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Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham

IanC 06 Aug 01 - 12:39 PM
GUEST 06 Aug 01 - 06:17 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 06 Aug 01 - 11:53 PM
IanC 07 Aug 01 - 04:49 AM
pavane 07 Aug 01 - 06:46 AM
IanC 07 Aug 01 - 07:38 AM
IanC 07 Aug 01 - 09:05 AM
IanC 07 Aug 01 - 09:10 AM
pavane 07 Aug 01 - 10:31 AM
IanC 07 Aug 01 - 10:39 AM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Aug 01 - 10:59 AM
IanC 07 Aug 01 - 12:25 PM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Aug 01 - 02:05 PM
Kim C 08 Aug 01 - 01:45 PM
Taconicus 16 Jan 11 - 02:41 PM
The Sandman 16 Jan 11 - 03:53 PM
Bert 17 Jan 11 - 03:11 PM
Les in Chorlton 18 Jan 11 - 03:18 AM
IanC 18 Jan 11 - 03:33 AM
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Subject: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 12:39 PM

I was just looking at this old thread about folk songs forged by J. P. Collier and remembered that "Annie Laurie" among other songs had been forged by Allan Cunningham early in the 19th Century.

Does anyone know any more about Cunningham and are any other of his songs still about?

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 06:17 PM

This is the 1st I've heard of Cunninham forging "Annie Laurie". The oldest version is supposedly that in Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe's 'A Ballad Book', 1824, part 2, p. 25. Lady John Scott revised and extended it, but exactly when I don't know.

How about giving us Cunningham's version, source, and date?


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 06 Aug 01 - 11:53 PM

IanC, check the forum using SuperSearch. I remember there used to be a thread or two which mentioned Allan Cunningham.


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 04:49 AM

GUEST

Thank you for your contribution. Though I know what you have said is substantially correct, I can't exactly use you as a reference, can I? (Personal Communication: anonymous GUEST from Mudcat).

As you probably know, the first two verses are in Sharpe's book and Alicia Anne Spottiswoode (subsequently Lady John Scott) wrote the music, made some alterations to the existing verses and added a third verse. It is the song's sudden appearance in Sharpe's book which was rather interesting when I began to investigate it.

Sharpe claimed, rather vaguely, that the song was supposed to have been written by a Mr Douglas of Fingland (presumably before 1710 when the Miss Ann Laurie in question was betrothed to another man). I have a quite well attested account somewhere (when I find it) that Lady Scott knew the song to have been written by Alan Cunningham.

I'll post the account when I find it and have time to type it. In the meantime, can anyone else point me to more of Mr Cunningham's work?

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: pavane
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 06:46 AM

How does this make it a 'forgery'? Looks like it was just wrongly attributed, unless Mr Cunningham himself falsely claimed a prior source?


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 07:38 AM

I'm just finding out about our Mr Cunningham. He appears to have filled whole collections with falsely attributed folksongs!

There's actually quite a lot in various threads in Mudcat about him as George says (my SuperSearch has only just started working today) and he is a real star. Here's what the Burns Encyclopedia has to say about him.

Cunningham began life as a stone mason's apprentice. He and his brother James became friendly with James Hogg, from whom doubtless Allan gained some interest in balladry. In 1807, Cunningham contributed some songs to Roche's Literary Recreations, and in 1809, collected old ballads for Robert Hartley Cromek's Remains of Nithsdald and Galloway Song. Many of these were, however, Cunningham's own work, a fact of which Cromek has been accused of being perfectly aware.

...

In 1834, Cunningham, by then a well established editor, poet and journalist in London, brought out, with Lockhart's blessing, The Works of Robert Burns, with his life, in eight volumes. The Life abounds in falsifications, many of them so fantastic as to raise doubts even as one reads. Snyder's verdict was: 'This biography certainly pictures Burns more or less as he actually was, but is absolutely unreliable as regards specific facts. Anything that Cunningham says may be true: nothing that he says should be believed without contributary testimony.'

Cunningham did, in fact, republish "Annie Laurie" in his own "Songs of Scotland", with an acknowledgement to Sharpe's book as his source!

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:05 AM

I finally found the information and found time to type it in. here it is, from

MOFFATT, ALFRED "The Scottish Song Book for Baritone: A Collection of the Favourite Songs and Ballads of the North" (London & Glasgow, Bailey & Ferguson, 1905) ________________________________________________________

A few years before her death, Lady John Scott supplied the present writer with some interesting information regarding her immortal song.

    "Lady John Scott presents her compliments to Mr. Alfred Moffatt and begs to say ... she composed the tune of "Annie Laurie" and altered the second verse and composed the third verse. Allan Cunningham originally wrote the words"

Here we have the whole truth of the matter in half a dozen words. Again, in a letter to Lord Napier (I quote from Mr Davidson Cook's charming article in The Bookman entitled "Bonnie Annie Laurie: The Centenary of a Famous Song") Lady John Scott writes

    "I must tell you the words of Annie Laurie are by Allan Cunningham, not by Douglas of Fingland. I daresay they were what he imagined Fingland would have written"

Allan Cunningham was a notorious forger and faker of old songs. William Motherwell has described his methods as a "wholesale mode of hacking and hewing, and breaking the joints of ancient and traditional song". Evidently acquainted with the old traditional lines [of an old ballad called "Doune sat the shepherd swain", preserved in the celebrated Percy Folio Manuscript, written about 1649

    Faire shee was (of) comely hew,
    Her bosom like a swan,
    Back shee had of bending yew,
    Her wast was but a span.

and also in some of the early printed-song books :-

    I'm backit like a salmon,
    I'm breastit like a swan,
    My middle you may span.
    ]

he prefaced them with a pretty verse of his own making - one which introduced a pleasant sounding girl's name - and skilfully touched up the old verse. The completed "fake" must have fallen into Sharpe's hands as a genuine, ancient Scottish ballad. That Cunningham was quite pleased with his forgery is proved from his having reprinted it in his Songs of Scotland, published about a year later. This work is in four duodecimo volumes. It is full of impudent forgeries and faked verses. Its publication called forth the wrath of Motherwell, Laing, and other able writers of the period. In reprinting "Annie Laurie" Cunningham acknowledges Sharpe's Ballad Book. Possibly this was done in order to give the imposition greater appearance of genuineness. ________________________________________________________

I'll post links to the other Mudcat threads containing details of some of Cunningham's other exploits later. This bloke really fascinates me.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 09:10 AM

Damn, forgot BRs next to the horizontal lines. Perhaps someone will tidy it up for me!


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: pavane
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 10:31 AM

What was the motive for this kind of forgery? Was it more lucrative to print 'old' songs than to publish your own? Other writers of the era, including Burns, seem to have done the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 10:39 AM

Pavane, I suspect it might have been social status. It was the fashionable thing to collect old songs and if you made them up yourself, it probably did the job without the work of chasing after sundry peasants with (frequently) disappointing results. Cunningham was considered by many to be "A man of letters", having started with a rather lower social standing and, of course, the same thing happened to Burns. One has to say that some of Cunningham's songs and poems were pretty good, going by what's available on the net.

BTW, as promised, here are:

References to Allan Cunningham in earlier Mudcat threads.

The thread on Scottish Emigrant Songs has a whole lot about Cunningham, including some information about Cunningham changing the song "My Ain Countrie" and adding two half-stanzas here.

This thread about Favourite Jacobite Songs refers to a forgery of "Wee Wee German Lairdie" by Cunningham. The same information is repeated by BruceO here and there is more about this song here.

Two posts in this thread state that the Scots songs in Cromek's 'Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song', 1810 are mostly fakes and here is some information about Cunningham faking songs in his own publication (Songs of Scotland).

That's all I've found.

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 10:59 AM

If you haven't already seen it, I'd recommend Dave Harker's book Fakesong : The Manufacture of British "Folksong" 1700 to the Present Day (Open University Press, 1985, ISBN 0335150667) which gives some useful information on Cunningham and his relationship with his contemporaries; the question of his motivations is also examined.


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 12:25 PM

Here's some more information. Cunningham has an entry in Bartleby.Com which is quite interesting. Also, the following Poems/Songs are by him:

Under the circumstances, it might be worth taking with a pinch of salt the quotes in DT from Cunningham's "Songs of Scotland" for the following songs. In any case, Cunningham's uncanny ability to find "the old words" conveyed to him orally (see the second of these) should anyway make the reader a little suspicious.

Hoolie The Bed'll Fa'
Collier Has a Dochter


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Aug 01 - 02:05 PM

Those last two were from Murray of Saltspring, who will have been well aware of Cunningham's foibles.  So far as I can see, Cunningham is referred to but his texts are not quoted.


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: Kim C
Date: 08 Aug 01 - 01:45 PM

Didn't Jimmie Driftwood do sort of the same thing?


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: Taconicus
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 02:41 PM

Well, kudos to Cunningham for having written such a beautiful song, in any case. He certainly wouldn't be the first to have written lyrics and put them in the mouths of historical figures (Macpherson's Rant comes to mind), though it appears he hadn't admitted to having done so, which is dishonest (and stupid, from a songwriter's perspective).

Question: Did Lady John Scott actually modify the (Cunningham's) lyrics to give us the current ones, or is that story a fiction as well?


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 03:53 PM

so Bert was only carrying on an old tradition, VERY APT


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: Bert
Date: 17 Jan 11 - 03:11 PM

Leave me out of this ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 03:18 AM

Bert & Malcolm in "The Afterlife"?

L in C


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Subject: RE: Folk song forgeries - Allan Cunningham
From: IanC
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 03:33 AM

Taconicus

A good summary from Moffatt is here. Lady Scott wrote to a Scottish newspaper in the 1890s admitting that she was the author and that she composed the tune.

:-)
Ian


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