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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Derek Schofield New Book: Folk Song in England (2094* d) RE: New Book: Folk Song in England 04 Nov 17

I'll stop lurking and make a few comments:

First, I dislike the term "hacks" .. it's a disparaging term. Broadside poets is a better description I feel, and more accurately describes what they did. Yes, they got paid... so did Wordsworth. Some of them were good poets, some were not.

Second, just because a song was collected from a singer who could not read, or who was uncomplimentary about broadsides, does not mean that somewhere further back in the transmission process, a broadside had not been used - either as a source, or as an aide memoire.

Third, it is logical to me (!) that some singers wrote songs. As has been suggested, if these remained local, there was less chance that the collectors heard and noted them, even if some other members of the community learned and sang them. In a slightly more literate environment (such as industrial Lancashire) the authors might be known, the songs might be published and so the song collectors dismissed the songs (or didn't even bother going there because it was industrial not rural).

Fourth, whatever the source of the song, it is what happened to it in oral transmission that interests (most of) us. The way the words were re-crafted (or indeed stayed the same), the way the tune was added, adapted, varied ...

Fifth, no-one is disputing the existence of the songs collected by Jim and Pat in Ireland - recently written songs. Thank goodness Jim and Pat are there to record them. An equivalent in England would be the hunting songs of Cumbria and elsewhere. It's a pity that the latter context is politically incorrect!

I'll go and watch some fireworks now...


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