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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Pseudonymous Review: Walter Pardon; Research (498* d) RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research 05 Nov 19

Hello and thank you for the discussion.

1 Responding to a point about copyright in the recordings made of Walter, this idea came from a discussion on the Mustrad web site. The link ref is and the quotation is "Some months later I heard from another source that Topic had decided against the second record as the copyright to four of the Bill Leader recordings they wanted to include was owned by Dave Bulmer of Celtic Music, and thus that its production costs would be too high. Back to Mike Yates we agreed that MT would, again, publish the record." The author is Ron Stradling.

2 Language like 'song carrier' and 'traditional singer' beg a lot of questions. It is the ideology (whether or not this reflects the truth) and the way it has affected the comments made about Pardon in the writing about him that I have encountered which interests me. Also the passion with which some people are attached to these concepts. Nobody appears to know what traditional singing was like (and this has been discussed on Mudcat).

3 Regarding Victorian Popular Music: I refer you to the material on Mustrad, especially the sections tracing the origins of material Pardon sang. I was very much taken with the number of songs for which specific composers could be found.

4 Regarding what Pardon said about himself and the songs, this raises questions about what you might call 'qualitative research methods'. And about the reporting of findings. I hint at some of these issues in the intial discussion paper. I'll repeat part of my thoughts here: for me the starting point has to be what seems to be the earliest interview with Pardon (one I think has been selectively quoted from in the past, the one you can listen to on the British Library Site. He says they did not think of themselves as singing 'folk songs' and that they called them 'old songs'. He says he heard some folk songs at school. He himself said he believed that his grandfather got them from broadsides. If that source doesn't count as Victorian popular music .

5 I would not argue that Pardon probably came to believe that he was important. A number of the references I cite lead to people stating that they told him they thought he was, partly to persuade him to be recorded if I remember correctly. It seems to be crystal clear that his understanding would have been 'polluted' (your word, not mine, with respect) by the milieu into which he found himself pulled. One could suggest, though I accept this might be a viewed as or even be bit provocative, that he 'went native'?

6 I am not particular seeking to imply that Pardon was in any sense exploited, or that the copyrighting of his work was improper or not normal. I hope nothing I wrote gave that impression. However, I do have an impression that there was a clear attempt for whatever reason to market his singing on a commercial basis. Whether a project was financially viable is an explicit criteria discussed on Mustrad. If anything the point I was making was that the revival, like it or not, and possibly in opposition to the inclinations of some of its leaders (and perhaps to my own, I am no fan of capitalism) was involved in commercial projects. So I am writing if you like against any romantic notions that there might be that the revival was commerce free in some idealistic romantic sense.

7 It is incorrect and I feel a little unfair to state that I think a 'traditional singer' should be an illiterate peasant untouched by outside influences.

8 Thank you for the reference to Peta Webb. I had found that and already referenced it in my draft, together with comments about how some of what it says in that conflicts with/differs from accounts found elsewhere. My point was one about how different writers create different pictures/tell different stories about the same figure. You will find the reference in the list of interviews. Happy to add any other examples people have to the resource list. This is one reason for posting a draft.

9 On the concept of 'folk song' being an academic one, I can think of a lot of highly non academic people, including some people who appear hostile to 'desk jockeys' who use the term freely!

10 Regarding 'debunking' that isn't how I would put it. Deconstruct might be something like it. Investigating how the various accounts reflect the ideologies/views/ideas of those who put them forward, as, I suppose the contributions made to my draft may begin to illustrate anew. So for example, some of the points where different accounts emerge in the literature, including precisely what Pardon said about the songs and comments on his style and its origins seem to me to be underpinned by the prior beliefs of those making them.

11 In a sense I am trying to do some basic history. These accounts of Pardon are secondary sources. The question to ask is precisely what 'bias' (trying to use the word non-judgmentally) the person who produced that source may have.

12 In my draft, I refer to work produced by Jim Carroll, and to the discussion of it after he typed some of it into a Mudcat thread. I comment on this in respect of research methods. I would ask you to find it and consider for yourself whether or not the questions asked are open or closed, leading or otherwise etc. Clear or open to interpretation both by Pardon and by those reading it? Do we get dates, contexts?

Thank you for reading and contributing. Any further references would be appreciated.


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