apart from everything else, these songs were circulated and being referred to centuries before we had universal literacy
People tend to forget that first performances of Hamlet and King Lear were being performed to the sweepings of the London streets - as late as the early twentieth century the 'Fit Ups and Travelling theatres were taking the same plays around to Irish villages in the areshole of nowhere for the delectation of small farmers and land labourers - the dumbing down of our society has a lot to answer for
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM

Jim says
Harry Cox once sang 'Betsy the Serving Maid for MacColl and Lomax - when he finished he spat out "and that's how they thought of us" - that's what I call involvement in your art.

... and Vic reminds Jim that on his own admission, Harry learned nearly all of his songs from broadsides which were kept in a box on top of the wardrobe in his bedroom and that the songs were changed in his handling of them (which might be a fact that is more relevant to the discussion).

I'm afraid that I feel that Jim's long posts do not serve to clarify anything about the facts of the origins of the songs and his unwillingness to concede a single point that others have made here makes these interactions futile. I respect Jim's great knowledge and his huge contribution but cannot abide his dogmatism. It makes me feel that discussions with him are of the order of What Came First - the chicken or the egg? where looking into the faults inherent in the question are not addressed.
So, no more from me on this one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 10:06 AM

Bob THomson interviewed Harrry Cox extensively and pasted up all his broadsides in the late sixties
Harry collected them but told Bob he learned very few of his songs from them - I have no evidence of the varacity of that claim
It's not true that he learned all his songs from them anyway - Harry and his brother both learned songs locally and from family members
Even if he doid, it takes us no nearer to where the songs originated
in the end it boil;s down to one single fact Vic - if rural workers were capable of making songs they most certainly did - there is no reason to believe the traditional repertoire didn't come from that source and every reason to believe that it didn't
That is not dogmatic,0 but I'm afraid a continual insistence on something on which you have and can have no evidence is
"Bring your witness luv and I'll never deny you"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM

Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to continue this - off to hospital on Thursday for a new hip and I'll be out of your hair for a week - so I'll put my important bits up now.
There is an over-riding feature of all this
Since I first came into folk-song, the full accepted idea was that 'The Folk' made their songs (some argument about the ballads, but little else)
My friend, Bob Thomson introduced me to the idea that many of them had appeared on broadsides, but he never made claims of authorship to my recollection.
My view of folk song was summed up perfectly by MacColl's extremely moving final statement in the Song Carriers series:

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island.
We are indebted to the Harry Coxes and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie MaccDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and to all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our people's songs across the centuries"


When I put this up in a discussion, Steve G's response was "do you believe that romantic rubbish?" - well, yes I did, and still do and will continue to until contrary evidence is produced - the songs are to me, 'The Voice of the People'
Working people have always been regarded as having no creative culture of their own part from their songs, music and tales - Steve's "broadside creations" theory is very much a new kid on the block
The consequences for his claim are socially and culturally enormous - for people like me, catastrophic.
If we are going to take away the claim of ownership of working people and leave them totally devoid of cultural creation we're are going to have to be damn sure we have got it right
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 11:31 AM

Jim wrote:-
Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to continue this - off to hospital on Thursday for a new hip

I hope the operation is a great success, Jim and that you recover greater mobility and freedom for pain. Tina has had both her hips replaced in recent years and after following a subsequent rigid exercise routine, the quality of her life has been greatly improved. I hope it is the same for you.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 12:06 PM

I'm sure it will be Vic - thanks - it's my second, the other one was a new life
I'll be happier if they remember the headphones this time - I'm not sure I can handle, "hand me that nail nurse" again!!
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM

Jim,
My very best wishes for you and your new hip.

I have told you on many occasions how much great respect I have for you and your work. We are I am sure all of us united in our love for traditional music. The origins are pretty much irrelevant to this. The ownership comes from adoption and re-creation. Let us dwell on this.

BTW Johnny Doran is one of my favourite all-time pipers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM

"Let us dwell on this."
Sory Steve - to important to avoid this
Are you seriously suggesting we should let the only creative activity attributable to working people slip away from us without a debate
You made the statement ? - back it up with facts or withdraw it
Johnny was wonderful - we once had to pull his large extremely brother (appropriately nicknamed "Thump") down into his chair in a pub to stop him weighing into a bunch of local yobs who were pissing through a pub window and giving the very young barmaid a hard time
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 01:51 PM

Jim,

Whilst I don't have the knowledge and experience in this field that you and other recent contributors to this thread have, I find the comment in your last post quite perplexing.

Unless I'm completely missing the point, you appear to be suggesting that: 'folk song' is the only creative activity attributable to working people. That is patently absurd. What did you mean?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 02:16 PM

>>>>>- back it up with facts or withdraw it.<<<<<

That's absurd, Jim, and you must know it. Your own standpoint that the songs were created by ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds, can you back this up with one shred of evidence when applied to published English traditional song? The last time you attempted this one of them turned out to be an American whaling song adapted by Bert!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 03:02 PM

"can you back this up with one shred of evidence when applied to published English traditional song?"
Of course I can't, and your "ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds" is somewhat disingenuous - I never mantioned any of those - try, Travellers rural workers and village carpenters and you might be neareer
the mark - you've never really dropped your "romantic nonsense" insult, have you?
my point was, is, and will remain that it is highly likely that these songs were possibly made by the rural working class - I've produced evidence that backs up that likelihood - where's yours?
My mistake regarding Bert's adaptation was down to the fact that I was taken in by a skilful folkie - That's not going to happen again, certainly not here.

This is a song we recorded from aan elderly Clare man livinbg in Deptford, South East London, he came from a mile or so from here in West Clare but had lived in England singe 1946
Mikey was essentially a dancer - one of the best in the area; he as also a repository of short tales, including a 'yarn' version of The Bishop of Canterbury and a tale called 'The Merchant and the Fiddler's Wife' which appeared in Durfey' Pills as a song which I have never found another version of anywhere else - certainly not in the oral tradition - the si=ung verse is almost identical to Durfey's
I think the not gives most of the background except that the four men who made the song stood at the crossroads a few days after the incident and threw verses at one another until they came up with the full song
We've traved relaatives to everybody mentioned in the song
Jim Carroll

The Quilty Burning.

Mikey Kelleher (originally from Quilty)

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door".

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass".

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen".

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon".

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
"By damned", said Tom Clancy, "'tis now we want rain".

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "there's an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is an awful state;
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place".

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

(Spoken) "I suppose there was an' all".

The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.
We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man.
We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6; "that's my father he's singing about".

The Quilty Burning.
Mikey Kelleher (originally from Quilty)

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door".

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass".

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen".

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon".

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
"By damned", said Tom Clancy, "'tis now we want rain".

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "there's an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is an awful state;
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place".

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

(Spoken) "I suppose there was an' all".

The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.
We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man.
We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6; "that's my father he's singing about".


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM

I'm sorry, Jim, but none of this has any relevance to the published corpus of English folk song, interesting though it is.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM

Any answer to my question, Jim?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 05:24 PM

" the only creative activity attributable to working people."
THat has always been the point of view of teh establishment - maybe I should have said 'artistic creative activity representing their own lives and experiences)
What did you have in mind?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 05:27 PM

Sorry Ed - should have apologised - didn't see your message earlier
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM

I just want to add some of my own experiences to this debate, with the greatest respect to the scholars above. To do this I am going to have to write about myself, so I'll make it quick and try not to be too dramatic.
The point I want to make is very simple. I do not know what a Folk Song is, but I certainly know what it isn't. There has been a lot of talk about evidence and the only evidence I have is the life I have lived. I left home at 17 and for the most part have been living on my wits ever since. At one time I was playing music in the street to survive, I have travelled round the West country, sleeping under hedges, busking to get enough for food for the next day. Yes of course I make money from Folk Songs but I don't think that demeans the art in any way. I fell in with the Gypsies decades ago learning their Art, songs and lifestyle first hand, and was taught how to earn a living with the streangth in my hands and what ever is between my ears, living half in a house and a trailer, and I married a Romany Gypsy lass.
When it comes to songs and singing the relevance of a song has to be measured against the life of the singers who hear it. If it passes that test, weather it be printed on a Broadsheet 250 years ago or composed last week, it will be sung as an expression of that experience. It doesn't mean it's somehow better or worse for that, but it does mean it may be viewed as relevant to that huge mass of musical excellence we call Folk Song. My best freinds wife (a Romany) sat me down and taught me 'The Tanyard side' face to face as she was taught by her Mother. My singing teacher and freind the late Bill House taught me how to sit, how to breath and how to project a song as he taught me 'One night as I lay on my bed' as his father taught him when Bill was six years old in 1906, the same year as his father sang it to the Hammond Brothers.
So yes-I know a folksong when I hear it, whatever it's background. It's a simple emotional recognition, that will capture your attention, make you smile in appreciation, or shake your head in sympathy. That, I believe is where in begins and ends, and it matters not how many arguments are raised for and against any academic point. Folk Song differs from other music as night does to day wrote Bert Lloyd, but when does day become or night become day? The answer is when ever you decide.
That said I still intend buying and reading the book.
kind regards
Nick


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 03:53 AM

Thanks for that contribution, Nick. I feel very honoured to have worked with you and hope our paths cross again.

I think both Jim and I and others on this forum would agree completely with your viewpoint.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM

Yes Folk song is the expression of life and life experience in all its glory and the feelings expressed by the singer in its singing

I have heard many singers who know all the words and many, some of the younger singer too who have all the musical accompaniment but simply in my mind lack the true empathy in the song

That is the essence of folk song: ~ the words sung more often than not unaccompanied ~ and I read somewhere that songs become part of the singer they are carried by the singer and performance will and can change in "how" the singer is able to carry the empathy on that occasion ~ many factors will of course influence that (beer, age of singer, state of health etc

Yes slightly off topic ~ but the original song composition and its worth in the "society" it was created (no idea when or by whom) even if it were a Broadside, Music hall song or newly created at the time has no relevance ~ if the singer understands the underlying empathy then his performance is paramount

Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM

"I'm sorry, Jim, but none of this has any relevance to the published corpus of English folk song, interesting though it is."
And the folk songs that appeared on broadsides have no relevance to the origin of our folk song in m opinion, interesting though they are

Nick Dow
Thanks for your fascinating contribution ? a couple of things you wrote should be framed and hung up on the wall of everybody with a serious interest in and love of folk song
The problem with folk song academic research is that it goes in fashions and is discarded for new models like old shoes
In 1909, American researcher Francis Gummere (The Popular Ballad) came up with the idea of 'communal composition', that some of our folk songs were made by groups rather than individuals.
That fell out of fashion and is now pooh-poohed by the in crowd
Taking definitive stances, which I think is what we are arguing about here, will guarantee our remaining ignorant about probably one of the most neglected and rejected aspects of our culture 'The songs of the People'
The song I put up above, 'The Quilty Burning' was composed by four anonymous men; the one below was made on the morning of a wedding by a group of Traveller lads sitting on a grassy bank outside the church on the day of the wedding humourously predicting how the marriage taking place would end up
We recorded about half dozen versions of this, each time we were told to be careful who we played it to, which is why we have never used it.
The couple were still living back then and the singers didn't wish to embarrass them ? blind singer, Mary Delaney told us laughing, "Paddy's my cousin and he'd murder me if he found I'd sung it to you"
The song deals with 'made matches' a marriage done through a matchmaker ? such songs are to be found throughout the oral tradition ? some about willing marriages, but most about enforced ones
The woman in the song was chosen because of her skill at one of the traditional Traveller trades, buying, cleaning and re-selling old feather matresses
We got the background of the song from our friend, Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, who was at the wedding. And witnessed the song being made
All the singers and the couple are now dead
Tom Munnelly recorded a version sung by John Reilly (of Well Below the Valley fame); it can be heard on Topic Album, 'Bonny Green Tree' - John called the groom, Bold William Delaney', possibly to save him embarrassment

Paddy McInerney
My name is young Paddy McInerney,
And a brave County Down lad I been,
In the search of a wife I came travelling,
Till I came to old Butterfin (sic) Town.

Now the first man I met was Red Danny,
And then he start talking to me,
He invited me up to the waggon,
And 'twas brandy he ordered for me.

The first thing he drew down was the dealing
And the next was Doll Julia to me,
He was bragging and boasting what a hawker,
Round the green hills of old Cahermee

The first month I married her, 'twas lovely,
And the second, we could not agree,
And the third one she wore on the trousers
And she then came the boss over me.

Now all ye young men and fair maidens,
A warning let ye take by me,
Be never bought by a piebald or a waggon,
Just like I was in old Cahermee.

I have more to say about 'The Quilty Burning' and the significance of such songs to the folk song repertoire ? I included it in this posting at some length but lost the ******* posting
On second thoughts, perhaps it's just as well as it was far too long anyway
Im Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 06:58 AM

I'm disappointed that a lot of the recent additions to this thread have been yet another re-run of the argument about origins.

Setting aside for a moment songs of more recent origin, such as in the music halls, and focussing on the songs that the early collectors accepted as being proper "folk" songs, Baring-Gould (thank you Vic 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM and Martin) already observed that most of them existed in broadsides. Another hundred-odd years of evidence confirm that the earliest known versions of most of them are in broadsides or other print.

Steve G and others believe that in most cases those printed version were the originals, although some may have been taken from already existing oral versions. Jim believes it's the other way round, basing his belief partly on internal evidence in the songs that the people who made them had first hand experience of their subjects, and partly on documented instances of song writing by "the folk" in recent times.

Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that (at least in this particular thread) and focus our attention on the songs' subsequent propagation and evolution?

Steve Roud maintains that what makes a song a folk song is not where it started but what people do with it. Vic's 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM post about "The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me" is a beautiful illustration of that. (Opinions about the aesthetic worth of that particular song are a separate matter entirely. The same processes have been at work on all sorts of songs, from dirty doggerel to big ballads.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:12 AM

"Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that"
Steve's claim on makes that totally impossible Richard - it would make the singers of these claims of composition totally out of the question if virtually all had originated in print
To Understand the importance of these songs to our history and culture it is essential to work out who made them and why they were made - hack made songs for money cast an entirely different light on that understanding
The common acceptance has been that they were mostly made by the people they were about - Steve still passes that off as romantic nonsense
It may not be important to a singer, but the importance of these song transcends that
I'l continue with this until it's settled one way or the other - sorry - too much of an issue for me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:38 AM

Can I jus say here that throughout my time on Mudcat I have regarded it as ludicrous that it is virtually impossible to discuss vital subject such as folk song definitions and MacColl without them ending in acrimony and name calling
Please don't make this yet another no-go area
We are all adults and if we are not capable of behaving as such with serious, if contentious subjects we may as well settle down comfortably in our armchairs with The Readers Digest
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 08:44 AM

I've now jumped ahead, in reading the book, to 'Folk Song In Its Natural Habitat', the book's Part 3. (I promise to go back and read Part 2 later!) I'm finding part 3 a much speedier read, partly because it is more unequivocally folk-song related, rather than shading off into folk's porous boundaries with other music.

I do feel, overall, that Roud's book is (at least) two books rather than one. And that an analogous specialist writing in another discipline (say, a history of World War II, or a history of European painting, or a history of French jazz) would not have needed an equivalent to the 219 pages that make up Part 1: these can be loosely summarised as 'what is a folk song?'; and 'who collected the folk songs and how?'. Roud does have a habit of saying things like "of course, a history of folk song collection is not a history of folk song" (I'm paraphrasing from memory here), before giving us a near-book-length history of folk song collection. Or stating, that the Revival is beyond the book's remit, but then giving us a 17-page history of the Revival. I think if I'd started the book with Part 2, read onto Part 3, and then regarded Part 1 as a kind of appendix, I'd probably have finished reading it by now and found it a smoother read. Everything in the book is interesting, but I'm not sure it all needs to be in the same book.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM

Why is folk song definition so VITAL?

If I hear a song and enjoy it I will probably want to learn it and sing it no matter what it's origin. I am interested to know where it came from if that is known yes, but if it's origins are lost in the annals of time so what. I will still enjoy it.

Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin
is time wasted.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 11:13 AM

an analogous specialist writing in another discipline (say, a history of World War II, or a history of European painting, or a history of French jazz) would not have needed an equivalent to the 219 pages that make up Part 1: these can be loosely summarised as 'what is a folk song?'; and 'who collected the folk songs and how?'.

Sometimes they do. Books on the Crusades have a problem that they were mostly fought by people, on all sides, who had no label for what was going on - the modern idea of a "crusade" came along after it was all over. And books on the wars of the 20th century could certainly do with a recognition that both WW1 and WW2 started before they were declared and continued long after they officially finished, involving people who weren't recognized as combatants by any diplomatic protocol.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 11:24 AM

"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin"
Only to those who can't see beyond their own personal interests Hoot
Go count how many books there are on Shakespeare, despite the fact that his plays were only there to be acted - take every aspect of music, literature, art... throughout our entire history and come back and tell me that this doen't apply equally - even pop music
It's good to reminded of why MacColl broke with Ballads and Blues and formed a club for the genuine lovers of The Songs of the People in all its aspects
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 11:37 AM

"books on the wars of the 20th century could certainly do with a recognition that both WW1 and WW2 started before they were declared and continued long after they officially finished, involving people who weren't recognized as combatants by any diplomatic protocol"

Yes, but that's not really the equivalent. Have you ever read a book on World War II that dedicated a chapter to asking the question "what is a war?", before going on to provide 200 pages of potted history of other historians who've written about World War II?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 12:09 PM

I've only got the rest of today before I drop out of this for a week or so, so I'll make the point I tried to this morning
'The Quilty Burning' represents an important period of Irish history, the period between the Easter rising and the signing of the Treaty, 1916 to 1922
Those six years produced thousands of Irish folk songs on the War of Independence, some made as deliberate propaganda pieces, but the majority were the reactions of 'ordinary' people to the events that were taking place
These latter sprang up in every County in Ireland, made by locals, accepted for a time and mainly disappearing when the events that inspired them faded from memory.
They are proof positive that farm workers, labourers, trades men and women, fishermen, even children, were capable of making songs on any subject that took their interest.
The only differences between Ireland and Britain was firstly, that Ireland still had a thriving singing tradition at the time providing a suitable matrix for making songs, also Irish history, especially since the Famine, provided a mass of subjects to inspire, even demand new songs.
Terry Moylan's huge book, 'The Indignant Muse', contains many of these locally made songs and his researches uncovered many more he was unable to use.
Politics wasn't the only subject of course ? I put up a Travellers song on 'made matches' that has never seen the light of day.
This is a Clare song on a similar theme made well about ten miles from the singer, Matin Long's home ? this one never made it into print either and the author is also unknown.

That Cold Man by Night.   Martin Long, Tooreen, Inagh, Recorded July 1975
I am a handsome comely maid; my age is scarce eighteen,
I am the only daughter of a farmer near Crusheen,
'Tis married I intend to be before its winning daylight,
Oh, my father wants me to get wed to a cold man by night.

This man being old, as I am told, his years are sixty-four,
I really mean to slight him, for he being wed before,
His common shoes are always loose, and his clothes don't fit him right,
Oh I don't intend the wife to be of that cold man by night.

The very next day without delay they all rode into town,
To a learned man they quickly ran the contract to pin down;
Into an inn they did call in to whet their whistles nigh,
In hope that I would live and die with that cold man by night.

My father came, I did him blame and thus to him did say,
"Oh father dear, you acted queer in what you done today,
In the Shannon deep I'll go and sleep, before the mornings light,
Before I'll agree the wife to be of that cold man by night".

"Oh daughter dear, don't say no more, or be a foolish lass,
For he has a house and four good cows, and a sporting fine black ass,
He has a handsome feather bed where ye may rest by night,
So change your life and be the wife of that cold man by night".

"Oh father dear, don't say no more, for I'll tell you the reason why,
Before I'll agree the wife to be, I'd first lay down and die,
In the Shannon deep I'll go and sleep before the mornings light,
Before I'll consent to be content with that cold man by night.

My match is broke, without a joke, I'll marry if I can,
Before (???) is over I'll have a nice young man,
That will take me in his arms in a cold and frosty night,
And some other dame might do the same with that cold man by night.

The practice of young women being pressurised or even forced into arranged marriages of convenience to older men has inspired many songs throughout these islands; sometimes depicting the tragedy or resigned bitterness of the situation the woman finds herself in, but occasionally, as with this one, open defiance, with a touch of humour.
This appears to be a locally-made song; we have been unable to find another example of it outside Clare.
Particularly interesting is the description of the visit to the matchmaker (the "learned man") and the celebratory ceremony to seal the 'made match'.

And another on the equally popular subject of changing fashions, from Tom Lenihan of Miltown Malbay, which must have been made when Tom was in his twenties
The action of the song takes place a few miles from where the 'Cold Man by Night originated

The Bobbed Hair (Roud 3077)
Tom Lenihan Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay Recorded 1976
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

I feel depressed and sad tonight, my heart is filled with woe,
Since I met my Biddy darling when we parted long ago.
I remember when we parted how the sun came shining down
On that fair and handsome creature and her lovely locks of brown.

When I met her I was horrified, I could not understand
What made her locks so ugly now that once was sweet and grand.
I gazed in silent wonder, yes, I looked and looked again;
My heart near burst asunder when I found she had bobbed her hair.

I said: 'Biddy dear, what happened you, that you looked so neat and trim
The night we kissed and parted in the road near Corofin?'
I asked why she had shorn her locks, she smiled and made a bow,
And the answer that she made was: 'Tis all the fashion now.'

Ah, to see my darling's hair, too, it was a lovely sight,
And although 'tis hard to make me cry, I shed some tears that night.
Before we left I asked her how this bobbing first began,
'Some years ago,' she said, 'you know, 'twas done by Black and Tans!'

Farewell, dear Bid, I'm clear fed up, there is no bobbed hair for me.
Our partnership we must dissolve, I'm horrified to see,
The locks that nature gave to thee, oh, just for fashion's sake
Clipped off, and now you neck is bare, like Paddy McGinty's drake.

Of course I know the times have changed, but I'll allow for that,
And shingled hair looks horrible beneath a nice new hat.
And why don't fashions doff the shawl our grannys used to wear?
Some has done it still and always will but they have not bobbed their hair.

The ass brays in a strong protest and swears he will not move
And goats upon the mountains bleat that fashions may improve
The swallows are about to leave, no more we'll see the hare
And stalks are burned with the blight since the women bobbed their hair.

Conversation between Tom Lehihan and Jim Carroll after the song:
Jim: Who do you reckon made that song?
Tom: Well, it was supposed that 'twas Paddy Jordan that composed it, but when he was asked about it, he said that he never composed it. That song is over sixty years.
Jim: Paddy Jordan was a Miltown man, was he?
Tom: He was a Miltown man.

Note
Bobbed Hair ? Tom Lenihan
Styles and fashions have long been a subject for humour in song.
Tom's song on a lover lamenting an early 20th century hairstyle is one of the best we have come across.
The locating of the song in Corofin appears to indicate that it was locally made; Tom said it was a great favourite there, and the reference to 'Black and Tans puts it some time after independence.
The latter refers to a punishment meted out by the Tans to women in households harbouring Republicans, as dramatized in the film, 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
It was also used by the Resistance in Europe during world War Two to those who consorted with German soldiers.
'The Bobbed Hair' is echoed by an American Ozark song of the late 1920s which pleads;

"Why do you bob your hair girls?
It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you,
To bear the flapper's name."

I really do believe that anybody claiming that our folk songs originated from the pens of professional song makers need to face the fact that country people from all over these islands were perfectly capable of making them themselves without help
If the were capable of it, why didn't they do it?
There are plenty more examples to choose from on every subject under the sun
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM

Jim,

I asked why folk song definition is vital.

"genuine lovers of The Songs of the People in all it's aspects" ????

I don't know who you mean by that. Presumably only those who agree with your own personal views and interests. The fact that some of us do not see the point in endlessly looking for something which cannot be defined to everyone's satisfaction does not mean that we do not enjoy some of the end product as much as you.

It seems My ignorance of Shakespeare is greater than I thought. I was under the impression that he or Bacon or whoever wrote plays to entertain an audience and earn a living. Obviously you know better.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 01:07 PM

Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin is time wasted.

I'd been waiting for that one to come up!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 01:20 PM

Why on earth should the fact that people (very much like myself) enjoy Shakespeare's plays stop anybody enquiring further into his art?
I, like Nock Dow, have no problem whatever recognising or defining a folk song when I hear one - there are libraries of literature to assist if I ever have the slightest problem in doing so
Personally, I spent thirty years asking source singers what it was and had no problem with what they told me.
What makes me laugh about you people is that if I or anybody else ever suggested that you have it have the same interest as you do, yo're the first up on your chairs screaming "folk police", but you have no hesitation it screaming the odds when our interests part from yours
"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin" is about as 'kick in the door and burn the books" as it gets
Kindly mind your own business and let me decide for myself what my interests are
"I don't know who you mean by that. "
You really have no concept that folk songs might have more to offer than to be sung - you astound me?
Long live education eh!
Jim Carroll
Your "folk police" might have I point if I behaved like you
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 01:38 PM

"I'd been waiting for that one to come up!"
Me too
I always wonder what these people have to hide
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 04:40 PM

Richard
Fully agree.
Jim has given his twopennorth. I've given mine. Others have contributed. No doubt some people will sit in the middle. If Jim is the only one I need to convince then I know that's never gonna happen! I'll still be interested to know what he has to say when he's read the book.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 05:09 PM

Jim
Methinks ye hev been trolled!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:37 PM

" If Jim is the only one I need to convince then I know that's never gonna happen! I'll still be interested to know what he has to say when he's read the book."
Sorry Steve - you have given no evidence to back your claim, which flies in the face of every scrap of scholarship I have ever come across and is totally at odds by my own experiences and conclusions
Kite flying theories without evidence and without a single rational response only convinces me that your claims have no foundation in reality
You originally attempted to dismiss all the examples I put up as 'retired people scribbling poems in their spare time' - your refusal to even acknowledge the examples, the implication that song making was commonplace within the the tradition and the possible extent of them makes you somewhat dishonest (I really don't say that lightly, nor do I say it to insult you - it upsets me deeply that I have reached that conclusion about a fellow folk song enthusiast I once respected, even though I didn't agree with him)
My idea of genuine research is to take every piece of evidence offered, examine it, accept it if it works and explain why it doesn't if it doesn't convince me
I have done my level best here to do exactly that - you have not had the courtesy to do that.
You have responded with evasion, dishonesty and at time insults "ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds" - not the thing I have come to expect from serious people
You started off offering me character references of people who supported you, now we have come full circle "If Jim is the only one I need to convince"
Shame on you
Are you really so arrogant as to believe everybody but me accepts your unproven theory?
I find this last posting at best patronising, but rather, hurtful and nasty towards a fellow researcher - if there was nothing else, I would accept that as an indication that you are not able to defend your theory.
Personally, I don't gve a toss how many people believe something if it doesn't hold water
You theory doesn't and your behaviour here is an indication that you are aware of that and are not prepared to talk it through.
Fine by me
I'm giving a talk on our work at Galway University in November - you've just managed to add a whole new section to it.
I can handle trolls - they are easy
I realluy can't handle this level of discussion
Yours sadly
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 07:45 PM

It seems that Jim needs to read Steve's book if he really wants evidence - but somehow I doubt that he will........Sadly.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 08:03 PM

For your interest, here are a list of unpublished songs local to West Clare from our collection, all with no named author and all made within the lifetimes of the singers

Around the hills_of_clare
Bad Year sung by John Lyons
Beautiful Town of Kilrush sung by Michael Falsey
Blessed Christmas Day sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Bobbed Hair sung by Tom Lenihan
Broadford Prisoners sung by John Lyons
Cahermurphy sung by Josie Baker
Cattle Drivers sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan
Clare election songs
Clare To The Front sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan
Devalera_election_song
Donkey sung by Paddy Flanagan
Down By Mount Callan Side
Drunken Bear
Dudley Lee The Blackleg sung by Martin Howley
East Clare Election sung by Martin Howley
Fair At Doonbeg sung by Vincie Boyle
Fair Of Sixmilebridge sung by John Lyons
Farewell To Belharbour sung by Katie Droney
Farewell to Lissycasey sung by Vincie Boyle
Farewell to Miltown Malbay
Five Pilots of Kilbaha
Fourth Battalion of Mid-Clare
Francie Hynes sung by Michael Falsey
Girl from_clahandine
Gleesons Of Coore sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Grazier's Song
Green_flag_of_erin
Hills of Shanaway sung by Winifred Walsh
Hillside of Beenavane
John From Kilkee sung by Pat MacNamara
Johnny Boland
Kilkee Drowning sung by Martin Reidy
Kilrush Josie Baker
Lament for Willie Clancy sung by Marty Malley
Leon 1.
Leon 2
(three more songs on The Leon unrecorded but handwritten)
Heroes of Quilty
Lone Shanakyle sung by Michael Straighty Flanagan
Lovely Old Miltown sung by Peggy McMahon
Mac and Shanahan sung by Tom Lenihan
Mac and Shanahan (different song on same subject)
Memories of Clare
Men of County Clare sung by Tom Lenihan
Miltown Malbay Fair
Misses Limerick Kerry and Clare sung by Tom Lenihan
Murder of Mrs O'Mara sung by Martin Howley
My Eileen
My Native County Clare sung by Nora Cleary
Nora Daly sung by Tom Lenihan
Old Grey mare 2 versions
Pride of Kilkee sung by Tom Lenihan
Pub Down in Coore sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Querrin Bay Drowning sung by Michael Falsey
Quilty Burning
Quilty Song sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Another Quilty Song sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Rineen Ambush Five songs under this title)
Shannon Scheme Shannon Scheme
St. Brigid's Well sung by Jamesie McCarthy
That Cold Man by Night
There Is A Hero sung by Pat McNamara
St. Brigid's Well sung by Jamesie McCarthy
That Cold Man by Night
The Drovers Song (cattle rustling songs from the Land Wars)
There Is A Hero sung by Pat McNamara
Tirmanagh Hill sung by Peggy McMahon
Tobins of Kilmaley Nora Cleary
Vale of Fermoyle sung by Martin Howley
Village of Quilty
West Clare Railway (three complete songs and two fragments)


Apart from these there are over one hundred songs published for the first time in 1970 under the title ?Ballads of Clare? ? all made in the first half of the twentieth century and all from East Clare   
If that isn?t proof that rural people are not natural songmakers, I don?t know what is
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 08:14 PM

"It seems that Jim needs to read Steve's book if he really wants evidence - but somehow I doubt that he will........Sadly."
Perhaps you can give a summary Tim - Steve hasn't so far
I have dipped into the relevant sections of the book carefully and am half way through it page for page and have not found a shred so far
Can you please explain to me how there can possibly be evidence when even Steve has admitted that our knowledge of the oral tradition does not go back further than the beginning of the 20th century?
You join Steve G in his insults when you suggest that I won't read it - how dare you make such an assumption
Sorry folks - all this unpleasantness is proof positive that no proof either way exists and thos who believe there is substitute nastiness for honest argument
Why will none of you respond to the points I have put up honestly and decently?
THey really are there to be knocked down, but it takes more than denials, evasion and character references
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Oct 17 - 10:32 PM

Jim - you have a wonderful record of collecting songs - all in the later 20th century. Must - if not all - of Steve's theories relate to the collections made in the early 20th century, IMHO a significantly different period.
I have actually not read Steve's book - but I have been to one of his presentations of the contains - that was very specific (however I don't have notes), and I found it very appealing.
I too have been studying the same period and I too have found examples of the existence of broadside versions of songs collected by Gardiner in particular.
Personally - I am interested in singing the songs and who sang them - not their origins - but if I find a connection to a broadside, I have to assume something......

I wish you well with your op, and I am sorry if you thought my comments insulting - but I hope you do glean something from Steve's book - it is 700 pages long, and he has been working on it for a very long time and has significant knowledge - so there is probably some truth between the covers.....

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 02:23 AM

"you have a wonderful record of collecting songs -"
Please don't patonise me Tim - if you think that all I've done is collect songs and learned nothing from them, you insult me as much as Richard and Steve does
Steve's comments may relate to the early twentieth century collections, but his definitive statement covers the entire reperoire, including the ballads - his contemptuous reference to "shepherds and swains" romanticism is at least a seventeenth century one.
To make such a definitive statement based on the condition of the song tradition in the early twentieth century is academic madness - kile trying to assess the general health of a human being by examining a corpse.
Our song traditions began to disappear when the Industrial Revolution wrought massive changes both in the town and the countryside, breaking up the communities and putting massive pressure on the workers.
Sharp and his colleagues stressed over and over again that they were dealing with the pale shadow of a song tradition - as Tommy Munnely put it "a race with the undertaker"
By the time the BBC mounted their mopping up campaign, in England they were dealing with singers who were remembering songs that had been remembered from parents who had might or might not have been part of a living oral tradition - second or third hand rather than direct from the horse's mouth - a moribund or dead tradition.
Ireland was different in that rural agriculture and the lifestyle that came with it still had a living song tradition right through to the 40s and fifties - the non-literate Travellers had one up to the 1970s
Both these latter were not only still carrying the old songs, largely untainted, but in both cases, were still producing a rich repertoire of newly made songs.
If Steve is referring to the early twentieth century state of things, when the tradition had deteriorated beyond repetition, he needs to make that clear - so far he has either poured scorn or refused to comment on the fact that working people made their songs "romantic nonsense2
I wen to bed extremely depressed last night - I am still seething, so I got up at this gaud-awful hour and dug out a several 'character references
Steve attaches such importance to - the end result is somewhat long because I have left it intact - I apologise for the length of the piece - both to those still interested and to the site administrators for taking up so much space
The first two writers lived and worked at a time when the broadside industry was thriving and both were totally familiar with its output and spent a great deal of time comparing it with the oraol repertoir
I confess I haven't read the second for around forty years, so it came as a shaft of sunlight through all this mirk.
The third seems to have concentrated primarily on broadsides and has done stirling work in dating them
Might look in before I head for Galway - thanks for your best wishes

"The immense collections of Broadside ballads, the Roxburghe and Pepys ... doubtless contain some ballads which we should at once declare to possess the popular character, and yet on the whole they are veritable dung-hills, in which, only after a great deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel."
Francis James Child letter sent by Child to Svend Grundtvig in Copenhagen, August 25th 1872.

Before concluding this very incomplete summary, something must needs be said about the broadside or ballet, which has had so marked, and in many ways so detri¬mental an influence upon the- words of the folk-ballad and song. The ballad broad¬side, which sprang into life very soon after the invention of printing, consisted of a single sheet of paper, upon one side of which were printed the words only of the ballad, or song. These broadsheets were hawked about the country by packmen, who frequented fairs, village festivals, and public gatherings of all sorts, and who advertised their wares by singing them in market-places, on village greens, in the streets of the towns, and wherever they could attract an audience. In this way bal¬lads and songs were disseminated all over the land. In later days the broadside would have two or more ballads printed upon it, and sometimes several ballads were bound together and distributed in small books of three or four pages, called ? gar¬lands ?.
Many of these broadside ballads were the productions of the literary hacks of the towns, the Fleet Street scribblers of the day; occasionally they were written by ballad-mongers of literary repute, like Martin Parker. Some of them were learned by the hawkers during their country excursions, and were afterwards recited by them, for a consideration, to their employers. In this manner the traditional ballad found its way on to the broadside, but, usually, in a very garbled form, and after many editings. Consequently, the ballad-sheet, while it aided the popularization of the ballad, also tended to vulgarize it. It was only very rarely that a genuine tra¬ditional ballad found its way on to a broadside without suffering corruption. A broadside version of a ballad is usually, therefore, a very indifferent one, and vastly inferior to the genuine peasant song.
With very rare exceptions, and for obvious reasons, the broadside contained the words only of the songs, not the music to which they were sung. The music of the folk-song did not, therefore, suffer corruption through the agency of the ballad-sheet, as was the case with the words. We must remember also that the folk-singer would often learn modern and very indifferent sets of words from the broadside, and sing them to old tunes, after the manner of the ? execution songs,? already mentioned.
These, no doubt, are the chief reasons why the music of the folk-song of to-day has been more faithfully preserved than its text. For it must be confessed that the words of the folk-song often come to the collector of to-day in a very corrupt and incomplete state. The truth is that the twentieth century collector is a hundred years too late. The English ballad is moribund ; its account is well-nigh closed.
This conclusion corroborates that which was reached by 4 4 The Society of Anti¬quaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne ?, when, in 1855, they set about the collection of the Northumbrian ballads. In their first report they recorded that, so far as the words were concerned, they were ? half-a-century too late ?.
And yet, although page after page of the collector?s note-books are filled with scraps of imperfectly-remembered broadside versions, here and there will be found, sometimes a whole ballad, more often a verse or two, or, perhaps, a phrase only of genuine folk-made poetry. It is only from scraps of this kind that an estimate can be formed, and that a speculative one, of what the English ballad was in its prime. It has been pointed out that the Scottish ballad is immeasurably finer and more poetical than the English. But the comparison is scarcely a fair one. For the songs of Lowland Scotland were collected more than a hundred years ago, when ballad- singing was still a living art; whereas we in England have so neglected our oppor¬tunities that we are only now making a belated attempt to gather up the crumbs. Such ballads as ? The Unquiet Grave ? etc., which have survived in more or less in¬corrupt form, are there to remind us of the loss that we have suffered from the un¬worthy neglect of past opportunities.
Over and above this question of word-corruption, there are some folk-songs, which, for other reasons, can only be published after extensive alteration or excision. Some of these, happily only a few, are gross and coarse in sentiment and objectionable in every way. I am convinced, however, that the majority of these are individual and not communal productions, and cannot therefore be classed as genuine folk-songs. At any rate, I know that they offend against the communal sense of propriety, that the verdict of the community is expressly against them, and that those who sing them do so fully understanding that they are bad, vicious and indefensible.
But there are also a large number of folk-songs, which transgress the accepted conventions of the present age, and which would shock the susceptibilities of those who rank reticence and reserve amongst the noblest of the virtues. These are not, strictly speaking, bad songs ; they contain nothing that is really wrong or unwhole¬some. And they do not violate the communal sense of what is right and proper. They are sung freely and openly by peasant singers, in entire innocence of heart, and without the shadow of a thought that they contain anything that is objectionable, or that they themselves are committing any offence against propriety in singing them.
This is a phenomenon which opens up a large question. The key-note of folk- poetry, as we have already shown, is simplicity and directness without subtlety?as in the Bible narratives and Shakespeare. This characteristic might be mistaken for
a want of refinement by those who live in an age where subtlety and circumlocution are extensively practised, This question comes especially to the fore when the most universal and elemental of all subjects is treated, that of love and the relations of man to woman. Its very intimacy and mystery cause many minds to shrink from expressing themselves openly on the subject, as they would shrink from desecrating a shrine. The ballad-maker has no such feeling. He has none of that delicacy, which, as often as not, degenerates into pruriency. Consequently, he treats ? the way of a man with a maid ? simply and directly, just as he treats every other sub¬ject. Those, therefore, who would study ballad-literature, must realize that they will find in it none of those feelings and unuttered thoughts, which are characteristic of a more self-conscious but by no means more pure-minded age. Nevertheless, however much we may admire the simplicity and the straightforward diction of the ballad- maker, we have to realize that other times and other people are not so simple- minded and downright, and that what is deemed fit and proper for one period is not necessarily so for others. The folk-song editor, therefore, has perforce to undertake the distasteful task of modifying noble and beautiful sentiments in order that they may suit the minds and conform to the conventions of another age, where such things would not be understood in the primitive, direct and healthy sense.
These songs, however, in that they throw a searching light upon the character of the peasant, possess* great scientific value. For this reason alone, it is obviously the duty of the collector to note them down conscientiously and accurately, and to take care that his transcriptions are placed in libraries and museums, where they may be examined by students and those who will not misunderstand them.
Songs of the type that we have been discussing, as well as those whose words are incomplete or corrupt, present a knotty problem to the collector who would publish them for popular use. Only those who have tried their hands at editing a folk-song can realize the immense difficulty of the task. To be successful the editor must be in close sympathy with the aims of the folk-poet. He must divest himself of all acquired literary tricks, be alert to avoid anachronisms, and contrive to speak in the simple and direct language of the peasant. The high estimation, in which the best Scottish traditional poetry is deservedly held, is due in no small measure to the genius and sympathetic insight of those who edited it. Amongst these Burns was, of course, pre-eminent. But he was a peasant as well as a poet, and represented the peasant element in song. He was, moreover, an enthusiastic collector of the folk- tunes of his own country, of which he possessed an intimate, if not a technical knowledge. Yet, it cannot truthfully be said that even Burns was uniformly suc¬cessful in his revisions, although in such songs as ? John Anderson, my Jo ?, or ? O ! my luve?s like a red, red rose ?, he approached perfection. It must be remembered, too, that he confined his attention to the songs, and that he scarcely touched the ballads, which were left to Sir Walter Scott and others to recover and to edit. Who will do for our English ballads and songs what Scott and Burns did for the Scottish ?
Cecil J Sharp, , ?Folk Poetry? from English Folk Songs - Some Conclusions

At least a third of the 305 ballads canonised in his great work owe their continuance in oral tradition to having been printed as street literature, and many of those that don't are tainted by the interference of a series of literary hands, some having been totally fabricated by such. Indeed, this literary interference has been, and is, a lively and thriving tradition all of its own.
Dunghill? (Steve Gardham)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 05:00 AM

For what it's worth, I've now read about two thirds of Roud's book, and I don't recall having read any statements in the book suggesting that the vast majority of the English folk song repertoire of today originated in broadside ballads, written by professional or semi-professional broadside hacks. I could be wrong, but if he does say this definitively I don't remember it.

My overwhelming impression is that Roud's conclusions are overall of the "it's a bit of everything" type. I do recall Roud stating that claims of truly ancient antiquity for any given folk song are unlikely (and, more to the point, unprovable) but most of the time Roud seems to be pretty sanguine and philosophical about origins and proof. He is certainly sceptical about unequivocal claims to antiquity: for example, he challenges Bert Lloyd's unsupported claim that "we know" the Cutty Wren song to have been sung as part of a pagan winter ritual. But Roud is a very documentation-based researcher so he is just as scrupulous regarding any statements from the opposite end of the spectrum: as I said, I can't remember Roud endorsing any definitive statements regarding the polar opposite standpoint. Most of the time, it's a case of "there isn't proof of this" and, for Roud, what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:07 AM

"What makes me laugh about you people is that if I or anybody else ever suggested that you have it have the same interest as you do, yo're the first up on your chairs screaming "folk police", but you have no hesitation it screaming the odds when our interests part from yours
"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin" is about as 'kick in the door and burn the books" as it gets
Kindly mind your own business and let me decide for myself what my interests are"

Having read the above Jim, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

I can only guess that "you people" again means anybody that doesn't agree with your point of view.

I suggest you calm down and try not to lose any more sleep.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM

"Having read the above Jim, I have no idea what you are trying to say."
Didn't think you would for a minute - it was aimed at folk song lovers
I'VE SHOWN YOU MY CREDENTIALS - YOU SHOW ME YOURS
Back to reality
I strongly fear that what happened to the revival is now happening to sections of research
When the clubs ran out of new old songs they began to look elsewhere - Victorian parlour ballads, Music Hall, early pop songs - ending up with the 'horse music' definition - anything goes, from Dan Leno to Dylan - anything that would justify performing anything they fancied wherever it came from and whoever's culture it represented
That's why many thousands left the scene in the seventies and eighties.
Now we have a situation in research were some believe everything to be said on folk song has been said so "let's re-define it and keep ourselves busy"
That is why folk song will never be taken seriously outside the tiny number of folk-Masonic Lodges of rapidly ageing folkies - not unless we gat a grip and try to do something about it - like taking ourselves seriously so that others will
It's happened in spades among Ireland's your with instrumental music - go check
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:40 AM

"Ireland's young people" - I should have said
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM

I don't recall having read any statements in the book suggesting that the vast majority of the English folk song repertoire of today originated in broadside ballads, written by professional or semi-professional broadside hacks.

In the chapter on 'Back-street printers, ballad sellers and buskers', the '90-95%' figure for the number of folk songs appearing in street literature is on p 442, and although SR does enter the caveat that this is not in itself evidence of a direct link, other evidence suggests to him that there is. In the 'New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs', the same author states that 'some, perhaps most' of them 'started life as songs written for broadside production.... probably written by... broadside hacks'


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:24 PM

And a good hack might have written several good songs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 12:53 PM

"In the chapter on 'Back-street printers, ballad sellers and buskers', the '90-95%' figure for the number of folk songs appearing in street literature is on p 442, and although SR does enter the caveat that this is not in itself evidence of a direct link, other evidence suggests to him that there is."

OK, that's the chapter I'm currently reading. I'll look out for that. But I did use the word "originated" - not "appeared". Just because a song appears in a broadside, doesn't mean it was written for that broadside. I mean, I know that 'The Streams of Lovely Nancy' was printed on a broadside, but it seems hard to imagine that a broadside writer would have consciously sat down and penned so many non-sequiturs.

So I'd be interested in the evidence behind: "probably written by ... broadside hacks" too ? as I can't really imagine what that evidence would look like. (Given how, as Roud points out, broadside printers nicked each others' material.) I wonder what percentage of broadside songs have known authors?

Just to clear, by "folk songs" here, is Roud referring to songs he's given a Roud Index Number to ? all the folk songs he's ever come across? Is he saying 90?95% of the folk songs he's ever encountered have appeared in street literature?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM

Regarding "Streams of Lovely Nancy" - Roud 688 - there is an Irish version of the song - The Strands of Magilligan - I am not 100% sure of how old it is, but it was collected in 1933 and published in Huntington, Songs of the People (1990) p.259 (according to Roud) from the singer Sam Henry.
Several years ago in heard Dave MacLurg sing it at Mystic and it made me revive my singing of Streams (as collected from William & Turp Brown in Hampshire)
This "Strands" version is NOT in the Bodleian Ballads - but may "Streams" are with dates as early as 1813.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 02:34 PM

Just to clear, by "folk songs" here, is Roud referring to songs he's given a Roud Index Number to ? all the folk songs he's ever come across? Is he saying 90?95% of the folk songs he's ever encountered have appeared in street literature?

He means 'folk songs' as notated by collectors in late 19th / early 20th century England.

As to the other evidence, I'll let you finish the chapter rather than try to paraphrase. However I don't think SR would dispute that broadside writers were quite capable of plagiarising traditional songs as well as other people's broadsides.

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' is an interesting one. As my old friend Roy Harris once wrote: "One of the loveliest jumbles in English folk song. Impossible (so far) to know what it's all about." But then, the song as sung in the revival didn't always include all available verses.

I had a quick look at the Bodleian site, where there are loads of SOLN broadsides, with at least two different versions of the story (such as it is). One follows the standard opening with verses about a woman parting from her sailor lover, while in another the opening is the same, but he seems to be a soldier judging by the reference to 'marching away'. The place names change as well. What that tells me is that at least one and possibly both of these are rewrites of another text, but that the writer wasn't particularly worried that the opening verses didn't make much sense or have anything to do with the tale of the parted lovers. Here are two examples:

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' (1)

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' (2)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM

I am afraid - Brian - neither of your "Streams" links work...But I think I know what you have in mind.

Best - Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:11 PM

I suspect that these are the correct links -

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/20000/17810.gif

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/10000/07200.gif

I am recording an interview with Brian on Saturday morning, I now have an extra subject to talk to him about. I'm sure that Making links on Mudcat will be fascinating listening when it it broadcast.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:14 PM

I'm sure that Making links on Mudcat will be fascinating listening when it it broadcast.

But they work fine for me! Internet down everywhere but Glossop, it seems?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:16 PM

... however, Vic's second one doesn't work. I'm looking forward to that discussion, Vic.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:30 PM

Neither of Brian's links work in Lewes
Both of my links work in Lewes.

Good. A contentious interview on radio can make interesting listening, whereas long contentious threads on folk music forums.......


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 03:37 PM

Lewes is a strange place, Vic, you must admit.

I think we need some independent evidence about whose links work the best.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Marje
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 05:33 PM

Well, I can report that none of the four links work in Devon on a Kindle Fire tablet.
Hope this helps!
Marje


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 05:56 PM

I'm sorry Marje, but your doubtlessly well meaning observation doesn't help the intriguing argument move forward at all. Sorry


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 06:46 PM

For me neither link works if I just click on it. But right-click, copy link location, and paste into the address bar works for both of them. Make sense of that if you can. (As it happens, I've also today had an HTML part of an email that opens perfectly in two browsers and displays a totally blank page in two others.)

I'm glad that The Streams of Lovely Nancy has come up. That song on its own could make an interesting case study of the folk process. Wherever, whenever and however it originated, it was widely propagated both orally and through print, implying that singers liked it and broadside printers saw a market, but none of the extant versions makes much sense. More coherent than most is the version collected from Carrie Grover across the Pond, which has a castle decked (plausibly) with ivy rather than ivory, and "limestone so bright" rather than diamonds as the beacon for sailors.

I am very sorry that Jim should feel insulted by anything that I have written. Jim has good reasons for believing what he does and I am in no position to say he is wrong. And origins do indeed matter if one's purpose is to take a song as evidence of social history and what people thought and believed at some past time. But unless we can be sure who wrote a song, we can't be sure whose beliefs it reflects, if indeed it reflects anyone's. Broadside hacks could and did write pieces of total fiction.

Steve Roud's book is concerned with the phenomenon of folk song defined by various criteria but more by who sang the songs in what circumstances than by where they originated.

It's getting late at night and if I add any more to this post it will probably make less sense rather than more.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: JHW
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 07:02 PM

Sorry but I don't have time to read these posts and the book. I've read the Introduction up to now but it's very heavy to hold up.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Oct 17 - 08:57 PM

> I know that 'The Streams of Lovely Nancy' was printed on a broadside, but it seems hard to imagine that a broadside writer would have consciously sat down and penned so many non-sequiturs.

Semi-seriously, what if he was drunk?

More seriously, why would a rural singer be more likely to have done so?

Someone, hack or otherwise, who was vaguely familiar with the convoluted diction of some 17th and 18th century poetry might conceivably have thought that this was how a lyric was supposed to sound.

Just my 2 cents.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 04:38 AM

I have carried out a pretty comprehensive study of Streams/Strands which is in the Dungbeetle articles on the Mustrad website. The Strands of Magilligan did indeed have its origins in northern Ireland and its progress through the hands of various printers and oral tradition can be traced in ever changing forms from Liverpool to Manchester to Birmingham and then to the southern counties by when it had become a rather garbled 'Streams of Lovely Nancy'. Eventually once scholars started studying the song they came up with a whole load of weird and wonderful theories as to what it meant.

This is one of the few where I wouldn't hazard a guess as to whether it first surfaced in print or was written by some hedge poet, perhaps both.

Matt, try rereading p13.
Jim, avoid this page at all costs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 04:54 AM

Matt, see my posting, 1st of Oct. 12.26.

These figures are mine, but Steve and I worked together on much of this angle.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 05:03 AM

"try rereading p13"

You mean sentences such as: "Most songs which were later recorded as folk songs were not written by the singing and dancing throng, or by ploughboys, milkmaids, miners or weavers, but by professional or semi-professional urban songwriters or poets"

Well, personally I don't have any particular vested interest (ideological or otherwise) in whether this is true or false, likely or unlikely. Even from a class perspective, the professional or semi-professional urban songwriters are hardly likely to have been aristocrats; there was money to be made, but I doubt there was a huge amount of it (especially given how much broadside printers nicked each others material) ? Roud describes broadside sellers as one step above beggars, so presumably the writers were essentially the urban working class (albeit perhaps more literate than most?).

But I'd point out that p.13 doesn't cite evidence, it makes statements. It sounds like there might be more back-up to such statements in the parts of the book I've not yet got to. I need to finish reading the book to see how much evidence of specific authorship there is. Evidence that moves beyond pointing out that a song appeared as street literature to evidence that that appearance was originary; evidence that the appearance on a broadside of, say, a Cutty Wren song or a pace egging song, or Six Dukes Went a Fishing means that Fred Bloggs, professional broadside writer, wrote it more or less around the same date it was printed.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 05:26 AM

Congratulations Jim you are a legend in your own lunch time.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 07:36 AM

...evidence that the appearance on a broadside... means that Fred Bloggs, professional broadside writer, wrote it more or less around the same date it was printed.

It's always going to be very difficult to provide a smoking gun for a lot of these songs, since most broadsides were anonymous, and in any case there's always the possibility that another version existed before the oldest known copy.

However, in the specific case of the 'Wild Rover' I was talking about earlier, we have a known composer (Thomas Lanfiere) of the 17th century 'Good-fellow's Resolution' broadside - which is very clearly a 'Wild Rover' precursor - and we know that this author specialised in writing moralistic 'Bad Husband' ballads of this type. That suggests that his is the original copy. It is exactly the kind of turgid doggerel that people have been talking about above, but following on from Lanfiere's original over the next two centuries you can trace a number of edits, in which bits of his ballad have been cherry-picked, rearranged and eventually assembled into something resembling a folk song.

That's one well-documented example, and I daresay it won't be possible to do that for all the 90%.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM

"It's always going to be very difficult to provide a smoking gun for a lot of these songs, since most broadsides were anonymous, and in any case there's always the possibility that another version existed before the oldest known copy."

Of course - that's why I'm interested in the assertion that most of them were probably written by professional urban writers or poets. If most of them are anonymous, and we don't have bookkeeping records of broadside printers and their scribes, where does this "probably..." evidence come from? Is is just simple assumption: that the earliest broadside printing of a given song "probably" means that was when it was written? That's an eminently reasonable presumption, but it's still a presumption.

I'm interested in these "probablies" and that 90?95%, not because I'm unwilling to be disabused of any romantic notions, but because I'm genuinely curious as to why there are so many odd folk songs in the canon. If, as Roud's own research suggests, broadsheets about scurillous murders were the biggest sellers, how have we ended up with so many pastoral folk songs with often quite arcane words and practices?

Sure, I can see why all those songs about lads and lasses rolling in the meadows could have come about, but what would have been the motivation/inspiration for an urban professional writer in writing a song that facilitated seasonally-based begging at the Big House with opaque lyrics about wrens and/or sprigs of May? (And not just one, of course, but whole schools of them?)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 08:18 AM

what would have been the motivation/inspiration for an urban professional writer in writing a song that facilitated seasonally-based begging at the Big House with opaque lyrics about wrens and/or sprigs of May?

A quick look at the Roud index doesn't show any broadside copies of either 'Pace-Egg' or 'Cutty Wren'. Maybe Steve G will know that such things exist somewhere. Or maybe these are part of the 5-10% that never appeared as street literature.

I don't have any agenda here either, just trying to respond as best I can.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 10:54 AM

Steve Gardham says earlier -
"I have carried out a pretty comprehensive study of Streams/Strands which is in the Dungbeetle articles on the Mustrad website."

I can see the song mentioned in No. 17 on your Dungheap list - is this what you mean? Because it is not mentioned much? Or am I missing a more complete look at the song from somewhere else???

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 10:56 AM

Pace-egging songs indeed appeared in chapbooks along with the texts of the plays. There are as you know lots of different mumming plays and not all of them appeared in chapbooks. They vary considerably and with these oral tradition is the major factor. However the Pace Egg specifically owes much of its spread to print.

The Cutty Wren can be traced back to 1744. I haven't seen a street lit version. See the ODNR no.447. As part of an annual custom in past centuries it does indeed appear to be part of the 11%.

The seasonallly based begging included carols, Poor Old Horse, Six Jolly Miners, Deby Ram many of which were printed on broadsides.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 12:15 PM

Profuse apologies, Tim.
I remember writing the article and just assumed that's where it ended up as with most of my studies. With wrist slapped I will try to find where it ended up. I know John Moulden has also studied the progress of the ballad.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 12:29 PM

I found a very long study and correspondence in my notes dating back to 2005. Having assembled as many versions as possible of 'Streams' and 2 related songs 'Come all ye little streamers' and 'The Green Mountain(US)' I started corresponding with Stephen Reynolds of Oregon and with John Moulden in which I found that Stephen was already well down the line in preparing a long article for the FM Journal, so instead of publishing myself I assisted Stephen with his work. One outcome was that the 3 songs were eventually given separate Roud numbers having all been lumped together prior to that.

I still have all the notes, maps of Magilligan and Loch Foyle where I believe it originated. John who had researched Irish broadsides more than anyone else had never seen an Irish broadside of the song. It is quite flowery and descriptive in keeping with other ballads from that part of Ireland. (IMO) If anyone wants to see versions of The Strands of Magilligan there are 2 in Hugh Shields' Shamrock, Rose & Thistle and one in the Sam Henry collection. I don't remember seeing an article. Is Stephen Reynolds still around?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 01:15 PM

Matt.
The 'probably'.

Both Steve and I, sometimes together sometimes independently, have spent the last 30 years and more studying in great depth not only the broadside ballads that became folk songs but others pretty similar that may have become folk songs but didn't make it to be collected as folk songs. We have found some that have named authors but by the very nature of the beast the great majority don't have information on the author.

We found a fair amount of evidence that some of them had indeed most likely been taken from oral tradition, but when we traced them back to the earliest extant version this was overwhelmingly a printed or commercial source. I say commercial, one notable example is the theatre and pleasure gardens. These are often easily noted on stylistic grounds as being somewhat flowery in their language and subject.

The fact that printers all lived in urban areas adds to the fact that their suppliers, the ballad writers were close at hand. I have presented above plenty of evidence that rural working people sometimes wrote ballads but generally speaking they had not got ready access to printers and so those creatively inclined did not very often see their work spread to other areas like our folk songs and printed ballads did. In close-knit communities these songs no doubt will have had some currency but for one reason or another the majority didn't last or were not spread any further than that. There is a good example in Southern Harvest, a local song that survived in 3 versions in villages around Winchester, but these songs are very few and far between in published collections.

I have made it very clear on numerous occasions that our figures apply only to published traditional songs from England. Elsewhere different dynamics produced different statistics as Jim keeps telling us quite rightly. (Hence the title of this thread!)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 06:32 PM

Did Stephen Reynolds's work (with Steve's input) eventually get published in the Folk Music Journal? I don't recall seeing it.

I note that "One outcome was that the 3 songs were eventually given separate Roud numbers having all been lumped together prior to that." I therefore need to correct my reference above to the Carrie Grover version, which I now see doesn't count as a version of "Streams" (Roud 688) but of "Green Mountain" (Roud 18820, index S217728).

However these songs do have a lot of shared content, and not just typical floaters.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 06 Oct 17 - 07:17 PM

Steve Gardham - I am also intrigued by your note -
"a local song that survived in 3 versions in villages around Winchester" - which song do you have in mind???

This is totally highjacking this thread - but while Jim is having is Hip done - what else is worth talking about (Good luck Jim....)

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 07 Oct 17 - 05:26 AM

"We found a fair amount of evidence that some of them had indeed most likely been taken from oral tradition, but when we traced them back to the earliest extant version this was overwhelmingly a printed or commercial source."

"The fact that printers all lived in urban areas adds to the fact that their suppliers, the ballad writers were close at hand."

I apologise for being a bit of a stuck record on this, but what generally have you considered evidence for composition? ie evidence that a broadside was actually composed by a broadside writer, rather than just supplied?

It does indeed stand to reason that a supplier to a printer would have lived nearby, but, if 90% of those songs were indeed actually composed (rather than just supplied) by broadside writers, it rather begs the question of where they got such gifted talents and broad general knowledge from - being able to knock out so many songs with geographical and technical details about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices. I don't suppose they had that many research resources, or much time on their hands.

There's also the question of audience demand; what I've read in Roud's book so far corresponds with what I'd expect about the topics popular in broadsides, and no mention has been made (so far, don't want to prejudge!) about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices in public tastes. If they did indeed compose all those songs, then it seems strange to me that no scholar yet has remarked on what literary titans these writers were, where they acquired their knowledge, and why their subjects so often appear to be out of step with what you'd expect to be commercial. Where did their knowledge and interest in seasonal rural customs spring from? Where did the commercial demand for a song like 'Herrings Heads' spring from?

"generally speaking they had not got ready access to printers and so those creatively inclined did not very often see their work spread to other areas like our folk songs and printed ballads did."

See, it also seems to me that if we allow "ready access to printers" to be a consideration, surely we have to bear in mind that, de facto, a printed version of any given song is more likely to be the earliest extant discoverable version simply because, well, if I write a song down in my diary, that's not as likely to still be findable 100 years later than if it had been printed 300 or more times.

If the earliest printed or written iteration of a song being from a printed ballad is considered to be best evidence of a song's authorship by a professional ballad writer then, de facto, a not-especially-literate populace, with no access to print, cannot have written them ? by default. There's an element of circularity to that logic.

Roud suggests himself that broadside publishers would merrily pillage all sorts of sources: it seems therefore odd to me that they would be pillaging all sources APART from oral traditions, especially considered music is ultimately an auditory one. It is surely far more likely that the existence of songs anomalous to urban tastes and experiences are evidence of pillaging from oral traditions; the alternative would be that London's broadside writers were singular literary titans, creative visionaries with a remarkable general knowledge, and that we should be using the word "genius", not "hack" to describe them.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 04:46 AM

There can hardly be any doubt that some songs were originally made by people who had been there to see the events described, some were made for the stage or pleasure gardens, some were made by known authors such as Laurence Price, and some by anonymous hacks. We're in danger of focussing on a few examples that clearly fall into one of these categories and generalising to conclude that this category covers a large proportion of the whole corpus.

For example GUEST,matt milton refers to "often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices". How many songs describe such things? Versus how many tell idealised bucolic stories of Colins and Phoebes, ploughboys, love at first sight on a May morning, etc? Or songs that reflect a landsman's ideas of life at sea rather than the experience of real sailors?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 06:27 AM

I am perhaps in danger of projecting my own predilections outwards here I've never bothered to learn those Colin and Phoebe type songs.

But one frustrating aspect of Roud's book is that I feel he doesn't involve himself in the repercussions of some of his findings. If a wassail song or May song or a seasonal songs relating to winter mendicant traditions was probably written by an urban broadsheet writer, that to me gives rise to all sorts of questions. Did much that we take for granted about the content of those traditions never actually exist in practice? Were broadsheet writers actively intervening/shaping the content of those traditions? Given that such songs are a significant part of what many folk singers today would regard as canonical, it seems odd to me that this wouldn't be explored in a large social history of folk music.

Another omission that I find odd in the book is that, given Roud's scholarship, he's uniquely placed to provide informative demonstrations of the folk process at work: while he mentions the fact that, just because working people did not write the songs, they liked them enough to learn them and shape them, it seems bizarre that he doesn't present any examples of how transformative (or not) this was.

I say bizarre because this is pretty much the key element of folk song. I had generally adumbrated broadsides as flowery, laborious and over-written, as compared to a folk-processed poetic, streamlined economy in a folk song as I have learned it. I mentioned the Streams of Lovely Nancy earlier because it was the most dramatic example I could think of of the folk process at work: a song that common sense suggests probably wasn't first written the way it has come down to most of us. But there are much more lucid examples I can think of off the top of my head: Six Dukes Went A Fishing for example, or the version of 'Brisk Young Sailor' collected in the Vaughn Williams 'Bushes and Briars' book. Or the genuinely weird song 'The Pelican' (collected by Gardiner, I think).

It seems odd to me that someone writing such a mammoth project, entitled 'Folk Song in England' wouldn't want to discuss the folk process more, and provide examples from his considerable research showing it at work. Those conclusions might be "actually, songs don't change that much"; or they might be "it's interesting to note what the song loses in unnecessary detail from this broadside of 1860 to the version collected by Cecil Sharp in..." There's none of that (so far as I've read) in Roud's book. Which is one of many reasons I'm finding it quite a frustrating read.

Another thing that's just occurred to me is there's not much discussion of the Child ballads, which are a pretty canonical part of folk singing today. But I guess Roud would point me to the bit in his introduction where he states that the book is about what folk music was, rather than what it is. I'm increasingly feeling that Roud's own priorities about what's important to discuss, to expand on, to go into detail on, or to include or exclude, are very different from my own interests in folk music. I think I was expecting a very different book to this one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 11:36 AM

Fair comment from GUEST,matt milton Date: 08 Oct 17 - 06:27 AM! It seems there's plenty of scope for another book. But still I remain grateful for what Steve and Julia have put into this one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 04:15 PM

Despite it's great breadth, Steve's book is only an overview of the subject. Just think how long the book would have been if at every touch and turn he had included examples. And if he had included even one example it could easily have gone to 50 pages on its own demonstrating the evolution of the song through say theatre, print, oral tradition. If you want chapter and verse on individual songs might I suggest Steve's other recent book The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, or even the Marrow Bones series edited by myself and Malcolm Douglas. Or my Dungbeetle articles on Mustrad.

Matt>>>>it rather begs the question of where they got such gifted talents and broad general knowledge from - being able to knock out so many songs with geographical and technical details about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices<<<<<<

As Richard writes, these songs only actually form a small percentage of the corpus of material under discussion. The vast majority of the corpus is songs of a generic nature. The writers were obviously literate but generally at the bottom end of the poets scale, sometimes poets trying to turn a quick buck (bob). Writing poetry/songs has always been a precarious existence even at best. Many of the naval engagements were common knowledge and the taverns had plenty of seamen who wished to impart their knowledge of the battle. We have evidence they used newspaper reports occasionally. Of course they recycled older ballads, but as I said, as a rule even these can be traced back to what appears to be an original. Most of the songs attached to customs we have no idea how and where they originated and these form a major part of the 5%. However even some of these have their earliest extant versions in cheap print.

Here's a challenge for you, Matt. Give me a song that is part of the corpus that includes information that would be exclusive to rural dwellers. (Apart from which, we know there was a massive drift of country people into towns and cities to find work at the time when cheap broadsides were at their height. Some of these may have been literate enough to have become broadside writers.)

Tim, will find that song for you shortly.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 04:50 PM

Matt [Another thing that's just occurred to me is there's not much discussion of the Child ballads, which are a pretty canonical part of folk singing today]
Not that many of the Child Ballads actually were found in oral tradition in England in the late 19th/early 20th century. In fact if you look at the Child Ballads, the 305, not many of these seem to have existed in oral tradition in the British Isles for very long. There are obvious exceptions of course. Many of them were revived by the likes of MacColl, but their claim to substantial oral tradition is very slim. Quite a large portion have only been found in print, most of the Robin Hood ballads for instance.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 05:30 PM

Tim, struggling. The nearest I can get at the moment is either Avington Pond (but seemingly only 1 version) and Three Hearty Young Poachers (2 versions, perhaps that's the one I was thinking of). I'll have another try. I thought I had plotted the 3 versions of the song I referred to as coming from within a 20-mile radius of Winchester but it might have been just the 2. I've just turned 70 so I'm allowed a little senility.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 05:33 PM

04.50 posting.
It would appear the forum is struggling with my use of <<>>>. I will use some other method of quoting from previous posts in future.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 05:35 PM

*** I will use some other method of quoting from previous posts in future*** Just testing.


The text was retrieved and displayed in a simple set of brackets. ---mudelf


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 05:54 PM

Steve - Thanks - I thought you might be thinking of Avington Pond (obviously local) - but as you say on one version. You certainly had me searching in both Southern Harvest and the Manuscripts.
I will be looking into Young Henry the Poacher.........3 versions spread over a widish area.....

Best - Tim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 08 Oct 17 - 06:07 PM

Ah - I see it now - Three Hearty Young Poachers - Roud 1690 - and I see what you mean about it appearing local - and both versions from close to Winchester.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 09 Oct 17 - 11:08 AM

Here is a link to an Interview with Steve on Grizzly Folk.......

https://www.grizzlyfolk.com/2017/08/30/what-is-folk-music-an-interview-with-steve-roud/


Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Oct 17 - 03:06 PM

Thanks, Tim
Great interview!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 07:07 AM

This morning, I finished reading the book about Sabine Baring-Gould by Martin Graebe. It is a mighty read in more senses that one. By the time that I got to page 339 of tiny print, I came to the penultimate paragraph which I reproduce below. I knew that in honesty and fairness that I had to give it here as a counterweight to my post of 03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM where I quoted that S-B was firmly of the opinion that the majority of the songs that he has collected as a young man were derived from broadsides. In this paragraph Martin writes -
One of Baring-Gould?s characteristics was that he had some mental flexibility and could change his mind if the evidence showed that his hypothesis was wrong. In respect of folk song his mind changed on several topics over the years. Having initially neglected the words of songs in favour of tunes he came to believe that the words were also important and deserved as good treatment as the tunes. Part of the reason for not having valued the words was his initial assumption that most traditional songs were derived from broadsides and other printer sources. He came to understand that this was not always the case and that many of the songs were older than the broadsides and better in many respects than the printed versions. He also realised that some, particularly the younger singers like John Woodridge and Sam Fone, had learned their songs from broadsides and he recognised that not only could singers fit broadside words to tunes that they knew, but that some could compose tunes themselves. He also realise hat some singers were capable of creating songs from scratch ? to record a local event, for example. The flexibility of understanding on Baring-Gould?s part was not a characteristic of other folk song collectors and theorists of the time demonstrated.

I think that the key words are flexibility of understanding rather than approaching this (or any) subject with a rigidity of thinking.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 11:47 AM

***He came to understand that this was not always the case and that many of the songs were older than the broadsides***

To pinch one of Jim's most often used arguments: How could he possibly have known that? If he was referring to the late 18thc/early 19thc broadsides, yes there's plenty of evidence but mainly from older printed sources. Those in manuscripts are few and far between.

There is also the fact that although SBG spent some time in the BL and had his own collection of 19thc broadsides he did not have access to anything like the resources we have today. This also applies to Frank Kidson who was also very clued up on song origins and histories. These are not criticisms by the way, just observations.

I've just started on the new book, Vic, and looking forward to it immensely. We perhaps need a new thread. I'll start one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM

I couldn't help thinking of a part of this discussion when watching this 1981 documentary about Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. I know, an Irish context but the part where the Muscrai songmakers get mention underlines Jim Carroll's point made earlier. I would find it very hard to believe nothing of the sort would have happened elsewhere.

That aside, it is a lovely fillum to watch.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 12:21 PM

You are absolutely right, Peter, that it is a lovely fillum to watch and listen to and songmaking something like what occurs here undoubtedly went on in other places.

Unfortunately by the time the collectors came along to record this in England any local songs were completely swamped by the printed songs that were being spread around the whole country. I can think of something similar in the Hunt supper gatherings that can still be found in the north. For some of them the repertoire is being constantly added to in this way, but the folk scene has passed it by and is unaware of it. One area where this was very lively was the West Pennine area near Sheffield, but here the local interest has died out and the singers are now part of the folk scene. The carols in the same area is another example of a lively scene still flourishing.

If you look at the wonderful film of the singers in the Blaxhall Ship in East Anglia from the 50s there are no local songs being sung. They are all songs from the general English repertoire. I have given examples of rural songwriters in my local area but none of their songs have survived to become part of oral tradition.

It may well be that 250 years ago England had something like what is shown in Diarmuid's film but if it did precious little has survived.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 03:39 PM

When I read Martin's comment that I quoted above where he writes:-
He also realised that some singers were capable of creating songs from scratch ? to record a local event, for example.

I couldn't help thinking of Jim's long list from his post on 04 Oct 17 - 08:03 PM. I don't recognise any of these songs from their titles but the content they suggest - elections, fairs, drownings etc. seem to put them in the category that Martin was describing; and well worthy of a song collector's attention.

Yes, Steve, I will contribute to the thread that you have started, but first I have somehow to give an impression of this fascinating, wide-reaching book in a 400 word review.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 03:58 PM

Yes, well worthy of a song collector's attention. As far as publishing goes the likes of Sharp would have wanted the songs to have a universal appeal in order to sell books which would exclude many songs with a local flavour. Perhaps they also had something of this in the back of their minds whilst they were collecting. However songs like 'Lakes of Colephin' reached a universal audience in print and oral tradition. Only a small percentage of both printed and local songs made it into the national corpus and dispersed print certainly had a lot to do with this. Maybe simple chance accounts for a lot of what survived.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 04:37 PM

Steve wrote:-
...the likes of Sharp would have wanted the songs to have a universal appeal in order to sell books which would exclude many songs with a local flavour.

Interestingly, The broadside printers seemed to have the opposite approach; they seemed to want place names to relate to their particular area to increase their local appeal.

In the various Van Diemans Land printings, how many different towns did "Poor Tom Brown" come from?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Oct 17 - 05:47 PM

Yes, localisation was one of their tricks, but it wasn't that common. The printers were generally in too much of a hurry to worry about the finer points. The type setting of the ballads was often left to an apprentice. Perhaps this was down to the writers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas
Date: 15 Oct 17 - 10:44 AM

There's a few interesting hares in this thread. You might like to look at the review in my blog at


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas
Date: 15 Oct 17 - 10:50 AM

That should be : www.broadsidestories.net/blog/folk song in england
But I can't seem to make the blue clicky work!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Oct 17 - 11:51 AM

Very fair and well-written review, Christopher. I'll have a closer look at your site later.

While searching for this review I found another very different at www.caughtbytheriver.net written by Cally ...... which comes more from the angle of a music historian.

Both reviews I think Steve would be very happy with.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 03:52 AM

> That should be : www.broadsidestories.net/blog/folk song in england
But I can't seem to make the blue clicky work! <

That URL gives me a "404", though with a link to the home page http://www.broadsidestories.net/

From the home page, clicking on the "Broadside Stories" tab at the top takes me to a page which says "Click on the Broadside Stories bar above for the full index". But that's what I've already done to get that far. I can't get any further.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM

Going to the Blog page from the Home page should work! but thanks for your interest


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 09:15 AM

Hi all
Good to be back
It's amazing what goes through your mind while you're lying on your back with nothing to think about, as I was once told by a female friend
We seem to have moved on somewhat since Steve and I went head-to-head all those centuries ago.
This beautiful statement by the MacColl at the end of the Song Carriers series is what started it all

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island.
We are indebted to the Harry Coxes and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie MaccDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and to all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our people's songs across the centuries."

The Song Carriers covered the whole gamut from the song referenced in Wedderburn's Complaynt of Scotland to the WW2 song, 'My Darling Sleeps in England so your sweeping condemnation covers the lot and not just Sharp and his gang
I posted it and Steve asked "do you believe that romantic rubbish?"
I confess - I confess - yes I did, and I still still do, and nothing that has been said since has made me doubt it - for me, it dot's all the folk i's and crosses the t's, for me at least.
Had Steve confined his percentages to what "appeared in print", rather than originated, and addressed those figures to what was collected by Sharp my response would have been "I know that, my mate, Bob Thomson told me that there were a lot back in 1970"
"Origination" is a different ball game altogether.
I believe quite firmly that rural working people not only were capable of having made our folk songs, but our own researches indicate that there is no reason whatever to doubt that they did - but I have always emphasised that we can't possibly know because our working knowledge of the oral tradition goes back no further back than the beginning of the 20th century
I have given an indication of the number of anonymous local songs made in the lifetimes of our singers - they can be heard on the Clare County Library website under 'The Carroll/Mackenzie Collection'
Clare people made songs by the hundreds and, as Peter Laban pointed out, it was almost certainly the same throughout Ireland
Our friend, Maurice Leyden up in Ulster is at present compiling a collection of songs made by textile workers
If they made songs in that number, why shouldn't our known folk songs be numbered among them
We found the same was the case with the non-literate Travellers - songmakers using their skills to express aspects of their lives
Steve offered the excuse that (to paraphrase) English workers were too busy earning a living to make songs
My old friend Harry Boardman compiled an impressive number of similarly made songs when I lived in Manchester in the sixties
AS a singer looking for songs, I walked into Manchester Central Library in 1968 and asked if they had any local songs and was handed a few books of broadsides - I found one singable song
AS I handed them back the nice lady asked me, "have you seen the newspapers we have on microfilm
I spent the next few months peering at editions of 'Black Dwarf' and other political publications, all containing song columns of material (mostly anonymous) composed by cotton workers, spinners, land labourers, teachers, political activists - not all deathless verse by any means, but often a damn signt better than the conveyor belt stuff spewed out by the hacks
Some of the Lancashire weaver poets published, most did not -
I seem to remember Roy Palmer did some similar research in the Midlands; I know people around The Grey Cock Folk Club in Birmingham did.
We know that Bothy workers made songs independent of print Maire Ruadh, or Red-headed Mary was making songs and leading protesters in defiance of those clearing out the crofters, - the BBC even has recordings of waulking songs being composed on the spot
The mining communities produced their own songs and their own stars - Joe Corrie and Tommy Armstrong spring to mind.
Many of these songs were ignored by the collectors because they did not fir the mould - but they certainly fitted the definition of "folk" I choose to work by.
Working people were once natural songmakers - it seems ludicrous to ignore that fact and put the making of our folksongs down to largely ham-fisted hacks churning out largely dross to make money - Child's "dunghill" sums that side of song making perfectly - that man was a star (did you know he actually made a song himself, but I can't imagine him ever singing it?)
It occurred to me while I was incapacitated that what is desperately needed is a forum where thase arguments can take place without acrimony or agenda-driving - a place where we can simply exchange ideas on subjects such as this.
Hugh Shields one established a paper-based 'Irish Folk Music Federation' - we have many of their cheaply produced booklets - invaluable stuff
I see no reason why an on-line site cannot bring people from all over together to thrash out these subjects
Of course, we might be forced to get our act together and come to some understanding as to what we mean by folk song (I'll go and get me tin hat!!)
By the way - the song being discussed above
"Matt, try rereading p13. Jim, avoid this page at all costs."
Insulting as ever Steve
I have now read a large section of Roud's book and so far have found little to seriously disagree with
I don't "avoid" reading anything because I might disagree with it
Try answering some of my points instead of hiding behind referees who agree with you
Hopefully, if we ever get to exchanging ideas we can lose this unpleasantnessd
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM

Why don't you learn to split long posts into paragraphs, Jim?

Two or three lines, then a blank line. It makes on-screen reading so much easier.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM

Welcome back, Jim!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM

Thanks Steve - it really is good to be back - you can tolerate beautiful nurses for so long
"Why don't you learn to split long posts into paragraphs, Jim?"
Dunno guest - put it down to my crappy Secondary Modern education
I tend to go with the flow
Will make an effort
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 01:16 PM

Jim, You need to reset your cookie. You're guesting at the moment.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM

many of the songs were older than the broadsides
To pinch one of Jim's most often used arguments: How could he possibly have known that?


Two Scottish examples: "Parcel of Rogues" and "The Braes of Balquhidder". For both, a tune of that name was printed decades before any words we know of.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 02:21 PM

Stenhouse: 'This song, beginning "Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame," is likewise an unclaimed production of Burns.It is adapted to the old air, entitled "A Parcel of Rogues in the Nation" which appears both in M'Gibbon and Oswald's collections. Dr. Blacklock had also written a song to the same melody; for Burns, in a note subjoined to his verses, says, 'I inclose what I think the best set of the tune. Dr. B's words, inclosed may follow the same tune. Johnson, however, omitted the Dr's verses, as he had no room on the plate.

Are you claiming this as a folk song, Jack? I think Jim's definition might exclude it.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 02:31 PM

Is there any evidence that the several strathspeys with the 'Braes' title ever had any words at all prior to Tannahill's which though rarely are found in oral tradition quite widely?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 05:52 PM

Bah. I have the book for my birthday thanks to my lovely girlfriend, and I am very grateful to Brian Peters for his comments above - and I am now going to have to read the whole book.

Based on the few bits of the above that I have read I have three comments so far.

1. Nobody seems to give credit for the input of Barry Walker on Lloyd.

2. I wish Malcolm Douglas were still here.

3. Although my blood pressure is but 130 over 80 (not bad at the age of 69) I am going to have to source relevant tablets and some worry beads before reading the whole of this thread. Have the pseuds already appeared? I see some horse definitioners (or close thereto) have.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 04:55 AM

I thought I'd catch this before it sank entirely out of sight
I still haven't read the book right through - mainly through having to prepare a talk Im due to give in a couple of weeks, so I decided to read through the chapters that interest me most an return to the whole thing later
So far, I find it an indispensable gathering together of facts that I'll find immensely useful in future
I do find myself dipping into Lloyd's book of the same name quite often as I miss his warmth and enthusiasm for the song even when his facts are somewhat questionable
Bert was a singer who never quite made up his mind which side of the fence he was on, but he did love the songs with the passion of a performer, which was obvious to anybody who ever saw him perform live - I have to say I miss that side of things in Roud's book though I may not have come to it yet
I disagree with some of Steve's comments "a folk song is a song sung by a folk singer" being one that sticks out like a sore thumb, though it is qualified somewhat
I can see this statement being used in future as serious an argument as the old "horse" joke to justify putting anything under the "folk umbrella"
Both statements are utter nonsense when taken seriously.
One thing the book has confirmed for me is that there are no messiahs carrying the folk word - there are no conclusive answers to many of the questions and there never will be
THere is some information scattered around out there which, if we are going to fill in some of the blanks, need to be brought together - that requires co-operation, not the type of conflict and evasion that this subject has generated so far
I came to research through MacColl's suggestion that in order to become a better singer we needed to examine and understand the songs
The first suggestion made to a new member of the Critics group was to listen to as many field singers as were available and work out what they were doing - this set Pat and I off on a journey that has never really ended
At the Group meetings, we would embark on a night of practical work, at the end of which, Ewan would flop back in his chair, tell us he had had enough and was going to bed, then, more often than not, embark on an hour-long plus soliloquy on something that had been raised during the work we had done.
They were off the cuff and generated by sheer passion for the songs Ewan loved - they would invariably send me home walking a foot above the pavement
I have recordings of many of those sessions - I still get a buzz and a lump in the throat listening to them - after all this time.
It struck me that a perfect springboard to reinvigourating our music would be a combination of Roud's detail, Bet's fond love and MacColl's informed passion for the songs that have become part of our lives.
Incidentally, Steve Gardham said somewhat insultingly "Jim, avoid this page at all costs."
I read page 13 without being struck down by lightening, I disagree with some of it as it does not all conform with much we learned from our own field work (but am happy to debbate this with Steve Roud or anybody at any time (as long as I am treated as an equal).
Perhaps Steve G and others should read the end of that chapter where Roud says about the '54 definition "apart from a quibble with "oral" in the fist sentence, if I had been at the conference, I would have happily voted in favour of the resolution"
Roud seems not to have the problem of whether Bob Geldof counts as "folk" that many people seem to have
But there again, there are no messiahs
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 10:47 AM

I read the chapter and all of the book thoroughly and have already returned to the salient points several times having annotated the bits that were most relevant to my own studies. I have no quibble at all with any of the '54' descriptives and never have had. What I have always said is that 'folksong' has come to mean different things to different groups of people and denying that is burying one's head in the sand. I can deal with this as most words in the dictionary have a whole list of synonyms and I can't see why 'folksong' should be any different.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:02 AM

"What I have always said is that 'folksong' has come to mean different things to different groups of people and denying that is burying one's head in the sand."
As has a lot of words Steve, but if you are serious about your own work and interests you have to go with the established and documented consensus - it is a nonsense to do otherwise
If you involve yourself in something as folk song publicly you take responsibility for it
If you disagree with any aspect of how it is regarded, you either go with it or fight for any changes to be included in the new understanding
We are supposed to be thinking human beings, not sheep
That fact that nobody can agree on a new definition and any confusion is down to laziness or indifference is good enough for me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM

That's a silly viewpoint, Jim. Have a good think about it before you press the send button. You appear to be saying that words can only have one meaning. NO LAZINESS and definitely NO INDIFFERENCE!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM

Tell me, why is any definition needed ?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:49 AM

So we can talk to each other why do you have to put 'Beans' on a tin label?
Why do you people do this - if we bahave as you do you'd be the first to scream 'folk Police'
Nobody is forcing you to participate in this - why not go to another thread and tell them what they should and should not be discussing - or go and burn a few books maybe?
""I think 'Somebloke sums it up- what a lot of bollocks."
Reciprocated, I'm sure Jim
"Beoga and Gatehouse"
Who ?
I prefer the thousands of young kids who are taking it up independently and the Clancy Summer school and the Irish Traditional Music archive as my examples
You only have to turn TV or radio on any night of the week to see the results of the present influx of youngsters - maybe the media hasn't made it up as far as you!
Nowt much wrong with this for
PRIME TIME TV
"Willie McBride" (No Man's Land) with Arthur McBride
Sorry Raggy - a slip
I know what song you are talking about - I used to sing it until it got sung to death
Personally, I prefer Boggles 'Waltzing Matilda'
"You appear to be saying that words can only have one meaning"
No Steve - I'm saying they have to have A MEANING
If my definition is incomplete - what's yours?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM

Sorry nuased up some of thaat posting - some should have beeeen sent to Folk club thread
Never got the hang of multi-tasking
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM

Jim, for traditional folksong you already have your 'definition'. I prefer to use the word 'descriptors', but I'm quite happy to use it as A definition.

Any other usage of the word you don't accept so there is no argument.

The other usage of the word 'folksong' as stated above by others is much more loose and defies a definition as do many things that don't have hard and fast boundaries. Even the '54' descriptors are open to interpretation and don't all have hard and fast boundaries as stated by SteveR. You don't accept the wider more loose meaning but you're the only person I know who doesn't.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM

"Any other usage of the word you don't accept so there is no argument."
You implied that there are many - what are they?
" You appear to be saying that words can only have one meaning. "
That is what this is all about Steve - both here and on the Clubs thread
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,John Robinson
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 05:15 PM

Many thanks, as I had no idea this book existed until now. I've recently started to sing and play guitar in my local pub, after being gently coerced by a local session musician, so further knowledge and source material is always more than welcome.

I bought Steve Roud and Julia Bishop's revamped Penguin Book of English Folk songs a while ago, and wish I'd got the hardback version, because my paperback copy is already extremely dogeared.

I find it hard to find 'English' folk songs, but perhaps that's just me. After a bit of digging I often discover that whatever shiny new/old song I've learned was originally Scottish, collected by Francis J Child, but I suppose that's the often cited 'folk process' for you. Still, I fancy learning Brigg Fair: that's closer to home for me.

I think the ambiguous origins of many folk songs are what lend them their appeal, and I tend to avoid overly academic approaches to a musical form which, after all, did not originate in someone's study. 'What is a folk song?' I don't know. I'm too busy singing them to care, or I have no time to ponder, but I passionately love them - and that's what I would like to pass on to anyone who cares to hear.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 05:38 PM

"At the Group meetings, we would embark on a night of practical work, at the end of which, Ewan would flop back in his chair, tell us he had had enough and was going to bed, then, more often than not, embark on an hour-long plus soliloquy on something that had been raised during the work we had done.
They were off the cuff and generated by sheer passion for the songs Ewan loved - they would invariably send me home walking a foot above the pavement"
to have that kind of passion for music is wonderful as it is to be able to pass enthusiasm and passion on to others.
I have been sitting down playing music for the last hour and would still do so even if i never had another gig.
I regret to say that much of the enthusiasm and passion shown by lloyd and macColl seems to be not as prevalent on the uk folk scene as it used to be, Carthy always seems to show passion ane enthusism for trad music too


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 07:52 PM

Mr Sandman (ie. Dick.......) although you have been around for many years, and know your stuff - you can't and don't know everyone involved in this music and how much "enthusiasm" they may have for it. Don't assume too much...please!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Oct 17 - 04:40 AM

I don't know who John Robinson is, but for me, he sums up what books like this should be about - an excellent short recommendation to an important book
Can I just reiterate why I find definitions of folk song so important
As someone who came from a working family, I was educated to believe that people like me had no cultural history and if I wished to acquire a culture I had to go to the great writers or painters or composers - in the case of the latter, the best of those were mostly foreigners.
The general thrust of my education was that culture was not for me anyway - all I needed on leaving school was to tot up my pay packet at the end of the week (one teacher actually told me that when I was late for his class because I had been delayed by a music teacher who kept me back to explain something I had failed to grasp.
My introduction to the finer points of folk song came through Lloyd's book, which suggested that working people might have a culture worth talking about.
That was magnified a thousandfold with the nights I spent in Critics Group meetings - beautiful songs and ballads created, sung and passed on by working people.
That became part of my self-identification, something to be proud of.
That has remained with me ever since , through my contact with Irish land labourers and small farmers, the Norfolk fishermen we met, the village carpenter who gave us all those songs and all that information, gathered from his farm-labouring family, and most of all, from the despised, uneducated, non-literate Travellers who have proved to be the saviours of many of our traditional ballads.
Thirty odd years with them has confirmed everything Ewan and Bert were saying all those years ago.
One of the weakest sentences in Roud's book comes on the page Steve G insited I shouldn't read
"Most songs which were later recorded as folk songs were not written by the singing and dancing throng, or by ploughboys, milkmaids, miners or weavers, but by professional or semi-professional urban song-writers or poets."
Our knowledge of our oral folk song tradition goes back only as far as the beginning of the twentieth century, beyond that, all is a mystery
Nobody has the information to quantify how many of our folk songs were created, certainly not "most" - the information does not exist.   
The term 'folk' was first assigned to the culture of the "lower" classes in the 1840s
Before that it was "popular" - of the people and that goes back even earlier, at least to the 1770s, when John Brand put together his 'Popular Antiquities"
Francis Child assigned his Ballads to the "common" people when he entitled them "Popular" - of the people.
The earlier researchers had no hesitation in recognising the creative merits of labouring people, it's taken 20 and 21st century desk jockeys to tear down that suggestion.
For me, most of our folk songs are obviously the creations of people who knew what they were singing about first hand - so many of the songs come with dirt under their fingernails and an intimate knowledge of tools and work practices.
It took someone with local knowledge to know that Oxborough Banks referred to an area settled by returning Australian transportees when 'Maid of Australia was composed - our songs are full of snippets of information like this
That's why I believe most of our folk songs were made by 'the folk' and, my love of them as beautiful songs aside, that's why I believe them to be as important as I do.
Bob Geldof - eat your heart out!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Oct 17 - 07:57 AM

RTIM,naturally i am talking from my limited experience as is everyone else including your good self.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Oct 17 - 04:33 PM

Jim,
You seem to be the only person obsessed with the need to have your terms defined to the nth degree, and also obsessed with the origins.
To the rest of us the origins are irrelevant as the people who set up the 54 descriptors soon realised. Within a few months they had dropped that particular descriptor of anonymity. The rest of us are quite happy to accept the 54 descriptors when describing traditional folksong.

You keep asking us for OUR 'definition' of folksong. Mine will be different from most other people. I won't give you a definition because I don't believe such abstract ideas should or can have definite hard and fast boundaries, but if it helps I will give you the wider descriptors as I believe to be acceptable to the many people I know on the folk scene, both academically and non-academically.

Loosely: Those songs that are sung in folk clubs, folk festivals and the folk scene in general;

those songs that are found in the record shops' racks under the descriptor 'folk';

those songs that are sung by folk singers;

those songs that are identified by being accompanied on recognised folk instruments (usually acoustic as opposed to electric);

those songs performed by performers who refer to themselves as folk singers.

If I really tried I could come up with more descriptors and I'm sure others can add to this list. Included in this description will be many songs that also come under other genres, indeed that fit better into other genres. That's the nature of all widespread types of music in the western world.

You only want to include those songs that are 54 songs and those that have been written in imitation. No problem. I'm inclined that way myself.

Your prerogative is to not like this list of descriptors, but know then that you are alone in your very narrow view of opposing what the world and his wife think is folksong!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Oct 17 - 03:49 PM

Jim said
> It took someone with local knowledge to know that Oxborough Banks referred to an area settled by returning Australian transportees when 'Maid of Australia was composed - our songs are full of snippets of information like this

Where did that information come from. I've read elsewhere that the originally intended location was the banks of the Hawkesbury River in NSW.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM

Bob Thomson, who lived in Cambridgeshire, did a great deal of research on the song as it was particularly popular in East Anglia - he turned up the information on the settlement on convict returnees around the Oxborough Hall area
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 04:52 AM

"You seem to be the only person obsessed with the need to have your terms defined to the nth degree, and also obsessed with the origins."
OI might equally say thay you are the only person obsessed with thaki the creadit of making our folk songs away from rural working people and giving it to untalented hacks - I would imagine both accusations are unfair
I don't believe in chasing origins of songs any more do I believe it possible to discover the truth about who made those songs
What I do know for a fact is that rural working people made songs (in this small area, by the hundred so probably throughout Ireland, by the many thousands)
These indicate to me that they probably made our folksongs - there is not the slightest reason to suggest that they were incapable of the task
Out folk songs are full of snippets of information such as this - we had a long conversation with Walter Pardon about this in relation to 'Butter and Cheese and All', where he associated the 'hiding up the chimney' with the 'press gang' rails found in many East Anglian rural homes - Sam Larner had a similar conversation with MacColl and Lomax at one time
When the press gangs were scouring the areas looking for 'volunteers' the eligible males would hide up the wide chimneys crouched on specially placed rails to avoid being pressed
I can't remember if MacColl and Seeger used Sam's recording on 'Now is the Time for Fishing' but I have it here somewhere
Our folksongs are made up of such bits of information, as I said earlier, they have dirt under their fingernails
I read Roud's chapter   on the Broadsides with interest, the first thing that stuck me was that they were largely urban based
We recorded very elderly singers here in Clare who lived tem miles from Ennis, our market town, yet never managed to get there until they were into their middle age, transport and roads being what they were.
Ho did these shoddy urban poets get their knowledge to make songs with such details - farm practices, work at sea - even the folklore - they would have had to have been social historians and skilled folklorists in subjects that had no even been published in order to possess such detail
I've said often enough, one of the great gaps in our knowledge has always been that researchers gathered songs the way people collected coins, with no great interest in what the singers knew about them.
Our limited researches indicate that they knew a hell of a lot and they possessed talents that had been ignored - bu we were very much latecomers to a tradition that had died off before ourt time (with the exception of the Travellers)
"Those songs that are sung in folk clubs, folk festivals and the folk scene in general; "
So 'I Don't Like Monday's' is a folk song - utter crap!
"those songs that are found in the record shops' racks under the descriptor 'folk'; "
I found a shop that listed all Hank Williams records under 'folk' one
Utter crap
"those songs that are sung by folk singers; "
You can't define a folk singer until you define a folk song - a Catch 22 definition that ends up swallowing its own tail
"those songs performed by performers who refer to themselves as folk singers."
Folk singing has long ceased to be dedicated to folk song and has now become a convenient title for those not talented enough to make it in their own preferred fields - it has become a dustbin throw anything it suits anybody to call folk song
I'm disappointed in you Steve - I disagree with you strongly on your definitive attitude to (unknowable) origins, but this is the pits and manages to rubbish an entire century of study.
It is revival folk song research (sic) based on a folksong movement that has long lost its way
You really do need to have got our more, but now it is too late, now we need to what little we have from the older singers and apply common sense to it - we owe them that
Jim Carroll (sadly)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 05:15 AM

"but know then that you are alone in your very narrow view of opposing what the world and his wife think is folksong!"
Sorry missed this
Don't you have any books at home?
How did they all get it so wrong when they attributd folk songs to "the folk"
Tht eejit, Frankie Child, what was he thinking of when he entitled his ballads "popular" - ie of the people
I suggest that the loneliest people on the planet are those who can't come up for a definition of their discipline and have to invent their own private one
You said you had no problems with the '54 definition - where does your pick-'n-mix selection fit in with that?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Rozza
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM

It took a degree of dedication to read the book. I am in awe of Steve Roud's dedication and concentration in amassing and presenting all that information about popular singing in this country. I had hoped for more analysis of the textual, melodic and thematic characteristics of traditional songs. It would also have been good to read something about traditional singing style - decoration, voice quality etc. But then the book would have been twice as long and far more liable to fall apart, literally and figuratively.

Ruairidh


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 10:32 AM

Jim,
You have missed the point of my posting entirely. I'm beginning to think that what the others on the other thread are saying is true. You are out of touch with the world as it IS, attacking things that you are out of touch with and at odds with the rest of the world. That is a great shame as you know I have deep respect for your work.

You keep saying you want to discuss these things. I posted that synopsis in response to your request for other 'definitions' in good faith. Please read them carefully. I am not saying they are good or bad, simply the status-quo in the big bad world. You can deride them as much as you like but they ARE the status quo.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 10:35 AM

You are name calling and addressing none of the points I have made
I gave my opinions on your 'definitions' (you can't make definitions without getting a consensus)
Have the courtesy to reciprocate with argument rather than name calling
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 11:03 AM

Jim,
That's not name-calling. It's what I believe to be the case. The other thread is certainly a good example of someone well out of touch with the rest of the folk world.

What I gave is NOT a definition, it is a list of descriptors like the 54 list.

Jim, I'm sorry you are so unhappy with all this. I'm certainly not unhappy. I do my research into traditional song, write my books, contribute in other ways, and when not doing this I go out into the folk scene and enjoy many many performances from 'folk singers' new and old. I certainly don't judge them on any 'definition'. They are entertaining. I don't ask for any more and I don't need to.

I also happen to write songs and record them, some of which are taken up by younger singers and I'm very grateful for this. Please lighten up and enjoy yourself.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 11:23 AM

"That's not name-calling."
If you don't reply with discussion - it's name calling Steve
Not the thing I am used to from a fellow researcher
It leaves me with the impression that, like your percentage theaory, you 'definitions don't hold water when put to the test
I'm enjoying myself no end, by the way
and aIa still get a great deal of pleasure listening and singing
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM

Steve,
You have made a mistake there not asking for anything more than entertainment. How dare you bring that word into this thread or the other dominated by the same person.
The Ballads and Blues meetings were very entertaining but St James (Miller not Carroll) didn't like this it wasn't taking things seriously enough so after about six years of suffering he went and formed the Singers Club. He gained a few disciples one of whom is now trying to preach to the rest of us.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 01:42 PM

"St James Miller"
Would that be the same as Sir Bob Zimmermann d'you think Hoot
More necrophobic grave dancong on someone who ran rings around the lot of you, including the crook who ran away with your Club takings
SEE 'NO AGENTS NEED APPLY
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 02:43 PM

I'm out, with the others!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM

Firstly just to make clear that the guest listed at 12.44 p.m.was me.

Jim I don't know to whom you are referring to as a crook. Could you enlighten me? as being there from around 1957 to 1965 I am completely unaware of the matter of missing club takings.

You are making accusations about people's honesty. Funnily enough it reminds me of a book that I just read which includes an item relating to the acquisition of a number books from Foyles Bookshop written by someone who was there at the time. I still find it a little hard to believe and the reason for legitimising the excercise.

Re Zimmerman & Miller yes it is the same both pretending to be be someone else fortunately for both they came up with songs that became successful to the general public.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 04:17 PM

> Bob Thomson, who lived in Cambridgeshire, did a great deal of research on the song as it was particularly popular in East Anglia - he turned up the information on the settlement on convict returnees around the Oxborough Hall area

OK, thank you, that explains how the name in the song became "Oxborough", that name being familiar to people in that area, including returned convicts, and thus replacing "Hawkesbury".

(But sorry for continuing the thread drift.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 07:16 PM

I hope Steve Roud is seeing all this debate - if he has time??

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 04:49 AM

"(But sorry for continuing the thread drift.)"
I think understanding such things is part and parcel of these discussions Richard
Bob, with his friend, Mike Herring, did similar work with the song, 'Drink Old England Dry', linking the verse about the Dutchman with the draining of The Fens
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 08:01 AM

This remark by John Robinson made a few days ago slipped by without comment:

I find it hard to find 'English' folk songs, but perhaps that's just me. After a bit of digging I often discover that whatever shiny new/old song I've learned was originally Scottish, collected by Francis J Child...

John, you need to remember that Child's sources were overwhelmingly Scottish, and there's far less evidence about what people in England were singing around 1800 than there is for Scotland, simply because nobody much was collecting it. Even so (and acknowledging that ballads like 'Tifty's Annie', 'The Battle of Otterburn' and 'Sir Patrick Spens' did originate in Scotland), a lot of the ballads most popular in tradition most probably originated in England. The notes to the songs in Roud and Bishop's 'New Penguin Book' make this pretty clear.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM

From a singers point of view, I always found it a problem to find English versions that met up with Scots texts, so I began to Anglicised Scots one, bearing in mind that this wasn't always desirable as the beautiful Scots vernacular language often gave you words and phrases that it might be possible to replace but would be a great loss to do so.
Work in Ireland has uncovered a ballad repertoire which was considered not to have existed - my friend, the late Tom Munnelly listed 50 Child Ballads that were still extant in Ireland among the older generation up to the mid 1980s
I would look out for two albums in particular, 'Songs of the Irish Travellers' and 'Early Ballads in Ireland - 1968-1985' - the foirmer includes an exquisitely sung version of 'Young Hunting' entitled 'Lady Margaret', by Traveller Martin McDonagh - not only a beautiful version of a rare ballad but, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of traditional singing available (to the accompaniment of the singer's son chopping wood fro the family business).
If I thought there was an audience for the longer narrative song hear in Ireland, I would have no hesitation in learning the Roscommon version of Banks of Newfoundland recorded by collector Joe Byrne back in the 1980s
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM

"English versions" of the ballads
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 10:24 AM

I am reading this book, but I am reading it very slowly. I break off after every chapter to read something else. It gives me time to think about the implications of everything that has been written. I find that I need to go back and re-read sections to make sure that I have considered all the implications. Already, the pages that I have read has a mass of those 'post-it' type stickers marking statements that I will need to go back to re-read and reconsider. In a way, I am very glad that I am not reviewing it (though one editor has already indicated to me that he would have preferred that the book had been sent to me by the person who allocates material to reviewers). The reason that I am glad is because I would hate to have to rush through a book that is as dense and meticulously researched as this because of a review deadline. So far, I have resisted the great temptation that Brian Peters failed to do and 'skipped ahead' to read conclusions - but this has been difficult. I want to savour and enjoy what is likely to be the most important book that I have read about the subject that has absorbed my attention all my adult life.
This morning I reached the end of Chapter 7 and we have reached the end of the 18th century in considering a multiplicity of evidence, we reach a section where he, at last, offering some preliminary findings. He has been considering the impact of written and published song and tine material - opera, theatre stage shows, broadsheets, chapbooks and other sources on what was sung by the classes of people from whom the 'folk singers' came:-
.... on what we can surmise to be the state of 'traditional song' of the period. On a superficial reading across the genre, this seems to be true of musicians' tune books in general, which, as far as songs are concerned, are often much closer to the 'art music' of the period than other sources. It may be that their compilers, being semi-professional jobbing musicians, spent time in theatre orchestras and military bands, and playing for middle-class concerts and balls, and that their repertoires reflect this. But this is a superficial impression, and needs to be checked further before it can be accepted as evidence.Page 293

He then goes on to consider the last part of evidence from that century, the manuscripts of Ralph Dunn and in particular the song Poll of Plymouth. This interests Steve because:-
It was repeated in literally dozens of songsters, chapbooks and broadsides, but doesn't seem to have been noted by any of the folk song collectors. Page 294

What Steve seems to be saying here is that there is something about this song (of which he gives the lyrics) that did not attract potential singers. It didn't have the qualities required for it to be taken up by 'The voice of the people'. Without that, the song does not alter and develop on being passed on through entering the repertoires of the common people (whoever they may be). It is when songs start to be altered in this way that they have become more interesting to Steve and other contemporary researchers than the constant haranguing about definition.
The last two paragraphs of Chapter 7 are more revealing about Steve's attitude and his modus operandi than anything else that I have read in the book so far.
As the evidence stands at present, we can reach some tentative conclusions. If the manuscripts are accepted as evidence of vernacular singing, the folk-collectors severely underestimated of higher class art/popular music of the pleasure gardens and theatres in the traditional-song repertoires of a century before their time. The influence of print on traditional song was extensive. The degree of continuity between say, 1790 and 1890 is surprisingly low, and songs did not, in the main, last for a hundred years in the popular tradition, unless the degree of continuity is disguised by the collectors' selection policy. The latter is feasible but does not bear close scrutiny. It seems to argue that all collectors would recognise an eighteenth-century art song at sight, and decline to note it. This may be true of those who had a good working knowledge of popular sing history such as Sabine Baring-Gould. Frank Kidson and Anne Gilchrist, but these collectors are precisely the ones who would have found such survivals interesting and would have noted them. The balance of probability is that these songs simply did not survive to be collected around the turn of the twentieth century.
But the evidence can be read the other way round. As we know that 33 per cent of the 'folk songs' collected later originated in the eighteenth-century of before, the fact that we can find so few of them in the sources investigated simply means that these sources are not sufficiently 'folk' and we are looking in the wrong place. Certainly, compilers of manuscripts will have been, by definition, more literate that the average working person, because they could write as well as read, but we are back to our basic problem. If the 'folk songs' of the time left no tangible trace, we can say little or nothing about them. Page 296

Consider the contributions of all the previous commentators on English folk song. There is little doubt that Sharp and Karpeles knew what they were looking for before they set out the find it. They collected what that wanted to hear and ignored anything that was outside their preconceptions. Then much later we have Lloyd and all the other Marxist commentators, Harker and other de-bunkers, Georgina Boyes and other feminists; they all bought the pre-determined socio-political agendas with them. All have given us invaluable information to help to a greater understanding of the subject but we have to approach all of them with a pre-knowledge of the author's position. The only ones who have radically changed academic opinion have been the ones who have written that the position of women in the collecting work of the first has been seriously understated; they are producing plenty of evidence to support this. The interesting talk by Lizzie Bennett that I heard at a Traditional Song Forum meeting this year produced facts that this happened in Sussex and I had not heard this information before.
The main factor in my (incomplete) interpretation of Steve's approach is that he bends over backwards to omit anything to which he cannot point to a providing evidence. It is this clarity of thought; this abhorrence of assumption that is, I believe, going to provide the way for future academic researchers and writers on the subject of folk song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 04:55 PM

A neat critique, Vic.

Not sure really how relevant or significant the sexism of previous eras is here though. I have never really considered much that Lucy Broadwood, Annie Gilchrist, Mary Neal, etc., were any different to the male collectors as far as collecting goes. I've not come across this as a burning issue among all the scholars I know.

Fully agree with your last statement. I've worked with Steve for many years now and have yet to find any distracting agenda with him. He is simply a truth seeker with a burning desire to set the record straight. He is as you say cautious in his approach (unlike myself I might add.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 05:36 PM

I have never really considered much that Lucy Broadwood, Annie Gilchrist, Mary Neal, etc., were any different to the male collectors as far as collecting goes.
.... and neither have I, or at least in the years that I have heard all these names, It was many years after I heard Cecil Sharp's name that I heard that of the great achievements of Mary Neal and I am sure some earlier writers did not give her the credit she deserved - especially after she fell out with Sharp. Was Maud given all the credit she deserved at the time or has that only come later? In particular, I am thinking of Georgina Boyes' article The Lady That Is With You.... Maud Karpeles (1885 - 1976) in Step Change Ed. Boyes. (Francis Boutle (2001) and in various places in her better-known The Imagined Village. There are other examples. The neglect of the historical contributions of women is having to be reassessed in a wide range of disciplines.
You ask how relevant it is here. I was contrasting the approach of Steve Roud with those who bring a already developed socio-political agenda to their writings. I was trying to categorise them and stating that one that had gained most credence was the one that argued that the contribution of women had not been fully recognised.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 04:54 AM

My main problem with the book 'so far' is that folk song is treated as literary fiction rather than what I believe it is - poetic interpretations of actual experiences by those who lived them.
This appears to be the basic difference between how Lloyd and Roud approached the same body of song - Bert presents folk song as being 'of the people', Steve gives them as being 'for the people'
I remain unconvinced that literary hack incapable of producing singable songs
Our researches have found hundreds of anonymous songs in Ireland which were made during the lives of the singers but whose parochial nature and subject matter caused them to die out shortly after the events that inspired them faded from memory
If 'the folk' were capable of song making there is every reason to belive that it was they who made our folk songs
I take Vic's point about collectors being selective and I believe they missed a great deal of vital material in doing so, but I don't count Victorian Parlour Ballads or Music Hall compositions among those - they were literary compositions and had no part in 'folk expression'
If you counted them as folk songs you would have to include the operatic arias sung by Welsh miner's Operatic Societies
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 04:56 AM

Sorry - should read
"I remain unconvinced that literary hacks incapable of producing singable songs made our folk songs"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM

Jim wrote:-
I don't count Victorian Parlour Ballads or Music Hall compositions among those - they were literary compositions and had no part in 'folk expression'
By chance this morning, I read this by Steve Roud in the 'New Book' -
It is because of this fundamental similarity that these 'pop songs' from the music halls could be easily absorbed into the local tradition and become 'folk songs' (Page 329 - My emphasis)

Now we know that we are as unlikely to agree a definition of folk song as we are to find a leprechaun's crock of gold at the end of a rainbow, but what this points out is that Jim places all emphasis on "origin" whereas Steve is much more concerned with "process" once a song has entered a local or national repertoire.

Another point -
Jim has written
I remain unconvinced that literary hack incapable of producing singable songs whereas Steve shows through evidence that songs of broadside origins are developed improved, localised and made more singable once they have been taken up by the people.
and on another current thread Jim writes -
I am suggesting that at one time working people actively participated in our culture and produced our songs as expressions of their lives, those songs were widely taken up, took rrot elsewhere adapted to suit different localities, ages and circumstances, during the course of which their authors were largely forgotten - thay are your folk songs - nothing to do with age, style or subject matter.
But nowhere does he offer any evidence to back this up and as Steve Gardham and I have written, Roud is an absolute stickler for evidence; if you can't show the reasons for a suggestion, then you should not make it.

One more point - another difference and here I am on dangerous ground fearing that it may be instigating a verbal firestorm such as appears in that other thread.
I wrote -
I was contrasting the approach of Steve Roud with those who bring a already developed socio-political agenda to their writings.
... and much as I agree with the majority of what I have learned of Jim's political views, I feel that he is someone who beings pre-formed views to these discussions and cannot back them up with the research findings that modern scholarship demands.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 12:06 PM

When I went to Steve Roud's presentation of his book at Sidmouth - I believe he clearly stated that his primary interest in a song is when and where is was performed in the voice of the singers.
Therefore It didn't matter what it's source was, it was the fact that is was sung over time, and possibly altered, to suit each singer, that most interested him - and that he considered these Folk Songs.
I am probably Paraphrasing very badly......but that was certainly my impression.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 12:46 PM

The only ones who have radically changed academic opinion have been the ones who have written that the position of women in the collecting work of the first has been seriously understated; they are producing plenty of evidence to support this. The interesting talk by Lizzie Bennett that I heard at a Traditional Song Forum meeting this year produced facts that this happened in Sussex and I had not heard this information before.

You could say the same about collectors much further afield. In Yiddish and Klezmer music, one of the most important collectors was Sofia Magid, who did some of the most important fieldwork ever despite being Jewish under Stalinism as well as female in patriarchal Russian academia. She was almost entirely unrecognized for it, but at least she managed to preserve her archive and not get sent to a labour camp or shot. We are only just beginning to explore what she left. Samples here:

https://yiddishsong.wordpress.com/tag/sofia-magid/


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 12:48 PM

"once a song has entered a local or national repertoire. "
Which can be said of any song (back to the Birdie song or the Welsh miner arias)
"Roud is an absolute stickler for evidence"
Not really - his statement that so many songs probably originated on broadsides is totally unqualified
I believe the evidence - ie - that working people did create their own songs - makes this unlikely
The broadside poets were notoriously bad songmakers so why make such a claim
If Bothy workers made their own songs and miners like Tommy Armstrong and Joe Corrie were rattling them off - not to mention the textile workers in Lancashire, the weaver poets of Scotland, Agricultural workers in Norfolk... et al, why should they not have made the folk songs?
Steve is writing in the 21st century - in the 19th century there wa no question that rural workers made the folksongs - Child dismissed the hacks as dunghills when the broadside trade was thriving.
What new evidence has emerged to prove the mid-nineteenth century writers didn't know what they were talking about?
None, as far as I can see.
WE don't know who wrote the folksongs so we are left to use our common sense based on what little information we have.
From your own words "Steve Roud once said to me a traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer. What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
Joking or not, that is a circular statement - you need to define one before you can attribute anything to the other.
Maybe he was joking, but there are far too many people arguing this to ignore it.
Irish people produced songs which were sucked into local traditions immediately in their hundreds - why not English working people
An examination of the songs themselves imply far too great a familiarity with the subject matter and the use of vernacular, folklore, etc to be the work of outsiders.
Steve Gardham one suggested that English working people were far too bust earning a living to make songs - where did they get the time to adapt them and, more to the point, why bother when they were capable of making them themselves
As long as folksong scholarship has existed there have always been those ready to claim that folk songs are too good for the fool to have made - which leads us back to the old preobem - nobody ever bothered to consult them to find what they were capable of
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 01:07 PM

Maybe Roud explains this. Given that so much of the standard British song repertoire comes from known authors, why isn't their authorship better acknowledged?

In Turkish bardic song (roughly comparable in its position to the Child ballad corpus) the great majority of the repertoire was composed by known authors who are invariably recognized - ok, it helps that they usually worked their own names into the last verse, but that could been dropped or munged if singers had wanted to. So everybody knows which songs go back to Yunus Emre (contemporary with Chaucer) or Pir Sultan Abdal (contemporary with William Dunbar) - and there are many songs by both of them which are still sung regularly. In Anglo-Scottish song, Anon has staked out copyright to everything before Burns and most of what came after.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 01:34 PM

I don't think this explains much Jack
If Irish people composed their own songs, why not Brits?
If sections of the British population composed songs, why not all of them
Where did the knowledge and faamilirity come from among poor, urban-based writers (those are the ones Roud goes into)
Our knowledge dates only to the turn of the century when the traditions were very much on the wane
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 02:06 PM

If - as Jim states - "Our knowledge dates only to the turn of the century when the traditions were very much on the wane"

Then - Why is he so certain that his 20th Century experiences in Ireland were reflected in 18th and 19th Century England?

At least Steve Roud has real physical evidence that Broadsides were written (by "Hacks") and printed in the earlier Centuries - but none that they were written by ordinary people.....

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 02:26 PM

If Irish people composed their own songs, why not Brits?
If sections of the British population composed songs, why not all of them?


That misses the point - I wasn't talking about songs of mysterious popular origin. There are huge numbers of British and Irish songs which appeared on broadsides more than 200 years ago, and where the evolutionary evidence suggests a single source. In almost every case, where they are still sung, the singer doesn't know where they came from, despite their origin being knowable. While in other traditions that feat of collective memory is quite routine. How come the English forget so easily what the Turks almost invariably remember?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 03:56 PM

Thought I'd dealt with that Jack
The broadside output runs contrary to the traditional repertoire in style and in quality - most of the published broadside collections are crammed full of unsingable songs - read Hollway and Black or Bagford or Ashton...
Literacy is peculiar anyway in terms of the country singers - certainly the ones we interviewed
Something in print is treated as fixed and sacrosanct
Singers have commented to us that songs they have bought are not to be trusted and have been rejected rather than altered
Harry Cox had a large collection of broadsides but he told Bob Thomson he never learned from them
Even the subject matter of the broadsides is iffy
If you read Hugill's Sailortown you will find that sailors as a whole were hated and feared (except maybe in wartime)
Yet here are all thise songs lamenting the hard life of a sailor or Jack coming ashore, pulling a string and having his way with the townies woman, or going into a gin-shop, smashing it up and stealing all the booze - heroes all
These ate class boasts about about 'our boys' coming out on top.
THe same with navvies - read the note to the song on the club thread I put up this morning - not much evidence of a 'Bold English Navvy' there.
Soldiers the same - the garrison towns weer no-go areas.
The folk songs throughout reflect a sympathy for and a knowledge of their subject matter that, in my opinion, is almost certainly based on an insiders view.
Even the ballads are made from the point of view of the 'lower classes' - the lame dog invariably getting the best of his better.
Some of the historical ones are downright seditious - not the stuff you peddled around the streets in the 18th century
If you have a chance, get hold of Alec Stewart telling traditional tales - the humour is the same as us much of the turn-of-phrase.
"Why is he so certain that his 20th Century experiences in Ireland were reflected in 18th and 19th Century England?"
Steve's point appears to be aimed at the 19th century repertoire - Steve Gardham is now insisting that his 90% refers to that time, though it appeared to cover everything at one time
When Sharp's gang were doing the rounds they were collecting material learned in the latter half of the 19th century and were insisting that their job was a race against the undertaker as the tradition was dying.
The Iris tradition lasted probably to the late 1940s and was still pretty active - singers we knew were remembering from a living tradition - the BBC was largely recording dead one.
The Irish Travellers tradition was very much alive to the middle of the seventies - their communities were virtually non-literate yet, as with the Scots Travellers, if you wanted the big ballads or narrative songs, that's where you went
We really don't know anything for certain, but the printed word appears not to feature in the making of traditional songs as far as I can see - borrowing from them maybe.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 05:41 PM

By sheer fluke I read this today. In Hugh MacDiarmid's The Company I've Kept there is a conversation between him, John Ogdon and Ronald Stevenson about Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (who MacDiarmid knew very well for most of his life). Stevenson says this (thinking about the quotation of folk tunes by art music composers):
Dozens of phrases from Shakespeare have been absorbed into common parlance in Britain; the same can be said for Dante in Italy; the difference is that in Britain most people don't know it's Shakespeare they're quoting, whereas in Italy they do know it's Dante. A few years ago, on O'Connell Bridge in Dublin, an Irish tramp quoted Yeats to me. I said, 'Could you direct me to the Abbey Theatre, please?' and he replied, correcting me with kindly reproof, 'You mean Yeats's theatre'; and he proceeded to quote Yeats to me.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 05:44 PM

**the printed word appears not to feature in the making of traditional songs as far as I can see** And there we have it in a nutshell, Jim. Your opinion. Fine. I'll keep reposting this statement every 5 or 6 postings so that you don't have to. Is that okay with you?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Nov 17 - 06:48 PM

Walter Pardon learnt just about all of his songs from his Uncle Billy Gee who in turn learnt them from Walter's grandfather. Guess where Walter's grandfather got all his songs?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM

"Guess where Walter's grandfather got all his songs?"
Walter's grandfather was ain impoverished land worker who went to sea to feed his family and ended up with them in the workhouse - I doubt if he spent many pennies buying broadsides.
Walter said that there was no trace of his family ever learning songs from print - he never saw a broadside and the only evidence of a printed version of a song in his family horde was a version of 'Bonny Bunch of Roses', which Walter learned from hearing his uncle Tom sing
Walter never threw anything away - when he died, his house was full of boxes of papers going back two generations
He told us that he once saw a street singer in North Walsham, but he coudn't recall any of his songs.
Do you know something he never told us?

"Your opinion."
Which is the point I have been making all along - all this is just our opinion Steve - yours, mine, everyone else's - we have nothing to go on for it to be anything else.
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't

"Dozens of phrases from Shakespeare have been absorbed into common parlance in Britain"
Which was a two-way street Jack
There are a number of books on our shelves linking the works of Shakespeare (son of a glove-maker) with the customs and practices of his time; 'Shakespeare's Puck and his Folkslore', William Bell (1852), 'Folklore of Shakespeare' T F Thiselton Dyer (1883), 'The Flora and Folk Lore of Shakespeare' F.R. Savage (1923) and 'Old Customs and Superstitions in Shakespeare Land', J Harvey Bloom (1929) ; all showing that Shakespeare constantly dipped into the peoples' culture for his inspiration.
The most comprehensive work, a large, two volume collection of essays by various authors, is 'Shakespeare's England (Oxford Union 19717), which deals with the lot, language, sports, fine arts, sciences... right through to music and broadsides.
That's why it's always struck me as irrational to attribute our culture to literary sources.

My paternal grandfather was one of the founders of the maritime section of The Working Mans' Association when he was at sea.
He bacame a Shakespeare nut and past the infection on to my father who passed it on to me.
He filled dozens on notebooks describing Shakespeare's works in down-to-earth North-of-England language
When he remarried and moved to Stoke on Trent, he was latched onto by a local college and invited on several occasions, to speak on his enthusiasm - in broad Scouse   
He also remembered a few shanties, which he had picked up from fellow seamen after they had gone out of use.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 03:55 PM

I think there must be 2 Walter Pardons from Knapton, Norfolk, Jim.

Quote from the one I'm referring to.

"Uncle Billy (Gee) was an outstanding fellow. He was born here in this house. I learned nearly all my songs off him; he was born in 1863. Most of the songs he got from my grandfather. My Uncle Tom at Bacton, he knew a lot, but they were different from what Billy's were.

Most of them come from the one man; he knew a hundred, my grandfather did.............................My grandfather got the songs from broadsheets, apparently that's how they were brought round, so they always told me."

There's a lot more detail in the interview but I think you get the flavour.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 04:27 PM

**we have nothing to go on**

I've been studying broadsides and other forms of commercial music from previous centuries for about 40 years now, Jim. How long and how intensively have you been studying them? Is there anywhere I can look at the results of your studies on them?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 04:47 PM

Steve - Where does the Walter Pardon quote about Broadsides come from?

eg - Who interviewed him and when...........I am not calling what you say into doubt - I just feel it should be referenced.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 05:09 PM

I think you are making too much of the 'rural workers v broadside hacks' argument Jim, and so getting hot under the collar about it quite unnecessarily. It is not the straight dichotomy you are making out, but rather a fluid situation and a two-way street: songs were re-cycled in both directions, with broadside printers picking up on songs sung in the countryside by singers in pubs and so on and towns and printing them to circulate more widely, for profit, and country people learning songs from ballad singers who bought their supply of ballad sheets from the printers or stationers, and sang them at country fairs and market - and would also have picked up on other songs being sung to relay to the printers. Obviously the ballad singers and sellers tried to sell their sheets to whoever would buy, but some may just have listened. In rural Cumberland and Westmorland small printers in market towns were churning out broadsheets and chapbooks, and buying in from the larger urban printers. So it does seem to me that the situation is not black and white but very many shades of grey.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 05:10 PM

Tim may have a better reference, but here is one I found that you can easily check out. Apologies for butting in, but I was interested and thought I'd share.

"Quotations from Walter himself are taken mainly from transcriptions of conversations with Peter Bellamy (published in Folk Review, August 1974, pp.10-15) and Karl Dallas (published in Folk News, August 1977, pp.14-15)."

From http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/pardon2.htm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 05:30 PM

Thanks - That's pretty clear...........

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 05:56 PM

That is correct JD but I got them from the booklet that came with the Mustrad 2 CD set so basically the same source.

Hi, Sue.
Of course it was a two-way process and I have plenty of examples of broadside printings that obviously came from oral tradition that didn't survive to be collected from oral tradition. However, the earliest extant versions even of these are still found to have come from some literary source or from some urban commercial source. If we are talking about the English songs published as part of the general corpus I for one am convinced that the vast bulk originated in this way in urban areas, not rural. It is possible that some of the pedlars were also contributing to the corpus as 'collectors' but I've seen no evidence of this. Of course looked at from a more recent regional approach there are all sorts of songs that came from rural writers, but in my experience these songs very rarely made it into the national corpus for a variety of reasons. I'm sure you have plenty of examples of local folk songs in Cumbria but how many of these appear in the national corpus as published by the likes of Sharp, Broadwood, Baring-Gould, Kidson etc?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST, Sue Allan
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 07:11 PM

Hi Steve,
well I can think of just one off the top of my head - ?D?Ye Ken John Peel?, written by local person, became popular, went into print as broadside and in chapbooks (Fordyce, Newcastle) and then published in local book 1866, Stokoe &Reay 1893, National Song Book 1905 etc etc. Later collected from oral sources by eg Williams.
There are other regional songs which circulated in a similar way, which presumably you wouldn't include in ?the national corpus?, a term with which I am unfamiliar in the folk song context. I?m sure you?re right that proportionally more, possibly many more, songs originated in the pleasure gardens and theatres (not all urban: there were plenty of small companies doing ?rural touring?, albeit often advertising the latest songs from London) and the songs composed by working class & artisan class (skilled workers) singers and musicians at Harmonic Societies and Glee Clubs.
I?m puzzled by ?the national corpus? you refer too though as I?m not sure there really is such a thing: there are too many variables - eg regional songs which become national as opposed to those which do not, Scottish (more usually ?Scotch? in eighteenth century)songs which are in fact English for example, while those published by Sharp et al represent a relatively limited number of singers in a few selected locattions, eg in my area, none of the collectors who came here ever went to a hunt meets so missed out on 30% possible Cumbrian songs. Can of worms warning!!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 08:51 PM

I think there must be 2 Walter Pardons from Knapton, Norfolk, Jim.
I am not going to enter into debate about any contradictions there might be with walter only to say that we have him on tape rejecting the idea of broadsides being a part of the family reprtoire
I have the recordings Tim is referring to with Dallas.
This is what Walter told us about the situation his grandfather and family was in -

"?I think he swore at the old man. Anyone who answered back, you see, that was instant dismissal in them days then, this would be, I should think, in the early 1850s or even 1840s. He was given instant dismissal and no-one would employ him. My grandfather and his three sisters, he had to keep them and their mother. He?d got no money so he went to Yarmouth and went to sea, like Sam Larner did, you know, this trawling. My grandfather and his sisters and the mother had to go into Gimmingham Workhouse while he was away at sea, ?cause no-one would employ him. There?s a man told me that when his mother was a little girl, they all come past the house crying to think they had to go in the workhouse; she cried to see them cry. But father said my grandfather told him he liked it in the workhouse, it was warm and he was fed. Well, they?d have starved, workhouse or starve, so they went in there until he could come home with some money?.

"I've been studying broadsides and other forms of commercial music from previous centuries for about 40 years now, Jim"
And you have yet to produce one definite song they you can prove originated on a broadside
Pushing paper around a desk proves nothing Steve - as nobody ever got around to asking traditional singers about their songs, we have no information who made them
You have yet to address the fact that the output of the broadside hacks indicates that they were incapable of doing so
You seem to have abandoned your original argument that "hacks" meant something other than bad poets.
We were talking to and recording traditional singers for thirty years and we can prove categorically that from the middle of the nineteenth century, rural workers were prolific song-makers fully capable of making our folk songs - far more than the purveyors of bad verse that Cjild and his contemporaries wrote off as "dunghill" writers
"and so getting hot under the collar about it quite unnecessarily."
I'm afraid I can't agree Sue (I'm not getting hot under the collard, by the way - I was when my conclusion based on thirty years of work with traditional singers was dismissed as "romantic nonsense", but that passed when I found he was had no real evidence to back up what he said and put forward arguments like "English workers were too busy to make songs" - or that the large repertoire of locally composed songs were "the scribblings of retired people"....
Whether the people who have, up to now been credited with making folksongs, did make them is a pretty fundamental question - as far as I am concerned, such an important claim needs to be either proved or admitted to be no more than a theory without evidence
Steve has vacillated so much that it is difficult to keep up -
First it was "all folksongs" (based on centuries of repertoire covered by 'The Song Carriers - which is what prompted his "romantic nonsense" comment, then it went to only that collected at the beginning of the 20th century
I'm not quite sure where we are now
If Steve is right, we are back to the Phillips Barry dismissive comment that 'The folk' were incapable of composition and could only repeat what they hears
"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin.....the ballad.... has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk".
Taking the credit of making its songs from an entire class of people and putting it into that hands of notoriously bad writers is, as far as I am concerned, a serious business and needs to be proven beyond doubt
If working people were capable of making songs, logic tells me they probably made the folk songs - they were far to good and knowledgeable of their subject matter to be the work of shoddy Urban writers (they were the ones Roud described)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Nov 17 - 09:12 PM

Just as an example, this is fairly typical of the songs that were being made in their several hundreds by rural workers within fifteen miles of this town in the 1930s - none ever appeared in print and the vast majority were anonymous
It appears to be the case that they were common throughout Ireland
It has been argued for some odd reason that Ireland was somehow different than England, bu the local repertoire here inluded large numbers of songs which probably originated in Britain, including a significant number of Child ballads still extant into the 1970s
Jim Carroll

The Bobbed Hair (Roud 3077) Tom Lenihan Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
I feel depressed and sad tonight, my heart is filled with woe,
Since I met my Biddy darling when we parted long ago.
I remember when we parted how the sun came shining down
On that fair and handsome creature and her lovely locks of brown.

When I met her I was horrified, I could not understand
What made her locks so ugly now that once was sweet and grand.
I gazed in silent wonder, yes, I looked and looked again;
My heart near burst asunder when I found she had bobbed her hair.

I said: ?Biddy dear, what happened you, that you looked so neat and trim
The night we kissed and parted in the road near Corofin??
I asked why she had shorn her locks, she smiled and made a bow,
And the answer that she made was: ?Tis all the fashion now.?

Ah, to see my darling?s hair, too, it was a lovely sight,
And although ?tis hard to make me cry, I shed some tears that night.
Before we left I asked her how this bobbing first began,
?Some years ago,? she said, ?you know, ?twas done by Black and Tans!?

Farewell, dear Bid, I?m clear fed up, there is no bobbed hair for me.
Our partnership we must dissolve, I?m horrified to see,
The locks that nature gave to thee, oh, just for fashion?s sake
Clipped off, and now you neck is bare, like Paddy McGinty?s drake.

Of course I know the times have changed, but I?ll allow for that,
And shingled hair looks horrible beneath a nice new hat.
And why don?t fashions doff the shawl our grannys used to wear?
Some has done it still and always will but they have not bobbed their hair.

The ass brays in a strong protest and swears he will not move
And goats upon the mountains bleat that fashions may improve
The swallows are about to leave, no more we?ll see the hare
And stalks are burned with the blight since the women bobbed their hair.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 04:11 AM

I don't see anything in Jim's quote from Walter Pardon that says his grandfather wouldn't have bought broadsides. They were cheap.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:02 AM

Apologies for all those question marks in my post: they were typed as inverted commas so not sure what happened there!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:21 AM

You're on a machine running a recent version of Windows. They don't let you type an ASCII-standard straight quote sign (as you can on any other operating system, like the one I'm using). Instead, when you type ' on a keyboard attached to Windows, you get a curly-single-close-quote sign ’, which isn't ASCII and isn't recognized in HTML source by most browsers, so they display ? instead. Max hasn't yet got round to modifying Mudcat's text-entry code to keep track of Microsoft's incompetence.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:38 AM

Jim wrote -
logic tells me they probably made the folk songs
You have been picked up on a similar block in your thinking by Steve G. so now it must be my turn.
You are misusing the word "logic" here. Logic requires carefully referenced structural argument. Logic is generally held to consist of the systematic study of the form of valid inference. A valid inference is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the inference and its conclusion.

You haven't offered a single piece of historical reference to make the above statement. What you are talking about is what you "presume" to be the case; what you are describing is an "assumption" or even a "gut feeling". An unkind person might even call it "wishful thinking" but I wouldn't because that has pejorative overtones.

Jim wrote (03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM)
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't.
... but you do, Jim, you make them all the time and that is why you are challenged on them because they they do not have the rigour or evidence that modern academic research demands.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:44 AM

"I don't see anything in Jim's quote from Walter Pardon that says his grandfather wouldn't have bought broadsides. THey were cheap"
To a family forced to living in a workhouse, nothing was cheap, Jack, certainly nothing as unnecessary as songsheets
I checked what Walter actually said about broadsides - can't find the reference to his saying his family never bought them, but what he did say was that none of their "folk songs" ever came from them - walter was extremely specific as to what he thought were folksongs
We went through his repertoire with him once and listed those he regardd as not being folksongs.
This is what he dismissed - some of them undoubtedly are from broadsisdes
Naughty Jemmy Brown
Old Brown?s Daughter
Marble Arch
One Cold Morning in December
Peggy Band
Ship That Never Returned
Skipper and his Boy
Suvlah Bay
The Steam Arm
Traampwoman?s Tragedy
Two Lovely Black Eyes
The Wanderer
We?ve Both Been Here Before
When The Fields Were White With Daisies
When You Get Up in the Morning
Wreck of the Lifeboat
Write Me a Letter from Home
All Among the Barley
As I Wandered by the Brookside
Balaclava
Black Eyed Susan
Bright Golden Store
British Man of War
Cock a Doodle Doo
A Country Life
Faithful Sailor Boy
Generals All
Grace Darling
Grandfather?s Clock
Help one Another Boys
The Huntsman
I Traced Her Footprints
I?ll Come Back to you Sweetheart
I?ll Hang my Harp
I?m Yorkshire, Though In London
Irish Molly
I Wish They?d Do It
Shamrock Rose and Thistle
Lads in Navy Blue
Miner?s Return
Mistletoe Bough
More Trouble in my Native Land
He was not sure about Farmer's Boy which, he said had been ?Written by someone who didn?t know the difference between wheat and barley".

Mike Yates once wrote an article pointing out, rightly, that traditional singers sang songs other than folk songs
I responded with this - A FOLKSONG - BY ANY OTHER NAME (article 41)
That remains my view
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:51 AM

Jack Campin: No ... I typed my post on my ipad!!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:52 AM

"The Dandy Man" seems to have gone astray from that list
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 06:30 AM

Even weirder ... my last post re. ipad says it's from Jack Campin! what on earth is going on here?! Definitely put Sue Allan in box so it should have said guest Sue Allan (forgotten password to reset cookie).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 06:32 AM

I broadly share the views of Sue Allan in her post of 03nov 11 07pm.
I think songs and tunes were composed by all levels of society from the humblest to the higher echelons.
They moved in all directions and were picked up by performers who took a fancy to them.
Some of the material remained much as the original and others changed to the taste of the performer or his audience.
With regard to the quality of the songs,a farm worker could easily have had a better use of words than a bad broadside writer or vice versa.
The argument as to who had the most influence depends on the the opinion of the commentator,whose views will be shaped by what he or she thinks is most important.
No one today knows exactly what happened in the past,the only evidence we have is snapshots of the time,what the collectors chose to record.
What they chose to leave out of their collections and the explanatory notes.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 07:07 AM

I am with Sue in this, seeing shades of grey more than black and white.

I also feel that Jim and Steve are to some extent at cross purposes, arguing about different subsets of the thousands of songs that have existed in England. Jim has ample evidence of "the folk" in Ireland making new songs about current events up until modern times and surmises that the folk in England were surely capable of the same, at least around 200 years ago if not more recently. However a large proportion of such songs in Ireland spread only locally and were collected only if someone happened to go collecting in that locality. The same seems very likely in England. So, however many songs were genuinely made by ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, few of them ever reached Sharp, Baring-Gould and co unless at some point they found their way into print and thus got more widely disseminated. Likewise all of us would surely agree that a large proportion of broadsides were pretty poor stuff, were actually sung by the folk only briefly if at all, and were never collected.

The songs that are of interest are those that were sung for at least a few decades, in some cases centuries, from when they were first made. These include the classic corpus from the collectors a hundred-odd years ago. (Opinions differ as to whether more recent ones, for example from the music hall, deserve the label "folk", but certainly the folk have sung some of them.)

Sticking to that classic corpus, the earliest evidence of most of them is in print, and some of them were certainly written for the stage or the pleasure gardens by the likes of Dibden. Who wrote most of them will never be known for certain. Jim would like to attribute a lot of them to the folk, largely on the basis of internal evidence of expert knowledge of the subjects addressed. Others attribute the bulk of them to "hacks" largely on the basis of style.

One of the most beautiful songs is the Coppers' A Shepherd of the Downs. It can hardly be disputed that that song derived from The Shepherd Adonis (rather than the other way round), but someone changed it along the way, greatly improving it. And yet in the last verse there appears the phrase "we hear", which is quite superfluous to the story and serves only to satisfy the metre and provide a rhyme. Roud says (on page 307) that that last verse "appears nowhere else". It is very unlikely that evidence will ever emerge of who exactly wrote that verse, but whoever did so borrowed that phrase from umpteen other songs. A broadside hack or a Sussex Shepherd?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 07:48 AM

I have no problem with most of your points Richard
The evidence of workers making song in Britain throughout the 19th century; the Chartist newspapers ran weekly columns by weaverts et al which are still accessible in Manchester Central Library
I seem to remember Stave conceding that The Bothie workers made their own songs without the aid of print.
The BBC even recorded Scots women in the Hebrides making songs on the spot extolling the sexual virtues of Alan Lomax.
Song Making continued right into the twentieth century with miners like Joe Corrie, who is, I believe on par with the Irish local songmakers
What made Ireland stick out as a songwriting nation was its 'over-abundance of history' - events like The Famine, the mass evictions, the enforced emigrations and the fight for national freedom demanded that songs were made, both in print and orally - this happened in every County in Ireland, North and South
Can I just remake my point as to why I believe the question of who made our songs to be an important point
In a couple of weeks time, Pat and I are speaking to Galway Uni students on the conclusions we drew from our collecting in Ireland
We intend to finish with this on locally made songs

"To bring this a little nearer home, following the Famine, the emigrations and the mass evictions, in the 1870s, when the British government decided to break up estates owned by absentee landlords and redistribute the land into Irish hands, some areas, particularly Clare, Limerick and parts of Galway objected to the way this was done, claiming that already wealthy farmers with large farms were being given the largest portions.
The most popular form of protest adopted was the 'cattle raid'; cattle would be stolen from the wealthiest farms, stampeded through the larger towns accompanied by the rustlers, shouting and blowing on horns and then let loose on large stretches of open lands, The Burren, in North Clare being a favourite spot
The official protests were abandoned around 1911, but in some places continued to Independence and beyond and these actions gave rise to a number of songs We were given this by Clare man, Michael 'Straighty Flanagan' he called it 'The Graziers'; Patrick Galvin included it in his 'Songs of Irish Resistance' as 'The Grazier Tribe'

Eg 10 ?Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan The Graziers

This brings us to probably the most important discovery we made throughout our collecting activities, local songs.   
Apart from the general repertoire, West Clare singers had a wealth of home-made songs, largely anonymous, dealing with local events, people or aspects of daily life and quite often made during the lifetimes of the singers. Only a couple, as far as we could find, had made it into print. We?re not referring to songs from the national repertoire which has had local place-names tagged onto them; these are common enough, but the home-grown compositions which have seldom taken root elsewhere because of their specifically parochial nature, quite often disappearing when the cause of their inspiration faded from memory.
These songs included many aspects of life, from everyday experience to national events viewed locally. As one 94 year old singer told us, ?In those days, if a man farted in church somebody made a song about it.
This is a song, almost certainly made in Corofin, North Clare some time in the 1930s, commenting on a new hairstyle; the singer is Tom Lenihan of Miltown Malbay.

Eg 11 Tom Lenihan The Bobbed Hair

We have recorded a number of such local songs and have been made aware of many more ? back in the 1970s a book entitled 'Ballads of Clare' edited by Sean Killeen was published containing 147 of these songs originating in East Clare. Some casual enquiries suggest that songs such as these were once common all over Ireland and have been largely neglected or have disappeared from the repertoires because of their parochial and ephemeral nature. The implication of the existence of these songs is extremely significant
Since the early days there has been a running argument as to whether the ?ordinary? people were capable of making our Classic ballads. Now, this idea has spread to our songs, with suggestions that 90% plus of them originated on the broadside presses and this questions the entire concept of rural song making
We believe that working people were natural song makers who found it necessary to put their feeling and experiences into verse, for entertainment certainly, but the subject matter and the time in which they were made makes them essential pieces of our history
For instance, over forty years ago we got this next song from several Travellers, all of whom asked that we don?t make it public as the couple in the song were still very much alive at the time; we've respected those wishes up to now but feel that all concerned, the couple and the singers, are now long dead, so there?s no harm in playing it on occasions such as these
The singer here, blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, told us laughing, "Paddy's my cousin and he?d murder me if he found I'd sung it to you" The song deals with ?made matches, marriage done through a matchmaker; such songs are to be found throughout the oral tradition, some about willing marriages, but most about enforced ones. The woman in the song was chosen because of her skill at one of the traditional Traveller trades of the time, buying, cleaning and re-selling old feather mattresses. We got the background of the song from our friend, Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, who was present when the song was made. He said it was made on the morning of the wedding by a group of Traveller lads sitting on a grassy bank outside the church humorously predicting how the marriage taking place would end up

Eg 12 Mary Delaney Paddy McInerney"

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 08:21 AM

Richard Mellish wrote:
"So, however many songs were genuinely made by ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, few of them ever reached Sharp, Baring-Gould and co unless at some point they found their way into print and thus got more widely disseminated."

This is a really important point. Phil Tanner sang 'Henry Martin' and Sam Larner 'The Lofty Tall Ship', both excellent variants of a single song, interestingly different melodically and textually, but strongly similar as well (Cecil would have called that 'Continuity versus Variation').

It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine, and indeed there are numerous 19th century printings. Though how the melody kept the same form at that degree of separation, without the help of print, is the really interesting question.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,uniformitarianist
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 09:18 AM

Do those who make an academic study of these things have anything similar to the geologists concept of "uniformitarianism"?

If so the recent evidence that those at the 'humblest' levels of society do write songs allows us to ask "do we have any evidence that 'ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, ' didn't write songs?" rather than having a strict requirement for evidence that they did.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 09:25 AM

"along some rural grapevine"
Not sure how much of a mystery this is Brian
Sam described stopping off at various ports as a trawlerman and taking part in singing competitions
These songs didn't necessarily have to travel by land.
Navvies also played a part in their transmission
I attended a talk given by Peter Cook once where he discussed the richness of the oral tradition in Aberdeenshire, particularly in relation to the Greig collection
He projected a 19th century map of the area onto a screen and then superimposed a plan of all the railways, roads and canals being worked on at the time
I don't know about the rest of the audience, but it impressed me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 09:48 AM

The simplest answer to your question, Brian, is that one of the ways these ballads were disseminated over large distances is that the pedlars who travelled great distances always carried a stock of broadsides and songsters with the rest of their wares. Of course we cannot discount migratory workers as well. We have much less information about how the melodies travelled for obvious reasons. The normal street/market ballad sellers of course sang the songs to their buyers but by and large these didn't travel great distances.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 10:03 AM

Sue,
In answer to your comment re English national folksong corpus. This is something some of us use to describe that great body of published anthologies from about 1890 up to WWII. Whilst this has a massive southern bias, this is a useful body for us to study and comment on, and it is this body of material that I have always referred to when presenting my percentages (fact: 89% earliest manifestation in urban commercial material, opinion: 95% originated in this way.)

**the classic corpus from the collectors a hundred-odd years ago** a quote from Richard's post above, for example.

Of course much more material has come to light since those collections were published, a lot of it of a local nature. Some would argue that 'D'ye ken John Peel' nowadays fits far better into the genre of 'national song or community song' rather than 'traditional folk song' which it undoubtedly is. How many people outside the hunting fraternity would know more than the chorus for instance?

You mention the hunt suppers and the distinct repertoires involved. As you know from our recent conversations I am very aware of these and the fact that in some areas they are indeed flourishing whereas in others the locals have lost interest and their singers are now very much part of the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 10:16 AM

"The simplest answer to your question, Brian, i"
That thn an "answer", this suggests that both oral and print transission are viable options
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 10:31 AM

They're not just viable options, they are the only options. Don't really understand what you are trying to say, Jim. I think you mean 'transmission' rather than 'transition', and no-one is arguing with this or indeed could.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 10:33 AM

Brian Peters wrote
It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine

Last Saturday I sang MacDonald's Return To Glencoe in a folk club; the same twelve verses exactly the lyrics, if not the great ability to put over a song, that I had recorded from the great Davy Stewart in 1972. One of my enduring memories of that meeting with him was asking him to write his name and address for me and handing him my notebook and a pen and my acute embarrassment as the pen hovered over the paper, he said to me, "Ye'd better write it oot yersel'. laddie, I ha'nae got ma specs wi'me." (He was wearing them at the time). I still blush when I think of that 45 years later. He then chanted out his Possil Park, Glasgow address for me.
Afterwards, I thought to myself that I had found something very important, a 12 verse broken token ballad from a man who could not read and write! The oral tradition at work!
Later again I thought of two lines that Davy had sung:-
Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun....."

Something about those lines stuck out like a sore thumb. I wondered if some minor poet/broadside hack had been at those lines. They were very different from other ways the start of the story appears in other broken token ballads.

Decades later I was at the Take 6 project was being launched at Cecil Sharp House. When was that? Something like 6 years ago? This was the pilot project that EFDSS had for digitising the collections of all the great collectors. One of the speakers at the launch - Malcolm Taylor? Steve Roud? (more likely) had said that one of the first six collectors in that pilot group had collected songs in Portsmouth Workhouse. My ears pricked up. That old workhouse building was now part of St. Mary's Hospital and I had ridden past it on my bike every day in the seven years of my secondary education. As soon as I got home I did an internet search for George Gardiner + Portsmouth and it appears that this had been something of a treasure trove of old songs, but what was this? To my surprise there was MacDonald's Return To Glencoe notated in the first few years of the 20th century and give or take a few words it was identical to the version that I had recorded from the man whose by-name amongst the Scots Travellers was 'the Galoot'.
The Portsmouth version also had 12 verses and included the lines I quote above.

My interest in the song re-kindled by singing it for the first time in while in public for quite a few years, I did an internet search for it. One of the references that the search found was from The County Clare Library. Now for those of you who don't know, one of the things that this library does is to share on its website/database the material collected by a number of important song collectors in the west of Ireland. My link takes you to an article, The Long Song Singer: Martin Reidy of Tullaghaboy 1901-1985 by Tom Munnelly.
Tom writes about Martin
His spartan cottage is just off the road from Connolly to Lisroe in West Clare. In this cottage he was born and reared. He spent all his long life there, a solitary bachelor eking out a living on his mountain farm after his parents had departed this world and the other members of the family had scattered to the four winds. Not that Martin was discontented with such a life, for he had little inclination to travel beyond his immediate environs except perhaps to walk his cattle to the fairs in Ennis or maybe go for a pint and do some shopping in Connolly. His disinterest in the world beyond his mountain was such that he never even travelled the twenty-odd miles to the mating Mecca of Lisdoonvarna in all his years.

Tom goes on to quote that same song in the version he collected from this isolated informant.
Tom only got nine verses from Martin (Vic writes showing his smug side) but they again include the two lines that I quote above. This makes me share the opinion expressed by the worthy Mr. Peters that this "beggars belief" that this travelled between these three different locations in time and location without the aid of print.
I go to the Roud Broadside Index and search for this song and find quite a number of references to it.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:03 AM

Vic - The version song collected by Gardiner - ie. MacDonald's Return To Glencoe, was collected in Portsmouth Workhouse from Charles Bateman who was born in Ireland............

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:14 AM

A lot of old matelots from all over when they left the Royal Navy settled in Posrtsmouth after they left, especially the ones who had signed up for the maximum 27 years, they had nothing to back to their home area for.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:24 AM

"this "beggars belief" that this travelled between these three different locations in time and location without the aid of print."
Not only did Martin not make it to Lisdoonvarna, but he only made the market town of Ennis, about five miles away, a few times in his long life.
When he was 'discovered' by the revival he was taken to sing at the Cork Folk Festival - he stepped out of the car on the main street, looked wonderingly up and down and declared it to be 'a grand bit of a village'
He sang the longest song we ever recorded - 'The True Lover's Discussion', lsting over 15 minutes
He once told us that "I wouldn't give you tuppence for a short song"
As Tom Munnelly points out, the song was widely popular throughout Scotland and Ireland among country singers - it is as likely as not that it was carried into Ireland by the Northern singers and made its way down the country.
Martin learned his version as a child but he could never remember where he got it.
His area, Tullochaboy, on the higher slopes of Mount Callan, was once a rich hunting ground for singers and storytellers.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:39 AM

Should read:
" it is as likely as not that it was carried into Ireland by the Northern singers who travelled to Scotland regularly to pick potatoes 'The tattie howkers'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:48 AM

" think you mean 'transmission' "
I do - I assume spell checker did that
I'm trying to say that oral transmission is as likely as print for that particular song, particularly considering the sitances
The coastal trade between Yarmouth and Swansea was a far more likely rout that the peddlers, when you consider a 'long rout' for a peddler was considered the one from Birmingham to the South East which would involve a trip lasting three and a half months for a trader plying his wares - according to the PDF covering 19th century trade
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:51 AM

"Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun....."

This goes way back in oral transmission: The prize was the Apple of Discord awarded by Paris to Aphrodite, precipitating the Trojan War. According to Wikipedia, Mount Ida goes back beyond Homer, figuring in pre-Olympian Greek myth.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 11:59 AM

it is as likely as not that it was carried into Ireland by the Northern singers who travelled to Scotland regularly to pick potatoes 'The tattie howkers'

It is a well-established fact that Scots songs travelled to Ireland since the time of the Cromwell planters; there is much evidence for this. It is also very interesting the way that the songs changed during that journey - the way that The Auld Beggarman becomes The Lame Poor Poor Man for instance.
What is much more difficult to go along with is that a multiplicity of collected versions refer to the Mountain of the Goddess in Greek Mythology - Mount Ida in Crete - and the prize that was won there and that this was not changed in the mouths of the people without reference to print.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 12:00 PM

Again Vic Smith - Bateman in the 1891 Census was a Dock Labourer living in Warlington Street and again in 1901 was a Grocer's Porter, again in Warblington Street (next door to 1891 address - not far from the Dockyard) - so was possibly not a sailor - unless he served in the Navy and then took shore jobs later. He was born in Cork circa 1847.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 12:14 PM

Greek mythology is fairly common in Irish song Vic
Paddy Tunney, whose mother Brigid, also sings the song (as he does) with the same "Mount Ida" reference, put it down to the Hedge Schoolmasters who set up clandestine schools under the most repressive periods of English rule
They taught the classics to Irish peasant kids which fed into the songs made such references commonplace, so wherever it started out, there wwas no reason to rationalise it.
I don't know if you've had our Irish singer friend, Oliver Mulligan at your club, but his wife, Susan, a Greek Scholar, used to curl me up when she'd ask him to sing 'The Dung Beetle Song', referring to 'Sheila Nee Iyer' which mentions Sisyphus - a Greek mythological character who gave his name to the insect.
Jim Carroll


.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 12:38 PM

I know SFA about it, but does such convoluted syntax often appear in folk compositions? The long prefatory adjective clause, followed by the subject-verb inversion (and shouldn't it be "like her who"?) sound rather genteel to me, dare I say it, like something a hack might write?

But as I say, I have no idea. Please enlighten me. Thanks


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 12:46 PM

Vic,
'Donald's Return to Glencoe' was very widely printed on broadsides all over the British Isles and even in America, but none of these have more than 11 stanzas. None of these are any earlier than 1800, in fact I'd guess a date of origin of about 1825 based on the many printers and the content of the ballad.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 12:57 PM

I'll stop lurking and make a few comments:

First, I dislike the term "hacks" .. it's a disparaging term. Broadside poets is a better description I feel, and more accurately describes what they did. Yes, they got paid... so did Wordsworth. Some of them were good poets, some were not.

Second, just because a song was collected from a singer who could not read, or who was uncomplimentary about broadsides, does not mean that somewhere further back in the transmission process, a broadside had not been used - either as a source, or as an aide memoire.

Third, it is logical to me (!) that some singers wrote songs. As has been suggested, if these remained local, there was less chance that the collectors heard and noted them, even if some other members of the community learned and sang them. In a slightly more literate environment (such as industrial Lancashire) the authors might be known, the songs might be published and so the song collectors dismissed the songs (or didn't even bother going there because it was industrial not rural).

Fourth, whatever the source of the song, it is what happened to it in oral transmission that interests (most of) us. The way the words were re-crafted (or indeed stayed the same), the way the tune was added, adapted, varied ...

Fifth, no-one is disputing the existence of the songs collected by Jim and Pat in Ireland - recently written songs. Thank goodness Jim and Pat are there to record them. An equivalent in England would be the hunting songs of Cumbria and elsewhere. It's a pity that the latter context is politically incorrect!

I'll go and watch some fireworks now...

Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 01:36 PM

First, I dislike the term "hacks"
I'm sure they weren't happy about it either Derek, but it was a common reference to their bad poetry as far back as you care to go
Singers may well have learned them or filled in texts with them, but this is no indication that the songs originated on them

One of the problems of knowing what went on in the minds of both the collectors and the singers regarding the local songs is that they went around asking for 'the old songs' and while they my have passed into a local singing tradition (we recorded many that did, such as 'The Wreck of the Leon' - see Clare Library website), they could not be described as 'old'
Mary Delaney complicated this by refusing to sing thirty year old Country and Western songs but was happy to describe as "old" a Travellers song that had been made a year earlier - presumably she was judging them by style rather than Age

As far as I'm concerned everything about both the making and the transmission of the songs is equally important - whether working people were capable of composing hangs on the question of whether they made the songs - an incredibly important question
I and many others have always gone with the idea that, if you wanted to know the nuts and bolts of sea battles, you would go to the naval records, if you wanted to know how it felt for a land worker to be pressed into the navy and be stuck in the middle of a bloody battle, the only way you'll find that out is through the songs

There's an interesting point regarding this in the Bothy songs, a number of which refer to the farm-hand having served at sea (ie 'Scranky Black Fairmer' and 'The Lothian Hairst'.
One of the practices of humane sea captains sailing into Aberdeen or other Eastern seaports at the time of war was to allow some of the crew to land up the coast from the ports in order to avoid the Press Gangs
Many of these who had no families would look for work in the farms on the way, especially around harvest-time - insider knowledge

"But as I say, I have no idea. Please enlighten me. Thanks"
Vernacular speech Jack - the folk songs are structured around local and county accents
The problems with the broadsides is not that they are ungrammatical but they are blocky and ungainly - they lack the reality of relaxed, everyday speech and sound 'forced' and false - they don't lie on the tongue easily.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 01:52 PM

"The problems with the broadsides is not that they are ungrammatical but they are blocky and ungainly - they lack the reality of relaxed, everyday speech and sound 'forced' and false - they don't lie on the tongue easily."


In other words, not unlike

"Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun....."

with its hifalutin syntax and hypercorrection?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 02:31 PM

""Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun.....""
It's quite possible that that particular song is the work of either an Irish or Scots Gaelic poet that has been absorbed into the tradition
As I said, the Irish repertoire has a number of such songs Paddy Tunney specialised in them
That language is not common to folk songs
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 03:00 PM

'Tom?s ? Canainn' of the group, Na Fili was the real expert on these 'hedge school' songs
What little I know of them came from a talk he once gave at Loughborough
What gives this particular song its traditional flavour is the fact that it is a 'broken token' song, where a soldier or sailor returns from the wars and chats up a former lover who does not recognise him -
He produces half ring they had bronken in two on his departure to prove his identity
I never understood how you could break a gold ring in two and always pictured a feller wandering around the countryside looking for women with a hacksaw hanging from his belt, until Pat came up with this fascinating 'insider information'. I've never seen it referenced elsewhere
Jim Carroll

"Lady in Her Father's Garden - Peggy McMahon undated
See also: 'Lady in Her Father's Garden' Tom Lenihan Recorded at singer's home, July 1980
This is probably one of the most popular of all the 'broken token' songs, in which parting lovers are said to break a ring in two, each half being kept by the man and woman. At their reunion, the man produces his half as a proof of his identity.
Robert Chambers, in his Book of Days, 1862-1864, describes a betrothal custom using a 'gimmal' or linked ring:
'Made with a double and sometimes with a triple link, which turned upon a pivot, it could shut up into one solid ring... It was customary to break these rings asunder at the betrothal which was ratified in a solemn manner over the Holy Bible, and sometimes in the presence of a witness, when the man and woman broke away the upper and lower rings from the central one, which the witness retained. When the marriage con?tract was fulfilled at the altar, the three portions of the ring were again united, and the ring used in the ceremony'.

ILLUSTRATION

The custom of exchanging rings as a promise of fidelity lasted well into the nineteenth century in Britain and was part of the plot of Thomas Hardy?s 'Far From The Madding Crowd'.
These 'Broken Token' songs often end with the woman flinging herself into the returned lover's arms and welcoming him back
Tipperary Travelling woman, Mary Delaney who also sang it for us, knew it differently and had the suitor even more firmly rejected:

"For it's seven years brings an alteration,
And seven more brings a big change to me,
Oh, go home young man, choose another sweetheart,
Your serving maid I'm not here to be."

Ref: The Book of Days, Robert Chambers, W & R Chambers, 1863-64.
Other CDs: Sarah Anne O'Neill - Topic TSCD660; Daisy Chapman - MTCD 308; Maggie Murphy - Veteran VT134CD."


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 03:28 PM

'blocky and ungainly' indeed and in most cases oral tradition has improved on this. However in their own time they were immensely popular judging by the numbers that were sold. I wonder why.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 03:43 PM

Can I remind everyone this thread is called "Folk Song in ENGLAND" -

I asked Steve a question at Sidmouth about the situation in Ireland - and he said - Ireland is different - This book is about ENGLAND..............

Just saying..........

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Nov 17 - 05:08 PM

Robert Chambers, in his Book of Days, 1862-1864, describes a betrothal custom using a 'gimmal' or linked ring:
'Made with a double and sometimes with a triple link, which turned upon a pivot, it could shut up into one solid ring... It was customary to break these rings asunder at the betrothal which was ratified in a solemn manner over the Holy Bible, and sometimes in the presence of a witness, when the man and woman broke away the upper and lower rings from the central one, which the witness retained. When the marriage con?tract was fulfilled at the altar, the three portions of the ring were again united, and the ring used in the ceremony'.


There is a kind of linked wedding ring from Turkey (and maybe other places) which has several links in a puzzle-like arrangement. The folklore explanation is that women are supposed to be too stupid to reassemble them if they take them off to have an affair. If the husbands really believed that, their wives would be playing the field en masse.

Chambers must have been talking about rather wealthy people.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 03:30 AM

Chambers must have been talking about rather wealthy people."
Chambers's article extends the practice to the rings sold at country fairs which were crudely riveted together and the two separate pieces deliberately scratched by the lovers so that when they were compared, they corresponded as proof of the promise
It has been suggested that the 'token' given to Fanny by Sergeant Troy in 'Far From the Madding Crowd', and which was discovered by him in her coffin was such a device
It was an ol custom, the earlier rings being somewhat elaborate, but later adapted for the poor.
You used to be able to buy quite nece reproductions in shops like 'Pat Times'
I had a friend in Manchester who used to wear a three-part Arabic one.
"This book is about ENGLAND"
At the time these songs were being made Ireland was still very much a part of the British Empire Tim
Steve has used thie excuse that "Ireland was different" a number of times, but the two song traditions correspond more than they diverge and there are many examples of English and Scottish songs that have turned up from Irish field singers
Three years ago we recorded a version of 'The Girl With a Box on her Head' from a 95 year-old farmer living a few miles from here
He also gave us, Katherine Jaffery', The Keach in the Creel,v and a stunning version of Lord Bateman
Other songs we recorded from this area include The Cruel Mother, The Banks of Sweet Dundee, The Crabfish, The Blind Beggar, Young Roger (The Grey Mare), The Frog and the Mouse.....
In reference to 'The Demon Lover' Child recommended that researchers should seek further information in Ireland - a version of it turned up in Roscommon in 1983
Ireland in the first half of the 20th century presented a mirror image of English rural life must have been half a century or so earlier and the 8 centuries of colonial interference and commerce left an indelible footprint on the culture.
As Peter Cook described in his talk, that process was a two-way one
If we don't have the information required to reach a conclusion on our songs in Britain, it seems to me logical that we use what is on hand elsewhere (Britain's nearest neighbour seems a pretty fair alternative)
To ignore Ireland in a study of our songs is as illogical as ignoring Sandinavia when it comes to our ballads
Jim Carroll

This is Tom Munnelly's list of Ballads he collected, still extant in Ireland between 1969 and 1985 - we added Famous Flower of Serving Men to the list   
THE ELFIN KNIGHT
LADY ISABEL AND THE ELF-KNIGHT                                                
LORD RANDAL (Appendix: BILLY BOY)                                                EDWARD                                                                        
THE CRUEL MOTHER                                                                 THE MAID AND THE PALMER                                                         THE TWA MAGICIANS                                                                 CAPTAIN WEDDERBURN'S COURTSHIP                                         
THE TWA BROTHERS                                                                YOUNG BEICHAN                                                                
DIVES AND LAZARUS (Appendix: RYE-ROGER-UM)                                YOUNG HUNTING                                                                 
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET                                                 
FAIR MARGARET AND SWEET WILLIAM                                         
LORD LOVEL                                                                        THE LASS OF ROCH ROYAL                                                         SWEET WILLIAM'S GHOST                                                         1
BONNY BARBARA ALLAN                                                            PRINCE ROBERT                                                                 2
BONNY BEE HOM (Appendix: THE LOWLANDS OF HOLLAND)                        7
LAMKIN                                                                        4
THE MAID FREED FROM THE GALLOWS (Appendix: THE STREETS OF DERRY)
WILLIE O WINSBURY                                                                 THE BAFFLED KNIGHT                                                         THE GYPSY LADDIE                                                                         GEORDIE                                                                        THE BRAES OF YARROW                                                                 KATHRINE JAFFRAY                                                                         THE SUFFOLK MIRACLE                                                                 OUR GOODMAN                                                                GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR                                                                 THE JOLLY BEGGAR                                                                         THE KEACH I? THE CREEL                                                                 THE SWEET TRINITY                                                                        THE BROWN GIRL. (Appendix: SALLY THE QUEEN)                                 

ADDITIONAL CHILD BALLADS RECORDED BY OTHER COLLECTORS IN IRELAND.
THE FALSE KNIGHT ON THE ROAD
LORD RANDAL
BONNIE ANNIE
TAM LIN
THE CHERRY TREE CAROL
JOHNNY SCOTT
JAMES HARRIS OR THE DAEMON LOVER
THE GREY COCK
THE FARMER'S CURST WIFE
JOHN OF HAZELGREEN

Sorry about the state of the list - can't get them any straighter


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 03:51 AM

"blocky and ungainly' indeed and in most cases oral tradition has improved on this. "
You cannot possibly prove which way around this happened and it is ingenuous to suggest that you can
There were many broadsides sold but very few if any examples of them being sung widely - by Roud's description, it was an Urban occupation anyway.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating - look in Bagford or Roxborough or Ashton or Ensworth or Euing or Hindley.... they are overwhelmingly bad songs - that's why their authors fully earned the derogatory title of "hacks"
You may as well claim that William McGonagall wrote the Child Ballads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 06:36 AM

With regards to the inclusion of phrases such as "Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won, There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun": surely one possibility (and of course not the only possibility) is that a non-literate writer of the song had heard this line elsewhere, thought it fitted a song s/he was writing and/or perhaps liked it and included it in their own. If the rest of the verses in that song don't sound "broadside" the perhaps they aren't.

I have done the same thing myself when I have occasionally found myself making up songs. I don't record or publish these, just sing them down at the pub so I'm more concerned about whether I like them (and how well, or more likely badly, they go down when I've sung them) than exactly how I come to make them up. In this way, perhaps I resemble some of those songwriters that existed in the illiterate classes of the past. (I know quite a few others who write songs like this - perhaps non-commercial "folk???" songs are still being born after all but who wants to collect them until or unless they've survived for a few generations?!) When such songs come to me I sometimes find I've inserted a phrase that's been inspired, or even lifted complete, from some other song. It never more than just a turn of phrase so I'm not concerned that I'm infringing copyright (and anyway most of my other repertoire and source of these phrases is "traditional") so there they sit in "my" song. Surely that's a possible explanation for some of the occurrences of broadside-like phrases in songs that may not have been entirely composed by broadside writers.

By now, my reading of the posts here seems to suggest that just about everybody is accepting songs arise from a variety of sources and sometimes from a mixture within one song. Agreement seems to have been reached on this but there are many who have fallen to defending their own views that no-one is really attacking as completely wrong anymore (if they ever were) simply because they have failed to notice no-one is totally disagreeing anymore.   The world isn't black and white; it's grey.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 07:06 AM

Guest
Paddy' Tunney's 'Hedge School' explanation is the one that always rings the truest to me, though your 'mixture iwing one song' addition would explain things - something thrown in to an already existing song.
A couple of years ago, tutor/singer, Brian Mullen played a recording of Mrs Tunney's exquisite rendition of this song to a group of students who had never heard it before - at the end of the session they were queuing up to get a copy of it.
Those who haven't heard it I would urge you to seek out a copy (ahppy to oblige)
Below is an example of Hedge Poetry on overdiive
Jim Carroll   

It was on the banks of a clear, flowing stream
That first I accosted that comely young dame
And in great confusion I did ask her name
Are you Flora, Aurora, or the fame queen of Tyre?
She answered, "I'm neither, I'm Sheila Nee Iyer

Go rhyming, rogue, let my flocks roam in peace
You won't find amongst them that famed Golden Fleece
Or the tresses of Helen, that goddess of Greece
Have hanked 'round your heart like a doll of desire
Be off to your speirbhean," said Sheila Nee Iyer

May the sufferings of Sisyphus fall to my share
And may I the torments of Tantalus bear
To the dark land of Hades let my soul fall an heir
Without linnet in song or a note on the lyre
If ever I prove false to you, Sheila Nee Iyer

Oh had I the wealth of the Orient store
Or the gems of Peru or the Mexican ore
Or the hand of the Midas to mould o'er and o'er
Bright bracelets of gold or of flaming sapphire
I'd robe you in splendor, my Sheila Nee Iyer


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 07:10 AM

Derek wrote -
First, I dislike the term "hacks" .. it's a disparaging term. Broadside poets is a better description I feel,

You are right, Derek, it is a denigrating word, but if we are not to use the word 'hack' then we need another to distinguish broadside writers of the past and newspaper reporters of today from 'songwriters', 'poets' and 'writers'. If not 'hack' then we need some word to call those who are forced to write to a very short deadline and do not have time for reflection or time to live with and refine what they have written.
The hangman was not going to wait for the broadside writer to come up with some beautiful prose or poetry written on reflection and as a result of research. The printer needed them ready to sell to the crowd where the execution was taking place.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 09:32 AM

Jim,
I'll send you an email. I don't want to respond in public as what I have to say is personal.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 09:36 AM

PLease do Steve, but I'm not sure what difference it will make
I it's any easier, you can PM me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 11:37 AM

"along some rural grapevine"
Not sure how much of a mystery this is Brian
Sam described stopping off at various ports as a trawlerman and taking part in singing competitions


Point taken about Sam's travels, Jim, but I selected those two examples of 'Henry Martin' because they're the best known from recent tradition (and rightly included in your list of favourite recordings). However, exactly the same goes for the numerous traditional versions collected all over the Southern counties and as far North as Yorkshire: very consistent texts, and tunes that are recognizably variations on a common source. I'm prepared to believe in Steve's travelling pedlars carrying broadsides but, as he says, that still leaves a mystery surrounding tune transmission. Also, the broadsides I've seen don't include the repeats of the last phrase of line 3, which are universally present in sung versions. Looks like there was a popular sense of how the song should be sung.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Snuffy
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 12:41 PM

Oral transmission throughout Britain would have been facilitated through the navvies and other workers who moved round the country, but stayed in one place long enough to pass on songs from afar and absorb local offerings.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 12:47 PM

**a popular sense of how the song should be sung**

Now here's one that could really do with a lot more research.

I can present only a few possibilities. Many of these songs were also sung in the big cities in the likes of coal cellars, glee clubs, supper rooms, and social gatherings. It may well be that at least some of the pedlars picked up the formats/tunes to some of the songs in this way. The scenario....pick up your pack of songsters and broadsides from the printers then drop into one of the above establishments and acquire some of the tunes.

Also don't forget there were many shared tunes and formats and often a refrain 'derry down' would suggest the tune. I use this example as by far the most widespread tune for ballads in the English-speaking world over the last 5 centuries.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 12:59 PM

Absloutely, Snuffy, like seasonal harvest workers, many of them Irish as well. One of the songs quite common in Yorkshire rural areas is 'I wish they'd do it now' in quite different variants all learnt from seasonal labourers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 01:18 PM

"because they're the best known from recent tradition"
I have never had a problem with the idea that the broadsides had an increasing influence on the repertoire as the tradition deteriorated but I still reckon the options are still open that it was orally transmitted - you made the point yourself about the similarities of the tunes, which indicates oral transmission
One of those "nobody knows - QI questions again"
Steves marathon pedlar's journey from Yarmouth to Gower seems the less likely of thecchoices.
Peter Cook's Canal, railway road workers continues to attract me and, as he was talking roughly about the same period with the Greg material, increasingly so.
It seems to me that there are a lot more questions here being avoided rather than answered - not referring to you, of course
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 01:54 PM

Brian wrote -
Phil Tanner sang 'Henry Martin' and Sam Larner 'The Lofty Tall Ship', both excellent variants of a single song, interestingly different melodically and textually, but strongly similar as well (Cecil would have called that 'Continuity versus Variation').
It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine


Jim wrote -
Steves marathon pedlar's journey from Yarmouth to Gower seems the less likely of the choices

Credit where it is due to the person who suggested the song's unlikely journey, please.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 01:57 PM

There certainly were marathon pedlar journeys: ?Putty Joe? - Joseph Hodgson from Whitehaven in Cumberland - relates in 1850 stories from his travels not only in the north of England but also in Scotland and as far afield as the midlands, the south east, London and even Dublin.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 02:01 PM

Blast: I put double quotation marks instead of single and STILL they end up as question marks! What?s going on here? (am typing on iPad)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 02:15 PM

"Credit where it is due to the person who suggested the song's unlikely journey, please."
Why is it unlikely that the song could have been ben carried by navvies or around the coast by sailors involved in the maritime trades Vic
James M Carpenter was having no trouble picking songs up from Swansea docks between 1928 to 1937
In the latter half of the 19th century, there was a thriving coastal trade right around Britain - the maps are all there.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 02:36 PM

Jim,
The point that I was making was that it was Brian's suggestion that the journey was 'unlikely' ("beggars belief" was the phrase he actually used)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM

Sorry Vic, I was responding to this
"The simplest answer to your question, Brian, is that one of the ways these ballads were disseminated over large distances is that the pedlars who travelled great distances always carried a stock of broadsides and songsters with the rest of their wares."
I thought you were
"I put double quotation marks instead of single and STILL they end up as question marks!"
Sue,
Bit cumbersome, but I've resorted to previewing it, replacing the question marks and then posting
I usually manage to miss a few but a bit better than appearing to permanently question your own statements
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 08:49 AM

Jim wrote
"I put double quotation marks instead of single and STILL they end up as question marks!"
Sue,
Bit cumbersome, but I've resorted to previewing it, replacing the question marks and then posting
I usually manage to miss a few but a bit better than appearing to permanently question your own statements.


If you have "Notepad" on your PC - most computers using Microsoft Windows do - than try preparing your posts using that rather than any word processing programs where you start getting into letter and symbol coding problems. Then you can cut'n'paste what you have written into Mudcat without having nearly every symbol changed to a question mark. Am I making sense?

Of course, using 'Notepad', you lose the spell-checking facility which is helpful to most of us in using 'Word' and the other word processors, but you can still get around this! Still use your word processor to write your posts but then cut'n'paste your text into 'Notepad' and then and then cut'n'paste from 'Notepad' into Mudcat. This is a bit laborious I'll admit, but less cumbersome than "replacing the question marks and then posting".

I tried it out with this post and it seems to work.

@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~

Right! That's it from me for this thread as I am now packing ready to fly out to The Gambia for a month - our 21st visit to that wonderful country since 1997.
One of the things that we will be doing is recording, photographing, videoing and documenting the small group of high status Manding jali families that we have been working with in Brikama and Bakau since 2000 and studying how their traditions are developing as younger jalis come in and how material comes and goes in popularity. Mandinka is an entirely oral language as are all the six ethnic languages of The Gambia so the problem of written v. oral tradition does not arise and modern songs written by creative jalis like Pa Bobo Jobarteh and Jali Sherrifo Konteh sit very happily with songs that existed alongside others that we know existed in the time of Mungo Park's exploratory West African trips and nobody gives a monkey's! Well, saying that we sometimes have the very inquisitive green vervet monkeys who are sometimes sitting in nearby trees apparently listening very carefully. Great mimics, the vervets - they will sometimes join in the clapping when they see humans clapping!
However, you do have to be very careful about what you say within the hearing of monkeys. One of my favourite pieces of jaliya is a story and song called Kedo. That tells of a time in the past when the Fulas and the Mandings were at war with one another and for the price of a meal of peanuts the monkeys would spy and report to both sides about their movements, plans etc.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 09:48 AM

Don?t use any Windows programmes Vic so that won?t work for me, sadly. Was typing directly into box on my iPad.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 10:31 AM

I have no knowledge of working with iPads or any Apple products - but there must be a simple text based method of entering your posts. Try reading https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/mail/format-text-mlhlp1219 and surely you will find the right application that will suit your purposes..... but I am not the person to ask.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 10:53 AM

I wouldn't worry, Sue. We all know what you're intending to write. Most of us have multiple technical problems anyway.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 04:08 PM

Apropos England versus Ireland: one point that Steve R makes in the book is that some previous writers, lacking direct evidence in favour of some argument, adduce evidence from a different time or place. Such evidence may be valid but needs to be taken with care.

What I've always loved about Ireland, ever since my first visit there, is that it's just like England except when it isn't.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 04:24 PM

I am surprised that Steve Gardham has not made reference to his own writings on the subject of Broadsides and Folk Sings, etc.

I am also behind the times, because I have had the book "Wanton Seed" for some time - and I did not myself discover this until today - in Steve's own Introduction to the new 2015 publication - the following link...Tradsong.org : Where's that song from...

http://www.tradsong.org/Where_that_song.pdf

I think it adds to the debate.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 04:50 PM

Thanks for posting that, Tim.
It was 6 years ago and my short term memory is not what it was. My views haven't changed much since I gave that presentation, but I have another in a couple of weeks which looks at the recycling of previous ballads by the broadside poets which led to drastically different ballads in some cases. For people like Steve and me who regularly classify ballads this can be a minefield when ballads have obviously been rewritten using bits and pieces of other ballads. At what point are they the same ballad or a different ballad? Not an easy question to answer. Hopefully some answers will come out at the Broadside day presentations and discussions in Sheffield.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Nov 17 - 05:07 PM

Looks fascinating, Vic. have a great time. I'm sure you will.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM

2Thanks for posting that, Tim."
Thanks indeed Tim - interesting indeed
It calls into question Steve's claim that his percentage refers only to the material collected by Sharp et al - it goes back far beyond that to suggest that all our folk songs originated in print
Interestingly, the article does not include the claim made on a previous thread that Child was coming around to revising his view on broadside "dunghills" - a pretty essential piece of information for those wishing to prove that the folk didn't make folk songs, I would have thought!
As Steve says, Child did rely on broadsides as a source, but he had the good grace to attribute those songs as "popular" - of the people

It cannot be repeated enough that our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century, so anything before that has to be based on speculation and common sense based on what little we do know

It seems beyond reason to attribute our folk songs to Urban based bad writers of doggerel who would have had to be skilled in folklore, social history and rural practices to create the love songs, work songs, sea and soldiers songs dealing with hardships brought about by the enclosures, the devastating effects of the Industrial Revolution on ordinary lives, the effects of transportation, impressment..... and the vast panorama covered by folk composition
Bad writers are bad writers, nothing more

I was disturbed recently to discover that "Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and North America: The Interface between Print and Oral Traditions ed. by David Atkinson, Steve Roud" makes the same claims for Irish songs
This flies in the face of everything we have learned about Irish song making over the last forty years

As long as I have been involved in folksong that have been a little bang o brothers setting out to claim that the "folk" were incapable of having made the ballads
Now that disease has spread to our folk songs
Let's hope it dies as quick a death as previous such claims
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM

"that have been a little bang o brothers"
Damn
Should read "there has been a little band of brothers"
In fairness to Roud and Atkinson, I should say I have not fully read ""Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and North America"
the exorbitant price of ?38 paperback, ?85 hardback asking price will preclude even our local library from purchasing a copy
For elitist eyes only - obviously!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 02:25 PM

That sort of price sadly typical of academic publishers across the board I?m afraid Jim.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM

Reading back through your longer post, I was somewhat puzzled by your assertion that ?our knowledge of folk so g does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century?. What then of Baring-Gould?s collecting in the West Country, before him Chappell?s work, John Broadwood, Walter Scott?s informants and collector, and in the eighteenth century the songs collected by - albeit frequently ?improved? by as well - Robert Burns. Oh, and also John Clare in Northamptonshire, John Bell in the North-East. Are you dismissing all these?!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 02:51 PM

"That sort of price sadly typical of academic publishers across the board I?m afraid Jim."
For books about the music of the 'common People - Harry Cox would be spitting feathers, given his attitude to the wealthy - "THEM"
I've been collecting books for decades and have reluctantly paid that price for a nineteenth century gem - but for a modern publication!!
I think I paid ?30 per hardback volume, for the Greig Duncan collection at 500/600 pp each - at 306pp for Atkinson/Roud - at that price, that's just silly Sue
I'm not saying the authors have any control on the price - it's the philosophy behind it that gets up my nose
Think I'll wait till it's remaindered
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 02:57 PM

Meant to add - we have little information on the actual singers and the methodology of Baring Gould, Scott or Broadwood
Chappel didn't collect from live singers as far as I know - if he did, we have no knowledge of how or what he did with the originals
That came with the Sharp gang
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 03:15 PM

Jim wrote -
It cannot be repeated enough that our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century.

Outrageous - even by Jim's standards! Suggest you read pages 221 - 406 of the book under discussion for meticulously researched evidence of the state of folk song in England from the 16th to the 19th century.
Jim has also stated recently on Mudcat that he does not make pronouncements. In that case, I wonder what the above quotation is.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 03:54 PM

What a timely point to mention another very important book hot off the press! Martin Graebe's excellent 'As I walked out: Sabine Baring-Gould and the search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall'. The bulk of his collecting was done from about 1888 to about 1900, but he had recorded a few songs in Yorkshire in the 1860s. He also went to great pains to document the lives of the people he recorded and built up a strong relationship with many of them. Like Steve's book this one won't break the bank.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 03:59 PM

Steve - in Facebook speak: *Like* ...sadly no button to do that on Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 04:06 PM

Steve - in Facebook speak: *Like* ...sadly no button to do that on Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 17 - 05:53 PM

"Jim has also stated recently on Mudcat that he does not make pronouncements"
Tell me where it does Vic - not a pronouncement of mine
The clue is in the title of D K Wilgus book - 'Anglo American Folksong Scholarship since 1899
One of the few certainties from the singers we have to dat is Margaret Laidlaw's (James Hogg's mother's) admonishment of Scott for daring to put her ballads into print "'ye hae broken the charm noo, an' they'll never be sung mair'"
One lady who didn't rely on broadsides.
Even after Sharp, we knew nothing of what the singers thought
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 03:40 AM

"221 - 406 of the book under discussion for meticulously researched evidence of the state of folk song in England from the 16th to the 19th century."
I've read this Vic - if you re-read it. Roud treats it as an Urban phenomenon and from the point of view of a town-based commercial enterprise
The songs he discusses are largely ones that did not pass into the singing tradition we are discussing here, but were created for town and city customers, full of Phillidas and Valentines rather the the folk's "Jimmys and Marys".
Charles Dibden was typical - a British composer, musician, dramatist, novelist and actor, with over 600 songs to his name who was nioted for his sea-songs but would probably have become seasick if he drank a glass of water

The traditional repertoire being discussed here is that of sailors, soldiers, land labourers and workers in rural industries such as textile work and mining - songs made by them and not about them.
There are snippets in passings about country singing in Roud and elsewhere, but by an large the songs have been regarded out of context, rather like butterfly collecting - objects in themselves rather than a part of the singers' lives - a social phenomena.

This argument has led me to revisit, Maud Karpeles's 'Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs', and some of the contemporary collections
The thing that strikes me is how remarkably free they are of the stiltedly ham-fisted technique associated with the broadside hacks - not completely, but the ones that aren't stick out like so few sore thumbs.

It seems to me obvious that, rather than the folk taking from print, the opposite was the case - the hacks were borrowing ideas from sailors, embarking soldiers, countrymen coming to town to sell their produce and taking songs with dirt under their fingernails and turning them into the pap they ended up as on the presses.

We know country people made songs - we know the songs reflected fairly accurately country life and conditions - no 'sons of the soil' or jolly Jack tars' but real ploughboys, sea labourers and soldiers in the ranks - the voice of the people that they have always been regarded - up to recently (and by a few desk-jockeys).

A true approach to where our folk songs came from would be to gather together what contemporary information there is, including Baring Gould's writings, Sharps' diaries - anything else available - and compare it to the spurious (in my opinion) claims of literary origin and see which holds the most water - earliest publication dates mean nothing
I've often wondered if the BBC project recorded anything more than the songs - it would have been an ideal opportunity to gather information

We know that some of the motifs and references used in traditional song making go back to Shakespeare and Boccaccio, even as far as Homer, who was liberally borrowing from folk beliefs
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 06:40 AM

Tracing it back -

Jim wrote (03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM)
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't.

I replied (04 Nov 17 - 05:38 AM)
. but you do, Jim, you make them all the time and that is why you are challenged on them

Jim wrote (07 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM)
It cannot be repeated enough that our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century.

Perhaps stupidly, I rose to the bait and challenged him (07 Nov 17 - 03:15 PM)
Outrageous......Jim has also stated recently on Mudcat that he does not make pronouncements. In that case, I wonder what the above quotation is.

Jim replies (07 Nov 17 - 05:53 PM
Tell me where it does Vic - not a pronouncement of mine.

What am I supposed to reply to that? Am I expected to repeat what I said above - Jim wrote (03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM)
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't.

Finally, and it really is finally as far as any attempts on my part to hold discussions with Jim, I read in his long bluster of 08 Nov 17 - 03:40 AM he says:-
A true approach to where our folk songs came from would be to gather together what contemporary information there is, including Baring Gould's writings....

Aaargh! But Jim, you have to us "our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century." and Baring-Gould's contact with folk singers goes back to the 1860s!

I was actually thinking that Jim stating that we should "gather together what contemporary information" to inform our studies was a good thing. Yes, we are getting somewhere - that is exactly what we should be doing....... then he writes
We know that some of the motifs and references used in traditional song making go back to Shakespeare and Boccaccio, even as far as Homer, who was liberally borrowing from folk beliefs.
Can we look forward to Jim's exposition using "contemporary information" on what were "folk beliefs" around the late 8th or early 7th century BC?

I have received two PMs advising me not to try to reason with Jim, From here on that advice will be followed.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 07:20 AM

"Baring-Gould's contact with folk singers goes back to the 1860s!"
Baring Gould's work has only just become available for public consideration - his published song collections prior to the current book contain only notes to the songs
As excellent as they are, they do not touch on the songs in context to the communities they come from
As I said, our knowledge of that context stretches back to the beginning of the twentieth century, which is why Wilgus entitled his book as he did
Even Steve Gardham has agreed that this is how far back our knowledge goes and we can only speculate on who made the songs
It remains to be seen how much the Baring Gould Ms or the Sharp diaries - and all the other passing references add to the question
"I have received two PMs advising me not to try to reason with Jim,"
And I have a log, arrogant and abusive PM from one of the protagonists here - wasn't it you who once told me that it was unethical to use PS in these arguments?
PMs are for those who don't have the bottle to state their beliefs openly (talking behind ones back, in other words)
Not something I puut a lot of trust in
Shame on you Vic, using something you have yourself condemned - tsk-tsk!
Perhaps you should follow your own advice
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 09:16 AM

"advising me not to try to reason with Jim"
Your "reasoning" appears to refer to capitulation to non-argument

My case is simple
We don't know who made the folk songs, therefore we have to work with what information we have and use our common sense
I have pointed out that the quality of the output of the broadside writers does not match up to that of our folk songs
The knowledge contained in our folk songs is hardly that you would expect from a bench bound, urban based broadside hacks.
I have proved to my own satisfaction that rural working people were more than capable of making songs, having done so throughout the 19th century - in Britain and particularly in Ireland.
I have pointed out over and over again that researchers such as Child, Burns, Sharp, Isaac Walton - even broadside producers themselves, regarded these songs as products of the countryside, not the town.
Child dismissed broadsides as products of the "dunghill" at the time the trade was at its height, Sharp wrote a long dissertation explaining his contemptuous attitude to broadsides.

The whole idea that the vast majority of our folksongs started life as broadsides is a 21st century one which overrides previous beliefs that 'the folk' created their songs
Steve's case has vacillated from 'all our songs' when he described MacColl's comments at the end of 'The Song Carriers" as "romantic nonsense", to his sometimes present situation of 'only those collected by Sharp, et al.'
The article of Steve's put up up by Tim suggests that he has not moved from "all folk songs" - The Song Carrier's' comment disparaged as "romantic nonsense' included the entire repertoire, from 'The Frog and The Mouse' - the first folk song ever mentioned in print, right through to an Irish song composed during WW2.
The article mentions 18th century 'Pleasure Gardens' and theatres, as being the source of our folk songs
What's it to be - the entire repertoire or just those collected in the 20th century - he can't have it both ways?

If I am being "unreasonable", as Vic and his supporters from the shadows, have accused me of being, what arguments have I missed, or what have I got wrong?
It seems to me that all I am guilty of is refusing to take the opinions of a handful of desk-bound academics on trust
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 11:21 AM

Jim wrote:

"The broadside output runs contrary to the traditional repertoire in style and in quality - most of the published broadside collections are crammed full of unsingable songs"

This is true for a lot of them; Harry Boardman used to have me create songs out of 19th broadsides for his radio broadcasts and, if not literally unsingable, a lot of them were pretty bloody awful.

But then there's no reason that a print original should have had to be singable in the first place. Apologies for going back to 'The Wild Rover', but it's the one I know most about. The original ballad by Thomas Lanfiere, 'The Good-fellow's Resolution', is indeed wordy and moralistic - like many similar ballads of its day, composed by Lanfiere and others - although verses 1, 8 and 9 clearly belong to the song as we know it. You wouldn't look at that text and think it was the work of an unlettered toper of the lower classes. But what happened to it next - probably around 1800 - was clearly a conscious edit rather than some kind of oral processing, since in the course of cutting the song down to five verses stanzas have been deliberately cut-and-pasted, split, rejoined and boiled down. Thereafter there is a trail of 19th century broadsides each looking a bit more like the song as collected in oral tradition. So, even though the original was arguably 'unsingable', it nonetheless formed the basis for something that became highly singable.

Something similar seems to have happened with Child 243 ('The Demon Lover'), in which seven verses from the middle section of a 32 verse original 'A Warning for Married Women' - were cut out and used as the basis for a new ballad.

However, if you look at Child 286 ('The Sweet Trinity' / 'Golden Vanity' etc) The 17th century London broadside 'Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing in the Low-lands' is almost word-for-word) the same as oral versions collected in Appalachia by Cecil Sharp (apart from Sir Walter's part in the drama), and seems to have gone into oral tradition more or less unedited, then remained more or less unaltered for 200+ years.

Re Sharp's diaries:

I've spent a lot of time with his Appalachian diaries (I'm not aware that he kept one when he was collecting in England) and they don't really provide answers. Where he asked a singer about their source, the answer was usually a senior family member. He saw no printed broadsides, though he did observe one or two handwritten 'ballets'. Some of the songs he collected have texts almost identical to those in 19th century songsters, but the majority do not. The most popular ballads noted by Sharp from mountain repertoire are mostly those known to have existed in print in the 17th or early 18th century (Barbara Allen, Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender, House Carpenter etc), which fits with the notion that 18th century migrants brought them over, either on paper or in their heads. Of course the fact that most of them were in print by the 17th century does not necessarily mean that the migrants learned them directly from broadsides, but it does tell us that they were definitely around in England at the appropriate time, and suggests that they arrived with the settlers rather than being learned by later generations in America.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 12:32 PM

Couple of assumptions there Brian
I question the claim that the broadside version of the Demon Lover is definitely the first - the story is quite popular as ain international tale (can't remember the Stith Thomson number, but we have it in one of your published collections)
It might well have been an original composition, but it could just as likely have been created from either a tale or existing song)
Same with the Golden Vanity - was the broadside definitely the original?
I'm not prepared to argue the case for individual songs; I fully accept that either might be the case
What disturbs me is the definitive and all- embracing nature of the claims and the implications of what they imply
Can over a century of scholarship really have been so wrong?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 01:21 PM

"I question the claim that the broadside version of the Demon Lover is definitely the first - the story is quite popular as ain international tale"

I did wonder at one point whether the seven familiar verses from 'A Warning for Married Women' might have been part of an earlier undetected version around which Laurence Price erected a massive scaffolding of unneccessary verbiage, but there's no evidence for that.

'Hind Horn' is one that did exist as a medieval romance, and harks in one respect back to the Odyssey. But that kind of reworking of an older tale suggests to me a poet's hand (just as Shakespeare rehashed older plots) more than anything.

'Golden Vanity - was the broadside definitely the original?'

I don't know - I just used it as an example of an older broadside that reads very much like the sung versions.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 02:47 PM

"I don't know -"
Neither do I
"'Hind Horn' is one that did exist as a medieval romance"
And was also found in Europe
In the other hand, it also shares its motifs both with folk tales and at least one ballad, Lord Bateman - lover returning in disguise demanding the fulfilment of a promise
When we firsts recorded singers in Clare we hit a rich seam of 'big' storytellers, particularly i the Burren area of North Clare
The first story we recorded was about an hour long and started with the 'Gawain and the Green Knight' 'year and a day' motif and ended with the lover returning in disguise on her lover's wedding day claiming her promise of marriage.
The teller's nearest neighbour gave us a magnificent version of 'Lord Bateman' which ended with exactly the same motif.
You really do need a crowbar to separate songs and stories, especially in areas like this.
The area as a whole was once the stamping ground of Seamus Delargy, the founder of The Irish Folklore Society - some of the finest tales collected in Ireland were taken from there, from both singers and storytellers.
The non-literate Travellers sang the big ballads because they liked long stories - we are the beneficiaries of that good taste
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM

Fascinating, Jim.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 07:16 PM

Fascinating histories, Brian, esp. that of "The Wild Rover."

I know a lot less than I thought.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Nov 17 - 03:11 AM

"I know a lot less than I thought."
We all do L
What pissess me off about these arguments is how far away from the dream of the early days we have drifted.
I was part of a scene that included nights of ballad evenings, themed, poetry and song performances, calls from the club platform for volunteers to take part in fishing expeditions to uncover children's songs in local schools, workshops to help aspiring singers....
We had our own magazines and record labels and a wealth of programmes on every aspect of folk song and music under the sun, freely available on the radio....
Now we're reduced to arguing whether the composer of 'The Cat's Meat Man' might also have written 'Lord Gregory'!!

Even if we want to keep up with current research we have to consider re-mortgaging the house to buy the literature!
As for magnificent productions like MacColl's, 'Song Carriers' and Lloyd's 'Songs of the People' - you can't even give 'em away to modern 'folk' enthusiasts' who appear to believe that Bob Geldof is a folk performer and composer
Did we really manage to make such a ****-up of the folk revival?

I remember Pat and I taking Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy to a local children's literature festival in Deptford, South-East London, some time in the early 80s.
Mikeen was a singer, storyteller tinsmith, caravan builder, horse dealer, street singer and 'ballad seller'.... - you name it, he did it.
He sat in front of an audience of mainly pre-teen schoolchildren and sang, told stories and talked about fairy lore, pishogues, fairs and markets, tinsmithing, thatching, gladdering, life on the roads of rural Ireland..... for well over an hour and a half.
The teachers had carefully arranged the chairs in lines with Mikeen sitting formally at the front - a big gap between him and them.
Gradually they abandoned the chairs, slid across the floor on their bums and finally formed a tight circle of rapt faces around Mikeen's feet, completely engrossed in what he had to say.

Where have all those flowers gone, I wonder?
Him Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 17 - 05:33 AM

To continue this 'chicken or egg?' song/story theme
Below is a story we recorded from a retired Irish building worker we met in Deptford in the 1970s; as far as I know, the song never entered to oral tradition, if such a turgid piece was ever sung.
Mikey Kelleher was originally from Quilty, the next village from here Clare, a small coastal fishing village; he moved to England and in the 1940s and never returned home
The village was renowned for stories like these' basically jokes, often without punch lines
Mikey gave us dozens of these 'yarns' including a story version of 'The Bishop of Canterbury' (Child 45) and a convoluted tale of a young woman presenting a mouse in a matchbox to a former lover who she had promised her maidenhead to, as substitute for her sexual parts
MacColl traced this to the writings of Spanish playwright, Rojas (1465/73)
The area Mikey came from was totally devoid of literature such as this; as far as the songs are concerned, its overwhelming literary influence would be the 'ballads' sold by non-literate Travellers who would go to a printer, recite songs from their own oral repertoire and sell them at the fairs and markets; this continued right up to the 1950s, when the last 'ballad' found as 'The Bar With No Stout', a parody of one of the latest pop songs.
The point I am trying to make is that to consign our traditional repertoire to the broadsides seems to me an exercise in the facile by desk-bound researchers who simply haven't done the math
The link reall is far more complicated than that.
Jim Carroll

The Fiddler's wife
There was two old walkers and they wanted to go across to America and the hadn't enough money
So she went down to the captain and she was a lovely piece, and he said, "Oh, I'll be all right there"
She asked him to now would he take here across
"All right", he said, himself and herself and the man went in and he was playing the old fiddle, you see.
They had travelled away, of course, and she didn't like to refuse him, you know, in case he wouldn't let her off, you know.
She carries on with him and he went up to the old boy and, "I'll bet you this ship" he said, "and cargo, against your fiddle", he said, "That I'll have her before I land".
The old boy bet the fiddle with him anyway; and up they goes, he called them in.
The old boy was frettin', he knew she was inside.

"Hold tight my love", he says, "hold tight", (he was singing a song)   
For just a half an hour
Hol tight my love, hold tight
And the ship and cargo will be ours

She said:

"You're late my love, you're late my love," she said
He has me by the middle,
"I',m on my back, we're havin' a craic,
And you have lost your old fiddle"   

The Merchant and the Fidler's Wife.
From 'D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, (Vol 5 pp77-80) (1719)
It was a Rich Merchant Man,
That had both Ship and all;
And he would cross the salt Seas,
Tho' his cunning it was but small.

The Fidler and his Wife,
They being nigh at hand ;
Would needs go sail along with him,
From Dover unto Scotland.

The Fidler's Wife look'd brisk,
Which made the Merchant smile ;
He made no doubt to bring it about,
The Fidler to beguile.

Is this thy Wife the Merchant said,
She looks like an honest Spouse;
Ay that she is, the Fidler said,
That ever trod on Shoes.

Thy Confidence is very great,
The Merchant then did say;
If thou a Wager darest to bet,
I'll tell thee what I will lay'.

I'll lay my Ship against thy Fiddle,
And all my Venture too;
So Peggy may gang along with me,
My Cabin for to View.

If she continues one Hour with me,
Thy true and constant Wife ;
Then shalt thou have my Ship and be,
A Merchant all thy Life.

The Fidler was content,
He Danc'd and Leap'd for joy ;
And twang'd his Fiddle in merriment,
For Peggy he thought was Coy.

Then Peggy she went along,
His Cabin for to View ;
And after her the Merchant-Man,
Did follow, we found it true.

When they were once together,
The Fidler was afraid ;
For he crep'd near in pitious fear,
And thus to Peggy he said.

Hold out, sweet Peggy hold out,
For the space of two half Hours;
If thou hold out, I make no doubt,
But the Ship and Goods are ours.

In troth, sweet Robin, I cannot,
He hath got me about the Middle ;
He's lusty and strong, and hath laid me along,
O Robin thou'st lost thy Fiddle.


If I have lost my Fiddle,
Then am I a Man undone ;
My Fiddle whereon I so often play'd,
Away I needs must run.

O stay the Merchant said,
And thou shalt keep thy place;
And thou shalt have thy Fiddle again,
But Peggy shall carry the Case.

Poor Robin hearing that,
He look'd with a Merry-chear;
His wife she was pleas'd, and the Merchant was eas'd,
And jolly and brisk they were.

The Fidler he was mad,
But valu'd it not a Fig;
Then Peggy unto her Husband said,
Kind Robin play us a Jigg.

Then he took up his Fiddle,
And merrily he did play ;
The Scottish Jigg and the Hornpipe,
And eke the Irish Hey.

It was but in vain to grieve,
The Deed it was done and past;
Poor Robin was bom to carry the Horn,
For Peggy could not be Chast.

Then Fidlers all beware,
Your Wives are kind you see ;
And he that's made for the Fidling Trade,
Must never a Merchant be.

For Peggy she knew right well,
Although she was but a Woman ;
That Gamesters Drink, and Fidlers Wives,
They are ever Free and Common.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 10 Nov 17 - 07:49 AM

If we printed all these messages in a book, it'd be as long as Steve Roud's 750 page tome!
Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 17 - 08:09 AM

"If we printed all these messages in a book, it'd be as long as Steve Roud's 750 page tome!"
And maybe the two Steves might learn from them
Waddya think Derek?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 17 - 08:40 AM

Just checked again
The only reported sighting of Mkey's story as a song is an unpublished version from Newfoundland
Memorial University Folklore Archive (MUNFLA) (St. John's, Newfoundland)"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Nov 17 - 11:10 AM

Very interesting account of 'The Fiddler's Wife', thanks Jim.

I have to say I find it sad that this debate has got so polarised, especially since some of the harshest words here have been exchanged by people with very similar enthusiasms. I'm sure you know, Jim, that Vic Smith has spent a lot of time with traditional singers from Sheila Stewart to Bob Copper, and that Steve Gardham has himself collected many songs in the field. These are not people who wish to destroy the notion of traditional song just for the sake of iconoclasm. They, and I, and others here, would enjoy listening to Mikeen McCarthy, or Walter Pardon, just as much as you. For me, the pleasure of hearing a recording of Phil Tanner or Sam Larner sing a version of 'Henry Martin' is completely unaffected by whether the song came to them via (or originated on) a broadside - I just marvel at the artistry of the performance. And there is still a hunger for traditional song out there in the wider 'folk' world, even though some of the younger enthusiasts may have heard traditional singers only through recordings. Do not despair.

I could go on, but that'll do for now.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 17 - 12:11 PM

If I despaired I wouldn't bother arguing Brian
I too respect the work of those you mention and am tired of these discussions ending up in cat-fights, but I believe traditional songs to be important enough to get things right - it's been gotten wrong so often before.
For me, one of the most fundamental things has been whether singers were also composers, as I believe they were.
I too got enormous pleasure from listening to Sam, Harry, Walter, et al, and from singing the songs (I sill do), but taken as a whole, the tradition is far wider than that,
The overturning of an entire belief, over a century's research seems so important a step as not to be taken lightly and certainly without examining all the facts and implications
I can't see any other way other than thrash it out - sorry
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 11 Nov 17 - 08:13 AM

There's a review of Steve's book (remember that? It's in the subject line...) in today's Guardian. Support the newspaper by buying a copy .... or alternatively read it here, with quite a number of comments.
Guardian review of Folk Song in England

Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Nov 17 - 08:44 AM

" This isn?t to deny that oral transmission was key in disseminating folk songs around a community in which few people could read, but the fact remains that the material was just as likely to have first slipped into the village on a piece of paper rather than on the tip of someone?s tongue."
I hope the authors and their support are happy to see the credit for making these songs gradually being eased away from working people 'the folk' and handed over to notoriously bad poets - without a shred of proof of who actually made them.
Based on the amount of evidence they have presented to back up their claims, i find it utterly irresponsible
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM

I'm reluctant to let this slip out of sight without a final word on my position on this subject, so here goes
I have yet to read Roud's book from cover to cover, personal commitments have prevented me from doing so, but I will do in the near future
I do feel I have read enough to form an opinion on some of the subjects covered to have drawn some conclusions.

I'm not an academic, but I have always been an avid reader on folksong pretty well from the mid-sixties and have acquired a substantial library on the subject - fully read.
It seems to me based on that reading that one of the points of Roud's book turns one of my gained opinions on its head - that we can no longer believe folk song to be 'the voice of the people' it was previously believed to be, but that it was created by proven unskilled, desk bound urban hacks scribbling verse for money.
A pretty serious claim and one I'm not prepared to accept without full explanation or at least, minute examination on my part - I have no right to demand an explanation from anybody.

There has always been a tendency from some quarters to suggest that 'the folk' were not skilful enough to have written the ballads, mots clearly put in Phillips Barry's statement in 1939 that To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk?.   
Now that attitude has spread to include to include virtually all our folk songs - a serious charge, and one too important to let though on the nod.

All our folk literature has, as far as I can make out, regarded that our folk songs were created by the agricultural working people - Child, Sharp, Lomax, Gummere, Wimberley....
Child dismissed the broadsides out of hand, Sharp wrote at length about their malign influence.
From the large number of broadside collections we have on our shelves here I think the quality of hack writing makes it nigh impossible that they could have been the authors of the songs found in collections like Sharp, Greig, Buchan, Child.... dry crumbly chalk compared to fine cheese.

When I have attempted to debate this with one of the main proponents of this argument I have been met with evasion, feeble excuses and often on-the-spot inventions - "English workers were too busy earning a living to make songs", ""hack" doesn't really mean bad writing", "broadside writers gained their knowledge of working practices by serving time at sea or working on the land", "Child was beginning to change his mind about broadsides"....
Examples of working people actually making songs were passed off as "the scribblings of retired people"

Our personal researches over thirty odd years, both in England and Ireland, comprised initially collecting songs, but eventually in interviewing our sources to see where they stood on their art.
In Ireland, we uncovered a large number of local songmakers making songs on any subject that caught their fancy, from local day-to-day experiences to national events viewed locally
That was swept aside by, "it was different in Ireland" - another excuse when you consider that Ireland was under English influence for eight centuries and her song repertoire is loaded with songs and particularly ballads that originated in England and Scotland.

In 1985. Dave Harket published 'Fakesong', a work largely setting our to undermine the work of early collectors by taking it out of context of the time it was carried out.
As the title makes clear, it questions the existence of folk song as a genuine workers culture.
It seems to me that setting out to show that our folk songs originated on the broadside presses is a further step along that road.
It is a serious stap and one that needs carful consideration
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: JHW
Date: 13 Nov 17 - 06:22 AM

'I have yet to read Roud's book from cover to cover'
Thank goodness I'm not alone, I've only read half an inch, its really hard work even to hold up!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Nov 17 - 08:51 AM

The Guardian review mentioned by Derek Schofield also includes a cut-price offer for the book (£21.25).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 03:34 AM

" a cut-price offer for the book (?21.25)."
The Book Depository have it for ?18.63 - post free, which is a considerable saving for a book this size
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM

I've only read half an inch, its really hard work even to hold up!

I bought the Kindle edition - and really enjoyed being able to pick it up at any stage and read a chapter or two. Got through it relatively quickly and found it both informative and enjoyable. An Irish perspective would be rather different, methinks - but that's to be expected.

Regards


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 05:20 AM

"An Irish perspective would be rather different, methinks - but that's to be expected."
The only major difference between England and Ireland is that the Irish tradition lasted far longer as a living entity, where even in Sharp's time singing was on its last legs - a constant comment by Sharp and his contemporaries
Britain and Ireland shared a large number of traditional songs - many of the Irish versions of ballads had disappeared from the repertoires elsewhere in the English speaking world.
Mid twentieth century rural Ireland presented a picture of what life must have been like half a a century earlier in Britain
The repertoires were different because the social situation they represented were different
I think the problem with Roud is that he has arbitrarily decided to re-define folk song (apparently without consulting anybody else working in the field)
I have constantly argued on the importance of definition and have been happy to point to the Roud index as a guide to what I mean - no longer the case.
Out of interest, I looked up one of Walter Pardon's songs, 'Put a Bit of Powder on it Father', composed by Harry Castling & Fred Godfrey ? 1908.
It fits no existing definition of 'folk' I know of, yet Roud has assigned it a number, Roud No:10671, in his index attributed to Walter's singing of it
Walter was insistent that this and all songs of the same ilk were not
folk song and went to great lengths to explain why - but as always, the traditional singers' opinions carry no weight if they don't follow the academic's rule-book.
Vic Smith's quoting him as saying "A traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer. What a folk singer sings is traditional songs" apparently wasn't a joke.
We recorded an Irish Traveller whose repertoire included Seven Gypsies and Edward, which, I would say makes him a "folk singer"
He sang for us 'Roses of Heidelberg' and 'You Will Remember Vienna'.
Can we now expect these to be assigned Roud numbers - if not, why not?
This I believe, not only debases folk song, but it makes nonsense of the English language when people can seriously use it irrespective of its meaning - Stanley Unwin rides again!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 06:21 AM

The only major difference between England and Ireland is that the Irish tradition lasted far longer as a living entity

Gotta love that "only" ! ;>)>

Regards


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 06:47 AM

Don't kow what differences there were in the the way the two traditions were made and transmitted Martin
The repertoires were different, sure, but rhe social circumstances in which they were created were almost identical
I'm referring to the English language tradition of course - the Gaeilge was totally different, I'll give you
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 08:46 AM

Sharp and his contemporaries found an English folk song culture which was very much alive in melodic invention - the tunes they wrote down were very different from anything you could have found in print in Chappell's books. And that process continued much longer in North America.

I get the impression that the English-language Irish song culture was pretty much dead as far as melodic invention went at the same time, and hasn't shown any signs of coming back to life since. Jim never mentions tunes at all - when he finds interesting current material in rural Ireland, it's all about verbal content. So I guess they just rehash a small fixed repertoire of commonplace tunes.

What does Roud say about the evolution of melodies?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 17 - 09:24 AM

"when he finds interesting current material in rural Ireland, it's all about verbal content"
Every single singer we interviewed on the subject regarded themselves as storytellers whose tales came with tunes.
This includes Walter Pardon.
The older generation of singers confirmed that over and over again with their narrative approach to their songs
This is what Tom Lenihan said on the subject

Tom Lenihan talking about singing. 2m 31s
J C        What?s the word you used Tom, this afternoon; ?blas? * what??
T L        The blas, that?s what the old people used to use; if you didn?t put the blas in the song.
The same as that now the?..as we?ll say ?Michael Hayes?, ?The Fox Chase?:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp,
My rent, rates and taxes I was willing for to pay,
I lived as happy as King Saul, and loved my neighbours great and small,
I had no animosity for either friend nor foe.
You have to draw out the words and put the blas in the song. If you had the same as the Swedish couple:
Now I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp.
The blas isn?t in that, in any bit of it. You see now, the blas is the drawing out of the words and the music of it.
J C        What do you think you?re passing on with a song Tom; is it a good tune, is it a good story, or nice poetry or what?
T L        It is some story I?m passing on with the song all the time. In the composition that was done that time, or the poets that was in it that time, they had the real stuff to compose their songs; they had some story in it.
As I tell you about ?The Christmas Letter?, they had some story, but in today?s poets, there is no story but the one thing over and over and over again, you see. But that time they had the real story for to start off the song. And the same as the song I?m after singing there, ?The Fair Maiden In Her Father?s garden?, well, that happened sometime surely; the lover came back and she didn?t know him of course, but yet he knew her and there he was, and that happened for certain. ?Michael Hayes? happened. ?The Christmas Letter? as I say, all them old traditional stuff; that old mother that got the letter for Christmas from her family; all them things happened.
It was right tradition down along; it was a story or something that happened.

*Blas (Irish) = relish; taste; good accent.

Tom went on at great length about how you had to be careful to maintain the narrative sense of the songs and nor over-ornament
Virtually all singers, bad health excepting, pitched their singing around speaking tones, never broke up words and verbally put the punctuation where it belonged
The Irish language songs were different - a display of technique rather than storytelling, but there are far fewer narrative songs in that repertoire
Jim Carroll


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