Mudcat Café message #3514608 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #150417   Message #3514608
Posted By: Richie
13-May-13 - 12:42 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5

The "origin" is important because (as Child) I am looking for "tradtional" versions of folk songs, i.e. those not learned directly from print sources or recordings. A number of "Our Goodman" version were learend from recordings- I did not included those that I was sure were based on recordings.

It's OK to arrange a ballad but it's not OK to say it came from "Charlie Montgomery, Elizabeth, Wirth County," if it didn't. It's not OK to find rare versions of ballads that you arranged and attribute them to some fictitious source.

In Artus Moser's case he said he arranged "Get Up and Bar the Door." I have no problem with that but I'm not including it in my ballads. Where as Carey Woofter, who probably "arranged" a version from Child B, has two identical versions in my collection from two different sources because I can't prove they aren't traditional- but I can let people know they might not be traditional. If Lindfors who wrote, A Fraudulent "Elfin Knight" from West Virginia had looked at the Woofter version of "Bar the Door" you would think he would have written something similar.

The temptation to fabricate "traditional" songs is great and also to include these suspect versions in collections to pad the collection.

There is also the temptation by performers who know traditional songs to extend there repertoire with more "traditional songs" that they have "arranged" from other sources.

A good example are Aunt Molly Jackson's "Robin Hood" ballads which she swore came from traditional sources. See: There's pressure on the traditional singer to find more and more ballads. Even the great singers are susceptible. There are only so many ballads a Ewan MacColl knows that can be attributed to his father. No matter how many family versions Jean Richie knows, there are some of the versions attributed to Uncle Jason.

So what so we do when confronted by "unlikely" attribution? I'm going to go with what I believe and try and present the facts. However, there is a gut inscinct that tells me something is amiss- and I have to listen to that. John Jacob Niles collected many folk songs, he also, I believe, arranged some from print sources. So does this mean everything he's done is suspect? Yes, it may be but we just don't know. There's nothing wrong with pointing this out-- that yes this version may not be tradtional-- we just don't know,