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New Book: Folk Song in England

Jim Carroll 19 Jul 18 - 04:11 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 09:05 PM
Brian Peters 18 Jul 18 - 06:22 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Jul 18 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 18 Jul 18 - 04:38 PM
Vic Smith 18 Jul 18 - 04:18 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Jul 18 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 04:02 PM
Jack Campin 18 Jul 18 - 03:31 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 02:41 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 02:41 PM
The Sandman 18 Jul 18 - 02:29 PM
Brian Peters 18 Jul 18 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 01:33 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 01:19 PM
Jack Campin 18 Jul 18 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 10:15 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jul 18 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 09:07 AM
Howard Jones 18 Jul 18 - 08:41 AM
GUEST 18 Jul 18 - 07:20 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 18 Jul 18 - 06:30 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 06:07 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jul 18 - 05:27 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 04:37 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jul 18 - 04:31 AM
The Sandman 18 Jul 18 - 04:11 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jul 18 - 03:42 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jul 18 - 02:52 AM
The Sandman 17 Jul 18 - 05:45 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 03:01 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 02:37 PM
Vic Smith 17 Jul 18 - 02:33 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Jul 18 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Jul 18 - 02:04 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Jul 18 - 12:38 PM
The Sandman 17 Jul 18 - 12:27 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 12:27 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 12:23 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Jul 18 - 11:58 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 11:46 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 11:42 AM
Brian Peters 17 Jul 18 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Jul 18 - 10:50 AM
Brian Peters 17 Jul 18 - 10:45 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Jul 18 - 10:39 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 04:11 AM

" pleased he was to be told that Shoals of Herring had been collected from a Irish traveller and by which time it had become Shores of Erin"
He was pretty proud of that fact - the 'Shores of Erin' came from a reference in a book 'Folklore of the Sea' by American researcher Horace Beck
Unfortunately, by the time the songs began to circulate the tradition was more or less gone so the remained just repeated (often misremembered' and never seriously remade
We recorded 'Freeborn Man' in fragmentary form from numerous Travellers, but their tradition bombed (in Britain, somewhere between the middle of 1973 to Easter 1975) when they all got portable teles
Thannks to set-ups like Pavee Point and Limerick Uni's World Music Department the Irish Traveller traditions seem to be making a comeback - (hopefully)

Hoot
My memories of Charlie were fond ones, even though we only met him briefly
He took us in, found us somewhere to stop for the few days we were in Budapest, introduced us to Vargas (who unaccountably acquired the nickname 'Herman the German') and guided us through beautiful Budapest
He and Vargas took us to meet one of Bela Bartok's very old traditional singers - we sat in her home and swapped songs for an afternoon
I remember Sandra asking her (through a translator) if she knew "the one about the woman who murdered her two babies" - she sang us a haunting Hungarian 'Cruel Mother'
My last memory of Charlie was of one deceptively cloudy afternoon when the gang of us (including 'Herman') lay beside the roof swimming pool of our rather posh hotel discussing folk song
I misjudged the weather and ended up with severe sunstroke, so the rest of them had to carry me down the stairs to my room
Good memories
Ewan and Peg recorded army songs from Charlie - they must be housed in Ruskin with the rest of their archive

Steve
"It applies to that material, as stated several times above, which was collected and published in the period c1890-WWII"
You should have made that clear from day one instead of adapting it only when you were challenged
Had you said so at the beginning we might never have got to this stage
Your contemptuous remark came following the Song Carriers, which covered the entire traditional repertoire and included material that never went into print - waulking songs that were improvised on the spot, lilting and diddling, laments made by Irish immigrants
Your sweeping dismissal of MacColl's summing up was extremely misleading and irresponsible
If you had said your 'number crunching' was based on a moribund tradition you would have met with no opposition from me
Of course a dying tradition is going to be dominated by songs from outside - that is part of what killed it off
Now this argument has developed to the stage where not only has the suggestion that 'the folk' made their own songs been cast into doubt (even welcomed), but the whole history of folk song scholarship had become a target for dismissal and mistrust
Not something folk song needs in Britain right now   
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 09:05 PM

Brian; I should be careful and refer to Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight. The one about a lady who elopes, but realises her lover is a serial killer, tricks him and escapes back home, where in some versions the family parrot has to be mollified.

On the one with riddles, something I came across says it is often spoken of as if the same as one with similes in, when the two are different. Can't remember where now.

Brian: yes I should be careful and refer to Lady Isabel and the Elfin Kt. That's the one I'm on about.

Steve: Thanks for your comments of 4.10. I am most definitely a newcomer compared with all the expertise on this amazing website.

Music has always been important for me, but mostly listening and attempting to play, not reading about its history. I've tried various instruments, but mainly stuck with guitar, and the keyboard at Xmas for family carol singing! Over the years I was a regular audience member at a couple of 'folk' sessions, but not really a participant. I once played melodeon (quite badly, but well enough, I guess) for a Morris side. I little direct knowledge of traditional folk beyond this, though these discussions have sent me to Spotify where quite a lot referred to is available.

My musical tastes are eclectic: the 'folk' in my record/tape/CD collection is a mixture of dare I say this in this context Fairport, The Pogues, Planxty, some Cajun, Katherine Tickell (seen at Sidmouth years ago) etc. I grew up listening to my parents' jazz and being taught by them a story about slavery/blues/jazz probably I now realise not unrelated to the US leftish musical stuff pre-and post-war, Lomax, Hammond etc and learning to play piano, then later liking some pop music, including early Led Zep (who themselves went all 'folky' at one point, and bluesy stuff. I imagine Jim Carroll wincing at this list and probably others. But I suppose I feel comfy with the general 'leftishness' of the folk revival, if not with a great deal of Lloyd's specific left approach.

I first bought a whole book (Karpeles) some years ago because I was doing a course on musical theory which covered modes (it seems it is standard in music theory nowadays but wasn't when I did it as a kid) and browsing in a charity bookshop music section I noted that Karpeles had a bit on modes. I cannot even remember why I bought Lloyd now (2nd hand via ABE books); there will have been something specific that sparked my interest. So I suppose I picked stuff up from these two initial books (and forget a lot as well).

Being retired and not fit enough to do much gardening I like to try to fend off dementia by keeping the brain active. So if I get interested in something, I'll read round the subject, tending to skim, and maybe choose a bit within the topic to look at more closely, even if by the method of opening Lloyd at random and going on from there.

My degree was English and Psychology: I've taught 'language (linguistics) and literature courses (as well as non-literate adults, as it happens), and been on educational research courses including semiotics. So I encountered Propp (mentioned by Lloyd) in the Eng Lit context. Looking at texts in their contexts, and looking for the narrator's perspectives .. attempting 'critical reading' or sources, I guess somethings might be transferable.

I have lurked on the mudcat site on and off for a few years now, I guess. I think it's amazing.

Roud's book was basically a birthday present I chose when asked for hints, probably because I had seen it mentioned on this site, now I come to think of it. So when I found this thread, I learned a lot from it and then thought I'd join in with it, and very interesting it has been, and I am glad it didn't get the red card, though I think it must have come close at several points.

Tzu


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 06:22 PM

is it right that the 'elf' bit isn't in any English version? Thank you again.

Correct regarding Child #2. You could argue that the English and American versions actually represent a different song, that incorporates the impossible tasks common to Elfin Knight. As for Child #4, there's little trace of elvishness at all, apart from the hint of a magical horn.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 05:05 PM

Howard,
Couldn't agree more with your very fair post of 8.41 (before the drifts started again). Steve's number crunching is mine and the 90% is mine. It applies to that material, as stated several times above, which was collected and published in the period c1890-WWII, largely in southern England, so a corpus of about a couple of thousand songs, not including one-offs which may or may not have been folksongs. Actually about 10 years ago when I did the survey the more precise percentage was 89%, but we have discovered a few more since then. If you want the full description of the material studied it is in the intro to the new edition of The Wanton Seed.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:38 PM

Re Jim's post at 01.19, The correct name is Charlie Coutts an Aberdonian friend of mine who lived in Budapest, married to a Hungarian lady Erzy I think was her name. Charlie Coutts and I worked alongside each other at the Malcolm Nixon Agency in London for a while. While living in Budapest he could be heard on short wave radio on Thursday nights spouting party propaganda. Knowing Charlie as well as I did I wonder if he believed in what he was preaching. He was great company always up for a laugh. He told me once that he sang "Love is Pleasing" on radio in Hungary translating it into the local language but he didn't get it quite right, it translated as
"But as you grow older
The love hole grows colder
And fades away
Like the morning dew".      

He was a great guy, we went one night to an all nighter at the Alexandra Palace which featured that well known folk group the Rolling Stones which ended by me taking the Hungarian ambassador's daughter back to the embassy that night. I made my excuses and left

My apologies for the thread drift I just wanted to correct the name and got carried away.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:18 PM

Dick is right - it didn't matter how hard MacColl insisted on his authorship, this is a genre where there are strong incentives (like not paying royalties) to think of in-copyright songs as trad. Hamish Henderson saw this coming and welcomed it, for his own work anyway.

I can remember a dinner party that Ewan and Peggy were at where Ewan was telling us a story of how surprised and pleased he was to be told that Shoals of Herring had been collected from a Irish traveller and by which time it had become Shores of Erin

I can also remember being in a pub in Ennistymon in the late 1980s at a time when the road to the north of the town had many trailers on the verges - and I am assuming that it was a traveller who sang a song in that pub that was just about recognisable as Eric Bogle's No Man's Land. Both the words and the tune had been subject to change and the grave was no longer that of Willie McBride.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:10 PM

Some of this is going far beyond my sphere of knowledge, but all the same fascinating. Please keep this going. Tzu, are you sure you are new to this? You are remarkably well informed and astute.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:02 PM

Brian, thanks for the explanation. I should of course have looked at Child! And will do so now! Lloyd's sense of humour comes across even in this short passage. Is it right that the 'elf' bit isn't in any English version? Thank you again.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 03:31 PM

Dick is right - it didn't matter how hard MacColl insisted on his authorship, this is a genre where there are strong incentives (like not paying royalties) to think of in-copyright songs as trad. Hamish Henderson saw this coming and welcomed it, for his own work anyway.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 02:41 PM

"some of MacColls songs are taken for tradtional,"
MacColl always insisted his songs weren't traditional


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 02:41 PM

"some of MacColls songs are taken for tradtional,"
MacColl always insisted his songs weren't traditional


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 02:29 PM

In order for a song to become a 'folk song' it has to be got at by the folk process
some of MacColls songs are taken for tradtional,fiddlers green is another, it does not matter what Ewans thoughts on this were ,this is a fact, they are mistaken for trad songs ,
bring us a barrel is another, Caledonia is another. examples, caledonia, dirty old town, fiddlers green, bring us a barrel, englands motorways, fields of athenry,hard times come again no more,


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 02:13 PM

"Lloyd's basic argument at this point is that ballads may have 'ancient and outlandish origins'. But it seems to me strong on rhetoric and broad brushes and short on evidence... as a writer Lloyd was very skilled at self promotion.

Speaking as one who found Lloyd's book very enjoyable at first, but later became more sceptical, yours is the kind of impression I formed myself when I tried to pick apart some of his ideas, for instance the suggestion that 'The Cutty Wren' was a remnant of a medieval protest song.

However, on the 'delousing' episode he was only following Child, who seems to be the source for much of Lloyd's discussion of Child 4 -'Lady Isabel & the Elf Knight (not 'The Elfin Knight').


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 01:33 PM

Jack 18 July 1031 am: glad to hear it, but feel sure the piece is accurate about what Vargyas wrote in one context (1961), when Hungary was under the control of Soviet-loyal Kadar. The author, Daniel Barth, is or was President of the Hungarian Enthographical Society. His piece is on the relationship of history and folkloristics. He gives Vargyas credit for several developments in ethnography. Barth says that 1961 seems significant to historians as it is the time when Hungarian peasants experienced 'collectivisation'.

He seems to regard this as obliterating living folk culture, whereas for Lloyd, as a mentioned previously, the claim seems to be that communist imposed collectivisation left 'the people' free to sing folk songs. Page 20 of my edition: 'In some parts of Europe, and particularly in the folkloristically rich South-east, the general democratic trend has set a different pattern in what the Americans like to call the 'collector-informant context'. A Balkan collective-farm peasant (Lloyd's term) is no longer daunted by the man in the collar and tie … The increase of working-class self confidence offers new, more favourable conditions for discovering the full physiology of musical folklore. '


Possibly relevant to Lloyd and his maiden's insecticidal fingernails is a comment made later in the piece by Barth:


" The contributions of Lajos Vargyas to historical folkloristic were already mentioned. The most famous examples of these were his studies of ballads. His methods included not only a collection
(genuine) historical data on a national level, but he broadened his scope to encompass the whole of Europe. This comparative perspective forms the basis of the timelessness of Vargyas’s works. …. His genetic extrapolations and his hypothesis about the medieval connection between French/Valloon and Hungarian ballads have already received a number of scathing criticisms. He ventured onto even more treacherous grounds when, aligning himself with the (un)historical folkloristic attitudes discussed in the first group, he claimed to identify traces of early Magyar heroic epics in 19–20th century ballads.   

Sorry to be boring! Enough already.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 01:19 PM

"Lajos Vargyas,"
I met him once in Budapest
John Faulkner, Sandra Kerr and I were introduced to him in 1968 by a friend of MacColl's, Carlie Coutts, who ran the Hungarian/English Radio Service
Vargas and Coutts interviewed us and got us to sing on the radio we were paid, but regulations at the time wouldn't allow us to take it out of the country so we ran around Budapest like blue-arsed flies trying to get rid oof it in the shops - I ended up with a superb st of Supraphon LPs of Hungarian Traditional music
My abiding memory of Vargas was of a kindly, tolerant man - when they wined and dined us at the old Castle Vargas and Coutts tried to seperate John F and I who were arguing somewhat drunkenly about the Hungarian uprising
Good days great memories (when we were sober
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 10:31 AM

That's pretty silly. Vargyas's work is vast and wide-ranging, it's not driven by simple formulas like that.

For a while that book was available very cheap as a remainder deal - it was great value even at full price (which is what I paid for it).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 10:23 AM

Found an essay on Vargyas: it says about him:

Vargyas published his paper in the periodical of his then employer, the Museum of Ethnography. Its main goal was to represent the museum as a research institution and the work that was being done there. In his denouncement of pre-Second World War ethnographic research, he said “their main fault was that they did not recognise the deterministic role productivity and society played in progress and those eras marked by the emergence of new systems of productivity and social organisation, which was the greatest discovery of Marxist historiography.”



Source: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/51322229.pdf


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 10:15 AM

I tried googling for Vargyas, but could not find a free download. Possibly it's too modern and somebody still collects on the copyright?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 09:34 AM

Vargyas's work may well be incorporated in his humungous book, which I have at home.

https://www.libri.hu/konyv/folk-music-of-the-hungarians.html

I think it was a free download once but I can't now trace it.

BTW that long-range influence-tracing does have parallels. Look at Carlo Ginzburg's Ecstasies, which follows quite unrelated ideas over a similar path and timescale to what Lloyd does with that song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 09:07 AM

On the Lloyd/Roud comparison: I opened Lloyd at random and came across a section on The Child Ballad 'The Elfin Knight'. This is a 'Child Ballad', chosen as such because it appeared to be old and widespread. We get only a few lines of the song, and those are from a Scottish version, intended to support a bizarre and unconvincing point that Lloyd is seeking to make on 'delousing' and 'insecticidal fingers'.

LLoyd's basic argument at this point is that ballads may have 'ancient and outlandish origins'. But it seems to me strong on rhetoric and broad brushes and short on evidence.

The piece seems to show astonishingly wide reading and travel by Lloyd: it refers to


Child;
Sophus Bugge;
Leon Pineau;
Unnamed researchers from Finland;
frescoes in 'certain' medieval churches of Hungary and Slovakia;
Unnamed Russian scholars;
Radlov;
Potanin; and
Pidal.


Unfortunately for anybody wishing to follow up on this section, we are not given references for these sources.

This is a pity, because Lloyd's argument (if you can call it that) here relates to a 'delousing scene' by a maiden with 'insecticidal fingernails' which he claims crops up old Siberian and Altaic epic songs. I had no idea what 'Altaic' meant and had to google it. Google says it was once thought to be a language family, possibly spoken/originating in the Central Asian Steppes, and including Korean and Japanese in some theories but that the idea is now widely discredited.

One reference that is given is wrong. It is to a 1952 Journal of American Folk Song article by Nygard. However, though the article cited is on the same song, and by Nygard, it has a different title. The Nygard JAFS article that Lloyd intended to refer to was actually published in a different year.

It's quite interesting to read this article because it discussed the methods by which, according to the author, it is and is not a good idea to trace the historical origins of songs. Source studies, Ngard says, are important because they 'reveal patterns of approach and thought that might well be noted for their inherent virtues or dangers. (This idea is one that may strike readers of this thread as pertinent) Nygard spends most of his article debunking the ideas presented to us by Lloyd more or less in support of his view that we are only just realising how very alien some of the sources of our ballads may me.

Nygard's article is also interesting because it mentions quite a few of the writers mentioned, but not referenced by Lloyd, who *appears* to have relied quite heavily on parts of it, though he only cites it in respect of one set of ideas about the song, the psychoanalytic ideas of Paul de Keyser.

For example, Lloyd mentions people in Scotland who believe they know the precise place where the story takes place. This is in Nygard.

Nygard uses the phrase 'shots in the dark' to refer to theories he believes to be, well, basically, wrong. The same phrase appears in the section by Lloyd (albeit as 'shot in the dark')

Nygard discusses Bluebeard theories, saying they seem to be on slightly stronger ground, an idea Lloyd repeats without acknowledging any source (p143) my edition. However, Ngard goes on to completely rule out any actual connection, saying the Bluebeard stories would be good to use alongside the 'Elfin Knight' (my title, not his) ones as examples of the polygenesis of a narrative idea. Wheras Lloyd seems to have run with it as a possible option, and it still crops up.

Pineau is mentioned in both. So is Sophus Bugge. Lloyd follows Nygard in dismissing the ideas of the latter relating to Judith and Holofernes, mentioning Entwistle in passing. Lloyd, to be fair to him, provides another reference to Enwistle, suggesting that he 'ought to have known better.'


My point here is that Lloyd may have given us an impression of being more widely-read than he was, and I am not denying he was more widely-read than most of us, just suggesting that as a writer Lloyd was very skilled at self promotion. He wants to convince the reader that his argument about wide origins is true, but the material he uses tends to be padding. I can see why Roud came to stick to ideas more clearly based in 'evidence'.

Another source cited by Lloyd, the work of Lajos Vargyas, may be the source for some of Lloyd's other comments, including the tracing of the insecticidal fingernails. It is called 'Researches into the Medieval History of Folk Ballad, and the page references provided by Lloyd are p129 t0 165. I don't suppose anybody could look these up?
My hunch is a) that some of the unreferenced names used by Lloyd may come from this source and b) the book won't really justify the comments about insecticidal fingers made by Lloyd.


I came to Lloyd's book late in life, as I have said before, so it was never the 'inspiration' for me that it plainly was for many involved in the 'folk revival'. And it strikes me differently. It's readable in short bursts, but too much of it seems like 'romanticising'.

Roud's emphasis on evidence seems like a much needed antidote after a page or so of Lloyd's rambling material. Sorry, Lloyd fans!

PS

I am not denying that myths and legends did not cross continents, I feel sure that they did.

I didn't realise that LLoyd could speak Russian: he cites Propp in that language!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 08:41 AM

Jim said:

"We don't know who made the songs - we probably never shall
All we can go on is logic and what little information we have.
From day one I have accepted that singers supplemented their home-made repertoires with marketed songs - we all have done so up to now
What new information has been provided to make us change our minds and why did the old researchers get it so wrong - especially those who were around while the broadside presses were still rolling?"

The disagreement is over the proportion of home-made songs to composed ones. What appears to be relatively new is the large number of songs found in the tradition which are now known to have been published in print. This may not be news to researchers and collectors, but for a general reader such as myself to read this in Roud this was something new.

"I can see no greater evidence of an agenda than a significant number of singers and enthusiasts grabbing the suggestion that the folk made hardly any of their songs so readily and being so keen to prove that fact"

I don't think it is so much a question of being "keen to prove that fact" than following the evidence that has been put to us. I find Roud's conclusions interesting, but they don't change how I feel about folk song from an aesthetic point of view. I am entirely open to alternative views but I would like to see some evidence to support them. All Jim has produced is evidence that the folk were capable of creating their own songs (which no one, including Roud, has disputed) and the suggestion that as broadside writers were all hacks those songs which show any quality must have been collected from the folk in the first place.

I must say that I found Roud's comment that the songs sung by the folk were normally composed by outsiders rather startling. But if some 90% of traditional songs had appeared in print, even if some of those were existing folk songs, then it is perhaps a justifiable conclusion. I don't recall that Jim has suggested an alternative proportion, although I have not re-read this thread so I may be mistaken. If we could concentrate on trying to determine this proportion, based so far as possible on evidence, then this discussion might start to get somewhere.

I think it is accepted that both home-made and composed popular songs were sung by the folk. It is in the nature of the folk process that only the best songs, songs which meant something to the singers and their audience, survived. It is that survival rather than their origins which made them folk songs and is what I believe make them special and interesting.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 07:20 AM

What were the backgrounds of the Musical Hall composers? Of the three listed by Brian Peters only J. B. Geoghegan is easy to Google but this old mudcat discussion https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=129312 opens with the info that he was born in Salford, the son of a fustian cutter, and used his creative abilities to get on in life and acheive some fame.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 06:42 AM

We are talking about the folk traditions Pseu
People coming to Britain from other countries often come from places with living or far healthier traditions than ours


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 06:30 AM

Yes, of course Scotland still is part of the UK/Britain, though opinion there is divided on whether to continue as such. Though if you go back far enough in time the old kingdoms took in swathes of what are now England and Scotland, eg Northumbria, once a kingdom of the Angles, took in Edinburgh. The ancient kingdom of Rheged likewise crossed the border. A friend in Scotland still calls the English 'Anglish', though he would have been living in Northumbria had he been born in the same place centuries earlier.

I think somebody suggested that English people are not musically creative any more. People in England are still being musically creative, albeit not writing folk songs, which, on some arguments is impossible nowadays, as the via oral tradition preservation criterion cannot apply except retrospectively.

I thought of writing a list starting with Lennon and MacCartney and including examples from English/British musicians and songwriters with varying ethnic backgrounds, including rappers and British Asian music. I know (before somebody points it out to me) that as 'commercial' music this won't count as 'folk', which is supposed to be non-commercial at the point of origin, but it shows creativity.

I've written songs; I know several people who have made up songs. Some of these are in one of the many 'pop' genres, some are observational comedy.


My penny's worth is that non-literate people probably made more use of their memories than literate people, as they could not write stuff they needed to remember down. The idea (not that anybody here expressed it) that non-literacy was a sign of lack of intelligence is a relatively recent one. So I wouldn't buy that as an explanation for lack of song-making. Even young kids can memorise nursery rhymes. The fallibility of memory is presumably one source of variation in old songs passed down 'orally'.

On the lack of old 'ballads' as a template, I agree with Jack.

Re the comment that Roud lacks songs whereas these are in Lloyd. The two books are quite different in aim and scope. But I think that the point that Roud and Bishop already produced a book of songs is a fair one. But not all the 'lyrics' in Lloyd have music alongside them, though many do, so it isn't really a source book. I find Lloyd rambly in places, whereas the Roud book is more organised.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 06:07 AM

I agree in principle Jack, though even there it can have problems, as I am beginning to find out (these singers were around my age and over)
But it doesn't always matter
THIS IS ONE OF THE LONGEST SONG we ever recorded - it is plotless and shapeless, yet the singer remembered it for us the first time he sang it and sang it each time virtually without hestitation.
He knew it so well, he could cut out whole sections at will if he was the audience wasn't paying attention
He learned it as a boy from a near neighbour in a totally isolated group of dwellings half way up Mount Callan - the neighbor was also noted for his remarkable memory, as a singer and long storyteller
For me as an atheist, the outstanding feature of the song is it's length

Martin was noted for his long songs - most exceeding four minutes and nearly all lyrical rather than narrative
He once told us "A song's not worth singing unless it has a few verses in it"
He was the master of understatement.
A group of friend once too him to the Cork Folk Festival
THey described how, when they stopped the car in the main street in the middle of Cork, Martin (who had never travelled more than 20 miles in his life. stepped out of the car, looked around and commented, "a grand bit of a village".

I wonder if you would apply your reservations to the epic Eastern European Bards who I believe you are familiar with
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 05:27 AM

Memorizing a ballad, where there is a storyline, is a different proposition from memorizing something like the songs I mentioned, where unpredictable verbal fireworks are the whole point.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:37 AM

"people are composing folk songs all the time in the uk,"
In order for a song to become a 'folk song' it has to be got at by the folk process' - even by roud's re-definition it has to be sung by recognised folk singers who have been part of that process
Nobody can compose a folk song any more than they can compoe an Elizabethan Madrigal'

"I doubt many people could memorize "
Sorry Jack - not the case
Non literate Travellers (even blind ones) have been the saviours of some of our longest songs and ballads - John Reilly, Mary Delaney and Martin McDonough being prime examples of singers with phenomenal memories
Mary claimed to have being to meomorise a ballad after three hearings - Non-literate Martin McDonagh sang a six minutes version of Young Hunting for Tom Munnelly without mistake or hesitation - he told Tom he had not sung it for forty years
We tend to underestimate our singers
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:31 AM

One of the things Ireland had that England didn't was a rich repertoire of traditional Irish and Anglo Irish songs and ballads to use as a template for making new songs

That can't be a real difference - most of the models used for English-language political songs in Ireland were English or Scottish, would other topical stuff have been so different?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 04:11 AM

It seems that the U.K. scene has made a U.D."
, people are composing folk songs all the time in the uk,


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 03:42 AM

But bothy ballads/cornkisters were committed to paper very early on, and those paper sources were used.

I doubt many people could memorize "The Pirn-Taed Jockie" without seeing it written down, any more than you could learn one of Zosimus's similar productions in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jul 18 - 02:52 AM

"IT SEEMS LIKE SOME PARTS OF bRITAIN WERE STILL MAKING UP SONGS"
I'm well aware of that Dick - this has been my argument from day one
Don't tell me, tell those who seem so keen to believe that they don't

In all the years I've been involved in folk song, I don't think I've ever encountered such enthusiasm to suggest that they weren't doing so; occasionally there were suggestions that the folk were incapable of making the ballads, but their making folk songs was never questioned until now

I fully believe that working people were once prolific, even instinctive song-makers with a desire to express their feelings, experiences and aspirations in verse - (I remember you once gave me a locally-made song on a local sportsman) - I heard two of those last week
That the folk made their songs still appears to be the belief here in Ireland - last week I attended a series of singing workshops where the tutors appeared somewhat bemused at the suggestion that the folk didn't make their songs - one response was "Isn't that how they got their name"
It seems that the U.K. scene has made a U.D.I.

Having been involved in that scene for as long as I was, I find that somewhat depressing
I would have thought that they had enough problems in tackling how to ensure the survival of folk music without adding this to them
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 05:45 PM

Scottish bothy ballads are an example of Scottish farm workers who made up songs.
"The point I am making is that the Irish people have proven themselves more than capable songmakers - why not the British?
Jim Carroll"Jim, Scotland was and still is part of Britain, IT SEEMS LIKE SOME PARTS OF bRITAIN WERE STILL MAKING UP SONGS


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 03:01 PM

I'm being somewhat conservative there
The locally made songs we encountered date back to the end of the Famine (1850) - no songs as far as we can find were made during the Famine
They covered the victions and emigrations following the Famine, the Fenian uprising in 1867 the land wars and Cattle raids during the re-redistribution of Estates, the anti-enlistment campaign in WW1, the War of Independence 1818 to 1922 and after
That timeline would pt the Irish rural population pretty well in line the period Steve is now referring to
All periods produced masses of home made songs
One of the things Ireland had that England didn't was a rich repertoire of traditional Irish and Anglo Irish songs and ballads to use as a template for making new songs
That templte was smashed by the joint effort of Church and Government around the end of the 1940s when they mounted a concerted attack on "unchaperoned' entertainment
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 02:37 PM

No I am not Vic
I am discussing the songs created within the lifetimes of the singers from about 1880 to 1950


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 02:33 PM

Radio
gramophone records
broader horizons
greater awareness
longer life expectancy with some pension
a more favourable leisure/work ratio
the experience that some who wrote songs made money from them.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 02:22 PM

'What is so different about the rural English or Scots workers'.

You are comparing 1960s Irish rural workers with early 19thc English rural workers. Here are just a few of the factors that make the difference.

transport
social mobility
literacy
education
technology
medicine
aspiration
That's without taking into account things like enclosure, abject poverty. That's enough to be going on with. If anyone wants to add more be my guest.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 02:04 PM

It's always been an accepted fact that technology and literacy turned the people into passive recipients of their culture rather than makers of it

Accepted by who? It's obviously garbage.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 01:26 PM

Jack
It's always been an accepted fact that technology and literacy turned the people into passive recipients of their culture rather than makers of it
Your apparent interest in foreign culture will have told you of the effects of acculturation and outside intervention, I am sure
I think the ephemeral stuff still had resonance
LIKE THIS
AND PARTICULARLY THIS
The latter. for me, is a brilliant example of a complex subject satarised by a non-professional

Dick - Please read my posts
I'm happy to accept the '54 definition until a better one comes along
If you can't follow that, I don't know how to help you
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 12:38 PM

The point I am making is that the Irish people have proven themselves more than capable songmakers - why not the British?

Both were even better at forgetting songs that didn't serve a long-term function than they were at creating them. Whereas the at-some-time-print-transmitted stuff had staying power.

I heard quite a few chants at the Edinburgh "Dump Trump" march last weekend that were entirely new to me. How many am I ever going to hear again? Not a lot. I can think of only two chants of that type that have lasted decades ("the people united will never be defeated" and "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out out out!"). Ephemeral creation is ubiquitous. Roud's interests seem to be mainly in songs that persist long enough to be traceable.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 12:27 PM

Jim but you dont tell us what your definition is, it the 1954 definition. you keep refusing to show us what your definition is


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 12:27 PM

Not having a good posting day today - this is what I intnded to put up
Incidentally
Many of these songs were captured in the press and political journals and the SCHOOLS COLLECTING PROJECT of the 1930s have remained unexamined until now
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 12:23 PM

Incidentally
Many of these songs were captured in the press and political journals and the schools collecting project


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 12:15 PM

"Songs which never caught on elsewhere and which none of the Irish, even in the community where they originated, bothered remembering and passing on."
Not necessarily the case, somme did when you add them to the repertoire that did survive
Collecting folksongs was very much a missed opportunity here - that was down to external activities
Songs of immediate interest died when the memory of the incidents fades (as they probably did in Britain) - they were functional songs of the moment ans as such, they would have been overlooked by collectors
The point I am making is that the Irish people have proven themselves more than capable songmakers - why not the British?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 11:58 AM

Look - I have shown over and over again that he Irish rural workers have produced many hundreds of songs describing their lives and aspirations, around here especially, but, as it transpires, throughout Ireland

Songs which never caught on elsewhere and which none of the Irish, even in the community where they originated, bothered remembering and passing on.

What is so different about the rural English or Scots workers that they had to go out and but descriptions rather than make songs up about them themselves?

Probably nothing. Their songs didn't catch on either. The better distribution of printed songs was what made them stick, as it did in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 11:46 AM

"Yet by all accounts it was very popular in the rural community,"
As was 'Break the News to Mother" or Bird in a Gilded Cage"
I wouldn't describe those as folk songs (though I think Steve Roud would now - he wouldn't have done a few years ago though)
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 11:42 AM

"We have been over and over this numerous times before, Jim."
We have indeed Steve - ane we oft know where
You came up with 'schools of broadside hacks, hacks who had worked the land or gone to sea, hacks who had searched newspapers for background information.... a whole list of excuses rather than admit that they might just have got their songs from visiting countrymen, which was not only possible but highly likely.
You also claimed the term "hack" did not mean "bad poet"
All this sounds to me like hastily grabbed excuses rather than researched information
of course a large number of our folk songs contain insider information, trade tems referenced to tools and equipment, farm practices - right through to customs, superstitions and even social practices
On these latter, the songs take a stance on things like arranged marriages in order to climb the social ladder
The further back you go, the more specialised the knowledge gets, especially on the subject of folklore.   
I've pointed this out before, but here goes again - if you read books like Hugill's 'Sailortown' you are presented with a hated, feared and mistrusted group of workers who lived in virtual ghettos while they are ashore, yet the songs treat them as sympathetic and their exploits in doing down the Townies as victories - they only become sympathetic figures in wartime.
The same with the Navvies - described in Terry Coleman's work on the subject threatening invading armies - a million miles from your 'Bold English Navvy

Look - I have shown over and over again that he Irish rural workers have produced many hundreds of songs describing their lives and aspirations, around here especially, but, as it transpires, throughout Ireland
What is so different about the rural English or Scots workers that they had to go out and but descriptions rather than make songs up about them themselves?
Steve claimed it was because the Brits were too busy earning a living
I suggest you look at the conditions that gave rise to the richest body of Irish song - Famine, forced Emigration, mass evictions, land wars, a war of independence, Civil war, then permanent immigration right up to the present day... all the subject of many, many songs
And the Brits had to pay somebody to do it for them - I don't think so somehow.
We don't know who made the songs - we probably never shall
All we can go on is logic and what little information we have.
From day one I have accepted that singers supplemented their home-made repertoires with marketed songs - we all have done so up to now
What new information has been provided to make us change our minds and why did the old researchers get it so wrong - especially those who were around while the broadside presses were still rolling?

Steve G once accused me in a fir of pique of having an 'agenda'
I can see no greater evidence of an agenda than a significant number of singers and enthusiasts grabbing the suggestion that the folk mde hardly any of their songs so readily and being soi keen to prove that fact
Sorry - unless that is justified we will continue to go around in circles
As far as my experience is concerned, working people were natural songmakes with both the desire and ability to make their own songs - if they were capable of doing so the overwhelming evidence suggests that they did - why wouldn't they?

"Jim i keep asking a definition please"
And I keep telling you that I already have one, thank you very much
If you want a new one, go to it and make your own - you have my blessing
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 11:38 AM

'insider knowledge'

I was thinking just the other day about 'The Farmer's Boy'. As far as I know the origins of this one are still obscure but, to look at the lyrics, you'd assume it was a slightly mawkish piece of Victorian sentimentality. I'd certainly not have believed it was composed by an actual farm labourer. Actually, checking back over this thread, Jim reported many posts ago that Walter Pardon found it inauthentic.

Yet by all accounts it was very popular in the rural community, and to hear Fred Jordan sing it you'd think he'd written it himself, so obviously close to his heart as it was. Insider knowledge is clearly not essential to a song hitting the spot.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 10:50 AM

Very few folksongs need any 'insider' knowledge to write them, particularly rural songs.

And you can guarantee that any such insider knowledge would get lost in transmission. Only a small minority in any community know the exact sequence of operations involved in gutting a sheep, threading a loom or building a drystone wall, and if your song followed those steps in order, the next non-specialist to transmit the song would probably rearrange them in a sequence that couldn't actually work.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 10:45 AM

Many of the Music Hall songs of Harry Clifton, Harry Linn and J. B. Geoghegan appeared in the collections round about 1900 simply because they sound and look like folksongs.

Yes - it was quite a shock to me to discover that 'Ten Thousand Miles Away' (which I'd learned from a Walter Pardon recording) and 'Hey John Barleycorn' were Geohegan compositions. They certainly do 'sound like folksongs'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 10:39 AM

We have been over and over this numerous times before, Jim.

Okay, but this might be the last time as some of us are becoming very exasperated at being asked to repeat things over and over again.

>>>>>'You might start with explaining how so many bad songmakers made so many good songs'.<<<<<<

As others have already pointed out here we are talking about hundreds of thousands of songs of widely varying quality. Not all of the songs produced were of bad quality, just the same as the commercial productions of today. The very small percentage that were appealing in some way to ordinary people went into oral tradition and survived, in towns and in rural areas. 'Bonny Bunch of Roses O' is an excellent song is it not?


>>>>>'why?'<<<<< To feed their families and keep the wolf from the door. It is very likely they came from a variety of backgrounds, some ex-seamen, some from rural areas, some born in the areas they lived in. Their literacy would have also varied greatly, some well read, some barely literate but with a knack of turning a verse.


>>>>>'outsiders'<<<<<< I write songs about our local heritage, whaling songs, fishing industry, local waterways. I have never worked in any of these industries. I was a teacher for 40 years, but I can turn a verse and put a good tune to them. Some of these people read newspapers, some read books, some sat in the pub and picked up their info there. Very few folksongs need any 'insider' knowledge to write them, particularly rural songs. The majority of rural songs are idealistic romantic pieces that have come from theatrical productions like the penny operas.

>>>>>>'desk in Seven Dials'<<<<<< Well, that may be the picture you conjure up, but mine is more likely a pub in 7 Dials.


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