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New Book: Folk Song in England

The Sandman 20 Jul 18 - 08:16 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 05:16 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 05:05 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 04:56 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 04:55 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 20 Jul 18 - 12:39 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 18 - 12:26 PM
The Sandman 20 Jul 18 - 12:24 PM
Jack Campin 20 Jul 18 - 12:23 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 18 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,Jimmy Johnson 20 Jul 18 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Jul 18 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Jul 18 - 10:39 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Theresa 20 Jul 18 - 08:56 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 18 - 08:55 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 08:45 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Jul 18 - 08:27 AM
Brian Peters 20 Jul 18 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Jul 18 - 07:40 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 18 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 20 Jul 18 - 07:29 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 18 - 04:49 AM
The Sandman 20 Jul 18 - 04:40 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 18 - 03:08 AM
The Sandman 20 Jul 18 - 01:40 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Jul 18 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Jul 18 - 06:49 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 06:27 PM
Jack Campin 19 Jul 18 - 05:18 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 03:31 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 03:10 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Jul 18 - 02:54 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 02:39 PM
Jack Campin 19 Jul 18 - 02:27 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 02:09 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Jul 18 - 01:17 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 01:13 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 12:58 PM
Richard Mellish 19 Jul 18 - 11:58 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Jul 18 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Jul 18 - 10:29 AM
Vic Smith 19 Jul 18 - 09:05 AM
Vic Smith 19 Jul 18 - 09:01 AM
Vic Smith 19 Jul 18 - 08:58 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Jul 18 - 08:55 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Jul 18 - 08:49 AM
The Sandman 19 Jul 18 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Jul 18 - 07:59 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 08:16 PM

Jim has retired to his bunker,he has turned the lights off he is knocking 3 times to try and get Ewan MaacColls opinion   before he replies


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 05:16 PM

>>>>> not have you responded to my points about your denigrating other researchers<<<<<<<

Oh dear! You really are not following the thread are you?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 05:05 PM

>>>>>>>"Jim actually do some research yourself and actually check it out"
Check what out Theresa?<<<<<<<

You don't seem to be following the thread very well, Jim. Please check out 08.45 and 9.19

Perhaps then you can tell us where to find your RESEARCH on the title of this thread.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:56 PM

1500,
I must get out of this habit


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:55 PM

Mike,
Do you really call truthseeking 'smugness'?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:54 PM

Let's lay this to rest please. It cannot be denied that Bert was very knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects. From a very early age he spent many hours in libraries reading about history, literature and politics and for a while took part in whaling and the Australian outback.
He was also a respected journalist working with the BBC and Picture Post before they decided they didn't like his political stance.

The only quibble that we have with Bert's scholarship is that he didn't make clear the boundaries between his creative abilities and his scholarship, and when it comes to folk music this casts doubts on his scholarship. The ultimate effect of this is that whenever we come across a song that has passed through Bert's hands or a pronouncement he makes on the history of folksong we have to go back and find more reliable sources to verify what he has written.

Exactly the same principle applies to the published works of Percy, Scott, Pinkerton, Jamieson, Buchan, etc., yes, and even the highly acclaimed Motherwell.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 12:39 PM

"I don't believe Bert was a 'fine scholar'" - No? Clearly spoken by somebody who never heard Bert talk about Bartok or Eastern folk music in general, as I often did. Then there was his ballad lecture at the first Loughborough Festival in the '60's. Yes, Bert did mix up song texts (when he was wearing his singer hat) and probably made up a few tunes when he could not find one, but he was probably the most knowledgeable person during that period. For once I find myself fully agreeing with Jim when he says "Which is why I find all this smugness of hindsight as sickening as I do".


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 12:26 PM

I don't believe Bert was a 'fine scholar'
He was a pioneer whose energies and generosity gave the British revival a kick-start, along with a handful of other talented and generous people - MacColl and Seeger included (also the target of much abuse)
Bert was limited by his inexperience and the fact tha all these people were treading new ground
Without the likes of them, we wouldn't be talking to each other and many of us wouldn't have spent a lifetime of enjoyment and interest in these songs
Which is why I find all this smugness of hindsight as sickening as I do
Lloyd and his ilk did more for British folk song than any who followed them, including the present generation of knockers.
As a young lady once told me when I found myself 'batting out of my league' with her, "Come back when you have hair on your chest"   

"Carroll"
Why do you people have to degenerate this to a demeaning level when you can't get your way
Neither an admirable nor a particularly adult trait "Johnson'
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 12:24 PM

who are these guitarists i am supposed to like, you are losing it Jim , Phil Tanner jeannie robertson, bob roberts harry cox are the singers that do it for me none of whom platy guitar , you are just making up nonsense.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 12:23 PM

Second hand prices for Fakesong are a bit less than that but not by much. Use this URL to track it:

http://used.addall.com/SuperRare/RefineRare.fcgi?id=180720092205915297


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 12:10 PM

"Keep digging, Jim."
I'm not digging Steve, I don't have to - you have done that far better than I ever could
If I have misjudged your part in the book I apologies to both of you - not a nice mistake to make
You have not produced a singe instance of my misrepresenting you, not have you responded to my points about your denigrating other researchers
Your silence in an adequate confirmation

"Jim actually do some research yourself and actually check it out"
Check what out Theresa?
I've spent over 50 years being actively involved in folk song, first as a listener and singer, then as a collector and researcher, mainly interviewing the people who gave us these songs (that latter has accounted for thirty odd years of my life so far)
I've written articles, sleeve notes and reviews and my wife and I have given around forty talks on the subject (to date)
We now have around a dozen radio programmes on our work under our belt THIS THREE PART SERIES is porobaly the on we are most proud of.

Our work is to be found on around a dozen albums, and is housed in the British Library. The Irish Traditional Music Archive and The Irish Folklore Association and several hundred of our field recordings are publicly accessible on the CLARE COUNTY LIBRARY WEBSITE
I'm now involved in preparing a book of Irish Travellers songs, stories and interviews and an introduction pack for enthusiast new to Irish Child Ballads (see Child Ballads in Ireland thread)
The big work at present is to prepare our collection and a large international archive of traditional recordings to be deposited in Limerick University where our library will be bequeathed for research purposes (embarrassingly under the title 'The Carroll/Mackenzie Library'

IS THAT ENOUGH RESEARCH FOR YOU?

Sorry 'bout that, couldn't resist
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jimmy Johnson
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 11:40 AM

Bert a fine scholar? another Carroll delusion.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 11:32 AM

2nd hand Harker now over a hundred quid :( Interlibrary loan, then.

From a review (unfavourable overall) of Boyce and Harker by E David Gregory. Like *Roud*, Gregory finds bit of Harker less objectionable than others. It may be one can reasonably view Harker as an "excellent scholar" without rubbishing his whole oeuvre including Fakesong. I don't know enough of course to judge but people I would respect (including Gammon) appear to have taken this approach. And others I respect not of course. I quote:

"Let us begin by giving Dave Harker his due. .
?an important and innovative book that provides useful insights into the history and business of music publishing. Harker correctly pointed out that folksong and ballad collecting was a task undertaken mainly by middle-class intellectuals. His claim that vernacular song collecting has usually involved a relationship between different classes of society is unassailable. Moreover, some song collectors were avaricious, others were fraudulent, and I would by no means attempt to defend every single one of them from his charges.

For example, we should recognise that Tom D'Urfey's motive in assembling Pills to Purge Melancholy was primarily financial, and he seems to have readily "borrowed" songs from any source he could. Much the same could be said about A Collection of Old Ballads and its anonymous author. Thomas Percy undoubtedly created quite a few fakesongs when in the first edition of his Reliques he published his own rewrites of ballads as if they were the texts to be found in the famous folio manuscript. Frederick Sheldon seems to have shared Percy's perspective on the legitimacy of "polishing" texts and then still claiming them to be authentic "originals.” Several of the Scottish Romantics (including, at least initially, Sir Walter Scott) did the same, with Pinkerton the worst offender. As a result, a small number of ballads that were wholly or largely the creations of enthusiastic imitators were passed off as authentic creations of the "folk", although these were usually exposed sooner or later."

* Trying to keep on topic however vaguely*

Noting that Percy was much relied upon by Child {this being one of the firts things u learn as a beginner, in addition to how to survive under online crossfire :) }.

There was a good joke about Keats on another thread here. Colonel tells Sargeant Major to get troops together for a lecture on Keats. SM says to troops 'Now, you orrible lot. It has been brought to the Colonel's attention that some of you don't know what a Keats is'.


Just tring to lighten the tone before we get another yellow card.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 10:39 AM

Duly admonished I intend to read Harker, though I repeat while Roud does 'rubbish' him, he does several times refer to/rely on his scholarship. So not a wholesale dismissal of absolutel everything about Harker.

I note that Vic Gammon somewhere did express some sympathy with aspects of what Harker says.

Here's an interesting review (found while googling for cheap 2nd hand copies).

Review of Harker


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 09:19 AM

'It has become apparent that much of Roud's book is based on Steve Gardham's work'

Again, gross exaggeration. A back-handed compliment but grossly untrue.

Keep digging, Jim.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Theresa
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 08:56 AM

Jim actually do some research yourself and actually check it out


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 08:55 AM

"Come on now gents, does a light-hearted (and actually rather interesting) remark about Child's horticultural hobby really need to fuel further confrontation?"
Not on its own but in the context of attitude to past scholars and that scholarship being used as ninepins it gives the lighthearted remark' a bit of context

Regarding my comments about Harkerism - I was referring on that occasion to Steve Gardham whose scholarly corpses are piling up by the minute, but if we are to take Roud's re-definition seriously, the same applies to him
The old crowd worked on the basis of perceived truths regarding the origins and uniqueness of folk song - Roud's book turns that on its head, in effect, undermining most of what has been written and acted on over the last century or so
Not as clumsily open as Steve Gardham, but in essence ending up in the same place

It has become apparent that much of Roud's book is based on Steve Gardham's work
Gardam recommends Harker as an excellent scholar
It seems to my that if they wish to be considered seperately, one of them needs a very long spoon

All this stands to throw folk scholarship into the same sort of chaos as the abandoning of folk song identification did the club scene
Some of our best thinkers came from the revival - Bert, Ewan, Bob Thomson, Roy Palmer, Tom Munnelly, Peter Hall, Vic Gammon... the eyes moisten when
I think of the debt I and many others owe to their input into our lives
They helped us drag together the enjoyment as singers and listeners and the understanding of the art form we were involved in
I honestly can't see that continuing to happen for those who follow is - I am seriously beginning to wonder if anybody will
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 08:45 AM

>>>>>Giving what Child did and where and when he was - I'll take my chances with him if it's OK with you<<<<<


Or you could actually do some research yourself and actually check it out!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 08:27 AM

The main problem with 'Fakesong' was that Dave rather went over the top, particularly with his political approach, BUT a lot of what he suggested makes sense. Nothing is ever so black and white as one person here seems to think.

As I have stated many many times on these threads my admiration for Child is almost boundless. I don't need to say any more than that. Those who know me know that is true. The problem with the romantic approach is that people like Child are treated as gods and they can do no wrong, a stupid approach to any historical research.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 07:44 AM

Come on now gents, does a light-hearted (and actually rather interesting) remark about Child's horticultural hobby really need to fuel further confrontation?

Harkerism gone mad

I can't let that one go. Harker attempted to tear down everything, particularly the work of all the collectors. Roud is building on their work and pointing out its shortcomings where necessary - and as we've discussed he is dismissive of Harker.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 07:40 AM

AAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!

Of course I meant 'far left'. Chees what a typo :(


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 07:37 AM

"To me 'New Age' maybe means not factual, not based on reason or logic,"
Not necessarily - certainly not in this case
It means a break with the old scholarship

If harker had confined his attacks to MacColl and Lloyd he would have been among many - it was his attack on the whole basis of folk scholarship, taking out all the collectors one by one, that caused the animosity
He even refused to speak in public because of the response he got

He seems to be a new-found Messiah with some people
If you haven't read 'Fakelore', I suggest you do
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 07:29 AM

I quite enjoyed the hyperbolic 'as old as time itself' (19th Jul: 2.54).

On the ghost of Hamlet's father: I pricked up my ears at this point remembering a Melvyn Bragg In Our Time radio programme about Shakespeare's Hamlet I listened to on the BBC iPlayer ap. So I went to Wiki to check what I remembered.

Shakespeare's play sees especially relevant as it was based on a Danish story about Amleth. This was set down in writing by a medieval Danish character called Saxo Grammaticus (c1160 - 1220), who was secretary to the Archbishop of Lund, Denmark's church being Latin at this time. Saxo seems to have well educated. This was a period of Danish expansion and also a time when 'Wends', a historical name for Slavic people living within or near Germanic settlement areas. (I believe that the term Wend crops up in Child?)

Saxo wrote "Gesta Danorum", an early history of the Danes. Saxo said it was modelled on Virgil, though wiki suggests others may have influenced Saxo incuding Geoffrey of Monmouth.

A sixteenth century French scholar retold/translated the story, which is believed to be how it came to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is also believed to have written an earlier version of Hamlet.

I mention this because it is an interesting example of how stories or legends from Denmark got themselves into English culture. In this case it seems reasonable to believe that translation by highly literate middle classes was responsible. And as we know, people of all ranks went to the Elizabethan theatre.

To me 'New Age' maybe means not factual, not based on reason or logic, which isn't what people reading 20th century works on folksong are about. It's about medicine made from herbs, and from mainly water with untraceably diluted bits of stuff in them, and not from properly trialled medicines. But maybe it means 'postmodern' in the sense of not involved with or following 'grand narratives' such as the ones that are told about/invoke folklore?

For me, it seems reasonable to disagree with some of what Harker said while accepting that other aspects of his work were good: this seems to be the approach of Roud, as I said last time we went round this circle.

I am guessing that Harker may have been less that respectful of MacColl and Lloyd, seeing them as old 'Stalisists' or some such, and that this is partly why he is so disliked in some quarters, though it won't be the only reason as Roud's comments show. Roud seems at one point to lump all the far right together.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:49 AM

" I am aware of your interpretation because of your aggressive response to Steve."
Just as I am aware of Steve's aggressive remarks to Child - a fellow researcher - and not the first
New Age Scholarship appears to be based on destroying much of what has gone before - not a thing I would wish to be associated with, even if I agreed with it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 04:40 AM

I do not need your blessing to see a remark as less than hostile, I am aware of your interpretation because of your aggressive response to Steve.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 03:08 AM

"my impression is that it was a throwaway remark"
Not my interpretation Dick but feel free to believe that if you wish
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 18 - 01:40 AM

"After his family his first love was cultivating roses."
So now he knew more about gardening and washing up than he did about ballads./'
Jim, that is your interpretation of what steve is saying ,at no point did he say that ,my impression is that it was a throwaway remark which gave us a little information about his other interests. you chose to take a defensive attitude and iterpret it as a hostile attack on his knowledge of ballads


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 08:07 PM

"If Child got everything right he'd be St Francis of Boston by now!"
The same applies to you Steve
Giving what Child did and where and when he was - I'll take my chances with him if it's OK with you
You have just said - hand on heart, that you are referring to songs of the latter half of the 19th century yet there you go laying the law down about a well established 18th century full of folklore to be found in both songs and tales throughout the world and predating Hamlet's father's Ghost, at the very least
'Lip service' seems to have it about right
One of the most disturbing things about your New Age theories is that they can only be accepted if we forget everything we know (or thought we knew)
This is little more than cultural bookburning- Harkerism gone mad - no wonder you described him as a great scholar

"After his family his first love was cultivating roses."
So now he knew more about gardening and washing up than he did about ballads
Betterer and betterer
This is really "Top of the world ma" stuff Steve - I assume your friend take the same attitude as you do - you once offered me a list of references - please do - I'll need to look out for them
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 06:49 PM

Nothing in fact is more obvious than many of the ballads of the now most refined nations had their origin in that class whose acts and furtunes they depict - the upper class - though the growth of civilisation has driven them from the memory of the highly polished and instructed,and has left them as an exclusive possession to the uneducated.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 06:27 PM

Thanks, Jack
Found it. I actually contributed to the thread. The theme is the same but there the similarities end. One would need a lot more to conclude that the 2 pieces were even remotely related.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 05:18 PM

Steve - this comes from my iPhone on a bus, searching is difficult - googling "cruel mother Iceland" with site mudcat.org should find you what I posted.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 03:31 PM

After his family his first love was cultivating roses.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 03:10 PM

Tut tut! OTT responses again! If Child got everything right he'd be St Francis of Boston by now!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 02:54 PM

"Can you put any meat on the bones of this one, Jim? Child 20 is an English broadside of the 17th century. "
Sigh
It was a song that appeared on an English broadside in th 17th century, do you mean
The motifs of murdered people returning to extract vengeance or announce retribution are as old as time itself - in folklore and oral narrative tradition.
Same goes for abandoned children   
I won't bother to ask if you have evidence of there being no oral versions befre the broadside

I told the story as I remember having experienced - we had not tape recorder but one of the people who conducted us did
Sandra chose the song from her own experience and the translator related the plot
Surely, if all foreign input is due to literary influences it might be on line somewhere!

THere is a definitivness about your statements which suggest that it would take a ton of Semtex to shift you from your position
I did enjoy the back-heeling of Child (again) though
I wonder why he wasted all that time - he should have stuck to songwriting - his effort on Civil War politics suggested that he was quite good at that!!
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 02:39 PM

Any details on this, Jack? How old it is. Is it related to 20 or 21 or both? Is it derived from British versions?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 02:27 PM

I posted a link to an Icelandic version a couple of years ago.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 02:09 PM

We appear to have hit baseline again so here's a little diversion.

>>>>>>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'<<<<<<19th July 4.11 AM

Can you put any meat on the bones of this one, Jim? Child 20 is an English broadside of the 17th century. Child's headnotes on this one are completely to pot (IMO). There are no known analogies in other countries that are not based on the English ballad. If you have discovered a Hungarian variant that is earth-shattering. I will have to consult Andy Rouse who is a scholar of Hungarian ballads. Child didn't know about the broadside until after he published Part 1, and his headnotes are based on the 'penance' stanzas tagged on the end of Scottish versions which actually belong to Child 21 'The Maid and the Palmer'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 01:17 PM

Richard
And still people leap to their feet (you included) and dispute the idea that the folk probably didn't make their songs - you are not alone of course
Someone put up proudly a rave review of Roud's book which took pleasure in stating that the folk didn't make folk songs'
The damage hads been done, inside and outside the folk circle

Child was working in the middle of the 19th century yet his conclusions have been called into question - so much for the latter half of the 19th century
There has been a great deal of admitting that working people WERE CAPABLE OF MAKING SONGS but 90%= claims make them litle more than lip service
Basing folk creation on its death throes of a tradition is like estimating the skills of a top athlete after having his legs removed - totally meaningless

"Not again, again, again, again...…………..!"
'Fraid so Steve - this will run and run - longer than Mousetrap until me move away from "workers too busy earning a living to make songs" and start proving that they didn't make the songs they were singing - even within your timeline
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 01:13 PM

We occasionally come across versions in print (street lit and sheet music) that have obviously come from oral tradition or have been influenced by oral tradition, but these are not common.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 12:58 PM

Not again, again, again, again...…………..!

Absolutely, the 90% includes many examples from an earlier period than the early 19thc. We've given plenty on this very thread. The broadside still remains the earliest extant example even in these cases.

This must have now been said numerous times by many on this thread and others similar. NO-ONE has claimed at any point that country people were incapable of making their own songs or indeed that they didn't make their own songs. On the contrary I have given you plenty of examples from my own experiences. All we have said is that not having easy access to the printers their efforts by and large were not widespread around the country and stayed in their own backyard. Simple logic can tell you this. This is why relatively few of their productions made it into the national corpus.

Your last statement no-one can argue with. Most of the evidence is circumstantial and your opinion is perfectly valid, based upon little research into the other printed material however.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 11:58 AM

Jim >You should have made that clear from day one instead of adapting it only when you were challenged <

Steve > I have always endeavoured to make clear exactly which corpus I was writing about. If I did not do that in the very first thread we crossed swords on I apologise once again, but on numerous threads since then where you have criticised our stance we have made this very clear and will continue to do so. <

Hear hear!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 10:36 AM

"but your constant misquoting and gross exaggeration make this very difficult."
I've asked you to provide examples of this several times Steve
So far nothing has been offered
"I have always endeavoured to make clear exactly which corpus I was writing about. "
This is a prime example
Am I mistaken in believing what it was following my quoting MacColl's 'Song Carriers' summing up that you made you "starry eyed - and "for money" dismissive statement?
Your present claims adaptation followed.

Even that don't make real sense anyway - many of the songs collected in that period were made far earlier than the 19th century so I have presumed that your 90% + includes them
If it does, you are casting doubts on the idea that country people ever made songs to a significant degree

Back to the old truism I'm afraid - we don't know who made our folk songs for certain and until you can produce unchallengeable evidence that there were no oral versions of the printed songs we never will
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 10:29 AM

Jim: thanks for the info about MacColl's Radio Ballads. I am just beginning to 'understand' various debates about MacColl. I assume 'Freud' is a typo for 'Roud'?

I'm not clear, sorry, what you are referring back to in your comment:

"Child's ability to distinguish between his work on formal poetry and traditional ballads is a new one on me".


As far as I know, Child's work on Chaucer was, in line with 'English' as mostly taught at that time, relating to the language eg verb forms, plurals, whether a word was considered 'vulgar' or was higher in rank, perhaps with some consideration of metre. He didn't seem to have been much interested in Chaucer's social criticism, his poetic techniques, etc. I might have missed some other work on these areas, not sure. I have found him referred to as very influential in Chaucer studies but neither of the books I have on Canterbury Tales mentions him at all. He published an edition of some 16thc plays. He seems to have spent a lot of time teaching composition and marking student essays.

I don't mind a bit of hyperbole now and again.

Steve: on defining the corpus, I quoted Roud on this in an attempt to suggest that Roud was clear about this, which I think he was.

Mr Sandman: This was an interesting post. It might, I think, illustrate that thinking about what counted as 'folk' or apt for study was not as monolithic as one might imagine. I checked and found that Roud cites two books by Alfred Williams. (attempting to bring thread back to its supposed topic).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 09:05 AM

Fascinating important stuff and the sort of thing that we are trying to provide for our county through the database at Sussex Traditions but whilst ours is being achieved by volunteers like Tina and myself, it really should come underthe cultural remit of our two county councils. just as is happening in Wiltshire.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 09:01 AM

Whoops - pressed Submit message too soon :-
https://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/folk_search.php


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 08:58 AM

Dick,
This is a fascinating and useful addition to the thread, but when you are taking a huge extract from a website, you really need to give the details of (and preferably, a link to) the source - so I will do this for you. :-
http://www.alfredwilliams.org.uk/folkhero.html

Also the final line says Click here to go to the beginning of the list. and it is very frustrating that there is no link, so again, I will provide this -


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 08:55 AM

>>>>>You should have made that clear from day one instead of adapting it only when you were challenged<<<<<

I have always endeavoured to make clear exactly which corpus I was writing about. If I did not do that in the very first thread we crossed swords on I apologise once again, but on numerous threads since then where you have criticised our stance we have made this very clear and will continue to do so.

There never was and never will be a SWEEPING condemnation of MacColl's writing from me. I have great respect for his work and Bert's. I was specifically referring to MacColl's suggestion that the songs were written by ploughboys and milkmaids. In my OPINION a very romantic way of approaching the material.

>>>a moribund tradition<<<< Those are your words, certainly not mine. Were all of Walter's songs then part of a moribund tradition?

>>>>>>but the whole history of folk song scholarship had become a target for dismissal and mistrust<<<<<

This is a gross exaggeration and I very much doubt you would get anyone to agree with you on this.


Jim, I/we would love to engage with you and discuss our researches in more detail, but your constant misquoting and gross exaggeration make this very difficult.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 08:49 AM

" 'discussing and disagreeing with' as less emotive terms? "
Child's ability to distinguish betwen his work on formal poetry and traditional ballads is a new one on me
Sharp and co have always been a figure of disdain - often unfairly
Gummere, Gerould, Motherwell... and many others have not only accepted the 'folkness of folk' but have written on length on the subject... 'all starry eyed romantics' it would appear
Even poor old Margaret Laidlaw was talking romantic nonsense, it would seem
Now we have reached the stage where the whole lot has come under suspicion
And all to make room for paperwork
Dave Harker (an exceptional scolar, I'm told) based his work on compiling a hitlist of past collectors and taking them out one by one
Here we have a mass assassination without the list.

Thanks to this argument, I re-read Wilgus's history of folksong scholarship and was reminded that we are were we are by collectors, even when they did not agree, developed their ideas on the basis of what had gone before - sometimes they replaced past ideas, but mostly they incorporated them into their own (occasionally losing some valuable ones in the process)
The New Age Scolars have done a real Augean Stables job on our understanding of our songs.

If this outlandish percentage calculation were not enough. now we have a re-definition which does not distinguish between popular commercial song that up to now were recognised as not being folk by virtually all folk enthusiasts and traditional material.

I was part of a long lasting and thriving olk Song Revival who knew what we were dealing with, sang it, and made new songs based on it
That died when the clubs began to be used as cultural dustbins to dump anything from big ballads to poor Elvis renditions
First we had to sit through poorly performed songs that didn't interest us; finally thousands of us walked away because we were no longer guaranteed hearing a folk song at a folk club
This re-definition has formalised that position.

Regarding Freud's comments on MacColl (especially his 'lacuna/Radio ballads bit) - I find this a total misunderstanding of what MacColl was about
He created songs for the same reason he (and many of us) believe the folk did - to express his own feeling and experiences
All the Radio Ballads songs were based on interviews with the subjects (Railwaymen, fishermen, boxers, gypsies, miners...)
They borrowed the exact words on occasion, but they also used the vernacular imagery - which was what made them so respected
I've always gained the impression that Steve Roud had little time for the revival
His present involvement with certain revival singers and their approach to the songs they sing doesn't impress me too much
Perhaps that has no place here - but Mudcat is a place where one of our finest contributors to folk song is regularly dug up from his nearly three decades old grave (metaphorically speaking - he was cremated) and given a kicking, so I feel it fair to express my own opinions on this matter.

"looks like another very hot day!"
Thanks btg that it's cooled down a little here
We've an acre of jungle to tame
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 08:44 AM

The colector alfred williams throws an interesting light on all of this, here is part quote from mike yates
Williams, not being trained as a musician, had, as Frank Purslow mentioned above, noted down all manner of songs, many of which were not 'folk songs' in the eyes of the Folk Song Society members. But - and this is actually the beauty of his collection - in doing so, Williams has shown us more or less just what singers were actually singing in parts of the Thames Valley during the period 1914-6. For example, Williams appears to be unique in telling us that singers were singing glees - part-songs, sung unaccompanied, which were originally based on 17th century madrigals. They were extremly popular during the period 1750-1850, but were thought to have more or less disappeared after that date. In Folk Songs of the Upper Thames we find this note attached to the songs Here's a Health to all Good Lasses and Come, ye Friends of a Social Life.

Glees were usually sung by those having slightly superior tastes in music; that is, by those above the average intelligence among the villagers, or by such as had been trained at some time or other to play on an instrument, it may have been a fiddle or cornet in the local band, or in the choir on Sundays at the church.

It should, though, perhaps be mentioned here that while folk songs were once well-known, they were not necessesarily easy to find.

A countryman never sings to a stranger. First win his heart and confidence before you can expect a song from him. And this requires time and effort on your part. That is why, as I have said, the folk-songs escape attention.

Cecil Sharp, who had once lived and worked in Australia, felt the same when he said that English folk songs were like the duck-billed platypus, an animal that was seldom seen, even when one was standing on a river bank directly above an underground nest. I think Sharp would also have agreed with Williams when the latter spoke about the difficulties of persuading people to sing, athough I doubt if Sharp would have approved of Williams having to "buy" a song or two.

I have sometimes been forced to spend several hours of manoeuvring with people before I succeeded in tapping their store of folk-songs. And sometimes I have had to entreat, and almost to implore; but I have never once absolutely failed to obtain a song from an individual after I had learnt that he was possessed of some. Once or twice I have had to buy a song outright, as though it had been a saucepan or a kettle... The great majority, however, when once you have crept into favour with them, give you the songs freely, with apologies for their rudeness. They are surprised that you should discover yourself to be interested in such a thing as a country ballad, and I have more than once been reminded that "only fools and fiddlers learn old songs".

Nor should it be forgotten that Williams, like Cecil Sharp and the other collectors, was often having to tease the songs from elderly singers, many of whom were in their nineties when Williams called to note their songs. One 94-year-old singer told how, as a young man, he had worked in the fields alongside a former soldier who had fought at Waterloo. There is also the touching story of one man, aged 99, singing to Williams only a few hours before his death.

Who, then, were these simple rustics? Luckily, Alfred Williams has told us quite a bit about the men and women who sang for him. There was, for example, Elijah 'Gramp' Iles of Inglesham who, mistaking Williams for the new village curate, quoted a short passage from the scriptures on their first meeting.

In my perambulations of the Thames Valley I have met with fine old characters, but none of them were quite as distinct, original, and rich in memories as 'Gramp'. The songs he sang were all very old. Several of them he learnt from his grandfather, while only a lad: they must have been in the family for generations. Then there was Henry 'Wassail' Harvey of Cricklade who, at first, refused to sing to Williams. Once, when Williams called on the octogenarian, he found Harvey suffering from a cold, and some medicinal rum soon had the old man singing!

Daniel Morgan, a traveller and dealer, gave Williams a very rare text for the old ballad Bold Sir Rylas. Morgan lived in Bradon Woods:

(His) great-grandfather was a squire, and he disinherited his son and also attempted to shoot him, lying in wait for him for three days and nights with a loaded gun, because he courted a pretty gipsy girl. In spite of the squire's opposition, however, his son married the gipsy lass and left home to travel with his wife's kindred and earn his living by dealing, and attending the markets and fairs. Daniel Morgan... is a witty and vivacious man. He lives among the woods of Bradon, the relic of the once large forest of that name, in which the famous Fulke Fitzwarren is said to have defied the King at the time of the Baron's War. I have spent pleasant hours in the cottage, during the dark winter evenings, listening to the old man's songs, which he sang sitting on a low stool cutting out clothes-pegs from green withy, while his wife sat opposite making potato nets.

And there was Gabriel Zillard of Hannington.

Of Zillard it is said that he would unbutton his shirt-collar at six in the morning and sing for twelve or even eighteen hours, if necessary, with the perspiration streaming down his cheeks.

According to Williams, Zillard was not the only person with a large repertoire of songs.

It was common, years ago, during wet weather, when labour out of doors was at a standstill, for the rustics to assemble at the inns and have singing matches, in order to see - not which could sing best, but which could sing most.

There were usually two singers at such events, which could last for up to two days, each singer taking a full day to sing through his repertoire. And their repertoires would always be of old songs.

And I have never once known a rustic, or any one else accustomed to singing the old folk-songs, who would deign to learn any of the modern popular pieces. They speak of them with contempt, and feel insulted if you should ask them to sing one. "What! That stuff! That thing! Call that a zong! Ther's nothin' in't, maester. Ther's no sense ner meanin' to't, ner no harmony,"they will answer you.

When I was collecting folk songs many years later, I too often heard similar comments from the people who were giving me their songs. Many singers that I met clearly preferred the old songs to the sort of songs that they were hearing on their radios. I would also say that Williams was right when he spoke of the types of songs that his singers preferred to sing.

Different people sing different songs. I mean different types of songs. And that is natural. It is a matter of temperament...The songs of old Elijah Iles, of Inglesham, were gently humorous and witty, such as "The Carrion Crow and the Tailor", "Sweet Peggy", and "The Old Woman Drinking her Tea". The majority of the pieces sung by David Sawyer, the sheep-shearer of Ogbourne, were rather sentimental. William Warren, the South Marston thatcher, sang the romantic-historical kind, such as "Lord Bateman". Shadrach Haydon, the old shepherd of Hatford, preferred the strong and formal order. Thomas Smart, of Stratton St Margaret, would sing none but what were moral and helpful. Those of 'Wassail' Harvey, of Cricklade, were roughly hilarious, such as "How I Could Ride if I Had But a Horse", "Dick Turpin", "Jarvis the Coachman", and so on; and those of Mrs. Hancock of Blunsdon, were of the awful sort, i.e. dealing with tragedies, lovers, and blood, such as "Johnny, the Ship's Carpenter", "The Gamekeeper", and others.

Interestingly, according to Williams:

The women's songs were chiefly the sweetest of all... They were rarely sung by the males. The women might sing some of the men's pieces, but the men seldom sang those of the women. They appreciated their sweetness but they felt that the songs did not belong to them... Most of the men sang in the inns, and their pieces were consequently more or less publicly known, while the women's songs were sung over the cradle and might not often have been heard out of doors. I have never omitted an opportunity of searching for the women's songs, where I suspected any to exist, and I was never dissappointed with anything I obtained as a result of such inquiries. Examples of the kind and quality of songs sung by women are discovered in such pieces as "Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor", "Grandma's Advice", "The Seeds of Love", "Lord Lovel stood at his castle Gate", "If you will walk with me", "Cold blows the Winter's Wind", and so on.

So, where did these songs come from in the first place? And why were they disappearing? With the exception of a handful of locally composed songs, almost all the songs that Alfred Williams collected were known, in one version or another, throughout England, lowland Scotland and parts of Ireland. When we think of the word folk we tend to think of an oral tradition. But, in the case of folksongs, this is not quite right. For several hundred years the texts of songs, including what we now call folk songs, have been printed on single-sided sheets of paper called broadsides. Hundreds of printers throughout the country have issued these sheets and this was how the songs texts passed into the tradition. Alfred Williams was clearly aware of this tradition.

The songs were mainly obtained at fairs. These were attended by the ballad-singers, who stood in the marketplace and sang the new tunes and pieces, and at the same time sold the broadsides at a penny each. The most famous ballad-singers of the Thames Valley, in recent times, were a man and woman, who travelled together, and each of whom had but one eye. They sang at all the local fairs, and the man sold the sheets, frequently wetting his thumb with his lips to detach a sheet from the bundle and hand it to a customer in the midst of the singing.

But, Williams also wrote:

It must not be forgotten that very few of the agricultural labourers of a hundred years ago could read or write.

If the singers were illiterate, how then did the songs pass into the tradition? Well, as I said, thousands of these sheets were sold every week, so some labourers must have been able to read. Williams reports that many of his singers said that they could learn a song after only hearing it sung once or twice. Other Edwardian song collectors have also noted similar comments from their singers. So perhaps the songs were learnt from the broadsides by a few people and that others, hearing the songs sung, were able to quickly learn them.

But why were the old songs no longer being sung? Williams offers us a number of reasons.

The dearth, or, at any rate, the restricting of the fairs, and, consequently, of the opportunities of disseminating the ballad-sheets is one cause of its decline. The closing of many of the old village inns, the discontinuance of the harvest-home and other farm feasts. The suspension and decay of May games, morris dancing, church festivals, wassailing, and mumming are other obvious reasons.

Change to village life came in other ways, too.

Another factor was the advent of the church organ and the breaking up of the old village bands of musicians. That dealt a smashing blow at music in the villages. Previous to the arrival of the church organ, every little village and hamlet had its band, composed of the fiddle, bass viol, piccolo, clarionet (sic), cornet, the "horse's leg", and the trumpet or "serpent". They were played every Sunday in church. But they did not solely belong to the church. All the week they were free to be used for the entertainment of the people.

In fact, according to Williams, the entire structure of country life was being broken up.

Another reason for the disappearance of the folk-song is that the life and condition of things in the villages, and throughout the whole countryside, has vastly changed of late. Education has played its part. The instruction given to the children at village schools proved antagonistic to the old minstrelsy. Dialect and homely language were discountenanced. Teachers were imported from the towns, and they had little sympathy with village life and customs. The words and spirit of the songs were misunderstood, and the tunes were counted too simple. The construction of railways, the linking up of villages with other districts, and contact with large towns and cities had an immediate and permanent effect upon the minstrelsy of the countryside. Many of the village labourers migrated to the towns, or to the colonies, and most of them no longer cared for the old ballads, or were too busy occupied to remember them.

But, again according to Alfred Williams, one factor above all others was responsible for the disappearance of public singing. Singers were forbidden to sing in the village inns.

This was the most unkind and fatal repulse of all. It was chiefly brought about, I am told, not by any desire of the landlord, but by the harsh and strict supervision of the police. They practically forbade singing. The houses at which it was held i.e. those at which the poor labourers commonly gathered, were marked as disorderly places; the police looked upon song singing as a species of rowdyism.

And, finally, the songs could not compete with the rapid changes in entertainment that were spreading throughout the land. The gramophone and the cinema have about completed the work of destruction, and finally sealed the doom of the folk-song and ballad as they were commonly known.

No wonder Alfred Williams felt the urgent need to collect those songs that were still remembered by his elderly singers.

In 1915 Round About the Upper Thames was published in serialised form in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. This was the third of Williams's country prose books. The paper then asked Williams to submit some of the folk song texts that he had collected, so they too could be published in a similar fashion. He was offered three pence (1p) per printed song - not much when we realise that Williams would sometimes cycle up to 70 miles before collecting one song! In all, about 250 songs were printed in the paper and Williams pasted the cuttings onto cards, these becoming the draft for his book Folk Songs of the Upper Thames.

But it was not until 1922 and 1923 that Round About the Upper Thames and Folk Songs of the Upper Thames were to appear in book form. Williams had stopped collecting songs in 1916, when he joined the army, and it may be that ill health, together with the work involved in building Ranikhet, had prevented him from working on these two books.

Surprisingly, Folk Songs of the Upper Thames was not reviewed in the Journal of the Folk Song Society, although, in the 1945 Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (the continuation of the Folk Song Society's Journal) Frank Howes, the music critic of The Times and then a leading member of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, did provide a short review of Leonard Clark's biography of Williams, Alfred Williams, His Life and Work, which concluded with the following:

Williams did not add music to his varied accomplishments and the tunes find no place in his collection of folk-songs, but he was a true collector in that he tapped the oral tradition of rustic singers and as a student right outside the folk-song 'movement' his book (i.e. Folk Songs of the Upper Thames) has a special value for us. There is an unconfirmed suggestion that, following the publication of Folk Songs of the Upper Thames, the Folk Song Society offered to print the rest of the collection, but Williams refused help, apparently believing that the Society simply wished to put two or three choice songs into their collection. To my knowledge, the only extant letter to Williams from a member of the Folk Song Society is one from the Yorkshire folksong authority Frank Kidson, who argued with Williams that some of his collected songs were not really folk songs. It goes without saying that comments like that would not have been well received by a man like Alfred Williams!

A Different Drummer

Alfred Williams was a remarkable man, one who left us a unique legacy. It has been said on occasion that Williams felt himself to have been a failure, and, during his lifetime, he certainly did not receive anything like the praise that is now given to him. His beautifully written prose books tell of a way of life that is now long past. His song collection is of great value, and yet he was criticised by some members of the Folk Song Society, who failed to review his book Folk Songs of the Upper Thames in their Journal.

And it has only been after his death that his importance has been fully realised. Interestingly, his treatment by the Folk Song Society was similar, in some ways, to that given to Alice E Gillington, another 'outsider' song collector, who lived with gypsies in the New Forest and who collected and published many of their songs. Correspondence between Gillington and Lucy Broadwood shows that the latter did not think too highly of Miss Gillington's songs. Like Alfred Williams, Alice E Gillington was not a member of the Folk Song Society.

Much can be said about Alfred Williams's legacy and there is much to be thankful for. As Albert Mansbridge, the founder of the Worker's Education Association, once said, "England is greater to-day, because Alfred Williams lived a brief day in her life."

Acknowledgement
My thanks to Malcolm Taylor, Librarian of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, London, for his help in the preparation of this essay.

References
Most of the quotations mentioned above can be found in the following works:
Baldwin, John R. Song in the Upper Thames Valley: 1966-1969 in Folk Music Journal Vol. 1. No. 5 (1969), pp. 315-349. The English Folk Dance and Song Society, London.
Clark, Leonard. Alfred Williams, His Life and Work Basil Blackwell, 1945. Reprinted, David and Charles, 1969.
Clissold, Ivor. 'Alfred Williams, Song Collector' in Folk Music Journal Vol. 1. No. 5 (1969), pp. 293-300. The English Folk Dance and Song Society, London.
Purslow, Frank. 'The Williams Manuscripts' in Folk Music Journal Vol. 1. No. 5 (1969), pp. 293-300. The English Folk Dance and Song Society, London.
Williams, Alfred. Villages of the White Horse 1913. Reprinted by Nonesuch Publishing, Stroud. 2007.
Williams, Alfred. Folk Songs of the Upper Thames Duckworth & Co., London. 1923. Various reprints.
Anyone wishing to know more about Alfred Williams' folksong collection may also wish to consult:
Bathe, Andrew Lee. Pedalling in the dark: the folk song collecting of Alfred Williams in the Upper Thames Valley, 1914-1916. A thesis submitted for PhD, National Centre for English Cultural Tradition (NATCECT), University of Sheffield. May 2006. (Copy held in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, London).

Mike Yates is a former editor of the Folk Music Journal, and, like Alfred Williams, has collected folk songs in the Thames Valley and elsewhere.

The songs collected by Alfred are now online - the large majority of a collection of more than a thousand songs which have been uploaded by Wiltshire County Council. Click here to go to the beginning of the list.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Jul 18 - 07:59 AM

Hello Jim

'The whole history of folk song scholarship has become a target for dismissal and distrust'.

It seems to me that the history of folk song scholarship has to be at least in part a narrative of scholars 'dismissing' and 'mistrusting' eachother's work, though I think I'd prefer 'discussing and disagreeing with' as less emotive terms?

Folklorists came up with theories about 'folk song' as a whole and the origins of particular songs, and even motifs, such as the delousing which both Child and Lloyd devoted time to considering.

To give just one example, Lloyd dismissed and distrusted the idea that Lady Isabel and the EK derived in part from the story of Judith and Holoferness. He was less dismissive of the Bluebeard link, though at least one of his sources was dismissive of that idea.

The Nygard piece referenced by Lloyd argues that the folklorists of the different countries within which Lady Isabel versions had been found gave accounts of it which fitted in with their particular national cultures, so that those used to stories about water-based mythological creatures emphasised that aspect etc.

In short, the folklore scholarship of the last hundred years was not the monolithic entity one might imagine.

In addition, as my brief investigations into Lady Isabel show, the also discussed 'methodology' ie what factors it was good and bad to take into account when tracing ballads across continents and through disparate cultures, and what factors might lead one to decide that one song was part of a particular grouping and not another.

I don't think would be right to say that all the scholars of the 20th century operated with the same idea of 'the folk', even if they had all agreed that 'folk songs' were ones that originated with the folk. To give one example, not all of them would have been operating with or even have written papers including definitions based on a deterministic variety of Marxism.

Roud, it seems to me, doesn't get involved with these theoretical debates, many of which seem not to have been resolved, but sticks to what can be said with reasonable certainty about the musical practices of ordinary people over a few relatively recent centuries. He draws upon contemporary accounts, diaries, libel trials, memoires to build up a fascinating picture.

Roud seems quite clear about what he sets out to do.

On page 3 Roud says: 'So, this is a book of social history, covering folk song in England from the sixteenth century to about 1950... The book's main argument is that the social context of traditional singing is the key to understanding its nature, but is also precisely the component which has often been neglected in past discussion of the subject....One of the dominant themes of the book is that folk song, however, defined, did not exist in a cultural vacuum, and we will dedicate some time to investigating the 'other musics' that were available to ordinary people in the past, and which potentially influenced the styles and repertoires of their own song cultures.'

Roud seems to give theorising rather short shrift, I admit: he says 'Writers of general books about folk song usually feel it their duty to give the subject deep roots, but the fact is that there is so little evidence about vernacular singing in the earlier periods that all is speculation..... ' I am not sure that it is entirely fair to equate the developments of theories as 'speculation', theorising for me has at least to have some evidential basis and arguments, whereas speculation is less bounded to what is known 'as a fact'.

On pages 5-6 Roud refers to what he calls 'the collection boom' of the Victorian and Edwardian enthusiasts, and says 'the corpus of "folk songs" discovered and documented by the collectors is one of the starting points of this book.' That seems pretty clear to me.

Roud says that his book will go beyond the narrow 'what folk songs did people sing' approach of the Vic/Ed people and ask 'what songs did the folk sing'?

Roud then goes on to defend the idea of 'folk' from the onslaught of Harker in 'Fakesong', with his own ideas on why 'The Marxist generation (which appears to include both Lloyd and Harker) turned against folk song: he says ultimately it did not meet their expectations in terms of furthering their cause. I can see that this is red rag to a bull for some people. But this view of Roud's is of course, another 'theory' and, I suppose, one that people in another generation may in their turn discuss and/or disagree with.

MacColl is mentioned here. This thread has carried denials that MacColl passed his own songs off as folk songs. Roud does not go that far, he simply says that his need for songs to fit the narratives of 'programmes like the "Radio Ballads" prompted him to fill the many lacunae by writing his own.' A song about travellers being evicted is one (according to the Telegraph, which does describe his songs as 'folk', and says that Mary Poppins was the inspiration for another! I didn't know he wrote 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face') But there is an implication in Roud about the narrative being in some sense 'not real', I guess.


I quite like MacColl's songs: I have heard the Manchester Rambler sing quite ofen, and I like the Pogues' version of Dirty Old Town.

(I didn't realise his descendant was in The Bombay Bicycle Club.)

I have just realised that Roud is *very* helpful if you are trying to understand some of the heated arguments that arise on some Mudcat threads.

Best wishes to all. Bother it, it looks like another very hot day!


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