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What's so special about F. J. Child?

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IanC 23 Aug 01 - 10:15 AM
MMario 23 Aug 01 - 10:26 AM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Aug 01 - 10:43 AM
masato sakurai 23 Aug 01 - 11:22 AM
IanC 23 Aug 01 - 11:31 AM
SharonA 23 Aug 01 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,yum yum 23 Aug 01 - 12:16 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Aug 01 - 12:31 PM
IanC 23 Aug 01 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,JohnB 23 Aug 01 - 12:37 PM
mousethief 23 Aug 01 - 12:41 PM
IanC 23 Aug 01 - 12:50 PM
Bill D 23 Aug 01 - 12:51 PM
Clinton Hammond 23 Aug 01 - 12:57 PM
Anglo 23 Aug 01 - 12:59 PM
Art Thieme 23 Aug 01 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,yum yum 23 Aug 01 - 01:24 PM
Jim the Bart 23 Aug 01 - 01:26 PM
Don Firth 23 Aug 01 - 01:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Aug 01 - 01:29 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 23 Aug 01 - 02:05 PM
mousethief 23 Aug 01 - 02:40 PM
Don Firth 23 Aug 01 - 03:15 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 23 Aug 01 - 04:03 PM
Joe_F 23 Aug 01 - 06:15 PM
Jon Freeman 23 Aug 01 - 11:04 PM
toadfrog 24 Aug 01 - 01:35 AM
SeanM 24 Aug 01 - 02:59 AM
masato sakurai 24 Aug 01 - 07:19 AM
IanC 24 Aug 01 - 08:41 AM
Joe_F 24 Aug 01 - 05:42 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 24 Aug 01 - 06:35 PM
Art Thieme 24 Aug 01 - 08:09 PM
Coyote Breath 25 Aug 01 - 12:45 AM
dick greenhaus 25 Aug 01 - 02:57 PM
Nerd 21 Jul 03 - 03:32 PM
Art Thieme 21 Jul 03 - 08:52 PM
Ebbie 21 Jul 03 - 09:15 PM
Malcolm Douglas 21 Jul 03 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,Donal 21 Jul 03 - 11:51 PM
GUEST,Q 22 Jul 03 - 12:15 AM
Nerd 22 Jul 03 - 02:27 AM
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Subject: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: IanC
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 10:15 AM

Hardly did anything for folk song, did he? Never collected a single song, Categorised ballads arbritrarily and missed out quite a few of the most important ones.

Anyone want to defend him?

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: MMario
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 10:26 AM

Must have done something right. Hired the right publicist, or something.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 10:43 AM

What he did do was amass an extraordinary corpus of scholarship on the subject which has not been equalled to this day.  Categorisation is a matter that continues to perplex, and opinions are still divided; his system was by no means arbitrary, but can seem impenetrable, particularly as he died before he was able to complete his Introduction to the work, which would presumably have detailed his priorities and general approach.  The only other attempt at a classification system, that of G. Malcolm Laws, is if anything harder to understand.  I don't yet know what approach Steve Roud is taking to classification in his ongoing Index, so I can't comment on that.

There are certainly a (relatively small) number of ballads (as opposed to folksongs) which are generally considered to warrant a place in the corpus; The Fowler/ Molly Bawn/ Shooting of His Dear and Bruton Town/ Bramble Briar (etc) being two, but Child did pretty well in the circumstances.  If he had also been out there collecting material directly from tradition, he wouldn't have had time to compile the books; he encouraged others to collect, however.  He died before the collecting boom of the early 20th century happened, of course.

There is probably no student of English-language folksong, and few practitioners of it, who are not indebted to him.  Such a work can by its nature never be complete, and his sudden death didn't help; obviously it would be a mistake to imagine that ballad scholarship ended with him, and many who have come after him have expanded our knowledge and understanding beyond what he was able to accomplish.  The fact remains, however, that they are standing on the shoulders of a giant.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 11:22 AM

Thanks, Malcolm. Your reply is to the point. But let me add a word. We can read David E. Bynum's paper, "Child's Legacy Enlarged: Oral Literary Studies at Harvard Since 1856" on the web, which was written from a different point of view but may be of some help. There are two versions, though substantially the same. The sites are here and here.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: IanC
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 11:31 AM

Thanks Malcolm. Lets start with "Ballads" shall we?

Though it wasn't only Child, he was the main instigator of the C19th movement to define what a ballad is, basically in the terms "A ballad is what I say it is". Hardly surprising that he didn't miss out too many "ballads" ... he was deciding which were and which were not. He even dropped certain "short romances which formerly stood in the first book ... in order to give the collection a homogeneous character".

I'd prefer to use a more general and, should I say, proper definition of the word ballad than Child. Can we use the following dictionary definition of a ballad?

bal·lad (bld) n.

A narrative poem, often of folk origin and intended to be sung, consisting of simple stanzas and usually having a refrain. The music for such a poem. A popular song especially of a romantic or sentimental nature.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Middle English balade, poem or song in stanza form, from Old French ballade, from Old Provençal balada, song sung while dancing, from balar, to dance, from Late Latin ballre, to dance.]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll try and argue some other points later but can we really say with any credibility that practitioners of English-language folksong are indebted to him? The songs were there already. All of them were in collections so he didn't even make them available. I'd maintain that people who sing folk songs would be singing them just as much and just as well if Child had never existed.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: SharonA
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:03 PM

Well, she's a great cook but she has a kind of a funny voice... Oh. Sorry, that's J. Child. ;^)


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: GUEST,yum yum
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:16 PM

IanC without him we would not have half the ballads that do the rounds today! We all must do our bit to keep this living oral history alive! What have you done to preserve it ? come on now don't be shy---speak up.

yum yum


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:31 PM

Without the resurgence in interest that Child (and others, of course) partly instigated and had such a seminal influence upon, many subsequent collectors and scholars would never have embarked on their work, which eventually gave rise to the Revivals of the 20th century, and in turn led to a great many traditional singers being "discovered" and acquiring audiences outside their small, immediate circle of acquaintances.  Doubtless, many would still be singing (though many would not, having only begun to sing again when they found that there was actually somebody who was interested), but we wouldn't know about it.  Traditional singers do not live in a vacuum, and are no longer, as early collectors saw them, unlettered peasants living in remote areas with little contact with the outside world; many of them have indeed learned a proportion of their material from books and records, many of which would not exist but for Child's influence.  I see nothing incredible or even mildly contentious in my comment.

Although the texts Child published were taken from other collections, many of these were obscure and inaccessible, or available in "improved" (that is, chopped about and re-written) form only.

So far as defining ballad goes, it should be remembered that such definitions vary with time and context, and that "ballad" and "folksong" are not necessarily the same thing.  Child stuck, for his purposes, to the narrative form, which is and was perfectly proper.  It is fairly pointless criticising him, with the benefit of a century's hindsight, for not being more inclusive, and I'd think that to try to examine his achievement using different terms of reference from those he actually worked with is unlikely to achieve much.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: IanC
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:33 PM

Child collected NO ballads or songs, merely published songs from other peoples' works. Of his sources, 25% of the texts came from books by Scott and Percy a further 15% from Ritson and Buchan. Books by a grand total of 7 authors account for 70% of the texts he used. (source Harker, Dave (1985) "Fakesong").

GUEST, yumyum, I do sing songs I learned from my parents generation, from friends and from records and tapes. I don't think professor Child did.

Masato, thanks for the site (the information is duplicated). I'll use it in the F.J. Child section of my PEOPLE category in the Basic Folk Library.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:37 PM

He did a whole piss pot full more than I, or probably anyone I know, will do in their lifetime to ensure that the songs survive. Not too many have equalled or excelled him. JohnB


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: mousethief
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:41 PM

Why the sudden need to attack Child?

He may have printed ballads from previous collections, but are those collections still in print? Saying "it's already been collected" is all well and good, but if the collections are out of print, and rare (Child is out of print but not rare), then it doesn't do practitioners of folk music a hell of a lot of good.

Do we think that NO collectors went out and collected because they were inspired by Child? NO compilers of subsequent compilations did what they did because they were inspired by Child? That's a pretty strong claim.

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: IanC
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:50 PM

Malcolm

Thanks again for your well argued post. I'm very sorry that we appear to have cross-posted.

I'm not sure how responsible Child was for a resurgence of interest in folk music, I think it was already there before him and I await evidence that he had any real influence in that direction.

As regards C20th collectors, it's certainly true to say that Vaughan Williams (for example) was mainly interested in the music and, of course, in broadside ballads about which he was something of an expert. Child treated the songs which passed through his hands as texts only, so he can't be credited with any influence in that direction. I'm really not very sure, either, if not knowing about Child would have prevented people like Sharp from collecting folk songs either. Their excitement came from discovering something real out in the world.

What I said about ballads wasn't intended to be in criticism of Child, but rather in reply to your point that Child didn't miss out many ballads (as opposed to folk songs). By his own definition, of course, he didn't ...

I'd dispute that very many of Child's texts were that obscure or even inaccessible (see my figures above).

Of course people have always used books etc. as sources for songs, but most people have always had access to plenty of materials (for example broadsides) at relatively cheap prices. Most of your "folk singers" in the C19th wouldn't have had access to copies of Child.

BTW, singers are still singing and we don't know about it. People not knowing has never yet prevented it happening and sometimes the opposite (take, for example, the effect on "The Ship" singers of Lomax's 1953 film).

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Bill D
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:51 PM

Like almost any field of research, there are various ways to do it. Child did his part, and partly in response to him, others did other parts...(often using Child as a jumping off point). I don't know that Bronson ever sang a song, either, but I'm glad he researched some tunes.

As has been said, it is pretty pointless now to be pointing out what he 'could' have done, or didn't do....

(and I have some serious reservations about the way the Lomaxes 'collected', but they DID the work, they did it their way...and I'm glad they did it.)


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Subject: WHO the hell is F. J.Child?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:57 PM

I've never even heard of the bloke...


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Anglo
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 12:59 PM

Well, Bertrand Bronson, who collated as many extant tunes to the Child ballads as he could find, thought Child's work, incomplete as it was, was the only logical place to start. So without Child there probably wouldn't have been Bronson. I suspect I might be of your parents generation, and I learned many of my Child ballads from Bronson. I suspect the people of your parents generation from whom you learned the songs, who recorded these records and tapes you quote, did too, directly or indirectly.

When Cecil Sharp (who did collect folk songs, by the way) published his works, he thought Child's opus was good enough for his major category. When people like MacColl and Lloyd recorded them, they thought Child's name. and his numbers, were a useful categorization. So perhaps, if you don't think the name of Child is worth preserving in the pantheon, maybe you could give us a list of the ballads you know instead, and give them IanC numbers. Then we can all start again from scratch :-)

Maybe I'm a little cynical (many of us get that way as we get older) but I don't really see your point. Shall we go and burn the books?


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 01:23 PM

Child did his work in such a way that it wound up, by intent or by chance, making his ballad collection/compilation an accessable beacon of light to us uninformed city folkies who were drawn to the old songs as a way of stepping into the past and understanding aspects of the past otherwise inaccessible---a past that showed us how we got to be what we, now, for better or for worse, had become. Our generation looked to the past for values and beauty and also just for a good story. It was a cinch, in the 1950s and'60s, that we weren't getting those values from our homes. We decided to create our own mentors. Those with the seeming stature and academic credibility of Francis James Child of Harvard -- not to mention Cecil Sharp, D.K.Wilgus, Helene Stratman Thomas, Glenn Ohrlin, Joe Hickerson, Ralph Rinzler, Edith Fowke, the Allans--Mills, Lomax & Watts --- and SO MANY OTHERS. These gave my own life a meaning that has sustained my needs admirably. And Mr. Child was a big part of that.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: GUEST,yum yum
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 01:24 PM

it's not that he MISSED any ballads in his collecting of them. The fact still remains, he has helped to keep the oral tradition alive by his collection. I wasn't meaning to be disrespectful by asking what have you done! Surely you can see his worth and respect it without knocking the man for his great work. Why not ask John Moulden how he feels about Prof F J Child?

yum yum


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 01:26 PM

People have a tendency to dismiss certain pivotal figures in many fields because they are viewed as having "merely pointed out the obvious". These criticisms always come well after the fact. The question remains as to whether "the obvious" would have been visible at all if it had not been pointed out.

What is achieved by discrediting - or re-valuing (if that's a word) - Child's work?


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 01:28 PM

Any serious ballad scholarship that one wishes to do (and I have had occasion to do a little bit) pretty much has to start with the Child collection. Otherwise, you would just flail around aimlessly, attempting to duplicate the immense task that Child has already done for you. The more one understands the extent of Child's contribution, the more one realizes that he needs no defense.

And I would not be satisfied with a simple dictionary definition of "ballad" any more than an architect would be satisfied with a dictionary definition of "building." Beyond showing you how to spell it and giving you a very general idea of what the word means, it just doesn't tell you very much.

Einstein missed some things and got some things wrong, too, but he provided the basis for modern cosmology.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 01:29 PM

No need to get hairated about it, Anglo.

It appears fairly evident that the idea of this thread was to provide a locus for a discussion about folk music calling on a rather more academic input than the traditional "what is folk.

And it has succeeded in doing so.

A point that has just occurred to me. Are there Child equivalents in the languages of oher countries? And assuming that there have been, but that they must have differed in significant ways (eg, how they defined ballads, not dying before they had finished the work etc) - how that that been reflected in subsequent developments in the countries concerned.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 02:05 PM

Ian advocates the devil's point
And still we must of Child applaud
Though none were ever by him coin't
He gets the most respectful nod

However many more songs sung
As ballads, narratives, or folksongs
Escaped him or were bells unrung
Matters little; his legacy long...

Shall we also take to task
Mr. Seeger's folk-blue book?
How many people did he ask
How many places did he look?

But knowing many people share
The songs a-published, collected there
You critics ought to show more care
For those who try; to leave despair...ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: mousethief
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 02:40 PM

He categorized, man. He catalogued. Is that no longer a respected art? Before him was a mischmasch. After him is a structure. We may disagree with the structure, we may think this-and-such a "version" of one is really a "version" of another, or a different ballad altogether. But without his categorization we couldn't even talk about it except in the vauguest terms.

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 03:15 PM

There has been a lot of ballad scholarship all over the European continent, and it's been going on for centuries, apparently. I can't remember who all now (it's in my notes somewhere), but the Brothers Grimm were pretty high-profile, and they had a strong influence on Child. Also, many of the ballads in the Child collection are found all over Europe. Some maintain that they were carried all over by wandering minstrels and troubadours, others claim that that's much too romantic an idea to be true (but I kind of like it).

Back in winter quarter of 1958 I took Prof. David C. Fowler's course, English 401, The Popular Ballad, at the University of Washington. This course acquainted me with the humongous amount of source material available—if you know where to look. The term paper consisted of researching a ballad. The only logical starting place was the Child collection. From there, we went on to other collections and journals, tracing the thing wherever it led us.

I picked The Cruel Mother (Child #20). I came up with a whole mess of stuff: several texts, some tunes, and over a hundred references, most of which I wasn't able to track down because the book or journal wasn't available in any of the local libraries. But if I couldn't look at the texts and notes themselves, at least I could add the references to my bibliography. I also found a version (I had my pick of several) that I particularly liked, and still sing.

A friend and classmate named Bob Tomson (aka "Moose"—he's a gent of monumental proportions) made my efforts look pale by what he managed to accomplished. His ballad was Lord Randal (Child #12). I'm not sure how many texts and tunes he came up with, but he found references to 1,013 versions of the ballad. English, Irish, and Scottish of course, and not surprisingly, many Scandinavian and continental European variants. But then, over into the Balkans, through the Middle East, and on around to North Africa. He found many American versions, most of which were serious variants of the traditional tragic ballad, but not all. He found a propaganda song, possibly put forth by the dairy industry, in which "Jimmy Randall" is poisoned because his sweetheart fed him rancid oleomargarine instead of butter. And, of course, he ran across several references to Billy Boy, an obvious parody of Lord Randal.

As I say, there is an immense amount of source material out there if you know where to look. And without the Child collection as a starting point, most of it would be next to impossible to find.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 04:03 PM

Any collector must take a point of view, confine himself to what he can handle, and organize. Child did just that. It is difficult to think of others who did as much. Clone Childs are needed to collate broadsheets in the various collections. More will be left out of each compilation than what is included, whoever does the work, but organized groupings, albeit selective, give the successor a starting point and a focus.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Joe_F
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 06:15 PM

It is perhaps worth emphasizing that Child was not just a collector & popularizer, but a scholar. He criticized the texts as well as reproducing them. And he did his homework. If there was a Hungarian fairy tale that had a similar plot, he was on top of it.

Nor did he neglect what Mencken would call the human juices in the literature. In his retelling of the bizarre tale of the Russian Lady Hamilton, or his furious documentation of the blood libel in Hugh of Lincoln, there is not a dull line.

It *is* a shame that people were still singing "his" ballads in his own country.


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Subject: RE: BS: What's so special about F. J.Child?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 23 Aug 01 - 11:04 PM

Interesting thread. I wonder how the pioneers in this newer internet age will be viewed for their efforts in 100 yrs time. I see things happening even in this forum such as MD cross referencing threads, putting together articles that tie up loose ends, etc. - I'd guess to make a more valuable reference for future visitors. I'm not knowledgeable enough to contribute but it is interesting watching and reading.

Jon


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: toadfrog
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 01:35 AM

I may be too ignorant to join in the discussion, but I it makes me uneasy to hear people seriously saying of anybody that they are so great they should never be criticized. Sounds authoritarian to me.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: SeanM
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 02:59 AM

It's unfair to say that Child shouldn't be criticized - as a scholar, I'd imagine that the first thing he expected to have happen on publication was a lively discussion in the circles he worked in on his efforts, their validity, and their application to the various facets that he covers.

There ARE a few things that he accomplished that (in my opinion) earn him my gratitude as a modest student of the form. In the various introductory support material in the edition I have (the paperback), it mentions several collections that he was able to pry into that otherwise were being very meticulously guarded by their owners - one specific mention is "the Percy MS". In the introduction and biography of Mr. Child, it states:

"The Percy MS. was at Ecton Hall, in the possession of the Bishop's descendants, who would permit no one to even examine it. Two attmpts were made by Dr Furnivall, at Mr Child's insistance, to induce the owners to allow the manuscript to be printed, - one as early as 1860 or 1861, the other in 1864, - but without avail. A third attempt was more successful, and in 1867-68 the long-secluded folio was made the common property of scholars in an edition prepared by Professor Hales and Dr Furnivall."

At the very least, things such as this would earn a place of note. Without Child, it is possible that the MS (and others that he gained access to after MUCH work) may have eventually been published. But, it is also just as likely that they would have remained locked away and possibly may never have been reviewed and either included in Child's work or published on their own.

Beyond that, there is the debate over whether a collector accomplishes anything in their own right. Again in my opinion, they do. To me, the act of collecting the material in a small way provides a certain level of legitimacy to it, and in the case of Mr. Child (a Harvard professor), I believe that at that time he provided a definite 'scholarly' air to a subject that many people believed (and still do) was 'beneath' any but the 'common folk'.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

M


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 07:19 AM

This is not part of the discussion, but news to me. I knew recently Loomis House Press has announced the publication of Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 5 vols. in paper. Price: TBA. They say it is a new "corrected" edition. Their announcement is here on the web.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: IanC
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 08:41 AM

(thanks Masato for the reprint info. I've added it to the Child entry in the General section of the Basic Folk Library). _________________________________________________________

Thanks folks, this seems to be developing into a really lovely thread. I'm encouraged to continue to look at Child's contribution in what I hope is a fairly objective manner.

Child was neither a collector (he didn't collect anything) nor a populariser (his books were small circulation and far too expensive) but he was a scholar. In fact, he was a professor of Mathematics at Harvard (am I correct in thinking that in the US many of the lecturers are called professors rather than just the heads of departments?). In addition to this, he had done quite a lot of work on English Poetry (though this doesn't seem to have made very much impact in the academic world) and demonstrated himself to be a serious literary scholar.

The idea of categorising folk songs (let's say just ballads in this case) as essentially families of songs has proved extremely useful, and the large amount of work doing the initial classification is clearly very worthwhile. One wouldn't criticise Child for missing out a few songs, except that this was done on the ideological grounds (ones which changed somewhat with each new edition of his book) of what was or was not a ballad. Child's restrictive definition has, I think, done some harm to subsequent scholarship as, also, has his tendency to regard "the ballads" as literature rather than songs (and thus to entirely ignore the contribution of the music). Fortunately, the latter problem was reversible basically because Child wasn't a collector.

McGrath asks "Were there Child equivalents in other countries". There certainly were, and this is a convenient point for looking more closely at Child's main collaborator.

Svend Grundtvig, a Danish scholar, began publishing his national collection of Danish ballads Danmarks gamle folkevisor in 1853. Child discovered Grundtvig's work around 1860 and his 3rd edition was completely re-organised so as to imitate Grundtvig's formal structure. Child recognised that Grundtvig was the superior scholar and, in fact, paid him quite a lot of money to work on the 3rd edition.

Grundtvig, it appears, may well have been essentially responsible for the basis of Child's classification system, and Child even changed the text of one song to fit in with Grundtvig's ideas. The image develops of Grundtvig effectively supervising Child in the production of the 1882-1898 edition of "The Ballads". A (brief) acknowledgement of Grundtvig's help appears in the advertisement of Child's 3rd edition. (source: Hustvedt, Sigurd "Ballad Books and Ballad Men", 1930).

As SeanM has said, Child's efforts to make the Percy MS (and many others) available are seriously amazing. He spent a great deal of time and energy, not to mention his own money in the pursuit of manuscript sources, and with the one aim of making them available to other scholars. As others have said too, he certainly wasn't afraid of hard work. I'd like to know more about Grundtvig's influence on Child, though, especially since Hustvedt seems to feel that it was so great. I wonder what other information there is on this man?


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 05:42 PM

I left out some words in the last line of my posting. It should read, "It *is* a shame that _he did not know that_ people were..."

The news that his collection is going to be in print again improves my opinion of the human race. Or, to put it another way, it's ******* well about time. I have cast my vote for a CD-ROM edition.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 06:35 PM

Perhaps compiler is the word? A valuable service!


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Aug 01 - 08:09 PM

Toadfrog,

Authoritarian ain't all bad-----especially when that viewpoint is correct.
;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 12:45 AM

Just a note of (I hope) interest:

In his collection: "Ballads of the North Countrie" Graham R. Tomson says (in the Introductory Note) "In making this Book of Ballads the Editor has chiefly relied on the admirable collection of Professor Child (Boston, U.S.). Professor Child has had access to Motherwell's and other MSS, and his Notes and Variants are of the utmost value. His earlier work, English and Scottish Ballads (London, 1861, 8 vols.) has also been consulted." He goes on to list other sources from Motrherwell, Aytoun, Pinkerton, Jamieson, Chambers and Messrs. Hale and Furnival's reprint of the Percy folio. This was in the late 1880's. Scholarship accrues to scholarship. Child is one of many but perhaps the better known due to the depth of his work and at a time when ALL scholarship was lonely chores fueled by devotion alone.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Aug 01 - 02:57 PM

A slight but (IMO) important clarification:

Child didn't attempt to inclue all ballads..just th ones that he consideed "popular" ballads. He was aware of many, mny boadside ballads, hich he consciously chose not to include.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Nerd
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 03:32 PM

IanC directed my attention to this thread in another one last week. I thought I'd add my 2 cents, even though the thread is old.

I can't altogether subscribe to the simpler definition of ballad IanC proposes because

(1) it does not exclude such genres as the epic. Indeed, by making the only necessary characterstics "narrative poem," it eliminates its own usefulness. Are "The Canterbury Tales" ballads? How about "Gilgamesh?" "Beowulf?" Kenneth Koch's "Ko?" I think not. The other characteristics are prefaced by "often" and "usually," suggesting they are not part of the definition per se but part of a description of some, or many, ballads.

(2) These associated characteristics are "often of folk origin and intended to be sung, consisting of simple stanzas and usually having a refrain." This is also a problem. It says that the poem is INTENDED to be sung, not that it WAS sung. This is a classic form of what scholars call the "intentional fallacy," defining a work by what we imagine to be the author's intention. It is a fallacy partly because we do not know the author's full intention, so scholars falling for this fallacy generally make it up for themselves and then claim it is the meaning of the work. Thus, although there is no evidence that the Auchinleck Manuscript's romance of Hind Horn is "intended to be sung" we can say "well, based on its stanzaic form, I think it was intended to be sung, so it is by definition a ballad." This is just as problematic with "The Two Sisters." The only evidence we have about the latter is that it WAS and IS sung; and about the former, we have no evidence either way.

So Child was operating in uncharted territory. He had to figure out what texts were in the genre he called "popular ballads" and what texts were not. Sure, he made up his definitional criteria. But they were based on the characteristics he observed in items he knew were or had been sung, either in English or in foreign versions. He even included some items (like "Geste of Robin Hood") that he KNEW were not ballads, because he thought they shed light on the properties of ballads.

One could, by the way, slap Child around either way: there were texts he apparently left out for ideological or moral reasons (Like "Froggie went a-courting," "The Crabfish" and "The Bitter Withy,") even though he must have known that they DID meet his own criteria for the popular ballad, others that he put in even though they did not. So he was human, and erred, and pandered a little to popular morality, and was a bit of a prude.

As to IanC's contention that he was not a collector, that depends on your point of view. He was not a field collector, but he did collect together and edit many texts from unpublished or hard-to find sources. Remember that those days were not these days, with Inter-Library Loan putting any book at any scholar's fingertips. It was hard work, as IanC recognizes, to do this. Finally, what few people have mentioned is his massive work of comparative scholarship directing readers to versions in other languages. To say "what's so special about Child?" is in my mind like knocking the scholars who put together the first dictionaries and encyclopedias. Sure, the information in those books was, by definition, common (or relatively common) knowledge. But the value of the books is undeniable. Where would a writer be without any dictionaries and encyclopedias? That's where a folksinger would be without any books like Child's.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 08:52 PM

Right on. Very nice.

But why did he leave out fine ones (from my point of view) like "My Bonny Lad's So Long A-Growing" ? Moral grounds of some kind, I suspect. But what do others feel???

By the way, our own Mudcatter, Sandy Paton, recorded what I've always felt was the finest record ever made of "Long a-Growing" on his first album ---- The Many Sides Of Sandy Paton on Elektra. It was my favorite track on this recording that Sandy has never thought much of.
(Young J. Baez learned it note for note and inflection for inflection from Mr. Paton.)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 09:15 PM

I agree with those who think Child's contribution is over-rated. Same as with Shakespeare- that man used a lot of cliches and platitudes. :)


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 11:33 PM

He did leave out some -not very many- that, with hindsight, we would tend to include. Not on "moral" grounds, though; we can be confident of that.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Donal
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 11:51 PM

This is a little (a lot) adrift from the point of the thread but it seems a good place to
demonstrate the fact that Child tried his hand at composing songs too. No tune is provided for
the first song.
             Don.


Atlantic Monthly 1863.

F. J. Child - Overtures from Richmond.

Washington, November 27, 1862.
        
                
                The Soldiers' Rally.

On, rally round the banner, boys, now Freedom's chosen sign!
See where amid the clouds of war its new-born glories shine!
The despot's doom, the slave's dear hope, we bear it on the foe!
God's voice rings down the brightening path! Say, brothers, will ye go?

"My father fought at Donelson; he hailed at dawn of day
That flag full-blown upon the walls, and proudly passed away."
"My brother fell on Newbern's shore; he bared his radiant head,
And shouted, 'On! the day is won!' leaped forward, and was dead."

"My chosen friend of all the world hears not the bugle-call;
A bullet pierced his loyal heart by Richmond's fatal wall."
But seize the hallowed swords they dropped, with blood yet moist and red!
Fill up the thinned, immortal ranks, and follow where they led!
For right is might, and truth is God, and He upholds our cause,
The grand old cause our fathers loved. Freedom and Equal Laws!"

"My mother's hair is thin and white; she looked me in the face,
She clasped me to her heart, and said, 'Go, take thy brother's place!'"
"My sister kissed her sweet farewell; her maiden cheeks were wet;
Around my neck her arms she threw; I feel the pressure yet."

"My wife sits by the cradle's side and keeps our little home,
Or asks the baby on her knee, 'When will thy father come?'"
Oh, woman's faith and man's stout arm shall right the ancient wrong!
So farewell, mother, sister, wife! God keep you brave and strong!"

The whizzing shell may burst in fire, the shrieking bullet fly,
The heavens and earth may mingle grief, the gallant soldier die;
But while a haughty Rebel stands, no peace! for peace is war.
The land that is not worth our death is not worth living for!

Then rally round the banner, boys! Its triumph draweth nigh!
See where above the clouds of war its seamless glories fly!
Peace, hovering o'er the bristling van, waves palm and laurel fair,
And Victory binds the rescued stars in Freedom's golden hair!


Overtures From Richmond. A New Lilliburlero.

"Well, Uncle Sam," says Jefferson,
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam,
"You'll have to join my Confed'racy,"
Lilliburlero, old Uncle Sam.
"Lero, lero, that don't appear 0, that don't appear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, fihibustero, that don't appear," says old Uncle Sam.
        

"So, Uncle Sam, just lay down your arms,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"Then you shall hear my reas'nable terms,"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, lero, I'd like to hear 0, I 'd like to hear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, I 'd like to hear," says old Uncle Sam.

"First, you must own I beat you in the fight,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"Then, that I always have been in the right,"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, lero, rather severe 0, rather severe," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, rather severe," says old Uncle Sam.

"Then, you must pay my national debts,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"No questions asked about my assets,"
Lilhiburlero, etc.
"Lero, hero, that 's very dear 0, that 's very dear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that's very dear," says old Uncle Sam.

"Also, some few I.O.U.s and bets,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"Mine, and Bob Toombs', and Slidehl's, and Rhett's,"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, lero, that leaves me zero, that leaves me zero," says Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, that leaves me zero," says Uncle Sam.

"And, by the way, one little thing more,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"You're to refund the costs of the war,"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, hero, just what I fear 0, just what I fear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, hero, filibustero, just what I fear," says old Uncle Sam.

"Next, you must own our Cavalier blood!"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"And that your Puritans sprang from the mud!"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, hero, that mud is clear 0, that mud is clear," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, hero, filibustero, that mud is clear," says old Uncle Sam.

"Slavery's, of course, the chief corner-stone,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"Of our NEW CIV-IL-I-ZA-TI-ON!"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, hero, that 's quite sincere 0, that 's quite sincere," says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, hero, filibustero, that 's quite sincere," says old Uncle Sam.

"You'll understand, my recreant tool,"
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"You 're to submit, and we are to rule,"        
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, lero, aren't you a hero! aren't you a hero!" says Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, aren't you a hero!" says Uncle Sam.

"If to these terms you fully consent,".
Lilliburlero, etc.,
"I'll be Perpetual King-President,"
Lilliburlero, etc.
"Lero, lero, take your sombrero, off to your swamps!" says old Uncle Sam,
"Lero, lero, filibustero, cut, double-quick 1" says old Uncle Sam.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 12:15 AM

An assumption is being made here that Child had access to all 'ballads in his time frame.

Apparently no one reads his "Advertisement to Part I, Numbers 1-28, written in December 1882." His 'Advertisements,' or introductions to the parts, contain information on the problems he had in assembling this mighty collection. No one since had done anything of this magnitude.

Quoting Child: "It was my wish not to begin to print 'The English and...'" until this unrestricted title should be justified by my having at my command every valuable copy of every known ballad. A continuous effort...some eight or nine years...and many have joined in it. By correspondence, and by all-extensive diffusion of printed circulars...tried to stimulate collection from tradition in Scotland, Canada and the United States, and no becoming means has been left unemployed to obtain unsunned treasures locked up in writing."
He goes on to speak of lost treasures, such as the Percy Manuscript, his inability to obtain access to several manuscript collections, etc.
He speaks of and thanks the many contributors who loaned manuscripts.

Like any compiler, he was limited by what was obtainable. Also remember that additional materials have become available in the over 100 years since he published.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Nerd
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 02:27 AM

He did leave out some -not very many- that, with hindsight, we would tend to include. Not on "moral" grounds, though; we can be confident of that.

I'm not so confident. Although for some there are no obvious moral reasons (Long A-Growing, Bruton Town), for others there are. The Crab Fish is simply more graphic about genitalia, etc, than anything he printed, and The Bitter Withy shows Christ getting a bare-bum spanking, not at all dignified! These I feel sure he left out at least partly on moral grounds. He was, it should be said, also a slave to subscription sales; if he printed songs his subscribers found morally objectionable, he would have no buyers for future volumes.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 03:17 AM

McGrath asks "Were there Child equivalents in other countries":
For Germany it is the famous Erk/Böhme.
Erk, Ludwig: Deutscher Liederhort : Auswahl der vorzüglicheren deutschen Volkslieder ; nach Wort und Weise aus der Vorzeit und Gegenwart / ges. und erl. von Ludwig Erk. Nach Erk's hs. Nachlasse und auf Grund eigener Sammlung neubearb. und fortges. von Franz M. Böhme. - Leipzig 1893-94
(Treasure of German songs : Selection of the more excellent German folk songs ; with words and tunes from past and present / collected and commented by Ludwig Erk. From his unpublished manuscripts and with own collections newly edited and continued by Franz M[agnus] Böhme. - Leipsic 1893-1894
Note that he didn't only collect ballads, but all kinds of folk songs, neatly categorized, and with a rather vast bibliography of the sources he drew from. Here I found a lot more songs which I choose for my own singing.
The 2 vols. with 1060 entries were reprinted in 1963, and without this outstanding work a lot of folk songs would have been forgotten, because they were sung less and less in his time.
Maybe it may serve as an argument against Ian in his role as advocatus diaboli; I'm sure the same can be said about Child's work.
Important in both scholars' works is the vastness of their collections, bringing together a corpus drawn from other collections known less, and giving a fine starting point for further researches.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 03:36 AM

My fault: since the last vol. is missing in the local University Library, I have to add: 3 vols. with 2175 entries.
A short biography of Erk (in German) can be found here

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 06:13 AM

Wilfried, could you tell me how these titles are related- are they different works or the same collection under different names?

Erk, Ludwig and Wilhelm Irmer, Die deutchen Volkslieder mit ihren Singweisen, 13 Hefte.

Erk, Deutscher Liederhort (205 songs with melody).

Deutscher Liederschatz, Bd. 1-3 (seems to be over 600 pp.).


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Gurney
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 06:39 AM

I liked Ebbie's tongue-in-cheek comment about Shakespeare.
Scholarship is a different field to collecting and singing. I drank deeply of the traddy balleds at one time, but reading is a tedious way to learn, compared with listening to them, so good for him, it takes all sorts to make a world.
Anyway, if a historian writes of something that occurred more than a generation ago, should we denegrate his work too? S/He didn't take part in it, swing a sword, fire a bundook, carry a message.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: IanC
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 06:59 AM

Thanks for continuing this thread where it left off. It was very much unfinished (though I thought it was beginning to get somewhere by then).

I started the thread to try and have a mature informed discussion about Child. Admittedly, to attract some attention, I took a particular stance but nowhere have I denigrated Child. What I am interested in is the way he is perceived ... by many people as something like a god.

My perception is that, though he's important as an entry into folk scholarship, he had little effect on folk song (which continues mainly despite rather than because of collectors and compilers ... cf the comments of Hogg's mother to Scott that he had ruined a whole host of good songs by writing them down). Child also made a considerable effort in trying to make original texts available (particularly the Percy Folio Manuscript), for which he's not often recognised.

My main gripe at the time I started the thread was the way people were praising him up for being a wondeful collector of folksongs (which he never claimed to be) or for somehow making folk songs available to singers (his books were for a very small circulation at an enormous cost, whereas 87% of his source material was available on broadsides costing less than 0.5 cents). Subsequently, I've learned that his categorisation system was not his own and that he owes a considerable debt to others who are never even mentioned. None of this is Child's fault.

Perhaps this thread will have to die and be reborn 3 or 4 times before we have achieved something really worthwhile, I don't know. I'm more confident now that we will, though.

So thanks to all the people who have contributed usefully so far and I look forward to more!

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 08:49 AM

Guest Q -

1) Erk, Ludwig and Wilhelm Irmer, Die deutschen Volkslieder mit ihren Singweisen, 13 Hefte. Vols. 1-3. Vols. 1 and 2 with 6 fascicles each, of vol. 3 only the first fasc. published. Collection first publ. 1838-1845.

2) Erk, Deutscher Liederhort (205 songs with melody) Probably his first edition 1856, 2. ed. 1890, not yet ed. and augm. by Böhme.

3) Deutscher Liederschatz, Bd. 1-3 (seems to be over 600 pp.)
Erk's Deutscher Liederschatz : eine Auswahl der beliebtesten Volks-, Vaterlands-, Soldaten-, Jäger- und Studenten-Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Pianoforte-Begleitung / die Texte und Melodien rev. und auf deren Quellen zurückgeführt von Ludwig Erk. - Vol. 1-3. - Leipzig : Peters, [ca. 1900]

Also another work of the same title, but other subtitle:
Deutscher Liederschatz : 300 männerstimmige Gesänge für die höheren Klassen der Gymnasien und Realschulen und für Seminarien / hrsg. von Ludwig Erk. - Neu bearb. Gesamt-Ausg. der 7 Einzelh. 8. (verm.) Aufl. - Leipzig : Winkler, 1908
and some other editions publ. by diverse editors.

All works by Erk were written not primarily for scientific purposes, but for singing. He was a seminary teacher, later on a music teacher in Berlin, where he also founded two Gesangvereine, the first one for male voices, the second one for mixed voices (ladies welcome).

Thanks for your interest in German folk songs
Wilfried


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 11:30 AM

Guest Q -

I'm afraid words failed me a little; so let me try it again:
1) and 3) are different works, 2) is an earlier edition of the Liederhort.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Nerd
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 11:55 AM

IanC, you say you never denigrated Child? I quote from your opening salvo:

Hardly did anything for folk song, did he? Never collected a single song, Categorised ballads arbritrarily and missed out quite a few of the most important ones.

Given that this was the man's life's work, I think that's a denigration.

You also didn't say anything about the way he was perceived in your opening post, although later you contend that this is your primary interest. This, I think, is what caused the confusion among many of us...sounded like you were just taking potshots.

Another thing I noticed more recently is that you rely on Dave harker for a statistical accounting of Child's sources, deciding that seven authors provide 70 percent of his versions. Dave Harker's statistics are coming under fire now by Chris Bearman, Mike Yates and others. I met Chris recently and talked about some of this, and both he and Mike have published their evidence, Mike on the Musical Traditions Letters page (www.mustrad.org.uk). Seems in his discussion of Sharp, Harker's statistics are consistently off-base in favor of his ideological position--imagine that! No one has tested the statistics in other chapters so far as I know. So I'm afraid you'll have to count up Child's sources yourself and do the math to get accurate stats, rather than relying on Harker. Your general point, that a few authors provided a lot of material to Child, is of course valid.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: IanC
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 12:05 PM

Nerd

(a) I blieve all those things are essentially true. I don't regard that as denigration, though I admit I deliberately stated them quite baldly in order to get a response. Some of the responses were excellent. Others were little more than knee jerk reactions.

(b) You'll have noted that I quoted Harker as my source and so you can check what he said, and confirm its truth or otherwise. If it's not so, then good ... if we all provided the source of our evidence, it would be easier to have a decent debate.

:-)


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 02:00 PM

"Bitter Withy- Mary Mild" may be considered to be a folk song or ballad now, but, as Malcolm Douglas noted (thread 55114), in its form it could be from the "homolectic chapbooks from early 19th century." It appeared in a book of carols in 1836.
If Malcolm is correct, it certainly deserved no place in Child's compilation.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 03:21 PM

Wilfried, thanks for the notes on Erk's publications. I would like to have a volume of older German folksongs, and was wondering which one would be a good choice.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 04:22 PM

Child, for me, was simply an easy way to reference the ballad I was singing or referring to or teaching about. Listeners could then go to his good collection and find that ballad and similar songs that were also stanzaic and told other quite interesting stories. Telling others that "This is Child Number 11" was a way of intimating that we were talking about a certain kind of song. The Child references we made were good ones-----handy ones. The collection was scholarly to a point, or so it seemed, and rather encompassing of the whole ballad idea.

Once again, those who are denegrating the man from here in 2003 were not there in the 1950s and 1960s and cannot or will not see why we, then, looked to Mr. Child as a standard and a standard bearer. Once again, that is quite sad. It is even sadder than those who, today, call everything folk. But it is no less wrong headed.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 23 Jul 03 - 02:59 AM

Guest Q -

Both works are still advertised in the "Verzeichnis Lieferbarer Bücher" [the German Books in Print].

Erk, Ludwig / Böhme, Franz M
Deutscher Liederhort
ISBN :         3-487-04443-9
Seiten/Umfang : LXXII, 2376 Seiten [3 vols.]
Erschienen :         1988
Preisinfo : 258,00 Eur[D] / 265,30 Eur[A] (unverb. Preisempfehlung)

Erk, Ludwig / Irmer, Wilhelm
Die deutschen Volkslieder mit ihren Singweisen
ISBN 3-487-07240-8
99,80 Eur[D] / 102,60 Eur[A] (unverb. Preisempfehlung)

You don't find them in amazon.com. In the German branch amazon.de you can order used editions, if available.

Naturally it is also a question of price, but I strongly recommend the "Liederhort" with its 3 vols., it covers the whole range of German folk songs.

If you are not so much interested in scientific research but only want a smaller collection of fine old folk songs, I strongly recommend an old companion of my hiking days:
Der Zupfgeigenhansl : Das Liederbuch der Wandervögel. - Herausgegeben von Hans Breuer. - Mainz : Schott, 1988. - 255 S., Abb.
ISBN 3-7957-8219-8
14,00 sFr / 7,61 Eur[D] / 7,90 Eur[A] (unverb. Preisempfehlung)

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Nerd
Date: 23 Jul 03 - 04:30 AM

You're confused, GUEST Q. What Malcolm said was:

It wouldn't be at all surprising if On Christmas Day derived from the homilectic chapbooks that circulated widely in the earlier part of the 19th century; as, it appears, did The Holy Well, whatever its antecedents may have been.

Malcolm thus did not attribute The Bitter Withy to a nineteenth century chapbook, but The Holy Well, a similar but different song, and On Christmas Day, a totally different song.

I don't know what you mean by "in its form" it could be from that era, though...

Its appearance in an 1836 book of carols is likewise irrelevant; The Cherry Tree Carol, St. Stephen and Herod, etc, are considered both ballads and carols, and Child included them in his collection. So just because it was in the book of carols there would be no reason for Child to exclude it.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 23 Jul 03 - 12:29 PM

Slipped a few cogs in my recollection of what Child included; there are a couple considered to be 'carols'.

However, the song grouping Bitter Withy, Holy Well (Sandy, 1833) and Mary Mild (lumped together by Bruce O) don't seem to have any history before 1833, and Bitter Withy didn't show up until a 1905 collection, according to several threads on this group. Malcolm did refer to the Holy Well, but the three (and more titles?) are all from the same dough and seem to have no history before the 19th century, thus would not deserve a place with the ballads.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: IanC
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 09:10 AM

Q

The 1905 date probably came from The Traditional Ballad Index. This can be misleading as it is the earlies date for a publication that the editors have read themselves. The ballad(/carol) has had rather less attention the The Cherry Tree Carol as it isn't a Christmas carol and therefore doesn't fit so well into a lot of collections.

A. L. Lloyd, in his sleeve notes to The Watersons' Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy says it was available in chapbooks during the 1840s. Though he may be a bit enthusiastic at times, he doesn't usually invent chapbooks.

Folk hymns don't always reflect the views of the vicarage. Since the Middle Ages poor people have interpreted the Gospel legends and characters to suit themselves. In the Cherry Tree Carol, Joseph is a grumpy peasant suspecting that he has been cuckolded (he says to Mary: 'Let him gather thee cherries that put thee with child'). In The Bitter Withy the far-from-gentle-Jesus drastically brings down the pride of the uppish young lords, and gets his bottom smacked for his pains. This carol, more vengeful than pious, lasted particularly well in the West Midlands, perhaps under the inspiration of chapbook copies published in Birmingham in the 1840's.

BruceO may well be able to give us information about earlier copies.

:-)


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 01:59 PM

I don't have anything new on the ballads IanC mentioned above.


Don Firth, I was at UW in 1958 (and I think Sandy Patone was around, too) but I never heard of Prof. David Fowler until later. But at that time my knowledge of folk songs didn't go much beyond Burl Ives and Ivar Hagland.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 03:17 PM

Hi, Bruce O. We probably saw each other around, but who knew? Did you ever hang out between classes at Howard's Restaurant or the Coffee Corral on The Ave?

An aside and a bit of thread creep:— I don't know what all Prof. David C. Fowler taught, but two of his more interesting courses were "The Popular Ballad" and "The Bible as Literature." He was in the papers a couple of times when one or two churches in the Redmond area (sometimes lovingly referred to as the "Redmond Rednecks") raised hell about the University of Washington letting one of its professors "teach religion." Prof. Fowler made no religious interpretations during the course and, in fact, discouraged any actual religious discussions in class. He treated the Bible as a group of short stories, novellas, and poems, and we talked about it in those terms. I think the big objection these churches had to the course was that we didn't deal with disconnected individual verses, we read whole books all the way through. Then, when someone tried to bamboozle anybody who had taken the course by quoting verses out of context, we could haul the discussion back on track, put the verses back in context, and wax eloquent on what the quoted verses really meant. In short, reading it the way we did for the class, we wound up knowing too much about what the Bible said. They wanted to get the class pulled, but as I recall, the U. of W. backed Prof. Fowler all the way. Heck of a good teacher all around.

Sandy Paton. He was living in Seattle when I first got interested in folk music around 1952. I knew him for about a year or so, then he left for back East. He came back in summer of 1954, then left again as fall approached. I particularly remember a big "going away" party. Lots of singing. Next time I saw Sandy (sort of) was when I was pawing through the folk music records at Campus Music and Gallery and suddenly there was Sandy smiling up at me from the cover of "Many Sides of Sandy Paton." This was about 1958. He had been to the British Isles since last I'd heard. Then I ran into him at the 1960 Berkeley Folk Festival where he was one of the featured performers. A couple of good gab-fests. He dragged me off to a party, and after we'd been there for a few minutes, in walked Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, who were also featured performers at the festival. Lots of amazing singing that night, too. Haven't seen him since, though, although we've e-mailed a bit.

Just thought I'd toss that in. Okay, back to F. J. Child.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 03:46 PM

Don, I was a grad student in the Chem Dept. then, and the Coffee Corral was the closet place to get something to eat, after the Student Union bldg. closed for the night. The Coffee Corral lost one of their good waitresses when a fellow grad student married her. Lorainne was my favourite waitress there, however.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 03:55 PM

Don, I really meant to sign that last one. Force of habit is hard to break. Incidently, I'm from Bremerton, and one of my sisters recently moved back there (vicinity, that is. I lived in places all around the town, but never in it).


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 04:09 PM

Lorainne. That rings a small bell. . . .

I was actually fairly easy to pick out in a crowd. I had polio when I was 2 years old, and I walked with a brace on my right leg and with a pair of aluminum forearm crutches. Sometimes seen lugging a guitar case. Spent most of my time on campus in the Music Building and Parrington Hall. Between classes at Howard's mostly, but often at the Coffee Corral.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 04:14 PM

That crutches rings a small bell, too, but sorry, I can't pin a face to it, yet.


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Subject: RE: What's so special about F. J. Child?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 Jul 03 - 06:53 PM

Don and Bruce,

Wish I'd run into you two out on my folk road somewhere along the way. It sounds like that'd've been a blast. I too was getting to know Sandy back in those other times.

Art Thieme


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