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New Book: Folk Song in England

Jim Carroll 15 Nov 17 - 09:24 AM
Jack Campin 15 Nov 17 - 08:46 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 17 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 15 Nov 17 - 06:21 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 17 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 15 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 17 - 03:34 AM
Jack Campin 14 Nov 17 - 08:51 AM
JHW 13 Nov 17 - 06:22 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Nov 17 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 11 Nov 17 - 08:13 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 12:11 PM
Brian Peters 10 Nov 17 - 11:10 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 08:40 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 10 Nov 17 - 07:49 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 17 - 05:33 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Nov 17 - 03:11 AM
Lighter 08 Nov 17 - 07:16 PM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 02:47 PM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 17 - 01:21 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 12:32 PM
Brian Peters 08 Nov 17 - 11:21 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 09:16 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 07:20 AM
Vic Smith 08 Nov 17 - 06:40 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 17 - 03:40 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 05:53 PM
Vic Smith 07 Nov 17 - 04:06 PM
Sue Allan 07 Nov 17 - 03:59 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Nov 17 - 03:54 PM
Vic Smith 07 Nov 17 - 03:15 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 02:57 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 02:51 PM
Sue Allan 07 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM
Sue Allan 07 Nov 17 - 02:25 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 17 - 05:07 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 17 - 04:50 PM
RTim 06 Nov 17 - 04:24 PM
Richard Mellish 06 Nov 17 - 04:08 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Nov 17 - 10:53 AM
Vic Smith 06 Nov 17 - 10:31 AM
Sue Allan 06 Nov 17 - 09:48 AM
Vic Smith 06 Nov 17 - 08:49 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM
Vic Smith 05 Nov 17 - 02:36 PM
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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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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 - 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: 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 - 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 - 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM

Fascinating, Jim.


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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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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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